David Bowie’s “codpiece” in Labyrinth has a much deeper meaning

Last Updated on February 21, 2024

Bowie Labyrinth

You remind me of the babe. What babe? The babe with the – woah! If there’s one thing we can’t shake from 1986’s Labyrinth, it’s not the remarkably inventive set design, the memorable characters from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop or the fantastic early performance from Jennifer Connelly. It’s the real scene-stealer and childhood-destroyer from Labyrinth – David Bowie’s junk. And if you thought you couldn’t rid your mind of it, imagine having to keep tabs on its size during filming.

Brian Henson – son of director Jim Henson – recently told ComicBook.com that Bowie’s “codpiece” actually changes sizes throughout the movie, which surely only the most devoted Labyrinth fans would have noticed. “The scene where it’s most prevalent I think, is the scene where David pretends he’s a beggar, and then pulls off the costume and stands up, and it’s the Goblin King. And that was, I think, maybe David’s first scene that we shot, so the codpiece was particularly big then, and then it got a little bit smaller. But the truth is yes, it’s absolutely deliberate. That’s from Brian Froud’s artwork.”

As for what David Bowie’s goblin represents – yes, it’s symbolic and not just for show – in Labyrinth, Henson added, “The codpiece represents male sexual aggression. Sarah is at a point in her life where she’s a child but she’s becoming a woman, she’s in that cusp period, and the character of Jareth is sort of an aggressive, adult, masculine sexuality, that is both terrifying to her and very attractive to her. So yes, it’s definitely part of the storytelling that he should have this codpiece that’s a masculine, sexual image, but nonetheless, they did shrink it a little bit a few days into the shoot.” From a character standpoint, it does make sense that Jareth’s masculinity and power would begin to dwindle as Sarah makes her way through the titular maze and defeats the Goblin King. We just never pictured it on the smaller end at all, what with the way Bowie flaunts it throughout Labyrinth.

David Bowie’s junk in Labyrinth is definitely the stuff of legend. Warwick Davis, who played a member of the Goblin Corps, said that the singer-actor stuffed upwards of seven pairs of socks down the front of his pants to enhance himself. While this might be slightly discredited by Henson, it does feel like a Bowie move.

Our own JimmyO recently visited the legendary Henson Studios, where he was able to discuss the recent 4K releases of both Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal with none other than Brian Henson and Toby Froud, who not only is the son of key Jim Henson collaborator Brian Froud and now works in puppetry but also played Toby – the kidnapped baby brother of Sarah – in Labyrinth.

What is the standout moment in Labyrinth for you and why can’t you shake the image of David Bowie’s codpiece?

Source: ComicBook.com

About the Author

1750 Articles Published

Mathew is an East Coast-based writer and film aficionado who has been working with JoBlo.com periodically since 2006. When he’s not writing, you can find him on Letterboxd or at a local brewery. If he had the time, he would host the most exhaustive The Wonder Years rewatch podcast in the universe.