How A Fake 'David Bowie' Trolled The Entire Internet
It's a funny story, so it is with a heavy heart that I must inform you it's definitely not real. I know that because I used to post in that forum, and I'm still in contact with the person who wrote the immortal words "this is for you, trainee bench boy." (Which are now more famous on the internet than "Ground Control to Major Tom" or anything else Bowie's oeuvre.)
Admittedly, the post seems superficially in character for Bowie, who was one of those nerds who were already into the internet by the mid-'90s. Bowie was the first popular artist to release a single on the web, one of the first to stream concerts online, and the first to launch his own ISP, BowieNet. Imagine the honor of owing your favorite rock star $19.90 because you blew your data cap downloading too many 144p resolution pornos.
Also, it's a matter of historical fact that Bowie had a "special" sense of humor. Even in his final days, as he recorded an incredibly dark album while slowly dying of cancer, he would force his band to sit through this entire silly-ass video on YouTube while presumably giggling and clapping like a baby hopped up on Baby Sharks:
It's also true that Bowie had his own message board (one of the perks of BowieNet service, along with your very own e-mail address), and he did post and chat there under the name "sailor," which is probably a reference to that photo of him standing on a boat with an America-themed thong that all of us have had as our phone lock screen at some point.
The only problem is that the website in the viral screenshot is not BowieNet but Teenage Wildlife, which was the Bowie message board you went to when you got banned from other Bowie message boards. The TW website itself was an invaluable repository of Bowie-related data, but the message board also contained large doses of trolling, flaming, barely intelligible hypersexual Italians thirsting for "The Area," and some of the worst poetry ever conceived by human minds. (Or, in my case, the worst 32-page Major Tom musical ever written by a Bowie-obsessed 18-year-old who'd just entered film school.)
Most people in the forum were aware that "SaiIor" (with an upper case "i") was not actually Bowie but a poster also sometimes known as Muhammed Shibaz Moqito, most famous for continually fooling newcomers into clicking on links to Tubgirl. If you don't know what Tubgirl is, don't look it up. And if you already did, well, guess that technically makes you the 14,324th or so person to be Tubgirl'd by Mr. Moqito, if only indirectly.
Besides, by this point, the real Bowie wasn't even posting much on his official forum, let alone on third-party sites that weren't making him money. And when he did post at BowieNet in the mid-'00s, it was mostly to squash rumors or rave about his latest musical discovery in as few words as possible.
While we're at it, note that BowieNet's bland white background looks nothing like TW's stylish light-blue-on-purple color scheme. A couple of minutes of research would have been enough to debunk the famous screenshot before it went viral, but I guess we want to live in a world where one of the most legendary rock stars and sex symbols in history was secretly a shitposter like the rest of us.
As for Mr. Moqito, I reached out to him to ask if he wanted to add anything to this article, and he only offered the following cryptic message: "Just add my condolences to the Widow Mike Garson."
Maxwell Yezpitelok lives in Chile and also on Twitter. Suck it Bowie WonderWorld, TW 4 LYFE.
Top image: Adam Bielawski/Wikimedia Commons