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Music Legend David Bowie Dies at 69; Mexico Wants to Question Sean Penn about El Chapo; Aid Arrives in Madaya; Backlash in Germany after Gang Sex Assaults; Inside North Korea. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired January 11, 2016 - 10:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[10:00:00]

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ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST: Hi, there, and welcome to the INTERNATIONAL DESK. I'm Robyn Curnow.

Now this hour we will have the latest on El Chapo's extradition to the U.S. and North Korea's claim that it's holding an American prisoner.

But we do start with the death of David Bowie. Tributes are pouring in from around the world for one of modern music's most influential,

innovative voices. And his music reminds us of that.

(VIDEO CLIP, "SPACE ODDITY")

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CURNOW (voice-over): Bowie burst on the scene in 1969 with "Space Oddity," which later became his chart-topping hit in the U.K.. He invented himself

many times over his career, finding his greatest commercial success at the dawn of the music video era with "Let's Dance."

(VIDEO CLIP, "LET'S DANCE")

CURNOW: What an artist.

Bowie turned 69 last week and had just released a new album. Brian Stelter has more on his life and his death.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Legendary British singer David Bowie, who indelibly influenced generations with his

eclectic persona and groundbreaking sound, dead at age 69 after an 18-month battle with cancer.

Bowie's publicist telling CNN the icon died peacefully, surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer.

"While many of you will share in his loss, we ask that you respect the family's privacy during their time of grief."

His son tweeting, "Very sorry and sad to say it's true. I'll be offline for a while. Love to all."

An illustrious career spanning over 40 years, Bowie was born in South London as David Jones.

Bursting onto the scene in 1969 with the smash hit, "Space Oddity."

And later as his ethereal space alien alter ego, Ziggy Stardust.

Bowie's flamboyant theatrics and a fashion-forward style becoming a signature hallmark of the genre-defined pop fixture.

His music, a rally cry for misfits everywhere. In 1996, Bowie was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame and awarded a Grammy Lifetime

Achievement Award 10 years later.

His long-time wife, supermodel Iman, a steady fixture by his side. Bowie, a master of reinvention, continued working, dipping in and out of the

public eye releasing his latest album, "Blackstar," just days ago on his 69th birthday, much to critical acclaim. The album topping charts in the

U.K. and the U.S.

Highlighting Bowie's unparalleled ability to continue to push the envelope even after four decades in the industry.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW: Yes. He managed to appeal to so many generations of fans. Erin McLaughlin is in Central London, where many of them are gathering.

Hi, there. I mean, I've just -- we've been sitting in the newsroom, playing a lot of these Bowie records, albums. And it's amazing how many,

how prolific he was.

But also, I mean, it's just great music, isn't it?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, Robyn. And the sound of David Bowie is the air here. They're actually playing his music over a

loudspeaker. This is, after all, Heddon Street. This is where Ziggy Stardust, his alter ego, the legendary iconic character landed in 1972.

There's actually a plaque. You can see it just behind me in honor of Ziggy, one of the few fictional characters honored with a plaque here in

London. They've also preserved the lamp that was featured in that iconic album cover.

So people --

[10:05:00]

MCLAUGHLIN: -- from all over have been gathering here to lay flowers and pay their respects. One of them, Paola (ph), she joins me now. She's an

ardent fan.

Paola (ph), how are you holding up?

PAOLA (PH), BOWIE FAN: It's been a very, very difficult morning. My husband broke the news to me this morning about 6:00 am. And I have just

been in floods of tears. And I was sitting at home, listening to all his music and I just couldn't cope with it anymore. And I feel I have to get

out and do something.

So I thought I'd come here and meet like-minded people and we can kind of share in our mourning of one of the greatest British icons we've ever had.

MCLAUGHLIN: Now you remember when Ziggy Stardust landed here in 1972. Take us back to that time.

What was it like?

PAOLA (PH): It was just an amazing thing. I was a big T-Rex fan at the time and loved Marc Bolan with all the glitter on his face and everything.

