Archive: November, 2009
Every Thursday, we give you this week's LGBTQ to-do list.
' Underground folk legend Alix Dobkin will be at Giovanni's Room (345 S. 12th St., 215-923-2960) on Fri., Nov. 13 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Dobkin will be reading from her recently release memoir, My Red Blood: A Memoir of Growing Up Communist, Coming Onto the Greenwich Village Folk Scene, and Coming Out in the Feminist Movement (Alyson, $16.95). That's one of the most daunting book titles I've ever seen, but I'm positive this event will be anything but. Dobkin has a lot to share: She recorded the first openly lesbian album (Lavender Jane Loves Women) in 1973; she was hailed in the Greenwich Village music scene in the fabulous '60s; and she joined the Communist Party smack in the middle of the Red Scare. This lady has balls ' OK, probably not, but she sounds super cool. The $10 admission is donation-based, but no one will be turned away due to lack of funds.
' I'm all about the books and protests this week, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't take some time out to boogie. On Fri., Nov. 12 from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., Marathon Grill (929 Walnut St., 215-733-0311) will open its loft for a dance party called BoyFuzion. From what I hear, the last gay party at Marathon Grill was an affair that shouldn't have been missed. DJ Glitz will bring the tunes, so all you have to arrive with is the shimmies and the shakes. Oh, and $5.
' On Sat. Nov. 14 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the 2nd Annual Queer Literary Festival is taking place for free at the Big Blue Marble Bookstore (551 Carpenter Lane, 215-844-1870). Event Coordinator Maleka Fruean created the festival because she saw a lack of gay book fairs in Philly and an influx of LGBTQ families in Mt. Airy. Check out my piece on it in this week's Agenda section for more information. '
' If you're feeling especially outspoken this weekend, head out to show support for our gay brothers and sisters in Lancaster, who will be holding an LGBTQ Equality Protest on Sat., Nov. 14 from noon to 1 p.m. at Lancaster Market Square (King and Queen streets, Lancaster). The unfortunate turn of events regarding the defeat of Proposition 1 in Maine has spurred LGBTQ supportive citizens in Lancaster to speak out in a demonstration calling for equality and justice for all. They're angry about what happened up north but 'an even worse defeat,' they say, 'would be to let the intolerant among us continue perverting our democratic process to protect their bigotry.' This may not turn out to be the largest protest you've seen, but every little bit counts. Preach it, Lancaster!
Itching for more gay events? Check out our LGBTQ listings.
So here's the deal with Matthew Vaughn's Kick-Ass: Vaughn, who directed the super fun Layer Cake and Stardust, wanted to make a movie about the titular comic series by Mark Millar, about an average kid who decides to become a super hero (of course, he would call himself Kick-Ass). But there was a problem. No studio in their right minds would take on an R-rated movie where a bunch of kids, including a young girl (Hit Girl), cuss a bunch and kill a lot of people in various violent ways. Do it up as a kids' movie and it's bound to suck. Do it as a movie for adults and the demo may be turned off by the child actors.
So what's a director to do? Do it up his own damn self is what he does.
Vaughn raised the necessary $30 mil to make this flick on his own, without studio support. After it garnered crazy buzz at Comic Con this year, Lionsgate stepped in for distribution.
What does that mean for you, movie goer? It means that you have a tight director working without a studio net. No notes telling him to tone it down. All badass.
I love the feel of this trailer. It has a very old school, comics thing going on with the character intertitles. And, oh my, is that McLovin' taking names? Hit Girl is played by Chloe Moretz, who you may remember as Joseph Gordon Levitt's lil' sis in (500) Days of Summer, written by Margate boy Scott Neustadter. I hated Summer for one very specific reason (die, Manic Pixie Dream Girl, die!), but I was impressed by Moretz, who could deadpan better than half the adult cast she plays up against. She's taking on the vamp role in the Americanized Let the Right One In remake and I'll be watching to see if she can keep up the momentum. Not to mention, I'm pumped to see Nic Cage in a movie where the least ludicrous thing about the movie is hair style, which is truly saying something.
