Klaus Nomi Obituary

Klaus Nomi

By Kristian Hoffman for East Village Eye

Klaus Nomi appeared on the NYC scene suddenly, leaping from his spectacular debut at the New Wave Vaudeville show (where the astounded audience had to be told repeatedly that the voice was truly live) to spearhead a futurist movement of militantly fashionable avant-misfits before and beyond any new romantic notions occurred to Spandau Ballet and after Bowie abandoned the future as an archaic concept.

Klaus was a face - elfin and painted as a Kabuki robot. He was a style - a medieval interpretation of the 21st century via Berlin 1929. He was a voice, almost inhuman in range, from operatic soprano to Prussian general. He was a master performer - a master of theatrical gesture. Above all he was a visionary. He said the future is based on the needs of the artist, deciding how to live and living that way every minute. Klaus, the man from the future, lived that way in the present, and held out his hand saying, "Come with me. You can do it too."

His vision was naive, quaint, almost foolish, but forceful in its purity and innocence. Even at his most wildly ridiculous ("Lightning Strikes") or quaveringly sublime (Purcell's "Death") there was an acknowledgment of impending apocalypse that lent it conviction. For Klaus, apocalypse was a metaphor for purification, and as the oddball optimist surrounded by cynical detachment and resignation, he dared to believe in a better world.

Klaus rose quickly, independent of the critical machine. He was never "cool," and was resented by some who thought Fame should have hipper tastes. He gained a following in New York and used it as a springboard to even greater success in Europe. He dearly loved New York, felt it was his true home, and was distressed that he couldn't work here more. He requested that his remains stay here despite family ties in Germany.

He did not end life at the end of his career, but in the middle of it. His biggest accomplishments were ahead of him. He was on the verge of Canadian and American deals, and was full of ideas and plans, positive and humorous. He was tortured by impossible and endless management complications and a disease whose myth exploded through thoughtless babble and media saturation until the only sensible solution was to move far away.

His was always a message of great instinctive hope.



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