So I was kind of heading into the glam rock sort of genre myself. I was 12, 13.

And but when Bowie burst onto the scene, I'd never seen anything like it, his look, his music, just the style of singing was like nothing else

anybody had ever seen before. And I was just hooked.

MCLAUGHLIN: Talk to me about the emotional connection you had with his fans.

PAOLA (PH): Oh, it's just unbelievable. He wrote -- every album was an adventure and there were different songs on the album that appealed to

different people. So many different styles. And there was something for everybody and I think that's why he had such a broad appeal.

But certainly for me personally, the whole sort of glam rock scene was just the pinnacle to me at that time. And then there's been other stuff he's

done. But he's always connected with his fans really well and he's always surprised us, you know, even the last album, "Blackstar," was like what's

it going to be like? And it was very different to all his other albums.

So he just kept everyone guessing all the time.

MCLAUGHLIN: Paola (ph), thank you --

(CROSSTALK)

PAOLA (PH): My pleasure.

MCLAUGHLIN: So, Robyn, bold, irreverent, surprising, all words being used to describe David Bowie today as they remember his life and his music.

CURNOW: Indeed. I think she's right when she said every album was an adventure, I mean, extraordinarily man. Thanks so much, great music, Erin

McLaughlin there in London.

Well, David Bowie's career is certainly one to celebrate. He left us with songs that had such meaning to millions of people. You heard him -- you

heard Erin there, speaking to one of them. He crossed generations and genres.

Well, Anthony DeCurtis is a music critic and contributing editor of "Rolling Stone" magazine.

He -- Anthony, he was a renaissance man, a pop chameleon, a rebel, in fact.

ANTHONY DECURTIS, "ROLLING STONE": Yes, in every regard. He was somebody as that young woman there were talking to before said. There's a sense of

constant musical and stylistic evolution in David Bowie's life. And that was one of the most exciting aspects of it. You never knew what he was

going to do next.

And he wasn't afraid to try anything and that sense of adventure was something I think that gripped his fans as much as the specific music

itself.

CURNOW: And then also tell us -- I mean, this last album he released on Friday on his 69th birthday, I mean, in many ways, people seem to be

thinking that he wrote, he sang his own obituary.

DECURTIS: Well, I think that's exactly right. You know and that is something he would do. I mean, I think there was an element of he's an

artist and he's a creative person and he was obviously going through this battle with cancer. And I think that's the subject: mortality is the

subject of that record.

But that was always the subject with him. He's the guy who sang to all his young fans, "Look out, you rock 'n' rollers. Pretty soon you're going to

get older," you know, that sense of time passing and what this life means.

I mean, all that space exploration in Bowie's music is a spiritual quest, a desire to find morning somewhere. And that -- you know, that was with him

to the very, very end.

CURNOW: And I think what struck so many people was that, you know, in this age of Kardashians and selfies and self-congratulatory tweets, I mean, this

last album seems to be -- have released with much class, with grace. And he seemed to have left this world quietly without fanfare. And I think

that's a matter of respect for many people.

DECURTIS: Well, that is very true and it's not something anyone necessarily would have anticipated about David Bowie, certainly in the

early '70s when he was seen as this shocking figure, willing to do anything to shock people.

There was a sense of incredible grace and sophistication that he represented and certainly later on his life, those became paramount virtues

for him.

CURNOW: And let's also -- I mean, I was speaking a little bit earlier in the makeup room, which, of course, is the repository of all of CNN's news

gathering. You can get a lot of stuff in the makeup room.

DECURTIS: Best conversations --

[10:10:00]

DECURTIS: I'm quite sure.

CURNOW: Absolutely. But one of the makeup ladies said, you know, "My dad got me into Bowie. He bought me a cassette."

And I think that was also telling because he really did cut across generations, didn't he?

How?

