Queer As Rock
"One-two-three-four, Leave your gender at the door!" chanted plaid-clad, dancing L.A. RADICAL CHEERLEADERS at FAIS DO-DO, which was transformed into a punk rock version of West Hollywood's Gay Pride Festival on the last night of SCUTTERFEST 2002, the musical offshoot of RUDY BLEU's defiantly queer, info-packed and often very funny Scutter fanzine. Scutterfest 2002 featured three nights of bands, DJs, films and fashion, while raising money to sponsor two $1,000 college scholarships -- not bad for a local zine. The club was jammed with riot grrrls and boooys who not only weren't born when the original gay-punk combo, the U.K.'s Tom Robinson Band, sang "Glad To Be Gay," but probably weren't even old enough to get in to see queer-core pioneers Extra Fancy at Club Sucker. Those rowdy revelers needed that youth to whoop it up for hours and hours during performances by local faves RADIO VAGO, designer MARLENE SALCIDO rapping with OPERATION KITTY PROJECT, and the always-suave, silver-throated Canadian transplant BARNES, as well as New York's FEELINGS ON A GRID, Olympia, Washington's MADAME MORTE, and Rudy Bleu's own band HOT N HEAVY. But it was Oakland's unbelievable GRAVY TRAIN that stole the show. The three gals and token boy sang, played synthesizers, traded sunglasses and performed hilariously sloppy synchronized choreography to songs such as "You Made Me Gay, Girl." Taking it all in were CHRIS FREEMAN of Pansy Division, artist MICHAEL FROST and Jawbreaker writer-director DARREN STEIN. Gravy Train's awesome train wreck barreled along with one of the singers performing somersaults (with a lollipop in her mouth and the mic in hand, no less), prompting one audience member to exclaim, "I don't know how much 'pride' this shows, but this is the best band I've seen in ages!"
Go-go-dancing refugees were one of the many highlights of the closing episode of THE STRIP, a campy late-night serial comedy penned by Justin Tanner, Patricia Scanlon and Hugh Palmer, which is going on hiatus after five months of sold-out performances at the EVIDENCE ROOM. Squeezing through the packed house, affable leather daddy (a.k.a. Strip producer) KIRK WILSON took the stage and managed to persuade actors from David Edgar's political drama Pentecost, many of whom played tattered asylum seekers, to join his army of go-go dancers. With a plot that defies description, The Strip has presented a new installment every week -- previous episodes have involved murderous hillbillies, evil space aliens, and the fun-loving gang from Cuffs, a sticky-floor Silver Lake bar. The final episode was sillier than usual, with extensive flashbacks cribbed from Dallas, Dynasty and Dickens. Lively music was provided by DAVID ELLIS and a moonlighting ROB KENDT, BackStage West editor. Among the Strip searchers were JACQUELINE WRIGHT, DAVID BICKFORD and JOE FOSTER of Theater of NOTE, actor TRAVIS MICHAEL HOLDER, actor/model CHRIS CARMACK, theater producer FRIER McCOLLISTER, Evidence Room member and film director BURR STEERS (of the forthcoming Igby Goes Down, starring Kieran Culkin, Susan Sarandon and Ryan Phillippe), as well as ER members ALICIA ADAMS, JASON ADAMS, AMES INGHAM, BART DeLORENZO and TOBIAS BAKER. Even L.A. Times theater reporter DON SHIRLEY made an appearance, scowling amid the merriment. KRISTIAN HOFFMAN and ABBY TRAVIS were among the guest performers, as was the slimmed-down CHRIS WELLS, literally holding up his belt and pants with his hand during the performance. After the show, we complimented Wells on his newly svelte figure. By way of acknowledgment, Wells, in the middle of the very crowded party, suddenly dropped trou, displaying dazzling white boxer shorts and a great set of gams. Much later, a clothed Wells joined director-choreographer KEN ROHT for an off-the-wall interpretive dance. Unfortunately, no pole was involved.
FROM THE FREEZER
Even folks in the back corners of the GARAGE were elbowing each other for position to catch a glimpse of Scottish punk legends THE REZILLOS, who started back in 1976 but only got around to making their long-awaited (and sold-out) local debut last week. Throughout the group's set, ticketless kids came in waves, trying to sneak in through the side door, fended off by beleaguered booker TOAST. Combining elements of Eddie Cochran, T. Rex, the Ramones and Dusty Springfield, as well as an ongoing obsession with outer space, the Rezillos' deceptively exuberant early hits "Flying Saucer Attack" and "Top of the Pops" didn't sound in the least bit dated. Colead singer EUGENE REYNOLDS, behind severely narrow and sinister shades, snarled with even more rasp than Stiff Little Fingers' Jake Burns, while kohl-eyed modette FAYE FIFE (pictured) rejoined with girl-group melodies, frugging and shagging nonstop like a punk Barbara Feldon. What imbued it all with power, though, was founding guitarist JO CALLIS, who also played in Human League and is partly responsible for "Don't You Want Me." Callis gave a relentlessly wicked edge to the sublime and silly "(My Baby Does) Good Sculptures," as well as several catchy new tunes and a cover of the Dave Clark Five's "Glad All Over." "You just can't stand still," Reynolds commented to the manic crowd, who were already pumped up by sets from THE EXCESSORIES, THE FUSE and THE STITCHES. It didn't matter when Fife broke out in an unintelligible rapid-fire brogue, then asked, "Can anyone understand my accent?" Such pure fun needed no translation.
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