The story was told by a man named Paul Magrs, who is now sharing the story as told to him by his friend, who is an autistic man. The story goes that some 30 years back, his friend, who freely identified as an autistic person (and not just “shy” or “withdrawn” as was the usual case years ago) got to meet the legendary rocker at a special screening of Labyrinth just for kids. Bowie had always publicly acknowledged his struggles with fame, so it’s clear he had special empathy with this young boy. Here’s what the boy, now an adult, recollects about meeting the Goblin King himself:
“I was withdrawn, more withdrawn than the other kids. We all got a signed poster. Because I was so shy, they put me in a separate room, to one side, and so I got to meet him alone. He’d heard I was shy and it was his idea. He spent thirty minutes with me. He gave me this mask. This one. Look. He said: ‘This is an invisible mask, you see? He took it off his own face and looked around like he was scared and uncomfortable all of a sudden. He passed me his invisible mask. ‘Put it on,’ he told me. ‘It’s magic.’ And so I did. Then he told me, ‘I always feel afraid, just the same as you. But I wear this mask every single day. And it doesn’t take the fear away, but it makes it feel a bit better. I feel brave enough then to face the whole world and all the people. And now you will, too.
I sat there in his magic mask, looking through the eyes at David Bowie and it was true, I did feel better. Then I watched as he made another magic mask. He spun it out of thin air, out of nothing at all. He finished it and smiled and then he put it on. And he looked so relieved and pleased. He smiled at me. ‘Now we’ve both got invisible masks. We can both see through them perfectly well and no one would know we’re even wearing them,’ he said. So, I felt incredibly comfortable. It was the first time I felt safe in my whole life. It was magic. He was a wizard. He was a goblin king, grinning at me. I still keep the mask, of course. This is it, now. Look.”
David Bowie changed that young man’s life with an act of kindness, not with his music or movie roles, like he did for the rest of us. This was just an example of how good David Bowie the person truly was. Last year, when we lost Bowie to cancer, the man who relayed the story confessed that he cried upon hearing the news that the man whose kind gesture changed him had passed. Although almost none of us had the personal connection with Bowie that he had, it’s safe to say many of us openly cried that day too.
Did this true story make you emotional like it did for us? Be sure to chime in with your thoughts down below in the comments.
Images: The Jim Henson Company / Sony Pictures