Kick-Ass is scheduled for an April 16, 2010 release.
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|Shmitten Kitten pins|
We have a long and storied history, the 1" pin and I. When I was in high school, I carried around this bright yellow messenger bag that I covered in pins. I would scour flea markets, shows and Ebay for the perfect assortment of pins. Too bad I didn't know about Zen Kitten, aka Philly girl Kat. She is the official creator of the Shmitten Kitten pin series (the pins above ' you can buy us some of those too), which is where I got wind of her. I took a gander at her Etsy page and got far too excited: Faster Pussycat Kill Kill! Re-Animator! Joan Crawford! And so many more.
' I wonder where that messenger bag is. I think I've got some pins to buy.
Seeing Wolfmother live is evidence that modern recording technology has not yet caught up with the sonic force produced by frontman Andrew Stockdale's vocal cords and his quiver of Gibsons.
With last month's release of their new album Cosmic Egg and a whole new cast of characters in the band, Stockdale was just as excited to be there as the rest of the amped-up, sweaty crowd. He came out with his fists pumping and fingers pointing at the moshing mob, eventually diving in with his guitar and reclining overhead in their outstretched arms.
The new bandies couldn't have rocked any harder. Watching Ian Peres operate his bass/keyboard combo with every limb on his body was a show on its own. The set made me want to run home and rip up 'Woman' on Guitar Hero, but not before the acoustic encore of' Kate Bush cover "Wuthering Heights," which helped mellow out the pack of rabid fans.
Every Wednesday, Critical Mass pops into a neighborhood and finds its most stylish residents.
This week I traveled south of South Street and checked out shops around Bainbridge and Fabric Row. With unique stores and treasure troves like Passional and Philly AIDS Thrift, I hoped to find more fearless fashion mavens. Many of these Queen Village dwellers looked to their favorite thrift store, Philly AIDS, for clothing. Others constructed their own pieces, like Najee G., who customizes pieces with paint, and Virginia H., who designs her own historically inspired pieces. Sadly, Virginia wasn't rocking her usual skirts and bloomers because she just came from a job interview, but she and her friend Miriam L. showed off chic all-black ensembles accessorized with funky bags.
Virginia H., 20, from Northeast Philly, and Miriam L., 18, from the South Street area:
|Photos | Nicole Saylor|
Victoria S., 16, from Mount Airy:
This student found her peacock feather dress at Forever 21, and paired it with a great pair of ballet flats with zipper detail from DSW.
|Photos | Nicole Saylor|
Najee G., 52, from Germantown:
This local artist and designer frequents Philly AIDS Thrift and sidewalk sales.
|Photos | Nicole Saylor|
Renee M., 26, from the Italian Market:
This London lover goes overseas for her fashion finds. Her favorite place to shop there is Camden Town.
|Photos | Nicole Saylor|
Catherine A., 26, from North Philly:
This Philly AIDS Thrift volunteer scored her graphic dress while at work. 'I kind of get first dibs on everything,' says Catherine.
|Photos | Nicole Saylor|
Don't know what to do tonight? Don't worry, we've got you covered.
' An interesting proposal: The band Hair Rocket wants you to snip off a piece of your hair, fasten it to a rocket and let the stinking thing loose. These rapscallions are playing the Khyber (56 S. Second St., 215-238-5888) tonight at 8 p.m. for $8. We can't guarantee that it'll be a good show musically speaking (though, by all accounts, the garage-rock thing they've got going on is decent), but it'll no doubt be entertaining. Attaching your hair to a rocket? That's some Central, Pa., bored-in-the-suburbs shit, which is pathetic and sad and immature, sure, but it's also funny. See the video above for an example.
' It's Veterans Day. Go commemorate World War I soldiers at Wooden Shoe Books (704 South St., 215-413-0999), where members will examine the war that killed more than 16 million through literary, historical and poetic works at 7:30 p.m., for free.
