The Drummer - November 26th 1974

Behind Bowiemania

By Mike McGrath

...This issue's cover features a collage of pictures that used to cover Marla "Bowie" Feldstein's wall in her room in her parents Lower Merion home. "Used to" only because her room is in the process of being repainted (a scant minimum of a dozen Bowie posters adorn dry walls), and a "better job of hanging them" will be accomplished when the painting is done.

Maria, along with her friends Pat, Leslie and Debbie, slept and waited outside the Electric Factory ticket office on Lombard Street from Thursday until Saturday so they could buy seats in the first rows for Bowie's Spectrum appearance. They got them.

They are also the backbone of the crew that waits for a glimpse of David as he travels between The Barclay and Sigma Sound. Maria has seen David in concert thirteen times: Twice in February of '73 (with the Spiders), all six shows recently at the Tower Theatre (including holding tickets for the cancelled matinee), three times in New York (Nov. 1, 2, 3), and the two Monday shows at The Spectrum.

Their opinion of the critically received Spectrum performance? "It was definitely better than the three shows in New York... We liked it because we know everything about Bowie - A lot of people don't like it because they were into the image, clothes, hair... But he does work too hard I think. His voice needs a rest."

Besides seeing their idol on stage, Maria credits herself in a joking way with helping to get Bowie on the Dick Cavett show. She saw Cavett get out of a car in downtown Philly and screamed at him, "Do a show on Bowie!" Cavett allegedly turned and mumbled "OK."

It also so happened that Marla and her crew were in New York for the taping of the show (to be aired December 5). "He was so nervous, we kept clapping at everything to make him feel better. He does about an hour and sings Young American, 1984, Can You Hear Me, and Foot Stomping.

"He sings to us at concerts; if he walked out of the hotel and there were 20 people there, he would know us."

Probably because Maria and her friends were among the privileged few to hear the first sounds on the new album when David invited them into the studio for a small celebration as a token of thanks for their devotion. They also know everyone in the band by name, call them at home, and are well known by doormen and engineers.

"I don't know how much I've spent on him... my mother would know. I don't know where I get the money... I'm 16. I save my lunch money - 75 cents a day makes $3.50 a week."

Much of the weekend was spent in vigil by Maria and her friends. Unfortunately, now that school's in session, she has to be home early; too early to catch late riser Bowie as he leaves the hotel at one in the morning.

The final critical word? "There's nothing he ever did that I don't like."