My second recommendation for August, EL VERDE will be playing TWO WEEKENDS ONLY!!!! at CASA 0101, 2009 E. 1st Street, LA, CA 90033. Click here to read what I wrote about the episodes I saw at Casa 0101 last year. For more information go to www.casa0101.org.

ALL new sketch comedy from the 18 Mighty Mountain Warrriors that is “SAVAGELY FUNNY yet STRANGELY CIVILIZED!”

Thur, Fri, Sat, Sun @8pm at THE COMPLEX (Ruby Theater), 6476 Santa Monica Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90038
(west of Highland Ave.)

$15 General, $12 Students/Seniors, $10 groups of SIX or more. $5 for Preview July 31st.
Buy out the house for $8 each!
2 for 1 every Sunday! (sorry, no doubling on discounts!)
Special: if you pay to see the show once, you can see it again for FREE if you bring a paying friend!

OPTIONAL Valet Parking $5 after 7pm (or just park on the street!)

Info/Reservations: 818-754-4500 or email 18mightymountainwarriors@gmail.com
or buy ONLINE at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/38603
Cast: Junko Goda, Michael Chih Ming Hornbuckle, Kennedy Kabasares, Jully Lee, Greg Watanabe, Peter J. Wong

 

Starring: Letitia Chang, Feodor Chin, Becky Heneise, Elaine Kao, Saachiko, Kim Miyori, Kipp Shiotani, Leonard Wu, Elpidio Ebuen, Kelly Portier & Jennifer Betit Yen

Tennessee Williams’ classic “Suddenly, Last Summer” revolves around the death of a beloved son and cousin (Sebastian Venable) which leads to a family conflict as Mrs. Venable and Catherine Holly fight over their memories of the dead man and push the boundaries of truth. How will Sebastian be remembered? How would you like to be remembered?

August 2-24, 2008
Friday & Saturday 8pm, Sunday 2pm
Low-Priced $8 previews, July 31 and August 1, 8pm

$16 general admission
$14 students and seniors (w/valid ID)
$12 (groups of 10+)
All Sunday matinees (except August 24) are pay-what-you-can ($1 minimum)
$20 Aug. 2 opening night gala performance (w/post-show dessert reception)

GTC Burbank
1111-B W. Olive Ave.
Burbank, CA 91506

The theatre is in George Izay Park between S. Victory Bl. and N. Griffith Park Bl. Park near the jet plane at 1111 W. Olive and walk past the Olive Recreation Center. The theatre is behind the rec center; the entrance faces the softball fields.

To RSVP: (323) 993-7245
For more more information, go to:
Myspace: www.myspace.com/suddenly_lodestone

Kanzo. BH Life Film Festival fundraiser. Photo by Sam Hernandez.

frankiely: Tell us about your first encounter with Burlesque.

KANZO: My first time was at the Fourty Deuce on Melrose where they do a mainstream kind of burlesque. I felt so empowered by it. I didn’t feel ashamed to watch. It was such a relief to feel good about something that can be considered bad. This was not degrading to women, men were not throwing money at them saying come over here and do this sexual act for me. It was accepted in the room that this was a performance and I was so taken by the connection the girls had with the audience since I’m a performer as well. I was blown away by what they did and how they did it with such confidence. They didn’t take everything off and they were able to captivate and suspend the audience’s attention by teasing them… which is what it’s about.

Laurel & Hardy, picture found on http://www.dvdbeaver.com.

frankiely: Can you expand on that? Being a French woman by trade, burlesque to me evokes Laurel & Hardy usually with their clothes on.

KANZO: Burlesque in major cities has changed over time, it died and was revived and died again and was revived again. What is interesting here in Los Angeles is that the girls make a comment, maybe political, social or cultural like La Cholita

KANZO: She’s a great performer and dancer, her persona comments on how we see Chicanos or Latin people in our culture today, maybe not immigrants from Mexico or Central America but the pocha, if you want to say the term… the Chicana of Los Angeles. She dresses up in very traditional forms of folkloric dresses but she has her twist for the new generation. She represents neo-burlesque, the new wave, the new Chicana, what it is to be a Latina in today’s L.A.

