On 5 July 2002 Bowie was the subject of a 45-minute BBC One special with Jonathan Ross, performing four tracks (‘Fashion’, ‘Slip Away‘, ‘Everyone Says ‘Hi’‘ and ‘Ziggy Stardust’). As well as offering Ross out for a few rounds of boxing (“I’ve been doing a bit of sparring – it’s hard, isn’t it?” the host asked. “Well, yeah, that’s the point” came the witty reply), his perspective on possibly being awarded a knighthood (“I suggest they give it to someone who gives a damn… it’s not on my shopping list”), and the continuing struggles of being a writer (“there’s a sense of mystery that I’ll never be able to confront… or escape from certain things”), this interview is particularly notable for Bowie’s comments on sexuality.
“You were gay for a while…” Ross begins, tactfully. “Nah, I was just happy,” retorts Bowie. “I just got me leg over a lot… I was incredibly promiscuous.” The host then asks whether he should try, ahem, “man-love”.
“Such a serious and life-challenging question…” ponders Bowie, as Ross smirks off-camera. “The answer that I have for you would probably create such turmoil in your soul that I’m not sure you could withstand it, or in fact last the rest of the show. So I’m afraid that I’m going to have to politely and reluctantly not answer that question.” The fact that it left Ross spluttering is all the more brilliant.