He dresses like Bowie, frequents the same places Bowie did, signs autographs for Bowie's fans and literally lives like Bowie - but of course, he's not Bowie. He's an academic - this is research.

London professor Will Brooker took a break from teaching film and cultural studies at Kingston University in order to spend a year as David Bowie, in an attempt to better understand the pop icon's work, life and mind.

He's been spending a few months at a time revisiting specific moments from Bowie's 50-year career, visiting the same places, reading and listening to the same things and even eating like Bowie did.

In a piece written for The Conversation, Brooker explained the idea was "an attempt to enter into the experiences of David Bowie - to surround myself with the culture he had engaged with, to gain some understanding of his thought processes, and how they shaped his art".


He recalled one particular moment, in which he went to the opening of the David Bowie Is exhibition, dressed as the star himself.

"A strange thing happens at moments like this. They know you're not David Bowie, but they want to pretend you are, and they want you to pretend you are. They want you to be an avatar.

"So you find yourself doing the poses, the pouts. You find yourself preening and standing in an angular fashion, and performing in an airy manner, with an exaggerated version of your own London accent and a pronounced laugh, like he did. The same way he adopted the style and delivery of Anthony Newley: strutting like a peacock, declaiming like a grown-up urchin from Oliver! or an early-70s incarnation of Oscar Wilde," he writes.

"They know you're not Bowie, but you're the nearest substitute at the time. And you act it, until you almost believe it. After a few more glasses of champagne, it becomes easier for everyone to believe it."

And it wasn't always easy. He goes on to detail an attempt to get away from the crowd for some quiet time.

"People would come and sit with me, starting conversations - or just carrying on conversations, as if they'd been talking to me beforehand in their heads. I don't know if they expected me to know who they were.

"These strange things happen; these strange dynamics of almost-fame, borrowed celebrity. I didn't get any peace or privacy. Maybe I asked for that. I didn't get much sleep. After a while, I stopped trying."

Brooker's research was compiled into the book Forever Stardust, published on January 8 - Bowie's birthday - and the documentary Being Bowie.