Each performer has their own personality, their own act. Ruby Champagne calls herself the Mexican Spitfire of Burlesque; her inspiration comes from the 1930’s Golden era of Mexican cinema. She’s got the glamorous look. Her routines are very classic, it’s not just about the body and about stripping, it’s about her as this persona and you follow her dialogue, her dance, and yes it involves taking off clothes but it’s really about the revealing of the personality.

Ruby Champagne. Photo by Laura Creecy.

(more…)

Craby Joe’s by Carl Ramsey.

I recently reported on Carl Ramsey’s downtown inspired paintings exhibited at the launch party for the “LA Bitch IV DVD.” You can see Carl Ramsey’s paintings for yourself at 410 Boyd Street through July 31st. For more information on Carl Ramsey go to http://www.bgfa.us and http://www.askart.com.

Toraichi Kono and Charlie Chaplin.

I attended two out of the three plays presented at EdgeFest’s LA History Project at the Autry National Center last Sunday. Circle X’s 1pm production of Tom Jacobson’s “The Chinese Massacre” which “chronicles the first race riot in Los Angeles history, when 19 Chinese men and boys were lynched by a mob of 500 people from all nations” was a truly impressive debut even if still in the workshopping stage. The play generated many laughs while staying true to the hard facts. Or attempting to. Indeed, some of the funniest moments were born out of the playwright’s desire to confess to us that all the research he did came from press clippings and studies that might or might not tell the absolute truth. Sometimes the playwright gave us two points of view on the same person or incident from two different sources with two very different agendas, which made the play very timely as we’re dealing with two presidential candidates with two very different versions of our future, our past and our present. I highly recommend that you add your name to Circle X‘s e-mail list to stay informed about the future of this disturbing yet necessary play.

I stayed for the next presentation: the first act of Lodestone Theatre Ensemble’s “My Man Kono” written by Philip W. Chung and directed by Jeff Liu about Toraichi Kono who was Charles Chaplin’s valet for 17 years “before being arrested as a Japanese enemy spy on the eve of World War II.” This first act was extremely moving and also enlightening – does anybody know that Charlies Chaplin was the subject of an attack on his life while visiting Japan? – thanks to a terrific cast all around and an outstanding Garrett Wang as Toraichi Kono, all impassive face and bottled up emotions against Donovan Oakleaf’s Charlie Chaplin pirouetting around the stage with open arms and an overflowing heart. I must say when the play began I was embarrassed for whoever had the formidable task of bringing Charlie Chaplin to life but that’s exactly what Donovan Oakleaf did and I’m still recovering from the shock of having been in the genius’ presence. I also recommend that you go to Lodestone’s website to get a chance one day in the near…distant… future, as Philip W. Chung promised us, to witness this intriguing pair who, ironically, ended up having more in common when they grew apart.

Here is Sunday’s line-up for Part II of the festival:

11 AM
Watts Village Theater Company
At Risk
By Judy Soo Hoo
Directed by David Catanzarite
In a fictional middle school in South Los Angeles, every student is at risk, and so is every teacher. Watts Village Theater Company’s offering to the festival explores the history of United Teachers of Los Angeles through the eyes of a rookie and the motley band of veterans who get him through his first year.

1PM
About Productions
Bleeding Through
Written by Teresa Chavez and Rose Portillo
Directed by Teresa Chavez
A multi-media work inspired by Norman Klein’s novella Bleeding Through Layers of Los Angeles, which uncovers the narrative ghosts, both fictional and non-fictional of Angelino Heights, and addresses historical forgetting and the erasure of memory.

3:30PM
Native Voices at the Autry
Serra Springs
By Larissa FastHorse
Music by Brian Joseph
Lyrics by Brian Joseph and Larissa FastHorse
Directed by Robert Vestal
Two teens, two adults and one strange dude deal with some major surprises during one magical night at a protest to save the last sacred site of the Tongva people in West Los Angeles.

What: EdgeFest Los Angeles History Project
When: Sunday, July 13, and Sunday, July 20, 11AM, 1PM, 3:30 PM
Where: Autry National Center of the American West, Griffith Park Campus, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, CA, 90027-1462
How Much: Free
Reservations: Not required.
More Info: lahp@edgeoftheworld.org

Jim Marquez. Photo by Rick Mendoza.

