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Klaus Nomi

August 4, 2013
Klaus Nomi by Kerri Flannigan

Klaus Nomi by Kerri Flannigan

“When I decided to wear make-up, it was very difficult because for a male person, wearing make-up is a very strange thing to do in the eyes of the masses…. Actually, it began when I was a child in Germany. I had a good time going to the opera at night as an extra on-stage, and I enjoyed doing make-up there because I could do it without being bothered. I’ve always felt very much related to the theatre and music, yet I never found a way to do operatic material seriously.”
Klaus Nomi, Nomi Song

Fine, his voice ranged from very low to the highest possible at counter-tenor.  Sure, he came to New York from Immenstadt, Bayern in order to follow his dreams of becoming a world famous singer (which he did).  Super cool, he used all these stupid artist-types to achieve his dreams and then discarded these people like the cum rags they were.
Ultimately, though, it is his attacks on reality and the possible, through living on the frontlines, that inspire me more than his abundant skill.  We can say, “Don’t dream it, be it,” but who really believes that?  Honestly, just to have his vision, that of a being from another time and place who could come to Earth and somehow save us from our own future, is more than many people could ever muster.  To then embody this equally dystopic and hopeful character and live it, by all accounts, as his daily drag goes beyond performance art or rock stardom.

“Well I think it’s nice to be a little magical. Today we need this. All that we can read in fairy tales or books, I think somewhere it’s all around us. But nowadays we can think that this magic has been killed, and I try to make it survive as long as possible.”

This sentiment has so much love in it, almost more than i can bear.  What a struggle, what a thankless task: resurrecting the fairies and spirits back into our daily lives.  Maybe he hoped to act as our ambassador, or to coax them out by pretending that it was Aquarius o’clock, or just to show the children where the magic hid so long ago—inside each and every one of us.  He channeled a ghost from the future so well, in fact, that nearly everyone came to see him as a thing, an it.

“Some people think I’m not human. That’s why I can’t eat, can’t have sex. I can’t burp. I can’t do anything really.”

The movie Nomi Song attests to this, as so-called friend after so-called friend dishes him in the grave and constantly de-humanizes and de-sexualizes him.
I can’t imagine the loneliness Klaus must have felt, but one day i plan to experience another world as he may have.  His music, his voice, they take me to cold planets of brain-busting beauty, to a future of 20/20-360° vision and colours yet to be invented, of birds that flit from star to star without wondering why.  The more i listen, the less i feel the heaviness of my body.  As i study at his feet, he seems to look me full in the face and smile through me at a joke some stone told him a thousand years from now.

Illustration by Kerri Flannigan

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