Not satisfied? Check out today's listings for more and more and more events.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, this is only a teaser and you don't get much of a feel for story but this minute-long clip from Louis Leterrier's Clash of the Titans is rolled out and ready to be judged. Leterrier, who directed the Hulk reboot starring Ed Norton, looks as if he's diverging from the original's old school look and feel ' but we'll get to that later. I'm still on the fence about Sam Worthington, who takes over for Harry Hamlin as Perseus. He was clearly the best part of the dreadful Terminator: Salvation, running circles around ostensible lead Christian Bale, and James Cameron fought hard for him in Avatar. And considering Cameron succeeded in having a comparative unknown star in a $300 million+ movie, I've got to have some faith in him. But every interview with him I've read makes him (like this one in Esquire) seem like a giant douche. Sure, that has little baring on how good he can act in front of a green screen, you can ask Russell Crowe why his last two movies bombed at the box office and see what he says.
While this teaser only gives us a glimpse of what will surely be extrapolated upon in further marketing materials, I like the combination of both 300-style computer animation (the studios even put it in 300's release month, formerly a movie dead zone until things start to pick up for the summer) and Guillermo del Torro-esque creatures (although, on first look, they ape Hellboy II a bit much). The pounding background music is also 300-inducing. Why, hello, testosterone.
But, I'm sorry, "The titans will clash"? Who is the fucking genius that came up with that one? Take a lap.
So, why do I care so much about this movie? Because I loved the original when I was but a young movie watcher. Check it:
The 1981 version is notoriously terrible, despite featuring a heavy hitting cast with the likes of Maggie Smith, ultimate Bond babe Ursula Andress and Laurence Motherfucking Olivier. Even for '81, this movie looks dated. Even though I haven't seen it in a minute, I still get all nostalgic about it: Very few movies since Hollywood's Golden Age have been able to replicate that old swords and sandals epic feel, from movies like Ben-Hur or Spartacus, especially because of current filmmakers' penchant for the gritty realism of the time period (sigh, accuracy. Lame.).
Clash of the Titans is scheduled for a March 26, 2010 release.
|Photo | Lauren Seibert|
|Mo and Moe's Lucid Dance Dream|
If there really are lines between theater, dance and madness, the Community Education Center's New Edge Mix performance Saturday night just erased them all. Dancing purple bunnies, French soundtracks and maniacal housewives came together in a show that left me wondering if I hadn't just experienced some bizarre lucid daydream ' an appropriate sentiment, considering one of the performances was titled Mo and Moe's Lucid Dance Dream. With its seats tucked up close to the small performance area, the CEC is a space that plunks the audience right in the middle of the action. And when that action involves bunnies with Michael Jackson masks spinning eerily around the floor (I'll get to that), it can get pretty trippy.
|Photo | Lauren Seibert|
|LA BELLE PENDUE or,
Another Type of Flying
LA BELLE PENDUE or, Another Type of Flying opened the show, with the theatrical Mary Tuomanen alternately performing acrobatic feats on the long red cloth hanging from the ceiling, singing and chanting in French, and verbalizing the various parts of story about friendship and madness. Tuomanen was 'Mary Kay,' an 18-year-old girl off to drama class at school, where she met the wild Clarissa. Clarissa took Mary Kay on 'crazy runs' through the woods and other various adventures, until insanity slowly overtook her. The tale ended with the quiet sadness of things left too late, friendship lost, and Tuomanen clinging to the red rope in a mimicry of death.
Hot Flashes, performed by Jennifer Morley and Shannon Murphy, alternated between fast and slow tempos, with a hysterical edge. Set to music and radio commercials from the '50s, with Morley and Murphy bedecked in flowered aprons and bright red lipstick, the dance explored the pretensions of domestic life. At times, the two women moved like puppets or mechanical dolls performing their tasks of cleaning house; at other times, they would suddenly burst into explosive, impulsive movements accompanied by crazed laughter. It would seem that domestic life was a bit constraining. Think 'Stepford Wives' set to dance and you'll get the idea.
|Photo | Lauren Seibert|
The Walrus and the Camel didn't really make any sense to me, but it was amusing to watch the interactions among the three characters performed by Brandon Beston, Lee Fogel and Kate Speer. A girl in rain boots, a man in a trench coat and a woman in a pink skirt played strangers who randomly meet and develop relationships, all without words. Their motions were stumbling and wobbly with spontaneous bursts of energy, as if they were just discovering that they could move. Dance intentionally made awkward ' that was a new one for me.
