herzverstreut_bu: (XKCD - rainbow power!)
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In honour of Pride, Queerics is hosting a give-away, and they asked (among other options) for a post on a queer artist that "melts your heart." So I decided to make the Epic Klaus Nomi Pimp Post I've been meaning to do for ages.

Sadly, it's not going to be all that epic, because his career was short and ended with his untimely death. But please give this fantastically queer, fantastically strange performer a chance, anyway.

Unless you're [livejournal.com profile] shiroi_chi, [livejournal.com profile] anglepoiselamp, [livejournal.com profile] kaoru_is_here or [livejournal.com profile] k_wedge, you might be asking yourself: "Klaus Nomi? Who the hell is that?" The answer would be:

This is Klaus Nomi.

Born Klaus Sperber in 1944, he early on discovered his passion for opera, and after unsuccessfully trying to establish himself in the Berlin theater scene and training as a pastry chef instead, he eventually moved to New York in the early 70s. In the East Village he received training as a countertenor and began playing underground shows, developing his trademark costumes and make-up, and eventually making a bit of a name for himself in the New York scene. Around that time he also adopted the name Nomi, from the Latin "omni", meaning "everything" - probably because his music combined elements from many different genres.

Nomi gained some mainstream attention when David Bowie hired him as a background singer for a performance on Saturday Night Live in 1979. That got him his first record deal and he was invited to a few talkshows as he began to become more popular. Sadly, I can't find a video of the SNL performance, just this collage of screencaps:

Klaus Nomi's first single dropped in 1980. In 1982, he did his first tour of Europe - after having been diagnosed with HIV. In 1983, he was one of the first celebrities to die of AIDS-related illness.

If you want more in-depth info, the Wikipedia article is a pretty good and comprehensive start. Or try to get your hands on the fantastic documentary The Nomi Song.

So why do I think he was awesome and want more people to know about him? Because he was an amazing singer and performer, who brought opera and pop together in a way that few people have before or since. Because I love his androgynous appearance and strange costumes. Because he covered songs like "You Don't Own Me" or Marlene Dietrich's "Falling In Love Again" and was more or less openly gay at a time when it was not quite fashionable anymore and not quite accepted yet. And because while I don't know if he would eventually have reached (or maintained) a lot of mainstream popularity, with his heavy German accent, countertenor voice, and performances that often seemed to come from some 1920s vision of the future, I do believe he had a lot to give to the music scene.

Videos are hard to find, and those that exist are of bad quality. Still, they give a good impression of what his shows must have been like:

A cover of "Lightning Strikes" -

"Total Eclipse", probably his most famous song -

A sample of his opera work: "Samson and Delilah" -

And because I can't find his queerer songs on YouTube:

Klaus Nomi - Falling in Love Again
Klaus Nomi - You Don't Nomi (cover of "You Don't Own Me")
Klaus Nomi - Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead

You can buy the few songs that he did record on Amazon, for example Simple Man or the sampler The Essential.

So now you know Klaus Nomi, one of the most interesting queer artists of the last few decades. Now go and join the Queerics give-away and make some queer music posts of your own!
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