Today’s Birthday: David Johansen




David Johansen:  January 9, 1950

David Johansen, lead singer of the famous/infamous trail-blazer band The New York Dolls, has had an intriguing career. After the Dolls imploded he embarked on a solo career, re-invented himself as a bizarre lounge-singer character called Buster Poindexter (and had a huge, if annoying, hit song, Hot Hot Hot, in the process), meandered into film and TV acting, formed a country blues band called The Harry Smiths, and most recently, reincarnated The New York Dolls with original bandmates Sylvain Sylvain and Arthur Kane (who unfortunately died of leukemia soon after the group reconstituted).

Since there’s no solid birth time for Johansen, I’ll be looking at chart patterns and aspects. Johansen has a “seesaw” chart pattern, which means he has the ability to see both sides of an issue and put himself in the other person’s shoes (even if they’re sequined pumps)!   It can also mean a life full of fluctuation, shifts in focus and emphasis, and many ups and downs. It’s like pulling off a balancing act, and requires flexibility and the ability to shift gears quickly.  Another attribute of seesaw people is a tendency to have two sides to the personality, or to behave in what seems like a contrary manner. David Johansen’s ability to flip the switch and change persona from the lipstick-and-high-heels Bowery belter of the Dolls to the sound stylings of ersatz lounge dude Buster Poindexter illustrates this characteristic Seesaw chart pattern.

With Sun in Capricorn and Moon in Virgo, you know that experience, skill, and attention to detail give him a sound foundation. Johansen loves the blues and other “old-time” musical genres (respect for the past is a sure sign of Capricorn family values) He’s no doubt a perfectionist who is constantly trying to get it right.  His Sun is at 19 degrees of Capricorn, on the degree of the fixed star Dheneb, which is considered very fortunate and shows someone who’s a leader, who has imagination and can bring ideas to fruition. Johansen has a Sun/Moon trine, which means his essential self and his inner self communicate well with each other–they “play well together! ” It grounds and stabilizes the personality (especially since it’s in earth signs), and when you add in the Sun/Saturn trine, it makes it easy for him to take on responsibility, take charge, and generally get a lot done.  Here’s someone who is very conscientious, notices the details, who works very hard–and never gives up.

So where’s the guy who used to stomp around in full makeup clad in spike heels, skin-tight plastic pants and/or women’s lingerie?  I’m getting to that.  For those of you who are younger than I am, you probably don’t appreciate how transgressive it was considered back in the day for men to run around  like that, outside of certain relatively isolated subcultures.  Uranus to the rescue! Johansen, in addition to having what I’d call a”classic” musician/creative personality aspect (Sun square Neptune), also has Mercury in Aquarius, which is trine Mars and conjunct Jupiter (also in Aquarius). He also has Venus in Aquarius, which is trine Neptune and opposite Pluto. He has a Mars-Uranus square. too. AND Moon square Uranus.

It’s no surprise one of the New York Dolls albums was titled “Too Much Too Soon”. Here’s someone who is very independent and has an anarchic streak , and a very unique style sense. These types don’t care what everyone else is wearing or doing; they invent their own look and surround themselves with people who think the way they do. They’re often ahead of their time and only appreciated later in life (a theme that echoes in Johansen’s chart with the Saturn aspects–he’s now being recognized as a true musical original and taken much more seriously that he was in the past).

The fixed star Bos is on Johansen’s Mercury, indicating a keen intellect and a talent for analysis.  Add in the Mercury-Mars trine and here’s someone who’s nimble, quick-witted, and fast on his feet, qualities that are valuable in the volatile music industry. The Moon trine Mercury means he likes to talk and can be very charming.  That Mercury-Jupiter conjunction gives him a generally cheerful disposition (balancing out his Moon-Saturn conjunction which can point to a touch of depression or underlying concerns about self-worth). Venus in Aquarius shows a generally unconventional take on relationships and appearance or presentation that’s not bound by the tastes of the times, and there’s a great need for freedom in close relationships. The Venus trine to Jupiter is considered a very fortunate aspect, and is especially good for musicians, as it enhances the imagination and ups the creativity quotient. One of the interesting things about his Jupiter is that it’s at 9 degrees Aquarius, and one interpretation of this degree indicates that this makes the person very sensitive to sound and rhythm.

With Mars in Libra, Johansen functions well in groups and partnerships (especially with all the Aquarius placements added to the mix), which may explain why he’s been in and out of bands most of his life, but mostly “in”.  He has worked with Sylvain Sylvain since the early 70s and often collaborates with others he’s worked with in past incarnations.  His Mars is trine Jupiter and square Uranus, which basically tells us that he’s no doubt gone through some incredibly excessive periods in his life, full of drama, unexpected events and accidents. Coupled with some of the Neptune aspects, substance abuse was probably a player.  Note: I used to see him stumbling around New York City late at night when we used to hit the clubs, and he looked like he’d had more than a few of something or other!  His Neptune is at 18 Libra, and one of the indications for this degree is of someone who likes to be in the spotlight or is a bit of a publicity-seeker (which is pretty much required for the lead singer of a band).

The Mars/Uranus aspect and his Venus/Pluto opposition, plus Saturn in Virgo, could make him a bit explosive at times, particularly when he feels blocked or frustrated. There’s an enormous amount of energy here that needs to be used properly.  Pluto is at 18 degrees Leo, a degree that can indicate someone who does two things at once or lives two different lives at once, which is similar to the indicators for a Seesaw chart that I mentioned earlier in this post.  The North Node in Aries and the South Node in Libra mean he has lessons to learn in relationships (which can also be seen in the aspects noted at the beginning of this paragraph); learning to let go of expectations and not hold on too tightly to people has probably been a theme throughout his life. I’d be surprised if he didn’t have a few extremely powerful and important relationships that ended and left a few psychic scars behind!  Neptune in Libra conjunct the South Node can give a tendency to idealize others and a desire to escape from the mundane, or could bring people into his life who have escapist or addictive tendencies. There’s a few aspects in his chart that indicate he might have taken on the role of “counselor” when dealing with some of these people.  Johansen has a knack for helping others, it seems that this facility is healing for him as well–he heals through healing others.  Travel and meeting people from varying walks of life or from foreign realms is also transformative for him, so the wandering life of a touring musician has suited his needs well.

With transiting Pluto coming in range of his Capricorn Sun soon, I have no doubt there will be more transformations and re-inventions emanating from Team Johansen in future years. Whatever he does, it’ll be interesting–and probably unexpected!

—Valerie Sylvester 

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