MARILYN MANSON’s record-release party, dubbed the GROTESK BURLESK, at the KEY CLUB for The Golden Age of Grotesque attempted to live up to its name: Gigantic posters of M.M. done up as an evil mouseketeer bannered a blood-curdling welcome on the side of the building, while armies of masked creatures wandered Frankenstein-like throughout the club. Apparently, the creepy critters were supposed to add to the demented Disneyland atmosphere — inspired by Manson’s pal artist GOTTFRIED HELNWEIN — but somehow the ominous vibe was lost when they were spotted sipping margaritas at the bar. While the black-clad set passed the long wait for the show gazing at Manson’s paintings and Helnwein’s photos (some depicted M.M. with children, others showed him with botox-gone-berserk big lips), outside scalpers were asking $400 a pop for tix, and many Hot Topic’d tarts were paying. The Key Club’s upstairs level and Plush Lounge were cleared out for VIPs such as Stone Temple Pilots’ SCOTT WEILAND, former Limp Bizkit guitarist WES BORLAND, ex–GnR drummer MATT SORUM and porn pooh-bah RON JEREMY, but the spectacle — opened by Manson’s squeeze DITA VON TEESE taking her infamous sponge bath in a martini glass — was best viewed down on the crowded floor with fans and fiends. Backed by a bunch o’ blondes in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? makeup, M.M. threw water bottles and a couple of mics into the crowd while talking a lot of shit about “cocksucker critics . . . who are bald and can’t get laid.” We’re surprised he couldn’t come up with a more original description.

—Lina Lecaro


Where else but the HIGHWAYS BLOWOUT PERFORMANCE EXTRAVAGANZA, a two-day, 14th-birthday bash for the arts org, could you find Asian lesbians, postmodern dancers, male-to-female transsexuals, puppets, twisted nuns, faux flamenco, lonely children and lots of smokers? Once again Highways proved that no matter who you are, there is an affinity group you can join. Onstage opening this transgressive madness were THE SISTERS OF PERPETUAL INDULGENCE, who gave an invocation that included an admonishment for the audience to “Get a clue.” Among the clued-in were performance artists ELIA ARCE, MICHAEL MORRISSEY and FRANC BALITON, Getty photo conservationist MARTIN SALAZAR, wordsmith TRE TEMPERELLI, performer ILYA PEARLMAN, and city of Santa Monica Cultural Affairs diva HAMP SIMMONS. Highways artistic director DANIELLE BRAZELL put a helium tank and mouse ears to surreally hilarious use in her standout performance of “It’s a Small World.” The helium tank added to the general bonhomie at the after-party, held in the Highways Gallery, where its contents were consumed by multidisciplinary artist MICHAEL SAKAMOTO and stud puppeteer

PAUL ZALOOM, who then entertained with that time-honored tradition of squeaky voices. A follicle auction of performance artist DAN KWONG’s locks concluded the colorful extravaganza, although more money might have been raised if one could have chosen which part of the body the hair came from. But who better than Highways to remind us that despite all of our differences in this mad age, it really is a small world, after all.

—Marcus Kuiland-Nazario


“I’d like to bring up the person I believe should be president of everything,” said opening standup act BRUCE DANIELS about his friend MARGARET CHO, who performed her sellout show, “Cho Revolution,” at the WILTERN THEATER. “I look a little like Catherine Zeta-Jones,” she said, pointing at her beaded Abyssinian headdress and self-described “Chinky” wig. She noted that she loved Merchant Ivory films, but would never get cast in a period flick “unless I’m lying down on my side smoking opium.” Cho took on all her usual subjects, including female body image, her mother, and being a minority in the good old U.S. of A. “Korean people have two emotions,” she explained, “stony silence, and GET OUT OF MY STORE!” The audience was pure Cho. Skinny gay boys, their fag hags, and young Asian women as well as actors PETER PAIGE and KIERSTEN WARREN ate it up as Margaret went for the scatological, warning of the perils of an all-fruit diet while taking long L.A. drives. “I’m very inappropriate, which makes me a problem dinner guest,” Cho opined, noting that nervous nellies often laugh uncomfortably and tell her not to go there. “I live there,” she said. “I bought my house there. I don’t want to be the better person. I do want to sink to their level.” There was a lot of there there.

—Christopher Lisotta


Everyone was watching anxiously for the balls to pop out at THE PARLOUR when it was transformed into a bingo hall for SCUTTERZINE’s PUNKO. Conceived by RUDY BLEU (probably the only philanthropist–CEO–editor of a photocopied fanzine on Earth), the event raised cash for Scutterzine’s Queer Youth Scholarship Fund, which annually awards two $1,000 scholarships to gay, lesbian or transgender high school seniors. Instead of numbers, the game cards featured the names of famous punk bands. Sid Vicious, Stiv Bators and Darby Crash would’ve been proud: Things quickly turned hysterically chaotic. The dim lighting made the cards impossible to read, none of the enthusiastic participants knew bingo rules or had ever even played before, plus the drinks were a-flowin’. Consequently, the first game went on for ages, until musician-writer TIM POWERS finally took a prize — drink tickets! Looking on were members of the band I AM LOVED and authors CLINT CATALYST and BETT WILLIAMS, while glamour pusses SELENE LUNA, MICHELLE MILLS and SEAN DE LEAR swilled their cocktails and kept their fingers crossed. Punko guest callers were drag divas THE SISTERS OF PERPETUAL INDULGENCE and JIM JAY BULLOCK, who once co-hosted a talk show with Tammy Faye Bakker. The strange circumstances were not lost on Bullock, who, amid a barrage of dumb-assed bingo-beginner questions and affectionate heckling, joked, “Oh, my God, I used to have a network television show — and it’s come to this.”

—Pleasant Gehman

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