By Martin Kidston/MISSOULA CURRENT
Dressed in woolen hats and parkas, fans of David Bowie filtered into the Roxy Theater on Monday night to say goodbye to the late star. No pink hairdos or androgynous customs, just fond memories of an easier time and an artist who inspired them.
Bowie, who died of cancer at the age of 69 on Sunday, was remembered by fans in Missoula as an inspiration, the original zeitgeist and their “favorite freak.” There were no tears – those had been shed earlier in the day.
“I literally cried this morning – it was awful,” said Kashya Boretsky, who heard the news early Monday morning. “My dad texted me this morning and said our favorite freak had died.”
Fans of Bowie filled the Roxy Theater on Higgins Avenue for a free showing of “Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars.” Some, like 27-year-old Krystin Gehrich, discovered the musician and actor by rifling through their parent’s music collection.
Others, including Mike Steinberg, endured his own youth in part by taking lessons from Bowie’s trendsetting ways. Like Bowie, Steinberg also has two eyes of a different color – green and brown to be exact. Through Bowie, he learned it was cool to be different, if not a little weird.
“There was always this kindred spirit – he was the first really weird guy,” said Steinberg, executive director of the Roxy. “I didn’t understand the entirely of his androgyny or bisexuality or the complexity of his character, or what he contributed to science fiction. But Knowing he was cool meant in some way that you were cool.”
Steinberg, who staffed the ticket booth early in the evening and greeted fans at the door, said the Roxy has too often been forced to host tributes for dead legends. He recalled the theater’s tribute to Robin Williams and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, both of whom passed away in 2014.
As fans took their seats in the theater, Steinberg climbed the steps to the projection booth. The walls are lined with hundreds of movies on disk, including several staring Bowie. The list ranges from “The Man Who Fell to Earth” and “The Labyrinth,” to this evening’s documentary and concert film released in 1973.
“I grew up in a record store and so I always knew about David Bowie,” said Steinberg. “The first song was ‘Space Oddity.’ It was trippy and weird, but there was a story in there. It was my first awareness of Bowie – there were stories going on.”
Others remembered Bowie as an artist who transcended generations. Several had listened to Bowie’s latest release, “Blackstar,” over the weekend. The album was released two days before Bowie’s death.
“It was his whole concept of free love,” said Boretsky. “He was such a glam star. He could dress however he wanted and no one would care.
Asked if Bowie’s death was another Micheal Jackson moment, Boretsky and Stephen Borsum offered a vehement no.
“Micheal Jackson owned a single genre,” said Borsum. “He didn’t transcend music and time.”