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Titty Titty Bang Bang

Madonna Madness was in full force at MAKEUP, and so sweaty was the packed EL REY that “Like a Virgin” bridal veils and “Borderline” pussycat bows just wilted away. Gyrating go-go dancers were turned out in every Material Gal fashion period from “Respect Yourself” to “Music,” and it seemed as though at least half the place was intent on acting out scenes from the pages of Sex. The crowd was full of “Lucky Stars” such as KROQ’s RODNEY BINGENHEIMER, gals-about-town THE CHANEL TWINS, cartoonist DAME DARCY, bon vivant SEAN DE LEAR, Poison’s C.C. DeVILLE and jewelry designer MICHAEL SCHMIDT, whose most recent credit was doing the “finishing” on Madonna’s Drowned World Tour. Finishing is now a job ranking up there with other integral parts of image-making, such as hair and makeup; in Schmidt’s case, it meant custom-rhinestoning Madonna’s guitar strap to read “Fuck off” in Swarovski crystals, as well as taking a blowtorch to her schoolgirl kilts. Though announced singers Dale Bozzio and Peaches never took the stage, the house band raged through a dynamite show that included the Normals’ NICK NAME doing a punked-out “Virgin” and Guns N’ Roses’ GILBY CLARKE blasting a metal version of “Get Into the Groove.” As the night ended, we spotted a topless and tipsy blond staggering into the ladies’ room, where she tried to re-apply a pastie using a tube of airplane-model glue as an adhesive. Clearly, she was in desperate need of some finishing. —Pleasant Gehman

Shake Your Butoh

Helicopters slicing overhead, police sirens, the Blue Line train rumbling by, the buzz of a circular saw — the urban soundscape provided a transcendent layer to the pop and classical music accompanying MICHAEL SAKAMOTO’s dreamlike butoh piece, DON’T/LEAVE, at the WATTS TOWERS ART CENTER. The avant-garde proved riveting to a group of kids invited from the neighborhood as three performers explored relationships and hope, with Simon Rodia’s three dazzling towers looming in the background. Or perhaps it was Sakamoto’s green Mike Brady–ruffle shirt, the envy of any Silver Lake hipster, that caught their eyes. Also paying close attention were Kittenfreaky’s NURIT SIEGEL, choreographer CAROL McDOWELL, Watts Towers Art Center director MARK GREENFIELD, performance duo MICHAEL MORRISSEY and FRANC BALITON, sculptor/lighting wiz JEFF CAIN, and Side Street Live’s SHEILA BRENNAN. When folks weren’t talking about artist Alex Donis’ upcoming show at the center, which features composite paintings of LAPD officers paired with gang members in twirling disco-dance poses, they were discussing the “Lighting of the Towers,” a September 28 ceremony featuring a contingent of dancers and musicians from Serino, Italy, Rodia’s birthplace, to commemorate the reopening of the towers to the public, which have been closed due to earthquake damage since 1994. Lately, programming at the center has become as diverse as the materials Rodia used to build his spectacular spires. —Marcus Kuiland-Nazario

Spanks for the Memories



Photo by Leslie Nuesca

No elves, but pixies, imps, fairies and fag hags (and a gnome or two) packed SIDE STREET LIVE for FAIRY, a two-night durational art event conceived and curated by LAUREN HARTMAN (pictured, left) and MARK RUCKER. Taking a cue from Mart Crowley’s The Boys in the Band, the topic of self-loathing was explored, particularly as a bond between gay men and straight women — an ambitious (if not fully realized) theme, perhaps rendered most literally by ROCHELLE FABB (pictured, right), who spelled out in cupcakes: “I Hate Myself.” ANN PERICH’s booming score and KRISTINA FARAGHER’s video installation dominated the dark, red-lit space, with performances taking place in every nook and cranny, and even from the ceiling, with a naked man in a black leather harness hovering over the crowd. Encased in Styrofoam like an overpriced Hallmark trinket, STEVE IRVIN mesmerized the audience with the occasional twitch in I Adore Cheap Sentiment, while TAD COUGHENOUR, elevated on a ledge, danced in Idol Worship, a hilarious spoof of rent boys and their daddies. Off in a corner totemically encircled by empty Budweiser cans, DAVID KING got butch sawing a tree trunk, occasionally pausing to pop a brewski and belch. Getting in touch with her body-image issues (or maybe just escaping the extreme heat inside the venue), KAT SKRABA moped from one lingerie outfit to the next. Roving performers interacted with the audience, which included actor JUAN FERNANDEZ, performance artist ILYA PEARLMAN, Highways’ DANIELLE BRAZELL, Guitar Boy’s NANCY AGABIAN, and the grand lady of performance art herself, RACHEL ROSENTHAL. Maybe a little too much interaction was happening, at least in the case of a sweaty CURT LeMIEUX, clad only in a jockstrap, who repeatedly hurled himself at audience members while pleading to be spanked. Perhaps if we’d had a whip.

—Sandra Ross

The Night? Mysterious. Our Joy? Delirious.

When, early last year in The New York Times Magazine, Stephen Sondheim pronounced the musical comedy dead, he obviously hadn’t counted on the appearance late this summer of rising star COLE PORTER’s KISS ME, KATE, whose opening and after-party (at the SHUBERT and the ST. REGIS, respectively) we attended recently. Sure, MICHAEL BLAKEMORE’s superb production of Porter’s period-within-a-period comedy might have benefited from the loss of a few spread-eagled anachronisms, and maybe a brush-up here and there in its diction. (How about slowing down the tempo a hair for the “L.B. Mayer” line? Hardening the d in “gone with the wind” so it rhymes with find not fine and doesn’t get mistaken for a Lambrusco or a Chianti?) For the balance, though, we were chewing up ROBIN WAGNER’s mobile scenery right along with REX SMITH (Fred Graham/Petruchio), RACHEL YORK (Lilli Vanessi/Katharine) and, most notably, NANCY ANDERSON (Lois Lane/Bianca), whose bravura bad-kitty rendition of “Always True to You (In My Fashion)” brought the house down, and very nearly onto the stage, and practically prostrate at her dainty little hoofs. (Forgive the mixed metaphor, and do you mind if we loosen our tie?) Across the street at the party, we somehow missed our chance to congratulate KATHLEEN MARSHALL on her dazzling choreography, PAUL GEMIGNANI on his classy music direction, and SAM and BELLA SPEWACK for their coyly dated screwball text, although we did take time to gawk at what may have been their twin Lamborghinis (his orange, hers gray?) parked so ostentatiously — bumper-to-bumper, curb center — in front of the St. Regis. And how we wish we’d had time to renew ties with MICHAEL YORK, JANE WITHERS, CHARLES DURNING, DIAHANN CARROLL, ROBERT MORSE, MARILU HENNER, BLAKE EDWARDS, JO ANNE WORLEY, CARL REINER, CHARLOTTE RAE, TOM POSTON, SUZANNE PLESHETTE, JAMES FARENTINO, JIMMY SMITS, CAROL LAWRENCE, ANN MILLER, BARBARA EDEN, SALLY KIRKLAND, ESTHER WILLIAMS, RUTA LEE . . . sorry kids, we got caught up in the dessert line. As for the man with the words and music, there was talk of a last-minute telex: “M. Porter regrets . . .” —Ron Stringer