By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
To applause, Helena stepped down from the podium and was escorted from the gallery. Her face was so rigid with makeup it might have been a mask. She looked like a person who, in the pursuit of money and fame, had just entered a new zone of unreality — and knew it for what it was.—Brendan Bernhard
Pass the Fast, Hold the Mustard
The fight of USC cooks, servers and maintenance workers to win job security in their contract took a new form this week: the pass-it-on hunger strike. On May 10, a number of the workers, together with their union leader, Maria Elena Durazo, embarked on a five-day hunger strike, coinciding with USC’s commencement week. All by her lonesome, however, Durazo kept fasting for the following six days, at which point the fast was passed along to downtown Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, who fasted for the next three days and then passed it along to L.A. County Federation of Labor chief Miguel Contreras, who fasted for two days. (Contreras is Durazo’s husband: Does this 11-to-2 ratio of days fasted by respective members of this family tell us anything about the household division of labor in cooking? In dishwashing?) Contreras then passed it to actor Martin Sheen. Others who have lined up for at least one day of principled non-eating include Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa and City Council members Jackie Goldberg and Richard Alatorre.
When he headed the county employees union back in the mid-’90s, Cedillo devised a bargaining strategy wherein different units of county workers would stay off the job on different days; he called it "Operation Rolling Thunder." He has moved on, it seems, to Operation Rolling Hunger.—Harold Meyerson
SEX, LAWS AND VIDEOTAPE
While cruising Sunset Boulevard on a recent night out, OffBeat took in the seedy sights. Shady figures loitered on street corners, while scantily dressed women purposefully strutted the sidewalks. Amid all this urban activity, where was Vice?
OffBeat found the answer in a small art space on Pico Boulevard, where West L.A. Vice Unit officers had been nosing around for weeks, finally intimidating local painter/performance artist Gloria Heilman into canceling the second of two experimental pieces on human sexuality.Self-Portrait: Men Loving Men, which was scheduled for May 22, was intended by the artist, known as Heilman-C, as an onstage sex performance with optional audience participation. She had planned to videotape the evening’s encounters for a documentary similar to her Self-Portrait: Women Loving Women, which screened at the American Cinematheque. But shortly before the event, Heilman says, she buckled, "due to an impending threat of the event being shut down by the LAPD and potential arrests." Heilman says Vice officers appeared at her Blue Studio, then phoned her regularly, fishing for any sign that she might be venturing into the legally sticky area of adult entertainment. Finally, Heilman says, they told her they had a search warrant for the night of the show. "My work deals with sexuality, and a lot of people don’t like to see men together," Heilman says. "They want to prohibit my freedom of speech."
Vice’s Sergeant Doug Wade says there was no search warrant and that his unit didn’t threaten to shut down the event. "It was entirely friendly," he insists. "She was anticipating audience members getting up onstage, a big, free, love-in kind of thing. We were just warning her to use discretion." Wade assures OffBeat that his officers were merely checking to ensure that Heilman wasn’t charging admission or selling alcohol. Vice also warned Heilman that guests would have to sign a consent form for watching sexually explicit material. "We just said, ‘If these things aren’t done, we can’t let you do this,’" Wade says.
As for the search warrant, Wade says there was no need for one because "several of the guys were planning on attending the show." Not to fret, boys. Heilman tells OffBeat she plans to reschedule the performance. "These shows," she says, "they push a button."—Deborah Picker
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