Shitshow Bingo is top dog.
Shitshow Bingo is top dog.
Courtesy Christopher Wonder

Best of L.A. Culture: Groups and Troupes That Amuse and Astound

On any given night, likeminded individuals gather in the city to nerd out over pop culture in a variety of ways. From subversive burlesque to sloshed movie re-enactments to deep cult discussion to artful celebration, here are the weirdest, most wonderful and simply best gatherings of the bunch.

Best Drunken Bingo Brawl

When insurgent magician Christopher Wonder breaks out his 75 balls for an edition of long-running local sensation Shitshow Bingo, literally anything is possible. A raucous swarm of boozy, bawdy hijinks invariably ensues, and Wonder's offbeat update on the classic retiree pastime has become a local institution. It goes down every Saturday at La Cita and every third Friday at Footsie's, with play enhanced by Wonder's witheringly wacky patter, midway snack fare and a wild trove of novelty gag prizes including whoopie cushions, sex toys, oversized plushies and, of course, booze. Not for the faint of heart but a definite kick in the head for salty thrillseekers. Saturdays at La Cita, 336 S. Hill St., downtown; every third Friday at Footsies, 2640 N. Figueroa St., Highland Park; and the last Sunday of the month at the Short Stop, 1455 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park; facebook.com/christopherwonder. —Jonny Whiteside

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Hot mess movie fun
Hot mess movie fun
Courtesy Comedians Cinema Club

Best Messed-Up Movie Experience

In a dark club in Hollywood during a live production of cult favorite Labyrinth, a highly inebriated actor playing Jareth the Goblin King and sporting a jock strap the size of a lumbar pillow nearly tumbles from the stage as the audience chants "Dance, Magic Dance." At the Pantages this might call for a refund, but at the Comedians Cinema Club's Live on Stage, this is a highlight. The premise of the troupe's drunk performances series is simple: Funny folks drink while they ad-lib their way through the pop culture zeitgeist. And while they may miss a crucial quote, the audience participation, the DIY costumes and the tipsy actors' enthusiasm make up for the lack of a script. Started in 2014 by Club founder Eric Lampaert, the troupe's first official parody was Ghost. Since moving the outfit to Los Angeles from across the pond, Lampaert has had no trouble finding a following of folks who share his love of movies and pints. The troupe looks to have a long career in Hollywood ... depending on how long their collective livers can withstand repeat performances. Regular shows at Black Rabbit Rose and Hayworth Theater; comedianscinemaclub.com. —Erin Maxwell

Best of L.A. Culture: Groups and Troupes That Amuse and Astound
John Eng

Best Pop-Culture Cannibalism

Specializing in a deliriously unorthodox combination of multimedia mayhem via a revue-style presentation combining spoken-word, live musical performances, projected visuals and props, Captured Aural Phantasy Theater is a singular no-holds-barred style of live-wire caba-vaude theatrics. Often featuring collaborations with the equally unpredictable Bob Baker Marionettes, the theater is proudly ballyhooed as the only company officially authorized to draw from the lurid annals of EC Comics (Tales From the Crypt, Weird Science, First Love Illustrated, etc.). This wild troupe guarantees plenty of the greatest dialogue and action ever. Entering its 10th season this year, CAPT throws down propulsive, dynamic pop-culture cannibalism at its very finest. capturedauralphantasy.com. —Jonny Whiteside

A terrifying turn-on
A terrifying turn-on
Donavan Freberg

Best Place to Get Turned on & a Little Terrified at the Same Time

Deep in the trenches of Reseda, beautiful girls dressed like Pennywise, Vyvyan from The Young Ones and Ted Bundy strip down to their skivvies with style and grace, exuding enough sexual confusion to make David Lynch leave the room in bewilderment. Since 2015, the WTF-lesque burlesque comedy troupe have been taking off their clothes in homage to every (Stephen) King and Queen (the Freddie Mercury kind) in pop culture. Started by Tiffy Twister and Brandy Snifter, WTF-lesque bucks conventional burlesque rules and adds the absurd to turn sexy on its ear. Past themes have included serial killers, '80s primetime television, Stephen King characters and a tribute to the Pope of Trash, John Waters. It's fun for the whole (Manson) family. facebook.com/wtflesque/. —Erin Maxwell

HIs puppetry kills it.EXPAND
HIs puppetry kills it.
Richard Michael Johnson

Best Boob Bonanza

OK, not those kinds of boobs! Boobie Trap is a bodacious comedy spectacle that tickles the senses with its funny, fast pace and freaky acts. To say it's an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink show is to limit its scope and excess. This variety show is the sink and it's filled with every kind of dish you can imagine — plastic novelties, sassy glasses, twisted sipping straws ... you get the idea. It's a hodge-podge of talent, all culled from host Scot Nery's formidable friends list. The contortionist-juggler-comedian curates the wacky weekly Wednesday event, and he seeks to outdo himself every time. For his recent 200th show, he booked the usual procession of 15 four-minute acts — circus performers, magicians, musicians, dancers — and then threw out 20,000 bags of potato chips into the crowd, because why not? This boob is all about bounty, because when it comes to entertainment, too much is not enough. 6555 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Wed., 8-9:30 p.m. (doors 7 p.m., bar open until mid.); $20. boobiela.com. —Lina Lecaro

Gallery Girls inspire.
Gallery Girls inspire.
Lucy Smith

Best Naked Inspiration

Jennifer Fabos Patton's Gallery Girls turns sketching and painting into sensual communal events that are lacking in our disconnected age. Instead of admiring the female form on Instagram, guests of all artistic levels can render it live in person, while drinking a glass of wine or beer, mingling and sharing ideas. Usually held at galleries, bars, clubs and other nontraditional spaces, Patton started doing events in Pasadena. She now hosts her ongoing late-night drawing sessions and workshops at various venues across town, including Kline Academy of Fine Art, Jackie's Art Studio Cafe, "Drinky Draw" night at San Fernando Brewing and the Original Drink & Draw Nights at Casey's Irish Pub. You bring the supplies and Patton provides the models, either nude or semi-nude, who pose for five to 25 minutes and dress according to monthly themes, whether it's "Sailor Girl Pinup," "Red Sonja" or "Vampirella." Gallerygirls.org. —Siran Babayan

James Branscome, right, and his crew offer lively cinematic discussion.EXPAND
James Branscome, right, and his crew offer lively cinematic discussion.
Robert Enger

Best Cinematic Venture

If you're looking for something outside your parents' movie collection and want a history lesson in the cinema of strange, look no further than Cinematic Void. Created by Egyptian Theatre manager and cult film aficionado James Branscome, CV is a journey into the underbelly of exploitation cinema, mostly from the '70s and '80s. "I want it to be an experience, not just another night at the movies," Branscome says. "And I don't show the same film twice." From '80s teen romps (Secret Admirer) to splatter horror gems (The Mutilator) to the just plain weird (The Sinful Dwarf, anyone?), CV amps it up with hilarious intros (usually curated by Branscome himself), onstage celebrity interviews, prizes and more. You might be offended, grossed out, enlightened, even permanently changed, but that's exactly how Cinematic Void wants it. Cinematic Void screenings are usually at the Egyptian Theater and sometimes at the Aero Theater. Check out the American Cinematheque calendar for upcoming screenings. 6715 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; americancinemathequecalendar.com/content/enter-the-cinematic-void. —Chad Byrnes


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