DECURTIS: He was one of those figures who'd never seemed old, you know. And that, I think, was because everything was new to him. Bowie had that

kind of mind, you know. Interviewed him a few times and one of the things his mind was so lambent. You know, he was somebody who could -- he could

speak like a critic about obscure R&D records from the '50s and '60s and then on the other hand, you know, discuss fashion, discuss painters, like

Francis Bacon.

And he just had a wide range. And I think if you're somebody who's alert to any of those things and cared about them, whether you were a kid or a

person who had grown up with David Bowie, that was exciting because he made it exciting because it always was exciting to him.

He was not a jaded person and sophisticated and radical a figure as he was he was never jaded. I mean, everything that he came to, he came to with

great enthusiasm and passion.

CURNOW: Indeed. Thank you so much. Wonderful talking to you, Anthony DeCurtis --

DECURTIS: Oh, it was my pleasure, thank you.

CURNOW: -- thank you so much.

Well, still to come here at the INTERNATIONAL DESK, it has more twists and turns than a Hollywood blockbuster, doesn't it? The recapture of the

world's most powerful drug lord and the Oscar-winning actor who could be questioned in the case.

Plus an aid convoy scrambles to reach a besieged town in Syria where people say they're boiling water and leaves to survive.

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CURNOW: To the story now of the -- bizarre story, frankly -- of the world's most wanted drug lord and the Hollywood A-lister who may have led

the authorities to his hideout.

Mexico says it wants to talk to Oscar winner Sean Penn and a Mexican actress about their secret meeting in the jungle with Joaquin "El Chapo"

Guzman after his escape from prison.

CNN's Nick Valencia has more on that meeting.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOAQUIN "EL CHAPO" GUZMAN, DRUG LORD (Speaking Spanish).

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a two-minute clip posted to rollingstone.com over the weekend, notorious drug trafficker, Joaquin

"El Chapo" Guzman, gives an exclusive interview to Mexican actress Kate del Castillo and Academy Award winner Sean Penn.

GUZMAN (through translator): Well, it's a reality, that drugs destroy. Unfortunately, as I said, where I grew up, there was no other way and there

still isn't a way to survive, no other way to work.

VALENCIA (voice-over): El Chapo speaking while on the run, follow-up questions to a face-to-face meeting he had with Penn in October.

GUZMAN (through translator): All I do is defend --

[10:15:00]

GUZMAN (through translator): -- myself, nothing more. I do not start looking for trouble.

VALENCIA (voice-over): This photo of the two, taken just three months after the drug kingpin escaped out of a maximum security prison in Central

Mexico. Now Mexican officials want to question the Hollywood A-lister, along with this famous Mexican actress, Kate del Castillo. She's credited

with linking Penn to the heavily guarded fugitive.

Penn, writing in "Rolling Stone," "I take no pride in keeping secrets that may be perceived as protecting criminals."

Guzman's desire to talk to the actors about making a biopic about his life could have been the slipup that led to Friday's capture.

Castillo forging a friendship with El Chapo after a 2012 tweet, critical of the Mexican government. CNN receiving contradictory information about

whether or not the Mexican government knew about the interview before it was published to "Rolling Stone's" website. A senior Mexican law

enforcement official says no.

However, a separate source tells CNN they were well aware and that it aided in finally catching the world's most wanted drug lord.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW: Well, there's so much to talk about with the story, isn't there?

Criminal defense attorney and CNN legal analyst Mark Geragos joins us now from Los Angeles.

Hi, there. So let's just start with the meaty stuff first, the extradition underway.

How soon could El Chapo be in the United States?

MICHAEL GERAGOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Unless the U.S. is going to go down there and grab him and then bring him up -- and we've done that before --

this could take forever basically in Mexico. There is an appellate process there that is kind of a labyrinth and very byzantine. And there's no way

that that can be done easily, which is one of the reasons in the past that the U.S. has kind of surreptitiously when they wanted somebody,

surreptitiously gone down there and just grabbed them and brought them to the U.S., which would not surprise me at all if that ends up being what

happens.

