The Nomi Song (2004)
- Documentary | Biography | Music
Having failed to break into professional opera in his native Germany (where, as an usher in West Berlin's Deutsche Oper, he would serenade the staff after the 'real' performances were over) the diminutive Klaus Nomi headed for NYC in 1972. The vibrant New Wave/avant-garde gestalt of the mid/late '70's East Village proved to be fertile ground for the development of his unique talents. Working by day as a high-end pastry chef, Nomi began to stage his outlandish performances, first launching himself upon an unsuspecting public at the New Wave Vaudeville in 1978. The hip and cynical young audience was stunned by this weird combination of falsetto arias, booming classical orchestration, Kraftwerk-style electronica, futuristic costumes and outer space imagery. An odd assortment of artists, choreographers, designers, songwriters and musicians jumped on to the Nomi bandwagon and the phenomenon began to take off - first attracting thousands to South Manhattan events (including performances at the legendary Max's Kansas City) and culminating in a recording contract with the French division of RCA. With the release 'Klaus Nomi' in 1981 and 'Simple Man' in 1982, it looked as if Nomi was on the verge of superstardom. Having established himself in Europe, he made a triumphant return to New York City. But Nomi's moment of glory proved to be his swansong. Within only a few months Nomi had succumbed to the ravages of AIDS. One of the first celebrities to be killed by this mysterious new disease, Nomi died a lonely death, largely abandoned by those who had seen him as a passport to their own success. Today, the otherworldliness of 'The Cold Song' and 'Dido's Lament' is like an ethereal voice calling from beyond the grave.