See a doc about the Trocks on Tuesday night.
See a doc about the Trocks on Tuesday night.
Courtesy Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo

10 Cheap and Free Things to Do in L.A. This Week

From an exhibit of lost street photography to a movie about people who are competitive air sexers, there's loads of fun stuff to do in L.A. this week — all for ten bucks or less.

In 2014, Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans of local indie band YACHT launched 5 Every Day, a free mobile app that recommends users try five new things a day. The La Brea Tar Pits and Museum partners with the couple to curate It's the Pits!, a "creative salon" where hand-picked groups and individual artists take over the museum grounds. The Lost & Found Film Club and Ghosting screen science films and animation; Tom Carroll leads guided tours; Jasmine Albuquerque performs a site-specific dance piece; and Jherek Bischoff plays with a string quartet — all while Dublab DJs spin records. Of course, there's also Ice Age Encounters, the museum's ongoing multimedia live show about the extinct animals that roamed L.A. more than 10,000 years ago. La Brea Tar Pits, 5801 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Fri., Jan. 15, 7-10 p.m.; free with RSVP. (323) 857-6300, —Siran Babayan

Though not as well-remembered as some of her contemporaries, Betty Grable was among Hollywood's most bankable stars in the 1940s; she was Fox's go-to leading lady for musicals and maybe their most reliable performer. Grable made Sweet Rosie O'Grady at the height of her fame in 1943, starring as a music-hall star whose past threatens to upend her engagement to a high-society duke. As they're wont to do, the folks at Old Town Music Hall will begin the evening with a sing-along accompanied by the Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ. Old Town Music Hall, 140 Richmond St., El Segundo; Fri., Jan. 15, 8:15 p.m.; Sat., Jan. 16, 2:30 & 8:15 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 17, 2:30 p.m.; $10. (310) 322-2592, —Michael Nordine

Air Sex: The Movie is a documentary that follows the 2013 national Air Sex Championships, an air guitar competition's naughtier and more embarrassing cousin. Comedian Chris Trew hosts contestants — who go by names like "King Dong," "Dorian's Gray Balls" and "Mary Tyler Whore" — as they pretend to make love to imaginary partners, both human and animal, and later apologize to their mothers. Trew, director Jonathan Evans and producer Brock LaBorde conduct a Q&A following the screening and demonstrate an air sex routine. To paraphrase one of the contest's judges, you'll probably get a yeast infection after watching this. Part of NewFilmmakers Los Angeles Film Fest, AT&T Center, 1139 S. Hill St., downtown; Sat., Jan. 16, 9:25 p.m.; $5 in advance, $7 at the door. (323) 521-7385, —Siran Babayan

By now Vivian Maier — the nanny who secretly shot more than 100,000 photographs of 20th-century American life, told no one and died in obscurity — is an art-world enigma on par with Henry Darger and Robert Johnson, and tonight's opening of a new retrospective of Vivian Maier's photography peels back yet another layer of a cultural onion that just keeps unpeeling. Exhumed by Realtor John Maloof in 2007 at a Chicago auction house, Maier's images depict street scenes in Chicago, New York, Egypt and Los Angeles; more than 65 images have been selected for this exhibit, including modern limited silver gelatin and color prints. KP Projects, 170 S. La Brea Ave. (in the ART 170 Bldg.), Mid-Wilshire; Sat., Jan. 16, 7 p.m.; free. (323) 933-4408, —David Cotner

Darryl Holter and William Deverell stop by Vroman's to discuss their new book, Woody Guthrie L.A.: 1937 to 1941, a collection of 12 essays that look at how the legendary folk and protest singer's brief time in L.A. informed both his music and his politics. Guthrie was among the thousands of Okies who fled to California during the Dust Bowl. Here, he recorded some of his best-known songs and hosted a daily radio show. And in L.A. he befriended Will Geer, Eddie Albert and Burl Ives, as well as members of the Communist Party and left-wing activists. The book also includes more than a dozen of Guthrie's satirical cartoons. Vroman's, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Sun., Jan. 17, 3 p.m.; free. (626) 449-5320, —Siran Babayan

Zulu, Cy Endfield's dramatization of an 1879 battle in which 150 British soldiers held off as many as 4,000 Zulu warriors, is the latest in UCLA's Endfield retrospective. Decide for yourself whether the film bemoans or glorifies British colonialism — a debate that's raged since Zulu premiered more than 50 years ago. Brian Neve, who wrote The Many Lives of Cy Endfield, will be present to share his insights. UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; 7 p.m.; $10. (310) 206-8013, —Michael Nordine

Martin Luther King Jr. Day should be the perfect time to reflect on the progress we've made as a society since the civil rights leader was gunned down in Tennessee in April 1968. But if the events of the past few years — from Ferguson to whatever the hell these racists in Oregon are doing at the moment — make reflection seem a bit too passive, it's also an official Day of Service. Or as volunteer mobilization group L.A. Works calls it a "day on, not a day off." This year that organization will be revitalizing the campus of Woodcrest Elementary School in South L.A., including landscaping and repainting chipped murals. We promise it'll be more rewarding than sleeping in. Woodcrest Elementary School, 1151 W. 109th St., Westmont; Mon., Jan 18, 6 a.m. or 8 a.m.; free. —Gwynedd Stuart

Rising from the 1970's New York underground male drag scene, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo became a worldwide phenomenon. Initially, the Trocks drew attention with the humorous concept of men in pointe shoes and stage names like Yakaterina Verbosovich and Nina Immobilashvili, but their staying power over four decades derives from the fact that underneath the laughs, these guys are serious ballet dancers performing hilarious but polished parodies of Russian ballet classics. In advance of their weekend performances on Jan. 23 and 24, the Carpenter Performing Arts Center screens the film Leaping Over Boundaries: A History of the Trocks, a documentary about the troupe's rise and how these excellent male dancers transform themselves into their Trock alter egos. Come for the free screening, return over the weekend for the real show. Carpenter Performing Arts Center, 6200 E. Atherton St., Long Beach; Tue., Jan. 19, 7 p.m.; free with reservation. —Ann Haskins

Now regarded by many as the first film in which Alfred Hitchcock became a truly "serious" director, Notorious is also a characteristically gripping thriller by the master of suspense. Ingrid Bergman plays the daughter of a Nazi forced by Cary Grant's government agent to infiltrate a group of exiled Nazis in Brazil. Two of Hitchcock's most famous scenes are on display, including one in which he cleverly stretched a kissing scene to nearly three minutes despite the Production Code's insistence that they last no more than three seconds. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; 1 p.m.; $5. (323) 857-6000, —Michael Nordine

When Cat Fancy ceased operations in 2014, it left a gaping void in feline-publishing landscape. Though it launched that same year, Puss Puss magazine is nothing like Cat Fancy. Born of a successful Kickstarter campaign, the sleek, London-based publication is full of features about chic, millennial cat lovers like Tyler, the Creator and model Anja Konstantinova, and fashion-magazine quality pictures of cats. It's like the entire Internet's tactile companion piece. To ingratiate itself to American cat people, Puss Puss hosts a party with drinks, a DJ set by Clean White Linens and plenty of riveting cat convo, no doubt. Upstairs Bar at the Ace Hotel, 929 S. Broadway, downtown; Wed., Jan. 20, 8:30 p.m.-2 a.m.; free with RSVP. —Gwynedd Stuart


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