WAITING

by Jim Marquez

The silence of it all is the thing that first gets you. So fucking quiet at 2:37am on a Thursday or Friday or Saturday morning in Downtown Los Angeles.

The men wait at a corner, huddled in twos and threes and fours, the truly adventurous man waits alone. Dressed in white T-shirts with oil-stains, jeans, and trucking caps. Some are drunk, red eyes glisten under dull street lights; they waver in place, trying to remain upright, while others are wide awake, jittery, hands shoved in pockets, rocking back and forth on their heels, taking quick glances at their buddies, wordlessly asking each other in Spanish if they should leave or make their move.

It’s cold out this night, unusual for this time of year, but that does not deter them; they gather here on this corner and wait for the taxi dancers to come streaming out of their place of business on this and every other night and I know this because I’m the only drunk that bothers to look at them rather than push past as the amateurs do when they stumble out of a bar in their own groups of 17-30 deep, sloppy and loud and obnoxious, catching the ears of all the pigs that increasingly patrol the downtown streets now.

I’ve been to whorehouses and strip clubs and swingers clubs all over the world, but, I have never seen the inside of a taxi hall. Talk about old school. Buy tickets, pick a girl, actually slow dance, be close, pretend you’ve taken her out on a real, old fashioned date, then, if the friction is right, or not, retire to a back sofa, in the dark, and hope for a hand job or, for the truly adventurous woman, a blow job.

So I’ve been told.

But after is when the real money is made. When the real action takes place. And it’s all for the asking, apparently.

The women gather under the awning of their building. Wrapped in bad coats, holding big purses, teetering in cheap platform sandals, whispering in Spanish to each other about this guy or that guy that is standing across from them on the sidewalk. They don’t smile. They don’t wave or encourage. But they do await the first moves.

Christ, it’s like being at a junior high school dance.

From what I’ve witnessed before, it takes these men-lonely and plain looking, scared, skin dark from being in the sun or pale from being stuck in factories, hands rough, the men that work for our city when nobody else has the balls to-just a few words: ‘How much?’ & ‘Where?’ The reply is usually ‘$50’ & ‘My place’ or ‘A room’.

Simple enough. But sometimes a negotiation takes place, and more words are needed. Dammit, I wish I knew more Spanish. Not all the women are looking to be escorted though. Some are legitimately waiting for their husbands or their boyfriends or their brothers or their fathers to come pick them up after work. They know what kind of people hangout afterwards; they know what kind of men wait late at night on this corner in Downtown L.A.

Some women band together and grab a mini-bus taxi to come and take them away. Some have cars and scamper in pairs to a parking lot and dart off before anybody can ask them the questions. Those women are left alone. The ones that primp and preen and stand apart from the others… well, then.

This is done while the cops blow by chasing after amateurs swerving in their earth-killing SUVs. Never is a glance wasted on the flashing lights of a black & white. It’s ok. No problem.

The women see me standing there, smiling, erection visible despite the tight jeans, or maybe because of them, and they wait for me too to make my move.

Excerpt printed courtesy of the author.

Jim Marquez (www.myspace.com/jimmarquez) will be reading at the “Joe Bravo Museum of Tortilla Art” opening reception at the Mexican Cultural Insitute, on Saturday, July 12th, at 8pm. For more information go to www.myspace.com/mexicanculturalinstitute.

“This exhibition will explore the history of Los Angles’ Skid Row through the stories of those who live, work and inspire others there. It will also celebrate those who have created positive change in this community. The Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD) is a non-profit arts organization that connects lived experience to the social forces that shape the lives and communities of people living in poverty.

A map of Skid Row will be on the floor of the front gallery, marking significant sites where these stories have unfolded. This exhibition will also include images and videos highlighting the community’s efforts and strides. These videos feature speakers at public meetings and performances by LAPD. In the back gallery visitors will be invited to contribute their ideas for Skid Row’s own “Walk of Fame,” which seeks to honor those people and organizations that have bettered the community. In this area there will be inspiration booklets for visitors to draw out their ideas of whom they believe should be honored. The ultimate vision behind the Skid Row History Museum is to create a series of permanent public artworks, (plaques, signs, and the like) actually installed in the streets of downtown for this eventual “museum without walls”.

This exhibition has many goals; one is that it will enable the public to better understand the Skid Row community and the challenges that they have endured. The second is to empower the Skid Row population with work that confers the often-denied respect that this community and its members deserve.

