Multiplatinum space oddity David Bowie is always honored on his birthday with an annual fright-wigged, face-painted concert and spectacular stage show by S.F.’s First Church of the Sacred Silversexual. This year’s 7th Annual Bowie Birthday Bash is Friday and Saturday at The Chapel, so SF Weekly reached out to the event’s founder Reverent Father Lysol Tony-Romeo to find out why all the china girls, little drummer boys, and cat people keep dressing up and coming back year after year.
“Bowie’s birthday is our Xmas, so we always celebrate the weekend after New Years,” Tony-Romeo says (Bowie’s birthday is Jan. 8, and his ashes went to ashes on Jan. 10, 2016). “We used to perform quarterly, but I scaled back to open up time for other projects — running for president, political drag shows, et cetera. Doing a yearly show makes it a can’t-miss event.”
The event has been a staple since even before Bowie’s passing, gaining fame for its cosplay extravagance and larger-than-life onstage theatrics. “Bowie is an excuse for decadence,” the reverent father tells SF Weekly. “We bring the spirit of his touring stage shows to The Chapel, and Bowie fans love to dress up and congregate with their fellow weirdos. Together, the love in the room is palpable, magical.”
There have been some ch-ch-changes to the Bowie Birthday Bash over the years, most notably the expansion into a two-night affair. Friday night is a track-by-track, cover-to-cover live performance of the seminal 1972 release The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, while Saturday’s show recreates Station to Station and Let’s Dance, with both nights also featuring a drag and burlesque show with more than a dozen performers.
“This is our second year doing two nights. We sold out one night in 2016 and decided to do two nights at The Chapel rather than finding a bigger venue,” says Tony-Romeo. “The Chapel is a perfect fit, from the religious name to the oversized backstage that houses our dozen drag queens and burlesque stars.”
Both nights do tend to sell out, so buying advance tickets is a hunky dory idea. “San Francisco is the perfect city for this event,” Tony-Romeo tells SF Weekly. “We’re a bunch of misfits who have undergone transformations and are living our best lives, out and unabashedly proud. Bowie is watching over us, smiling that impish grin, knowing his Star Children are carrying on.”
The 7th Annual Bowie Birthday Bash is Friday, Jan. 5 and Saturday, Jan. 6, 9 p.m., at The Chapel, 777 Valencia Street. Friday tickets here, Saturday tickets here, with two-night combo tickets also available.