CURNOW: OK. And the Mexicans -- I'm not sure what this means politically and I think that has been a large part of the debate -- let's talk about

Sean Penn and the Mexican actress, Kate del Castillo.

I mean, are they exposed legally?

I understand sharing tacos and tequila with a drug lord in Mexico is not illegal.

What would the issue be?

I suppose only if they aided and abetted him in some way.

GERAGOS: Right or give some kind of material assistance. If you were to do something, if you were to pay them, if you were to give them something,

either him, El Chapo, or the people around him, if you were to give any kind of assistance, then, arguably, Sean would have some kind of exposure

in Mexico.

I don't think that that's the case. I think clearly this was a journalistic endeavor. He's covered by the First Amendment and all the

journalistic source privileges that attach to that from the U.S.

Could Mexico make trouble for him?

Sure. I'm -- you know, there's -- one of the great reasons for never going to Mexico is they don't have a writ of habeas corpus. So other than that,

I don't see any exposure to Sean at all.

In fact, you could make the argument that, in some ways, he was instrumental in capturing this guy if they, in fact, were following him or

his movements and he can make a claim for the reward.

CURNOW: Well, that's one thing. But then there's also the considerations, repercussions from the Sinaloa drug cartel, if that is the case. Your

legal worries might not be so big in comparison with that.

Let's just talk, though, about --

(CROSSTALK)

GERAGOS: -- I think he does -- I think he's got bigger worries.

But this is not any different than when "60 Minutes" goes and interviews --

CURNOW: Absolutely.

GERAGOS: -- or "Internationally Wanted" and things like that.

CURNOW: I think let's just talk also about this project. It seems to be a vanity project in many ways by both Penn and El Chapo. I mean, the drug

lord wanted a movie made about him. That is what allegedly got all of this rolling.

Penn has written quite a self-congratulatory, indulgent article. There's a lot of unintentional comedy in it. But that aside, it's not uncommon for

wanted felons to be done in by their own hubris, that's the case.

GERAGOS: Well, there's clearly an element to that. And I supposed that this gentleman, El Chapo, wanted some control over it. I mean, he is

venerated in certain areas where he comes from in Mexico. Clearly there have been biopics that have been made about people who are not venerated.

Here you have somebody who's kind of an international outlaw; you have this story that captivated the world about the escape and now you have him

captured once again.

So it would not surprise if there's a movie in the pipeline or if it's already been green-lit. So this is not something that's unusual nor

something that, frankly, Hollywood doesn't attract itself to.

CURNOW: Indeed. Mark, thanks so much. Really appreciate it.

The story that I think is still going to keep on giving. Appreciate it.

Well, moving on, far more important news also, serious news, food for starving Syrians.

[10:20:00]

CURNOW: Trucks carrying and arrive in Madaya. People have been under siege for months.

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CURNOW: Welcome back. I'm Robyn Curnow.

People said to be starving in a besieged Syrian town may soon be getting some desperately needed food. A U.N. source says the first truck in an aid

convoy are entering rebel-held Madaya, northwest of Damascus. Our Nick Paton Walsh joins us now from Beirut.

Hi, there, Nick. This no doubt good news, even though this issue of starvation, food as a weapon, is unfortunately very common (INAUDIBLE)

Syria.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly what we're hearing in the last half an hour is that the first few trucks have entered

into Madaya, part of a 44-strong truck convoy.

These first three or four containing food barrels, two of them in blankets and the other two, I'm told, by sources in that convoy that, in fact, they

anticipate after this first few go in, that the rest of the convoy will then be allowed in.

It's getting dark there and obviously raises some safety concerns. The source describing how she saw men, women, elderly people weeping as this

food convoy began to move in.

But the complexity today has been extraordinary. They have had to coordinate the delivery of this aid with the delivery of aid to two other

towns in the north of Syria, which are, in fact, surrounded by rebels and loyal to the government. Those two towns, Foua and Kefraya, have to get

the aid at the same time that the rebel-held town of Madaya, that's surrounded by the government does as well for this deal to go through.

