Starman lands In Dayton

The Second Coming of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars at Gilly’s

By Benjamin Smith

 Photo: JJ Parkey leads the Spiders from Mars as Ziggy Stardust at Gilly’s on Nov. 23; photo: Tracy Mallott

It’s probably safe to say that, musically speaking, Dayton would not be considered a “postmodern” city. (Some critics might not even dub it a modern city.) Yet, on Saturday, Nov. 23, a colorful postmodern show will explode and sparkle at Gilly’s.

Backed by local musicians, Actor/Director JJ Parkey will portray musician David Bowie portraying Ziggy Stardust, the glam rock persona Bowie created for 1972’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars concept album. Forget “tribute”: The Second Coming of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars will be a reenactment of Bowie’s last Ziggy Stardust show which took place July 3, 1973, at London’s Hammersmith Odeon Theatre.

The event’s creator and promoter, Shelly Hulce – who produced a similar “Ziggy resurrection” at Gilly’s in 2011 – chatted with the Dayton City Paper about the event.

So, let’s state the obvious: this sounds like quite the affair. On a scale from 1 to 10, how much “spectacle” should people expect?

Totally expect 10 on the “spectacle” scale. It’s like a Halloween-party-with-a-Ziggy theme meets an interactive rock opera! -Shelly Hulce

The music of Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie certainly still resonates with people. But what was it specifically about that July 3, 1973, show that inspired you to produce a reenactment?  

It was the night Bowie killed Ziggy. In the context of the “passion play,” I guess you could say it was the night Ziggy returned to space, or heaven or whatever. … That show was Bowie’s crucifixion of the character, and we’ve all been waiting for his return. –SH

Tell us a little about JJ Parkey.

JJ Parkey is a 2010 music theater graduate from Wright State University who has held high profile roles in New York and Boston. He has won awards for his performances as leads in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and “Cabaret,” and recently completed New York runs of “Hair.” JJ returned to Dayton in December of 2012 to begin his many jobs at the Zoot Theater Company; like most performers who venture out to bigger markets, his heart brought him back to Dayton. We are fortunate to have his caliber of talent back in our region. -SH

Who will be [Spiders from Mars guitarist ] Mick Ronson to Parkey’s Bowie?

We have two Mick Ronsons in this show: local guitar shredders Tod Weidner (Shrug, Motel Beds, American Pink Floyd) and Christopher Wright (C. Wright’s Parlour Tricks). -SH

Dayton musician Joshua Egeland will perform as Klaus Nomi. For the uninitiated, could you explain who Klaus Nomi was, and why he remains somewhat of a legend?

Klaus Sperber, aka Klaus Nomi, was a German performance artist who moved to New York’s East Village in the 1970s. He supported himself as a pastry chef by day; by night he shocked audiences with his bizarre make-up and handmade, alien-like costumes. But what really shocked the audience was his mezzo-soprano voice. He was an opera singer who loved the avant-garde and knew how to work it. […] He caught the eye of David Bowie and was recruited to record backing vocals and design clothes for him. The most notable aspect of that union was the performances Nomi did with Bowie on “Saturday Night Live” in 1979. I was 16 when that aired and it blew my mind. I didn’t know if Nomi was a man or woman, or even human! -SH

Due to recent events, will there be a tribute to Lou Reed? 

Oh, of course there will be nods to Lou Reed! David Bowie was one of Lou Reeds biggest fans, even covering some of Lou’s songs. “White Light / White Heat” is a Reed song that Ziggy covered in the film we are reenacting. One lyric he sings says: “White light, make me look like Lou Reed.” We did that song verbatim in the 2011 Ziggy show, and it now has an even more special place on the set list. -SH

In the end, what do you hope the audience gains or takes away from the show?

I expect the audience to be transported out of Dayton, Ohio, out of Gilly’s, out of this world and into the bizarre space world that David Bowie created for us all. But even more than that, I want people who live here to look at this show and say: “I can do anything here in Dayton,” and take the risk and do the work to present something different and unordinary. We need more unique, organic productions like this. People get bored going to the same bars every week. Pay $5, see three bands, drink too much, go to Waffle House. Yawn. I want more and I’m not one to wait around for someone else to entertain me. Also, I love giving people a reason to bond, and music is the best vehicle.   -SH

The Second Coming of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars takes place Saturday, Nov. 23, at Gilly’s, 132 S. Jefferson St. Showtime is 9 p.m. Tickets are $10. For more information, please call 937.228.8414 or look on Facebook for: Second Coming of Ziggy Stardust.

 Reach DCP freelance writer Benjamin Smith at


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