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Balls of the Belle

You didn’t have to know your Thierry Mugler from Target to appreciate A NIGHT OF A HUNDRED GOWNS — put on by COMPANY OF FRIENDS, a group of Filipino men who raise money for organizations helping people with AIDS — at EL REY recently. Nipped, plucked and tucked to perfection, 45 female impersonators showcased collections from six designers, VI, MISS JILL ANN, ASIA, RODNEY WILLIAMS, CRYSTAL MASTERS and LOUIE MAMENGO, all of whom also modeled their own creations. And these were no Gwyneth-Paltrow-pink-Oscar-dress knockoffs, but one-of-a-kind ensembles — embroidered, sequined, faux-fur-trimmed, beaded and bejeweled to such elaborate detail that many of the gowns evoked the Dynasty days of Nolan Miller. A particular standout was the pimp-mama number — a white faux-fur coat with gold boots and matching cowboy hat — that was straight out of Madonna’s “Music” video. Our personal favorite, though, was the sparkly yet subtle Badgley Mischka–ish fuschia number designed by the night’s winner, Vi (pictured). The audience, on the other hand, seemed to be in need of Mr. Blackwell’s policing. We spotted two guy-gals, no doubt graduates of the Tammy Faye Bakker Messner School of Cosmetology, who looked as if they put on Joan Collins and Linda Evans and then ran ’em through a car wash. Their gaudy ill-advised gowns, improperly fitted wigs and saggy padding put the “drag” in drag queen.

—Siran Babayan

YOU NEVER BLOW YR TRIP FOREVER

It was a sea of ’73 when ye prog-rock magick brothers and mystic sisters turned out at the KNITTING FACTORY to raise a cup of infini-tea in salute to ageless pothead pixie DAEVID ALLEN, cute li’l galactic granny GILLI SMYTH and their merry band of electric eccentric astral pagans GONG. Allen, an original member of “seminal” English jazzy-pop giants SOFT MACHINE, was rumored before the show to be “jamming,” man, with the night’s opener, former Softs chap KEVIN AYERS; while they didn’t “jam” (man), Ayers did deliver a playful and tight set (considering his pickup band’s mere one rehearsal) of old faves from his various solo platters. Ayers has such a natural ennui-ridden charisma, wonderfully crafted lyrics and weighty songbook, it’s still a real mystery (to some of us, anyway) why he’s not routinely cited in the chronicle of Rock Greatness (probably ’cause he himself couldn’t give a toss). Local prog devotee RICHARD DERRICK hand-picked and played bass in Ayers’ resourceful band, which included brass/winds champ VINNY GOLIA and THE NEGRO PROBLEM’s CHARLES PAGANO on percussion. Among the beaming bewitched were Human Hands/ex–Dream Syndicate drummer DENNIS DUCK, writer/DJ BRENDAN “I Once Danced With Julie Driscoll” MULLEN, radio gnome DON BOLLES with his faithful miniature Don Bolles cyborg, avant-songtress AZALIA SNAIL, about 60 STEVE HILLAGE LOOK-ALIKES and a vast sea of glistening, pink domes (“It looked like a giant pool table in there,” observed one waggish individual). Gong! Sold to the highest Buddha!

—John Payne

TAP ON!

It was SPINAL TAP’s world at the 16th- (that’s so rock!) anniversary re-release/DVD party at HOUSE OF BLUES. We didn’t get a chance to ask JAMIE LEE CURTIS the question we’ve been dying to pose to her for ages: Has sleeping with CHRISTOPHER GUEST, a.k.a. the Tap’s NIGEL TUFNEL, every night fulfilled any of her rock-groupie fantasies? (J.L., if you’re reading this, e-mail us at Libby@laweekly.com.) However, she didn’t exactly look . . . approachable. We tried unsuccessfully to eavesdrop at the REINER table, where proud dad and mom CARL and ESTELLE noshed on HOB grub, while son ROB, a.k.a. Tap director MARTY DiBERGI, kept standing up to graciously shake hands with fans. Comic geniuses, those Reiners. Paying homage to the Tap were WENDIE MALICK, KATHY NAJIMY (Bobby’s mom on King of the Hill) with her silly songster husband DAN FINNERTY, and probably a whole bunch of other celebrities who weren’t down on the floor with us. The entertainment began with the Tap threesome in a Kingston Trio–ish folk incarnation that featured a wickedly hilarious version of “What a Feeling” and “a medley of our hit” before a roadie forced them offstage. Then the mighty Tap — DEREK SMALLS, DAVID ST. HUBBINS and Nigel Tufnel, or HARRY SHEARER, MICHAEL McKEAN and Christopher Guest, if you prefer — thundered through “Stonehenge,” complete with mini-Henge, and rocked the rafters with four basses and a tuba (!) on “Big Bottom.” The lads (pictured) are aging with appropriate disgrace, though we’re still wondering if Derek’s and Nigel’s shaved armpits were the result of some strange residual rocker syndrome.

—Libby Molyneaux

FAKE YOU

Maybe people unconsciously pretend most of the time, but it’s more fun to do it on purpose, as became clear at CARLA BOZULICH’s “Fake Party” at West Hollywood’s SCHINDLER HOUSE (fast becoming a hot spot for the unexpected in art and music). A peacock-gowned Bozulich carelessly lip-synched to her own renditions of ’40s torch tunes, thus impersonating both Dorothy Lamour and herself. Plaid beanpole NELS CLINE thumped echoes on a big bass drum, inspiring doubt as to whether he was really his guitarist self or percussionist identical twin ALEX CLINE. Fake partier CAROL CETRONE danced with an actual lampshade on her head. August 27 stood in for last January 31 as DAVID SCOTT STONE cut up Prince’s “1999” and made the ever-modern ’20s concrete structure reverberate with bowel-stimulating waves of feedback. Changed to black capris, Bozulich distributed tape players so her disembodied voices could moan at you from everywhere at once. Then, re-gowned, she faked a slouchy lip-synched farewell, meanwhile irrefutably demonstrating the potential allure of bad posture. It wasn’t a concert, it was a disconcert. Afterward, attendees cruised the halls, scoping out the DENNIS HOPPER photo exhibit, or wandered the grounds sipping warm beer under eerily streaked summer skies. Upon leaving, nobody could remember where the car was parked. Did you drive? And who are you, anyway?

—Greg Burk

Edited by Kateri Butler