The U.N. trying to broker it here. They sent in initially a few cars to prepare the way for this convoy. Now it appears it's more broadly

underway. A lot of things could still go wrong here and the broader issue, too, we've heard now about 30 fatalities, say doctors inside there, because

of hunger-related complications. We can't verify those numbers ourselves. That's what they say is happening.

Hundreds in need of urgent nutrition. The problem is when food starts to come in at this scale, people have been deprived, as activists say they

have been for so long, urgent deliveries of food have to be handled carefully because eating too much after so long a deprivation can, in fact,

be damaging for health, too.

So a difficult task on the ground, certainly there in Madaya -- Robyn.

CURNOW: I think let's not overstate the fact that this -- or understate the fact that this is the Syrian government who've been besieging their own

people here. Just tell us, in terms of the negotiations, what has to be done and also the kind of complexity of the security operations.

WALSH: Well, it's no news, really, that food is being used as a weapon in the Syrian civil war for months, years now. And the complexity of this

operation was about using, I think it's fair to say, leverage or a linkage between delivery to -- food to towns, Foua and Kefraya, in the north of

Syria, which is surrounded by rebels and have these into march with those surrounded in Madaya who've been -- received their last aid convoy in the

middle of October.

Now the U.N., after a lengthy number of social media images were posted during last week, announced that the Syrian government would permit that

aid convoy to go through to Madaya, many aid agencies have criticized the Syrian regime for not granting all of the requests they've put forward. In

fact, only a small minority say some are actually allowed to progress through to their targets.

And this is --

[10:25:00]

WALSH: -- as I said, as many activists and rebels, part of a broader Syrian government strategy to, quote, "starve and surrender" areas that are

sympathetic to rebel forces. That, for example, if you are an area, holding out against regime forces, they deprive you of food and make it

impossible for people to continue existing.

In Homs that worked in the favor of the regime with the impact made a whole area move its fight it out because of the malnutrition afflicted there.

But one more thing I should point out, Robyn, as this tragedy is perhaps seeing a positive note here in Madaya, also the north of Syria, 17 people,

perhaps including a dozen children, were killed when airstrikes hit a school.

The violence continues regardless of publicity that this hunger-related situation has gained -- Robyn.

CURNOW: OK. And civilians put in the middle as always. Thanks so much, Nick Paton Walsh there in Beirut.

Well, gangs of men have attacked and injured two Pakistanis and a Syrian man in Cologne, Germany. It's possible retaliation against refugees and

migrants after a wave of mob sex assaults on women in the city. CNN's Atika Shubert is at the train station, where the New Year's Eve attacks

took place.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, these are the latest numbers that have come in on that mass assault that apparently took place here on New

Year's Eve on that chaotic night in Cologne.

According to police, they now have more than 500 criminal complaints from that night, a little less than half are being investigated as cases of

sexual assault. The vast majority of the suspects are believed to be migrants or refugees.

As you can imagine, that has caused a tremendous backlash throughout the country but especially here in Cologne over the weekend. We saw hundreds

of angry protesters take to the streets, demanding an end to Germany's refugee policy. It did get a little violent, a few scuffles with police,

beer bottles thrown, water cannons were used to push them back.

But even as that was happening on one end of the city, nearby, hundreds more protesters were demanding that the doors be kept open to refugees and

that there simply be tougher law enforcement.

Overnight, police have also said that there were some attacks on migrants here in Cologne; six Pakistani men and one Syrian man were assaulted by

local residents. And that's exactly the type of thing that authorities were fearing.

Germany's interior minister spoke today. And in his speech, he said that there should be tougher law enforcement, regardless of where the

perpetrators are from. But he also underscored that the right to asylum is a basic right in Germany and in Europe and that the doors to refugees will

remain open; although anyone who enters the country, he said, must abide by German law -- Atika Shubert, CNN, Cologne.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW: Thanks to Atika for that report.

