Klaus Nomi, a native of Germany, landed in New York City in 1972, and set up shop in the East Village art scene. His performance in the “New Wave Vaudeville” four-night event brought him the publicity and the connections necessary to start releasing material, including a surreal, operatic cover of Lou Christie’s “Lightin’ Strikes”. The exaggerated tuxedo he wears in many of his public appearances was inspired by the plastic getup David Bowie sported on the Saturday Night Live appearance at which Nomi joined him as a backup singer. Nomi’s costume change to a more baroque outfit was a calculated effort to hide the Kaposi’s sarcoma blemishes that signaled his impending death from AIDS-related complications; his ashes were scattered over New York City.
The Nomi Song, a documentary honoring the performer’s life, was released in 2004, spurring a renewed interest in Nomi. His animated supervillain avatar has guest-starred on The Venture Brothers as a bodyguard of David Bowie (also a supervillain), and his fashion sense has been an inspiration for – among others – Lady Gaga (witness her Telephone video) and Hugo Boss.