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Nightranger: Pounding the Pavement 

Thursday, Jul 22 2010
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View more photos in Lina Lecaro's slideshow, "Nightranger: The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, Trannyshack, Titmouse at Ghettogloss."

There's been some healthy — and heated — debate on L.A. Weekly's music blog, West Coast Sound, about the merits of music lineups at this summer's two competing street fests (Fuck Yeah Fest and Sunset Junction Street Fair), and while we'll probably go to both, we're definitely looking forward to S.J. more. No amount of indier-than-thou buzz bands can compete with Bad Brains, Fishbone, Ohio Players and Lee Scratch Perry as far as we're concerned.

And now there's even one more reason to head to Silver Lake that weekend. Nightranger can exclusively reveal that the folks behind El Chavo restaurant, who've held wild parking-lot parties during S.J. for the past couple years, have made a deal with club honchos Cody Bayne, Nacho Nava, Josh Peace and Mario Diaz to book and host Sunday. These are the boys behind some of the best gay and mixed-crowd clubs in town: Mustache Mondays, Full Frontal, Dance Bitch! and many more, so we expect an utterly awesome lineup of live acts and DJs to grace the lot. They're currently getting the bill together, and Bayne tells us some electro-fying divas top their wish list. No matter who they get, these fellas will surely bring it Sunday (S.J. started as a queer-centric street party, after all). We hear Liz Garo and Spaceland/Echo will bring their considerable network of band, club and DJ connections to the Chavolot lineup on Saturday. We can't wait.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY LINA LECARO - Seeing red with the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, onstage at Trannyshack

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Got this succulent S.J. scoop at Bayne and S.F. superstar Heklina's Trannyshack L.A. at the Echoplex Friday night. Yes, our affinity for queens is no secret and the L.A. sista club to San Francisco's legendary drag party does not disappoint. Plus, there is something extra intriguing about S.F.'s drag performers. L.A. queens are all about the glamour, but Frisco's are not afraid to get ugly — real ugly — for the sake of a great artistic performance. Case in point: Raya Light's demented-clown skit complete with Mel Gibson rant intro, Monistat's flying-glitter spectacle, Lady Bear's body slams and Hoku Mama's messy human-sundae skit to Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me." Our L.A.-dies (Phyliss Navidad, Squeaky and Fade-dra, Rhea Litre) rocked too, dishing out stage dives, egg fights and some totally crazed choreography.

HOME OF THE FREAK
Still, it was New York legend Kembra Pfahler who blew the roof off the Shack. Pfahler's band, The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, hasn't been to L.A. in years, but they made up for it last week, (body) painting the town like only they can. Voluptuous Horror is not only known for its singer's signature look (naked but for bright MAC chromacake body makeup), but also for its deceptively simple punky music and often shocking stage antics. No surprise MAC Cosmetics has been a big supporter of the band and Thursday they showcased Pfahler's latest music with a private mixer at Milk Studios.

We heard a couple of the new songs ("Home of the Brave" and "Actressocracy") during her Tranny appearance the next night, as has always been the case, the songs were sardonic statements. As Pfahler tells us, she's exploring "the illusion of freedom." Look for a new release under the Brave moniker to be available online next month. Pfahler revealed it will be "pay as you please," and contributors to the project include Adam Cardone (Toilet Boys), theremin master Armen Ra, Spencer Sweeney (Santos' Party House in N.Y.) and Debbie Harry, to name a few. All of this will be on the Web soon, though not under the "Karen Black" name: The actress took back her domain recently. The horror!

HOT MESS
It was a week of audacious performances, but after last Sunday afternoon, we're not sure what's wilder: drag queens and painted naked ladies or booze hounds and ol'-timer crooners. The latter two sure helped music writer Jonny Whiteside's monthly shindig, The Messaround at Viva Cantina, live up to its name last Sunday. With a bill that included Dick & Jane, The Groovy Rednecks and sassy and soulful singing legend Troy Walker, it was a honky-tonk jamboree filled with dancing kids (and kids at heart), drunk rockers (Rednecks' Tex won top prize and we love him for it), and all-around good vibes.

Walker was one of the first openly gay '60s singing sensations, known for his captivating sets at the famed Palomino. He inspired everyone from Phil Spector to Leon Russell (both "borrowed" his arrangements for tunes) and befriended and opened for Jerry Lee Lewis. His "Marijuana Munchies" was a Dr. Demento fave and Whiteside told us Walker passed up the Frank N. Furter role in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Singing onstage Sunday in designer shades and man purse, the ol' gent was looking pretty femme, but he sounded all man, his robust, Orbison-like voice effortlessly purring a blush-worth mash-up of dozens of soul and rock classics. Example: "Only the Lonely" as "Only the Horny." Whiteside has unearthed a bodacious, still-shining star (Walker had been absent from the stage for 10 years before playing Jonny's club back in May). Here's hoping he'll be back soon. In the meantime, giddy up into the Messaround every month at the Cantina for more rip-roarin' rock bills.

MOUSE HOUSE
More summer scoop for ya: One of our favorite galleries in L.A., Ghetto Gloss, is calling it quits. Well, sorta. GG, which hosted Friday's art party for Titmouse, the new book of comic art from the animation company of the same name (best known for the head-bangin' Adult Swim show Metalocalypse), revealed that it was their last at the Melrose space that night. Ghetto will be "going rogue" in August, hosting events at "secret lairs" downtown (we learned the first few will be at the groovy Terrell Moore Gallery). In the meantime the GG gals will be putting on the Silver Lake Art & Craft Fair at Micheltorena Street Elementary School on Sunset this weekend. The Titmouse book, by the way, is the tits.
Reach the writer at llecaro@laweekly.com

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