Now an American woman has been found dead in her apartment in Italy. Police are treating her death as a homicide. The body of 35-year-old

Florida native, Ashley Olsen, was found by her boyfriend Saturday. He told police he became concerned after not hearing from Olsen for several days

and asked her landlord to help him check on her.

Well, still here at the IDESK, there is a man detained in North Korea a U.S. citizen. What he has to say about it in an exclusive interview here

on CNN.

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CURNOW: You're watching the INTERNATIONAL DESK. I'm Robyn Curnow. Here's a check of the headlines.

(HEADLINES)

CURNOW: The U.S. State Department is not confirming a claim by North Korea that it's holding an American citizen prisoner. North Korea's government

gave CNN exclusive access to the prisoner.

Our Will Ripley now join us live from Pyongyang.

Hi, there, Will. Tell us about your meeting with this man.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, just like everything else here in Pyongyang, Robyn, there's always a little bit of mystery to it. For

example, you can hear the music playing behind me, that plays every night at midnight, very loud, even though the lights of the city are off and

people are asleep.

And in the case of this detained purported American, we landed in Pyongyang and were told that they were holding an American citizen but were given no

other details until shortly before our interview, when the man you're about to see walked through the door and told us his story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RIPLEY (voice-over): Days after North Korea's nuclear test shocked the world, a new diplomatic bombshell. Kim Dong Cho says he's an American

citizen, who used to live in Fairfax, Virginia. North Korea calls him a spy, accused of stealing nuclear and military secrets.

Pyongyang authorities order Kim to speak to us in Korean. He seems aware our conversation is likely being listened to.

"I committed an act of espionage against North Korea," he says.

"I gathered information about its nuclear program and military facilities."

Kim says North Korean agents arrested him three months ago, seizing a U.S. B-drive, camera and documents with details of North Korea's nuclear

program.

CNN cannot determine whether Kim is making his statements under duress. He says he was not spying for the United States but for South Korean

conservative elements with the goal of undermining North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's regime.

The South Korean government calls the claims groundless

RIPLEY: How did it work?

How did you pass on the information you collected?

RIPLEY (voice-over): "I bribed a local resident, an ex-soldier with military access," he says.

"He handed over information. I hid it in my car and secretly brought it to China."

Kim says he drove back and forth from China every day as president of a company that operates in Rason, a special economic zone, where foreign-

owned businesses operate just inside North Korea.

The businesses help the cash-strapped regime make money to pay for things like its nuclear program.

"It's time for the U.S. government to withdraw its hostile policy against North Korea," Kim says, using the same language often found in Pyongyang

propaganda.

We're allowed to photograph Kim's American passport. He says he was born in South Korea but became a U.S. citizen almost 30 years ago.

So far the State Department has refused to comment or even confirm his U.S. citizenship, telling CNN, quote, "Speaking publicly about specific

purported cases of detained Americans can complicate our tireless efforts to secure their freedom."

"I'm asking the U.S. or South Korean government to rescue me," Kim says.

Neither country has diplomatic relations with North Korea. For now, this professed U.S. citizen is detained. No trial date, no idea if he'll ever

see his family or country again.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[10:35:00]

RIPLEY: So we know that the conversation was being monitored in that room and the fact that the U.S. State Department can't verify that this is a

U.S. citizen, yet he is clearly an American passport holder and the passport certainly looked authentic to us, raises the questions about why

keep this case so secret?

What's the motivation right now?

And the obvious answer, Robyn, would be leverage. Given the North Korean nuclear test and then the immediate response, including the United States

sending B-2 bombers up to the demilitarized zone over the weekend, it seems clear that North Korea is continuing to look for bargaining chips to get

major powers like the United States to the bargaining table to talk about things like lifting economic sanctions and normalizing relations.

And so the nuclear program and having purported American detainee might help move them closer to that goal -- Robyn.

CURNOW: Yes, good point. Will Ripley in Pyongyang, great having you there. Thanks so much for your reporting. We'll speak to you soon again.

