For local musician Billy Miles Brooke, there's just something irresistible about glam rock. The theatrical qualities that come along with the tight-ass pants and a half-pound of makeup have held an obsession for the genre since as far back as he can remember.
"It was probably from when I was about 10 and my cousin gave me [David] Bowie's Changes collection for Christmas," Brooke says, a glint of nostalgia in his eye.
Bowie's compilation of mega-hits is, of course, a tremendous introduction to a mastermind's world of love songs, sci-fi tales and unforgettable characters, and it would spark a lifelong love affair in Brooke that found him shredding as the guitarist for Tragic Romance, a super-fun act founded in 1987 that enjoyed a soupcon of notoriety in the Los Angeles rock scene and whose 1992 record Cancel the Future came oh-so-close to making them famous before, as Miles puts it, "The grunge craze wiped us all out."
Obviously, life gets in the way of most rock star dreams, but over the years, Brooke kept the dream alive and played in bands like Cramps tribute Teenage Werewolves and glam cover acts the Dirty Novels and Ballroom Blitz. This all ultimately served to fuel his most ambitious project to date, a 2002 production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. With a cast and crew of local heroes like Mikey Baker, Andy Primm, Amanda Morris and many more, Brooke's efforts came at a time before the now-beloved show was popular, and they wound up being one of the very first touring Hedwig companies in the country (eat that, Neil Patrick Harris!).
"Hardly anybody knew about it back then, but I fell in love immediately," Brooke recalls.
Following Hedwig, he would continue to play in various bands, write songs and even live in Berlin, but about seven years ago, he had a Ziggy Stardust-related epiphany.
"I just kept thinking that if ever there was a good musical-slash-Broadway-slash-rock opera thing, this was it," he said. "But I started listening closely and learned that the songs are vague and abstract and there isn't a linear nature, so with the help of a few songs from before and after the album, I was able to put together a story."
He revised his story of Ziggy Stardust dozens of times before eventually sending his script to Bowie's people, who returned his envelope unopened with the reply that they wouldn't accept unsolicited material. For most people, this might have been the end, but Brooke hatched a new plan for an original-ish character, and thus, with equal parts music, comedy and sex, his upcoming sci-fi musical extravaganza Loving the Alien was born.
Alien, which debuts at Skylight on Nov. 5, tells the story of Ziggy's younger brother Iggy (played by Primm, the inimitable local vocalist/musician), a young man with complex younger brother issues who follows in his sibling's footsteps and travels to Earth as an ambassador for his overlords, the Dromodonians. But all is not as it seems, and we learn that the Dromodonians' nefarious, sex-crazed Empress Anastasia (played by drag queen Bella Gigante) has untoward intentions for planet Earth, including a decades-long incarceration of the astronaut Captain Sam (Theater Grottesco's Rod Harrison) for unknown reasons. Along the way, Iggy learns a thing or two about what it is to find oneself and also discovers love, but whereas the themes may be well-worn, the presentation is beyond promising. With his Berlin-based writing partners Mark Standley and Lena Wende (of ultra-bitchin' new wave act Sigue Sigue Sputnik), Brooke penned 17 Bowie-inspired original songs to flesh out the tale. Brooke himself is the bandleader, and along with a cadre of Santa Fe legends like Sarah Meadows, Greg Lopez and Lisa Jo Goldman, the band will have their own part to play in the story. Throw in vocalists Morris and Caitlin Brothers, some Albuquerque-based burlesque performers, custom-made visual projections, the ambiance of Skylight and Brooke's prolific songwriting style/glam-driven near-insanity, and Loving the Alien looks to be one of the biggest and brightest (read, sexiest) events in Santa Fe theater history.
"I love Hedwig and Rocky Horror to death, but even I am getting burnt out on them and find myself wishing there was even just one more similar show that would thrill and inspire me," Brooke says hopefully. "If there is anyone else out there who feels that way, this one's for you."
Loving the Alien
7 pm , Nov. 12, 19. $15-$45.
139 W San Francisco St.
This story has been updated to reflect the cancelation of the show originally planned for Nov. 4.