David Bowie on Saturday Night Live in 1979

Bowie is joined by Klaus Nomi and Joey Arias for this unique performance on the US TV show

In this appearance on 15 December 1979 during the US comedy show Saturday Night Live, David Bowie, Klaus Nomi and flamboyant New York performance artist Joey Arias perform three songs.

Three songs were performed, ‘The Man Who Sold The World’, with Bowie carried to the front of the stage by Nomi and Arias, while wearing a man’s evening dress and a large bow tie (emulating the poet Tristan Tzara).

Next Bowie launches into Station to Station’s ‘TVC 15’ in a skirt and heels, while Nomi and Arias drag around a pink plastic poodle. Saturday Night Live’s stage designer Mark Ravitz created the poodle with a small TV monitor in its mouth, broadcasting the song as it was performed.

For the last number, Lodger’s ‘Boys Keep Swinging’, Bowie wears a life-size marionette costume. Bowie performs in a green screen suit with a body puppet superimposed over top of him, cutting edge technology for that the time. During the broadcast NBC censors muted the lines “life’s a pop o’the cherry” and “other boys check you out”, but failed to notice the puppet’s bouncing phallus at the close of the song.

Nomi was so impressed with the costuming that he adopted the huge plastic tuxedo Bowie wears during ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ as his own, wearing one on the cover of his first album and performing in it until his death from AIDS in 1983.