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Techno Prisoners

Edited by Kateri Butler

Conversation overheard last Monday night outside of the FOLD at the SILVERLAKE LOUNGE critiquing performance artist JODY HUGHES SUPERSTAR (pictured). She: “I think he sucks ’cause he has a weak chin.” He: “Yeah, I think the weak chin is one of the critical components of the whole thing. At the same time he’s doing these songs that are hypersexualized, but they’re comin’ out of a guy that looks like Bill Gates’ illegitimate child. You know, the techno-geek thing.” She: “But as a woman, having to watch that guy swivel his hips while he’s singing? I’m like, ughh, the techno-geek has a dick!” Fortunately, the dickless SPACE BALLERINAS, an all-girl trio, were spared the painful criticism of the opinionated duo by sticking to a basic recipe of down-home femme-driven Eastside rock. Earlier, Hughes had intrigued most of the audience while bipping and bopping in his red one-piece space suit and using a vocoder à la Roger Troutman. After rolling about the stage in high-mosh-pit fashion and singing along with his preprogrammed keyboard for a really long time, the recent Texas transplant dedicated a tune to Elton John. At that point, the crowd — a bevy of young, pale-skinned slobs decked out in the usual Silver Lake drag of cat glasses, bobby pins, beanie caps and peroxide, and DANNY BONADUCE — lost interest, preferring instead to taste-test and discuss the quality of each other’s apple martinis. Bottoms up!

—Derrick Mathis

Incongruities

At least two sides of Latino L.A. were represented at PABLO MILANES concert at the CONGA ROOM. Milanes, Cuba’s answer to Bob Dylan, was one of the crucial figures in the Fidel Castro–backed “Nueva Trova” (New Troubadour) popular-song movement of the late ’60s. The collective of Nueva Trova musicians was supposed to re-configure traditional folk music for the nation’s modern and post-revolutionary society. It seems a bit ironic that Milanes chose the Conga Room for his first L.A. appearance, where tickets for his concert were $75 to $95 for reserved seating and $35 for general seating. With ticket prices like these, certainly Milanes isn’t suffering the food rationing most contemporary habaneros have to endure. Then there’s those $9 mojitos. Casually dressed exiles and revolutionaries spotted ignoring the usually stringently enforced dress code were novelist GIACONDA BELLI, Itinerant Theater director JORGE FOLGUEIRA, Bilingual Foundation for the Arts’ RAUL AVILA, arts patron DEBBIE WINSKI, Stage Theater’s PAUL VERDIER and playwright RUBEN AMAVIZCA. Pumping things up for a more proletarian $10 at the Conga Room’s Toro Room next door was DJ RAY from Power 106. Caribbean beats kept the spaghetti straps sliding and the cigar-smoking ponytail-and-goatee set grooving all night long, and this crowd observed the dress code to the letter. But if you want to really get revolutionary, check out VERY BE CAREFUL, L.A.’s own cumbia band, priced at a mere 5 bucks every Wednesday at GUATALINDA on Hollywood Boulevard. Si, se puede.

—Marcus Kuiland-Nazario

Egg Beaters

“All I can say is, ‘Just say no to George W. Bush,’” declared PAULA COLE backstage at the PALLADIUM, where ROCK FOR CHOICE threw a rip-roarin’ benefit to promote the launch of the FEMINIST MAJORITY FOUNDATION’s “Save Roe” campaign, designed to get the word out that the Bush administration could jeopardize the right to safe, legal abortion. Cole, who recently moved to L.A., delivered a storming set, and was later joined by gal pals THE BANGLES, who rode the ’80s flashback wave. SARAH McLACHLAN stepped onstage for the first time in nearly a year and performed in her usual willowy way, while up-and-comer MIA DOI TODD shared her folky sounds and GILLIAN ANDERSON emceed the event, which was well-attended by Hollywood’s out feminists, such as KATHY NAJIMY, ELLEN DeGENERES, HELEN HUNT, PORTIA Di ROSSI and MAVIS LENO. Plus, there was Anderson’s dad, who noted, “I support the cause.” But it wasn’t until late in the evening, when MELISSA ETHERIDGE (pictured) shook the stage with her power guitar, that the evening’s family values really rocked the house. “Call the baby sitter,” Etheridge proclaimed. “We’re gonna be here awhile.”

—Stacie Stukin

The FCC Makes Us Want to Smoke Crack

A new underground radio station has become the talk of Hollywood, but just as its mix of punk, ’80s tunes and weird comedy bits has begun to give FM radio the butt-kicking it deserves, it may become history. PIRATE CAT RADIO (87.9 FM) was started in a Los Angeles apartment a month-and-a-half ago by a computer whiz from San Jose who calls himself MONKEY MAN. He works out of a bedroom filled with transmitters and computers programmed to broadcast 24/7, and visitors such as DEEP EYNDE, GET-UP KIDS, NAKED AGGRESSION and LEE VING have joined him “in studio.” He says KROQ called with a job offer, but he turned ’em down. Recently, however, the FCC served him with a “notice of unlicensed operations,” which could ultimately force him off the air. Like Silver Lake’s now-defunct KBLT, Pirate Cat seeks to expand the usual radio playlists, and Monkey Man goes to extremes when it comes to exercising his freedom of speech: Tunes with the words fuck or shit or ass, etc., get priority play. But P.C. Radio is more about variety than profanity, and the inventive sets include everything from the Smiths to Wesley Willis (“I Smoke Crack Rocks” is a big hit) to the Dead Kennedys to classical music. Now that the FCC’s found him out, what’s next? A continuous loop with the words “Aah so, very fine Chinese rock & roll” aired all day last Sunday, but at press time the usual mix was rockin’ the airwaves again.

—Lina Lecaro

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