Well, more tributes flowing in, praising the life and colorful career of David Bowie. We will listen to more of his music and talk about the

stereotypes he shattered. Stay with us.

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(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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CURNOW: One of David Bowie's biggest hits there, "Modern Love," people from the music world and beyond are remembering the influential singer who

died Sunday of cancer at age 69. This image is being widely shared on social media, an animation of Bowie's various looks over the years, created

by the artist Helen Green. The many faces of an incredible talent, who reinvested himself over and over.

Well, Michael Musto is a columnist for out.com. He joins me from CNN New York.

Before we chat, I just want to play one of his songs, "Rebel, Rebel," says a lot about the man -- let's listen.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

CURNOW: I love that song. Now he really did, Michael, shatter stereotypes, a man who wore makeup, played with images of androgyny in the

'60s when that just wasn't done.

How influential was he?

MICHAEL MUSTO, JOURNALIST: Extremely influential. David Bowie, as you see, mixed subversive messages into his rock 'n' roll and he mixed rock

with sci-fi, R&B, music hall, drag, as you say, and it really influenced artists and the populace and will continue to do so for a long time.

Artists like Madonna, who's paid her respects by Twitter and Lady Gaga have certainly learned a lot about David Bowie's reinvention and subversiveness.

CURNOW: Indeed. He was gender neutral in many ways --

[10:40:00]

MUSTO: Well, he was a man --

CURNOW: -- someone said.

MUSTO: -- he was a man but he was very comfortable playing around with his feminine side. It influenced me a lot. It really helped me --

CURNOW: In what way?

MUSTO: It helped me find my inner space alien, my inner David Bowie. And he really influenced a whole generation in that way.

CURNOW: A whole generation. But it's not just one generation who was influenced by him. We were speaking earlier to a music critic, who said he

just never got old. It felt like he was always cool.

MUSTO: It's true because, despite all the reinvention of his looks, he was true to the music. And he did experiment with different electronic types

of music, always collaborated with group people. But he was true to his vision of music on the cutting edge and he never gave up on that. And

that's why he's a lasting influence.

CURNOW: You know, in this world where nothing seems to last very long and 140 characters and, bam, move on, I mean, this whole concept of

reinvention, we saw that image by that artist before we came to you.

How important is it in a pop or a music career?

And he really seemed to get it, didn't he?

MUSTO: He really got it and it's important because it shows that the artist cares enough about their image to constantly work on it and change

while remaining true to their artistic vision. And that's what he did. Deep down, he was always David Bowie. You knew you could rely on him for

that great musical vision.

But he changed the exteriors in a way to keep you tantalized, like kids in a candy shop, looking at a -- the hot new product.

CURNOW: And let's just go back. I mean, to that original question I asked you, why he matters and why -- his music was there and will always be

there. But in the '60s and '70s, you know, these images of him really breaking stereotypes. Just explain to us why those times were so different

and why his just presence and his bravery and his chameleon-likeness really changed people's lives.

MUSTO: It really was in the 1970s and it was a time when things were percolating and the gay community was starting to mobilize and he said,

look, it's OK to play with yourself, play with your gender identity, to present whatever image you want to the world, to be flashy, to be trashy.

He sang really outrageous lyrics, like "Rebel, Rebel," and he made it OK for a lot of gay people to -- whether he was gay or not, I guess not -- he

had come out as gay at one point and then took it back and said he only did that as a career move. He, of course, was married to Iman and they had a

wonderful relationship. I love Iman.

But he made it OK for gay people, really, to find themselves.

CURNOW: OK. Michael Musto, thanks for your perspective, appreciate it.

MUSTO: Thank you.

CURNOW: Well, that does it for us here at the INTERNATIONAL DESK. I'm Robyn Curnow. I'll be back in just over an hour with more on the death of

David Bowie and some more of his music. So do stay with us for that. Kurt Loder will be joining us. Meanwhile, "WORLD SPORT" with Amanda Davies is

up next.

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