As a major part of this exhibition there will be multiple events, including public discussions with key figures of the Skid Row community, musical and dramatic performances and workshops for members of Lamp Community and Downtown Women’s Center. See above for list of events.

Funding assistance for this project has been provided by the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles (CRA/LA).”

Fore more information go to http://www.theboxla.com and http://www.lapovertydept.org.

Jim “The Beast” Marquez reading from his latest book “L.A. Bitch IV” at the “L.A. Bitch IV DVD” release party last Friday night. The DVD is a slide show of Downtown life with words written and read by Jim Marquez, photography by Rick Mendoza, and paintings by Carl Ramsey. The DVD was produced by Dale Youngman and Gail Zone.

Having thoroughly enjoyed the candid, outspoken and poetic style of Jim Marquez’ “PG 13” book – in Jim’s own words – “East L.A. Collage,” I was looking forward to hearing The Beast unleashed in “L.A. Bitch IV.” Since the show, I’ve started reading his X rated tales. As disturbingly real and graphic as Jim gets, his heart is the leading force behind his unnerving depictions whether he rants against or achingly needs his fellow mortals as in “After the reading” (see excerpts below,) an undeniable proof that Marquez has mastered the art of the short story and is right to have moved on to writing his first novel. If I were you I would get a copy of his self-published books fast; in my opinion Marquez has already transcended his beginnings as an “East L.A. writer” to possibly become one of the most authentic recorders of our 21st American century.

“I should’ve been happy after the reading and signing of my latest book: big crowd, standing room only, college girls sitting on the floor and gazing up at me like I was the Mexican-Charles-fucking-Bukowski himself, but something was off…” Jim Marquez, “After the reading”

Paintings by Carl Ramsey.

“The booze flowed well, it always does when I read, and I read the fuck out of the material; freaked everybody out and even surprised myself with the ferocity and rage in which the words exploded off my tongue.”

Downtowner and “Bathroom Graffiti” author Mark Ferem with whom I got to sip iced coffee before the show. During our animated conversation, which I hope to continue with Mark soon and share with my readers, Mark waved and smiled at a friend across the street. “It’s Gronk,” he said. I grinned. How cool was that! Above him are paintings by Eric Jones from the Dale Youngman’s gallery’s closing exhibit: “Father.”

Sketch by Carl Ramsey from the LA Bitch IV DVD.

“Institution”

I found myself going back to this painting over and over again during the show. My photo didn’t do it justice. Fortunately I found it on http://www.downtownla.com. I couldn’t help sharing this other one with you because I believe it’s on the DVD and… well… it speaks for itself.

“Street Dance”

Photographer Rick Mendoza.

“I mean, I was running late because I had to pick up the chairs for the show, pick up a 20lb bag of ice, buy the drink bucket, and buy extra beers and, so, because all that shit was on my mind, and because I still had to fight rush hour traffic into Downtown L.A. in the fucking rain, and add to the fact that I had come to that afternoon with the sickness (hangovers to mortals, an entirely different and agonizing level of suffering to those of us who actually drink,) so, I guess I wasn’t in the best of moods come game time.”

Jim Marquez, Rick Mendoza, Carl Ramsey.

To find out more about the authors, go to: http://www.MySpace.com/JimtheWriter, http://www.rickmendoza.com, or click here for a link to Carl Ramsey’s work.

Rick Mendoza’s photographs were not prominently displayed during the show. The only way to experience his work was to watch the “LA Bitch IV” DVD on a small laptop. Fortunately there was that picture on the cover of the DVD and Jim’s latest book which left me wanting for more. Rick Mendoza’s work is currently on display at the First Street Studios, 2026 E. 1st Street, Boyle Heights, CA 90033.

Cyd Charisse’s leg in the dance sequence that made her famous from the 1952 Stanley Donen/Gene Kelly masterpiece “Singin’ in the rain”… One of my top 10 most erotically charged scenes in the history of film… not just because of the way Cyd wraps her famously gorgeous legs around a blushing Gene Kelly, or the burning hot chemistry between two of the best dancers of their time… but because of that smile on her face when he finally takes charge.

Thanks to YouTube, you can click here if, like me, you like to watch.