While a bit of a drizzle did put a damper on the festivities -- the drag queens stayed out of sight -- a gay old time was had by all at THE VILLAGE, where THE ADVOCATE celebrated its 35th anniversary with an art exhibit and fund-raiser. An infant wearing a faux-leopard skin coat tied with a middle-aged art tart in a patchwork poncho for worst dressed; cashmere sweaters over leather pants seemed to be the rain gear of choice for most. (One notable exception was a gent in a tank top who sported a rhinestone-encrusted arm band that matched the jeweled appliqués on his pants). Among the attendees were E!'s TED CASABLANCA, Baby Bob's JOELY FISHER, Big Brother 3's MARCELLAS REYNOLDS and director RANDAL KLEISER. Ultra-chic Advocate editor-in-chief JUDY WIEDER wore a fetching frock coat that matched her salt-and-pepper hair. Standout pieces in the show included Alex Aleixo's digital collages, Robert Smith's vinyl photographs, drag king Catherine Opie's color prints, and Brian To's paeans to Hollywood icons. Although gym-toned twinkies vastly outnumbered bears (grizzlies and cubs alike), photographs by John Rand, who specializes in the hirsute and burly, were on display. Leaving the event and seeing multiple LAPD squad cars prowling the streets for transgender hookers made us think twice about Deni Ponty's Stonewall, an oil on paper at the exhibit. But unlike the actual Stonewall riots, no cross-dressers were seen battling the police. Aquanet and rain are always a bad mix.
MAKE THE ELECTION GO BANG
"I want to dedicate this to our extremely fucked-up government" was how X-man JOHN DOE summed up election-night sentiments during his opening set at a benefit concert for the STEP UP WOMEN'S NETWORK. Kicking back drinks and bar food at the newly re-modeled WILTERN THEATER, civic-minded celebs and music scenesters took in performances that ranged from folk ingénue ROSEY to roots rocker LUCINDA WILLIAMS. Spotted ducking in the side entrance were MIRA SORVINO with French actor and boyfriend OLIVIER MARTINEZ, singer PATTY SMYTH, professional rock & roll wife PATSY KENSIT and actor ROBERT PATRICK, who was apparently in a sour mood over getting either too much celebrity treatment or not enough. Backstage, it was a love fest as everyone watched each other's performance from the wings. After being joined onstage by GRANT-LEE PHILLIPS, Doe chatted up good friend JOE HENRY, who took the stage after Doe for his own moody, blues-infused performance. After a flawless set, AIMEE MANN (looking a little like Greg Allman with her long blond hair and beige suit) made sure to catch JON BRION's performance with pop god NEIL FINN. The former Crowded House frontman, vacationing in town with his family, also took the opportunity to perform with his son LIAM. "I watched the Rolling Stones last night from right over there," Finn told the audience, "I'm not bragging. It's just surreal." Well, maybe he was bragging just a little.
SOME GIRLS TAKE A JIGGLE
Time -- and luck -- were on our side when the ROLLING STONES were in town for various gigs. The bad boys seemed to be everywhere: KEITH RICHARDS got his classic rocks off at THE JOINT with a surprise jam that included "Start Me Up," while bandmate RON WOOD exhibited his portraits at HAMILTON-SELWAY GALLERY, drawing, so to speak, luminaries such as ROD STEWART, SLASH and ALICIA SILVERSTONE. All the Stones rolled together (with the exception of Richards) to the FASHION AND LICKS show in the parking lot of TRADER VIC'S. Getting their ya-yas out were JEWEL, BENICIO DEL TORO, KENNY G, LUKE WILSON, DAVID LaCHAPELLE, DARYL HANNAH, DONOVAN LEITCH, DWIGHT YOAKAM, NIKKA COSTA, EDDIE VEDDER, FARRAH FAWCETT and VAL KILMER, hiding behind shades and looking self-conscious, especially when the DJ played the Doors' "L.A. Woman." The Stones arrived late -- rehearsing for their Wiltern show -- but made it just in time to sip mai tais and watch a slew of pubescent models prance the runway with lots of little T and noticeably jiggly A. Also modeling the tongue-covered designs by CHROME HEARTS, AGENT PROVOCATEUR and BUDDHIST PUNK were famous offspring ELIZABETH JAGGER, KIMBERLY STEWART, ALEX ORBISON and a pissed-off-looking JACK OSBOURNE. Jumpin' Jack was neither a flash nor a gas.
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BOOB TUBE CUBES
L.A. FREEWAVES brought the opening of its monthlong experimental media-arts festival to CHINATOWN, drawing a carefully dressed crowd of alterna-kids who roamed Chung King Road -- from Inmo Gallery to the Happy Lion to Acuña-Hansen and back again -- watching films projected on the blank sides of buildings or gathering in front of outdoor TV monitors. The biennial to-do, entitled "TV or Not TV," draws international video, film and Web works that deal with the serious (urban violence, apartheid, coming out) to the silly (bunnies, karaoke, clones in love). Viewers were mesmerized by CARRIE LINCOURT's Flooding Bedroom, projected outside Grand Star; did double-takes at HOWIE CHERMAN's Embracing Chinatown, a projection of daytime images from Chung King Road and Central Plaza; and thronged to the Happy Lion to watch a video of artist SKIP ARNOLD dressing for a performance. The TOXIC TITTIES, a quite fabulous guerrilla theater group dressed to the nines in tight policemen's outfits, was bent on arresting a man in a George Bush mask. Among the onlookers were Kaos Network head BEN CALDWELL and artists ULYSSES JENKINS, CONNIE SAMARAS, KIM ABELES, ALLAN DE SOUZA, and YONG SOON MIN. As the galleries started closing, the cords-and-old-sneakers set headed over to FIRECRACKER -- which recently celebrated its fourth anniversary -- to tap toes to a mélange of hip-hop and jazzy house, accompanied by a remix of music videos. It was a TV party, all right!