Henri of Luxembourg

א / Wikimedia Commons

In all likelihood, no one would find it hard to believe I was leading a secret double life. But this is just because I don’t get a whole lot done in my normal, visible life. “Maybe JD doesn’t actually spend all his time sitting on the couch drinking beer and playing video games. Maybe he’s also working under an assumed name as a gas station attendant, or a pharmaceutical clinical trial subject? Perhaps he’s a bigamist? Because surely there must be more to him than meets the eye.”

Well, yes and no. First of all, I also huff glue while I’m playing video games, to stay alert, and twitchy. Second, people have gross miscomprehensions about how secret double lives actually work. In many cases, it’s the most accomplished people who have secret lives. They have a successful public persona, and as if that weren’t enough, they have a whole second set of accomplishments and activities. Think Bruce Wayne, or Alger Hiss, or Jim McGreevey.

Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg falls into this category. First, he is a Grand Duke, which is probably a lot more than you can say. Second, he is very handsome, which is probably also more than you can say. Third, he can trace his ancestry back to the seventh century AD, whereas you probably count yourself lucky that you know who your real dad is. Henri didn’t really need to accomplish anything with his life; he was born rich, good-looking, and powerful, and he could have spent his days traipsing around the countryside on horseback, hunting peasants. But instead, he decide to embark on not one, but two secret lives.

First, Henri launched a groundbreaking daytime TV career, acting on General Hospital under the stage name “Jack Wagner” as “Frisco Jones.”

Jack Wagner

For those unfamiliar with Frisco or the General Hospital story arc in the early 80’s, I provide the following first paragraph from Frisco’s wikipedia page. (The wikipedia editors complained that this entry is “written like a personal reflection or essay and may require cleanup,” which shows that they are idiots, because it is awesome just the way it is.)

“Frisco and Felicia met in 1984, when Frisco discovered a boy breaking into his apartment in search of an Aztec ring. Frisco was surprised when he pulled off the boy’s cap and discovered that the boy was in fact Felicia—a girl. Felicia revealed that she was descended from a line of Aztec royalty and that she was searching for her family’s treasure. Frisco agreed to help. Later on, the two fell in love and Frisco helped Felicia search for the treasure. In 1986, Felicia and Frisco were married. However, Frisco was sent on an assignment for the WSB, a spy organization. It was then reported he was killed in the line of duty.”

While maintaining his “Jack Wagner” guise, Grand Duke Henri also began to dabble in music, releasing five albums and dozens of songs, including the hit “All I Need,” which I think you’ll be surprised to learn that you know. But Henri quickly found that adult contemporary was too restrictive a genre; both his musical and aesthetic sensibilities required a broader canvas. And so while maintaining his duties as both Grand Duke and soap opera heartthrob, Henri assumed a third identity: glam rocker David Bowie.

David Bowie

Henri’s “Bowie” persona allowed him to explore every wing and recess of his complex personality. As “Bowie,” Henri could write and perform music and act on film, just as his “Jack Wagner” character did. And like his Henri identity, as Bowie he could issue interest-bearing bonds, and indulge in the ancient birthright of European royalty: sexual decadence and ambiguity.

I know some readers will claim that the resemblance of Henri, “Wagner” and “Bowie” is not proof that they are one man, but rather a result of the well-known “people look more and more alike as they grow old” law of evolutionary biology. In response to this, I can only direct you to the below photos, which date back several decades. Henri, Wagner, and Bowie were one man then, and they are one man now.

David Bowie

“David Bowie” throwing gang signs in a promotional poster for the 1988 film “Colors.”

David Bowie

“Jack Wagner” playing the title role in a 1986 production of “King Lear.”

David Bowie

Grand Duke Henri delivering a fiery speech to the Luxembourgeois parliament in 1936 demanding anschluss with Belgium.