With the next piece, Mo and Moe's Lucid Dance Dream by Eleanor Goudie-Averill, Tim Popp, Daniele Strawmyre and Alie Vidich, I gave up on trying to make sense of anything that night. Two nerdy-looking characters, Mo and Moe, seemed to be having a bizarre daydream about dancing bunnies. They fell asleep after stacking little stuffed bunnies onto shelves, and suddenly human-size purple rabbits were dancing eerily around. Really. But they got us laughing. (I may have stopped laughing when one rabbit came out wearing a Michael Jackson mask, but that's because I was scared.)
The night ended with obsession(2) the T, performed by Danielle Currica, Kathleen Glynn, Claudia Van Poperingen and Ami Dowden-Fant. Three girls came out in matching sunglasses and stylish pea coats, moving seamlessly together in the most graceful and creative choreography seen so far, only to ultimately cast away their outer accessories. The fourth dancer performed solo, acting out her obsession with a bright red coat through movements both rapturous and languid. It was a beautiful dance, leaving us pondering our compulsions for fashion and the material.
With that, the show was over. I caught myself shaking my head as if to clear away the fog of a really strange dream, only to remember that I had never been asleep.
|Photo | Lauren Seibert|
|Dancing to Rihanna.|
Every kid should get the chance to revel in the cheesy glory of a circus' clowns, magic and acrobatic feats on large animals. Now, as a young adult, let me modify that thought: Everybody, appropriate-age or not, should see the UniverSoul Circus at the Mann Center, performing through Nov. 15. My friend and I were not accompanied by the safety net of a small child to justify our presence at this circus this Sunday. But I'm not gonna lie ' we had a ball.
As the only "Big Top" traveling circus in the world that's owned and operated by African Americans, UniverSoul spins its name two ways: It's definitely universal, with performers from as far as China and Brazil, and it's got soul (it opens with a James Brown number, after all). Instead of your typical top hat-wearing white guy with a mustache, this ringmaster was the tottering, cackling, bossy Aunt Maggie, who played up the old-school versus new-school dynamic with her sidekick and nephew, Lucky. She scolded, she danced to Beyonc', she attempted to do the stanky leg, and she had the audience up in the ring doing the Soul Train Line. When she orchestrated a dance-off between an older couple and a younger one, old-school won by a mile. All this occurred at intervals throughout the night, keeping the audience constantly involved with the show.
One thing that seemed out of place were the constant plugs for President Barack Obama. UniverSoul repeatedly beamed his face on the walls of the tent to the explosion of music and confetti. But all in all, the show presented such a flood of energy that it practically dared you to be skeptical. Not possible. We were grinning just as hard as the little kids when the beautiful women magically turned into tigers. When the horses came out and tore around the ring, sporting their standing riders. When a troupe of young Chinese acrobats laid on their backs and flipped each other through the air with their feet ' five, 10, 15 times in a row, and all I could see was a tower of spinning children. When feathered, sparkling Caribbean dancers sashayed under flaming limbo sticks. And when the elephants came out and danced to Rihanna ' well. I don't think I'll ever see the circus quite the same way.
Runs through Nov. 15, $12-$28, Mann Center for the Performing Arts, 52nd Street and Parkside Avenue, 800-316-7439.
Tonight, the Australian-raised, Los Angeles-based, and whole-wide-world-traveling popstress Lenka makes her Philadelphia debut at the M Room. I caught up with her by phone in the Las Vegas airport (she swears she didn't do any gambling), as she waited for a flight back to L.A. before beginning this tour.
City Paper: How long have you been living in LA?
Lenka: Only three years, but it's gone by very fast. I'm not there very often. I never intended to live there for very long, it's just sort of a practical base for me. There is actually some really good community where I live, but I'm just not an L.A. kid; not a Hollywood kid.
