Space Oddity: a tribute to Bowie’s bulge

Penny Brazier
3 min readNov 8, 2019

I have to take this moment to apologise unreservedly for objectifying the late genius David Bowie in this article. I’ve got only a middling interest in his music (step back, I promise I’ve tried). But when Space Oddity came up on my list of number ones, I knew it wouldn’t be his croon I’d be chatting about here today. It would be his crotch.

Specifically the whacking great package displayed in his role as Jareth the Goblin King in children’s fantasy adventure film Labyrinth.

Anyone who’s seen the film will know exactly what I’m talking about. The image of Bowie’s ‘major tom’, hidden in plain sight inside a pair of white tights, will be burned onto their retinas for all eternity. Jareth’s jewels are so famous they have their own Facebook fanpage, urban dictionary entry and numerous online tributes including this bonkers drinking game , so you know it’s not just me being a pervert.

As a kid I was obsessed with this film. I played the video so much that the tape started to deteriorate. I could recite the script from start to finish. I wanted to be Sarah, I wanted to vanish into a magical world filled with weird, cool creatures like she did. For the longest time my ambition was to work in the Jim Henson Creature Workshop.

Yet, as the years rolled by, my relentless viewings revealed a new character in the film that had previously gone unnoticed. The Goblin King’s terrifying trouser-snake. Once seen, never unseen, his massive crotch-bobble lurks in a menacing manner throughout the film. It reminds us that Sarah, the heroine of this coming of age tale, is on the verge of entering a dangerous new phase of her life.

One with willies.

Bowie’s wanger cameos in many scenes. There’s a brilliant shot where it gets dangled dangerously close to Hoggle’s face as Jareth persuades him to give a drugged peach to Sarah, a sixteen-year-old girl, so he can seduce her. Did I mention this is a kid’s film? The eighties were messed up.

There’s also the insane final confrontation scene. Jareth appears, floating in space and surrounded by shards of Escher paintings. He’s dressed like a new romantic ballet dancer with a beautifully made-up face and, thanks to a particularly figure-hugging pair of longjohns, the most X-rated parcel yet. Newly awakened sexual compasses all over the world duly went haywire.

I don’t think I’m alone in finding the revelation of Bowie’s codpiece (if indeed it was a codpiece?) a transformational time in my nascent adolescence. While my peers were starting to fawn over cutesy boy bands, I was left cold. When you’ve started out with a non-binary goth overlord in tight pants, it’s a bit difficult to suddenly forge an interest in a nice young man from Manchester like Mark Owen.

So, David Bowie, although I still can’t profess to see the genius in Ziggy Stardust, I will say a big thank you for several of your lesser appreciated works.

Black Tie White Noise is banging. And so are your bits.

This post is part of the #write52 project, a writing initiative that gets people busting out original content every week. You can find out more and sign up to the newsletter on the #write52 website.

I’m Penny. I decided to write about a different number one single each week for my #write52 project. 21 weeks in and this is the first mention of David Bowie’s penis — but hopefully not the last. If you want to find me in social media life, follow me on Twitter and Instagram. I’m also interviewed on the Creative Rehab podcast this week, where I discuss another one of my early crushes — MacGyver. I really know how to pick em. You can find out more right here.