Leigh Bowery – Anything but Useless

Write Slut Playlist – 4
Minty – Useless Man

Ever met someone so hyper creative they weren’t just intimidating but scary? The kind of individual who seems to possess an innate ability to do ‘anything’ and transforms whatever they touch into art?

Leigh Bowery was such a person, and I was luck enough to hang out with him.

To be clear, I only hung out with him once. A friend invited me to crash a private party thrown by several people I disliked for personal and professional reasons. I almost declined but changed my mind when I heard Leigh might be there.

We made it in, and I dodged the hostiles to discover Leigh in a back room messing around with a pile of fabric remnants. We shared a bottle I’d poached and had a drunken conversation about a wide range of topics.

Absent hangers-on, he was friendly and endlessly curious. One of those people who manages to turn every question you pose into a more complex query about something more interesting.

Lighting a smoke, I looked down to discover there was a multicolored square of fabric in his lap. He’d been making this bizarre patchwork-pattern sample as we were chatting.

The hosts discovered me and tried to make a scene of evicting your humble narrator. Not one to disappoint an audience – and I had a large one by then – I was winding up to escalate the situation when Leigh intervened.

With the hostile tribe in grumbling retreat, I hung for a little longer before dipping out. I could have stayed but didn’t want to stress Leigh out.

But I’ll never forget this guy’s offhand manner of making something interesting in the midst of a riot of sound and personalities. While the rest of us drank, quarreled, talked shit, and whipped-up chaos, Leigh had one foot in our world and another in his own. He could engage with the banality yet remain detached enough to make something new and useful at the same time. A singular man.

Leigh Bowery died a short time after that party.

One of his many creative projects was a group called Minty. I often find myself struggling with a piece or dialing in on a sentence that eludes me, when a Minty track finds its way into the mix. I think of this as a kind of sign. A creative nudge to just let it all flow and let the piece work itself out.

More often than not – it does.

Leigh Bowery


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