FRIDAY, JULY 22 Whips! Tight ropes! Domineering masters of ceremonies! Outrageous costumes and death-defying acts! Oh yes, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is here. Its the 135th edition of The Greatest Show on Earth with Americas Best Clown, Bello Nock (thats his real hair!), and a couple who blast from a cannon at 65 miles per hour! Staples Center, 1111 S. Figueroa St., downtown; Thurs., July 21, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., July 22, noon & 7:30 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., July 23-24, 11:30 a.m., 3:30 & 7:30 p.m.; $13-$35; $50 VIP front row. $85 Circus Celebrity. (213) 742-7340. Whips! Tight ropes! Domineering masters of ceremonies! Outrageous costumes and death-defying acts! We could save a lot of driving time if the circus joined forces with the Fetish Ball. Dig out your summer S&M-wear and join the fantasy parade for two nights of outrageousness. A fashion show by Fierce Couture promises concepts rarely seen in latex. Onstage, Powder and Spanking Machine will pummel your ear drums the way you like it, baby. Ex-man Amanda Lepore, possibly the scariest transsexual ever, will perform, which in her case probably means shell walk into the room. On her Web site, she claims to be the Number One Transexual [sic] in the World, but we are fining her 100 tranny points for bad spelling. The Key Club, 9041 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., July 22-23, 8 p.m. (Sat., 9 p.m.); $20, $30 two-day pass. (310) 274-5800. SATURDAY, JULY 23 Do artists go to Lowes for their garden decorations? Probably not. NewTown offers the opportunity to view six backyards belonging to artists at My Own Slice of the State: Outsider Garden Tour, Part 1 of Whose/Whos California. Thats six transformative yardscapes in Pasadena and Altadena. The artists will be on hand to answer your questions on how they made old car tires and scrap metal look pleasing. Meet at Armory Center for the Arts, Northwest, 965 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena; Sat., July 23, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (allow two hours for tour); $3. (626) 398-9278. Robert Plant that's his real hair! See Sunday. SUNDAY, JULY 24
After hearing an on-air pledge from an NPR station never to play Stairway to Heaven, Robert Plant called up and donated money. Its not that I dont like the song, he later said. Its just that Ive heard it before. Hes promoting his summer-perfect new CD, The Mighty Rearranger, which shows his love for American blues, Malian percussion and mystical hoo-ha, but onstage still delivers Led Zeppelin nuggets like Heartbreaker, Whole Lotta Love and When the Levee Breaks. (I still love you, Robert Plant, and am waiting for your reply to the letter I wrote you in 1975.) Greek Theater, 2700 N. Vermont Ave., Griffith Park; Sun., July 24, 7:30 p.m. $35-$100. (213) 480-3232. MONDAY, JULY 25 We dont get much professional-tennis action in L.A., so todays kickoff of the Mercedes-Benz Cup at UCLA is exciting for fans of whack-thwack-slam! The highlights will no doubt be the infernal racquets of Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick, but the early rounds are easier to get tickets for, and this years draw is deep with talent, including Wimbledon semifinalist Thomas Johansson of Sweden. And, please, just because you play tennis doesnt mean you have to show up in your new Fila outfit. Los Angeles Tennis CenterUCLA, Westwood; July 25-31; $25-$60. (310) 825-2101 or (877) LA TENNIS. TUESDAY, JULY 26 Comedy Death Ray has moved to an area with even worse parking than M Bar. Thanks a lot. Or thanks for no lot. (The valets a reasonable $3.50, though.) And theres no booze at the new venue. Still, the comedy offered by the Fun Bunch Scott Aukerman and B.J. Porter is consistently outstanding, bringing such names as Zach Galifianakis, Sarah Silverman, Andy Kindler, Bob Odenkirk and loads more. So have a few belts elsewhere and take a cab. Upright Citizens Brigade Theater, 5919 Franklin Blvd., Hollywood; every Tues., 8:30 p.m.; $5. (323) 908-8702. WEDNESDAY, JULY 27 If youre not English, youre a foreigner so you must be sexy. That was the philosophy of Italian sexpot actress Claudia Cardinale, who starred in Fellinis 8½, Herzogs Fitzcarraldo, Blake Edwards The Pink Panther and scads more. After signing a contract promising not to marry or gain weight, Cardinale ended up telling people that her born-out-of-wedlock baby son was her brother. (What would Tom Cruise make of that?) Now, American Cinematheque salutes her with a double feature of Sandra and Dont Make Waves, with a discussion with the actress between films. American Cinematheque at the Egyptian, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Wed., July 27, 8 p.m.; $9, $7 students & seniors. (323) 466-FILM. Also, you can see Cardinale in Once Upon a Time in the West at AFI at the ArcLight, 6360 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; 8 p.m.; $11. (323) 464-4226. THURSDAY, JULY 28 Suzanne Vega may seem like a quintessential Greenwich Village folk chick, but she was actually born in Santa Monica. She got the hell out when she realized her skin tone was meant for dusky coffeehouses, not sandy beaches. She never looked back. The seagulls will add nicely to her lovely songs. Santa Monica Pier, Colorado & Ocean aves.; Thurs., July 28, 7:30 p.m.; free. (310) 458-8900 or www.santamonicapier.org.