The Nomi Song (2005)

In Film on January 15, 2005 at 7:19 pm


The Nomi Song is a documentary about the bizzare German-born singer Klaus Nomi, a cult figure in the New York New Wave underground movement in the late 70s/early 80s. I’ve only heard of Klaus Nomi and seen his album covers but never actually heard his music prior the film. Klaus Nomi was a classical trained tenor who sings pop songs in classical Opera style (^^;;) with a striking on-stage persona (an alien/robot in the signature triangular tux top + German expressionism-ish black & white makeup) and bizzare theatrical performances. After much struggle to reach a wider audience, his first taste of international success in 1983 would also be his end. He became one of the first artists to die of AIDS.


The documentary covers Klaus Nomi’s short journey of shooting star-like stardom as well as the era of New Wave movement. The filmmaker managed to obtain rare footage of his indie stage performances, in fact I wish the film would showed his live performances longer… at least show one in full length! They also show the famous 1979 David Bowie apperance on SNL in which Klaus Nomi dance/sing backup in the background! (David Bowie in dress ;-)). It was fascinating to learn about the man and his music, if only if they’re from a speculative pov. He got amazing voice~

The documentary began and ended with footages from vintage sci-fi movie They Come From Outer Space to tie in the concept of Nomi being like an alien from Mars. Nomi really seem to believe in himself to have come from outer space (a theaterial manifestation of his inability to connect with/understand by fellow earthlings?). In the world of avant garde art freaks, he’s the freak among the freaks. The film played on this Martians angle that effectively added on the unreal and magical touch to his eccentricity and otherworldly-ness. At the end of the film we still don’t really know much about him as a person. It just seems that he’s a very lonely artist that no one could really understand. It is heartbreaking to hear a lot of Klaus’s friends and working partners didn’t go visit him when he was hospitalized, as they were simply too frightened of AIDS since no one know anything about it then.

There was a very cute section where he went on some TV program showing the audience how to bake pies (he used to ran his own pastry business at his apartment baking pies for a living. Back in the indies days with no money, he exchanged his pies for his photos). He seemed so shy and sweet. Apparently Nomi was more popular and known in Germany and Japan than US (why am I not surprised~~ ^^;;;). I can’t help but wonder, if Nomi were to live how far would he achieve? How influential he would be and how that would change music? Or perhaps he would become an obscure one act wonder who fade away into further obscurity? For sure with his death, he became and remain a ‘myth’. The Nomi Song is only showing at Nuart Theatre in Santa Monica for a very short period of time, if you’re interested be sure to catch it soon. Here’s the Trailer, and Official Website here. check them out!

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