CP: Where you would you rather be living?
CP: Really? Why is that?
Lenka: I love the art world there, the social culture. It's a really cool scene, all the artists and musicians and anti-establishment types, all these warehouse galleries. I also love the sense of history; you can just feel all this stuff that went down there. And I really quite like Germany ' also, I'm doing quite well there at the moment, so it might be a sort of practical move. If I leave the States that is. If I don't leave the States I'd like to live in Woodstock, but that's kind of a fantasy'
CP: So do you see yourself being part of an anti-establishment art scene?
Lenka: Well [laughs], not at the moment, I guess, but I was a part of that whole thing for a long time, in Sydney; that's my background. I went to art college and I was in an indie band ' Eventually I got a little bit tired of it, and wanted to communicate to more people than just the converted. And that's why I moved into pop music.
CP: So that was a conscious decision, then, to shift into pop?
Lenka: Well, there was definitely a conscious decision based on wanting to spread music to every person out there, not just people who seek it out. When I was an adolescent, I really relied on music, as kind of a crutch. I might seek it out a bit, but mostly I needed to be delivered to me ' it had to be in my direct vision for me to find it. It would come through friends, mixtapes people made for me.
Now, luckily, you've got the whole TV placement thing, which has been great for me. There's a captive audience there that doesn't necessarily get a lot of new music in other ways. And those people are really true fans.
CP: What are your audiences like?
Lenka: It's different everywhere. If you get a packed out audience with a real party vibe, it can be quite rowdy. In Asia, the fans are completely obsessed and so passionate. They go to the airport when I'm coming in, they give me gifts. It's insane! Not that I want that all the time, but it's really sweet. I think it's part of their cultural character ' they're so isolated from pop culture in the West that if someone comes to play there it's really exciting for them, and they respond with a lot of affection. It goes pretty deep. It's more than just music ' it's about being connected to the rest of the world
In Europe it's more similar to American audiences, but even in America it's different everywhere I play. I've played in New York to crowds that are just standing there with their arms folded; Salt Lake City was really rowdy ' The world is a diverse place and I'm happy about that.
If it's really all-ages I'll get toddlers, lots of little kids, four-year-olds. I love that. A lot of teenagers. And, you know, women 18-30, or whatever that demographic is. I'm trying to reach everybody, I guess. Everybody should have the opportunity to hear good music.
CP: Except for the several songs you wrote by yourself, you worked with different songwriting partners for almost every cut on your album. What is that process like for you? How do you meet these people?
Lenka: I did a lot of co-writing when I came over to L.A., which was a great way to get to know the community. L.A.'s such an energetic, ambitious city ' all these people I'd meet were just like 'Oh my god, let's totally write a song tomorrow!' My publishers were putting me in touch with people, or I'd just meet somebody somewhere. We'd be complete strangers, and sit down to write a song together.
This year I've been traveling so I haven't had contact with anybody except my band and my boyfriend ' I've been writing by myself all year. When I'm writing it's mostly in hotel rooms or when I get a couple of days at home, processing everything I've been going through.
The early solo stuff, that I wrote when I was with my band Decoder Ring, wasn't as accessible. Well'I guess it wasn't too weird, but it was more dreamy and electronic, more meandering, atmospheric music. I seem to be writing stuff like that again, but I'm also writing faster, bigger, dancier stuff too. I might be going in two different directions.
CP: There's so much glorious instrumental excess on your record. How do you translate that in your live show? I've gotta tell you, the M room stage is gonna be a little too cramped for an orchestra.
Lenka: I like playing around with it. Sometimes I go bigger with a horn section. Sometimes it's really amazing and more powerful to strip something down; on this tour I'm using bass tracks and I'm just doing a trio, with keys and guitar. I made this instrument for myself, I customized a MIDI controller and I wear it like a keytar. So for instance I can trigger the string samples for songs that require it.
But I always try to get the spirit of the album emotionally, the vibe of the songs ' I try to get that right. I try to give people a smile. I'm smile delivery service!
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