Whips! Tight ropes! Domineering masters of ceremonies! Outrageous costumes and
death-defying acts! Oh yes, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is
here.It’s the 135th edition of “The Greatest Show on Earth” with “America’s
Best Clown,” Bello Nock (that’s his real hair!), and a couple who blast from
a cannon at 65 miles per hour! Staples Center, 1111 S. Figueroa St., downtown;
Thurs., July 21, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., July 22, noon & 7:30 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., July
23-24, 11:30 a.m., 3:30 & 7:30 p.m.; $13-$35; $50 VIP front row. $85 Circus
Celebrity. (213) 742-7340.

Whips! Tight ropes! Domineering masters of ceremonies! Outrageous costumes and
death-defying acts! We could save a lot of driving time if the circus joined
forces with the Fetish Ball. Dig out your summer S&M-wear and join the
fantasy parade for two nights of outrageousness. A fashion show by Fierce Couture
promises “concepts rarely seen in latex.” Onstage, Powder and Spanking Machine
will pummel your ear drums the way you like it, baby. Ex-man Amanda Lepore,
possibly the scariest transsexual ever, will perform, which in her case probably
means she’ll walk into the room. On her Web site, she claims to be the “Number
One Transexual [sic] in the World,” but we are fining her 100 tranny points
for bad spelling. The Key Club, 9041 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; Fri.-Sat.,
July 22-23, 8 p.m. (Sat., 9 p.m.); $20, $30 two-day pass. (310) 274-5800.

Do artists go to Lowe’s for their garden decorations? Probably not. NewTown
offers the opportunity to view six backyards belonging to artists at My Own
Slice of the State: Outsider Garden Tour, Part 1 of Whose/Who’s California
six “transformative yardscapes” in Pasadena and Altadena. The artists will be
on hand to answer your questions on how they made old car tires and scrap metal
look pleasing. Meet at Armory Center for the Arts, Northwest, 965 N. Fair
Oaks Ave., Pasadena; Sat., July 23, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (allow two hours for tour);
$3. (626) 398-9278.

Plant — that's his real hair!
See Sunday.


After hearing an on-air pledge from an NPR station never to play “Stairway
to Heaven,” Robert Plant called up and donated money. “It’s not that
I don’t like the song,” he later said. “It’s just that I’ve heard it before.”
He’s promoting his summer-perfect new CD, The Mighty Rearranger, which
shows his love for American blues, Malian percussion and mystical hoo-ha, but
onstage still delivers Led Zeppelin nuggets like “Heartbreaker,” “Whole Lotta
Love” and “When the Levee Breaks.” (I still love you, Robert Plant, and am waiting
for your reply to the letter I wrote you in 1975.) Greek Theater, 2700 N.
Vermont Ave., Griffith Park; Sun., July 24, 7:30 p.m. $35-$100. (213) 480-3232.

We don’t get much professional-tennis action in L.A., so today’s kickoff of
the Mercedes-Benz Cup at UCLA is exciting for fans of whack-thwack-slam!
The highlights will no doubt be the infernal racquets of Andre Agassi and Andy
Roddick, but the early rounds are easier to get tickets for, and this year’s
draw is deep with talent, including Wimbledon semifinalist Thomas Johansson
of Sweden. And, please, just because you play tennis doesn’t mean you have to
show up in your new Fila outfit. Los Angeles Tennis Center–UCLA, Westwood;
July 25-31; $25-$60. (310) 825-2101 or (877) LA TENNIS.

Comedy Death Ray has moved to an area with even worse parking than M
Bar. Thanks a lot. Or thanks for no lot. (The valet’s a reasonable $3.50, though.)
And there’s no booze at the new venue. Still, the comedy offered by the Fun
Bunch — Scott Aukerman and B.J. Porter — is consistently outstanding, bringing
such names as Zach Galifianakis, Sarah Silverman, Andy Kindler, Bob Odenkirk
and loads more. So have a few belts elsewhere and take a cab. Upright Citizens
Brigade Theater, 5919 Franklin Blvd., Hollywood; every Tues., 8:30 p.m.; $5.
(323) 908-8702.

“If you’re not English, you’re a foreigner — so you must be sexy.” That was
the philosophy of Italian sexpot actress Claudia Cardinale, who starred
in Fellini’s , Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo, Blake Edwards’ The
Pink Panther
and scads more. After signing a contract promising not to marry
or gain weight, Cardinale ended up telling people that her born-out-of-wedlock
baby son was her brother. (What would Tom Cruise make of that?) Now, American
Cinematheque salutes her with a double feature of Sandra and Don’t
Make Waves
, with a discussion with the actress between films. American
Cinematheque at the Egyptian, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Wed., July 27,
8 p.m.; $9, $7 students & seniors. (323) 466-FILM. Also, you can see Cardinale
Once Upon a Time in the West at AFI at the ArcLight, 6360 Sunset Blvd.,
Hollywood; 8 p.m.; $11. (323) 464-4226.

Suzanne Vega may seem like a quintessential Greenwich Village folk chick,
but she was actually born in Santa Monica. She got the hell out when she realized
her skin tone was meant for dusky coffeehouses, not sandy beaches. She never
looked back. The seagulls will add nicely to her lovely songs. Santa Monica
Pier, Colorado & Ocean aves.; Thurs., July 28, 7:30 p.m.; free. (310) 458-8900

LA Weekly