International Blue-Light Specials A zillion tribal artifacts from around the globe crammed into one gallery. That's an apt synopsis of the "World Art Exhibit and Sale," a benefit for the nonprofit Inter-Cultural Arts Exchange. Antique masks, statues, ritual artifacts, textiles, silver jewelry, cloth hats, and leather bags from Africa, Indonesia, Bolivia, Mali, Nigeria, Zaire, Sumpa, Nepal, and Japan will be available for blue-light special prices. Cultural consumers can also sample contemporary works by Tony Berlant, Dave Archer, Jack Micheline, Woods Davey, Al Farrow, and more. The bazaar begins with an opening reception 5-7 p.m. at Hultberg Gallery, 544 Hayes, S.F. The exhibition continues through Sept. 23. Free; 381-5861.
Alone Together AFRO SOLO: San Francisco's African-American Solo Performance Festival features 10 local artists in three programs. It also features an evening-length dramatic reading Saturday by film/stage/television star Ruby Dee. Solo performance and African storytelling tradition have much in common, but the artists involved in this year's fest are a diverse crew, ranging from dancer/choreographer/actor Robert Henry Johnson to humorist Dee Dee Russell, who will unveil The Adventures of Art Girl: Insane in San Francisco. Other new works include Carl Stokes' In the Wind's Eye, Elizabeth Summers' The Middle Passage, and Nena St. Louis' Do You Want to Buy My Brain?. The emoting starts at 8 p.m. with Summers, Johnson, Russell and Thomas R. Simpson at New Performance Gallery, 3153 17th St, S.F. AFRO SOLO continues through Aug. 27. Tickets are $10-50; call 346-9344.
Lounge Cats and Lizards Take a conformist, conservative era from the past, add a little '90s-style cynical postmodern irony, and you have the lounge music revival at its worst. One could argue that members of today's cocktail nation are preferable when they -- like Pizzicato Five -- add originality and futurism to the retro nostalgia. The acts at "Lounge-a-Palooza" opt for comedy, though: Mr. Lucky, for example, turns a Simple Minds stadium rocker into a polka, a Nirvana tune into a C&W two-stepper, and Journey's awful Bic-flick anthem "Lights" into a bebop number. They'll be joined by S.F. smarm king Bud E. Luv, the Gentlemen of Leisure, the Psychedelic Lounge Cats, and something called Winking Sphincter (along with Jim Campilongo & the Ten Gallon Cats at Above Paradise) at 9 p.m. at the Paradise Lounge, 11th & Folsom, S.F. Tickets are $7; call 861-6906.
Street Scenes Photographer Godfrey Frankel spent three years in the early '40s combing the back alleys of Washington, D.C. A bleaker take on Helen Leavitt's snapshots of urban children at play, his photos from the time show imagination in the face of abject poverty; they also document lives ignored by the area's many lawmakers and politicians. Frankel died last month, but "In the Alleys: Kids in the Shadow of the Capitol" collects images from a book soon to be published by the Smithsonian Institution Press; see them at an opening reception 6-8 p.m. at Vision Gallery, 1155 Mission, S.F. "In the Alleys" continues through Oct. 7. Free; call 621-2107.
Higher Love Twenty-one-year-old D'Angelo is the real-life version of a stock soul character: the son of a preacher man. The first two songs D'Angelo learned to play on the piano were Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff" and Earth, Wind, and Fire's "Boogie Wonderland." Now he's on the radio, romancing a higher love named Brown Sugar. Whether you call it acid jazz or dope soul, D'Angelo's debut CD has a low-key vibe that never lapses into quiet storm clich. Hear the man cover Smokey Robinson's "Cruisin' " and sing some originals at 9 p.m. at Bimbo's 365 Club, 1025 Columbus, S.F. Groove Theory opens. Tickets are $11-12; call 474-0365.
Gore Gore Girl In the bright red world of splatter cinema, women are usually the ones being splattered, but in low-budget special FX shorts like Acting on a Threat, Landsend, and Life at the Abbey, femme filmmaker Sadie Shaw makes art from other people's (fake) blood and bodies. "The Sadie Shaw Gore Show" features shorts by Shaw and other underground auteurs -- Joaquin Delapuente and Micki Tschur (Stuffed and Prey on Easter), David Roth (Dog-American Dream), and Jen McAucliffe (JSFX and The Story of a Slit Throat) -- who have a penchant for blood-and-guts expression. Audience participation is on the agenda, so be sure to bring a date. The stabbing starts at 8:30 p.m. at Artists' Television Access, 992 Valencia, S.F. Tickets are $5; call 824-3890.
Movement and Meaning "Ahimsa" the word means nonviolence and tolerance of all beings. Ahimsa the dance is a 50-minute work inspired by the writings of the Dalai Lama, Mahatma Gandhi, and Aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba. The six-member California Contemporary Dancers will perform it, and they'll be joined by Tibetan bells, taiko drumming, Indian strings, and Japanese martial artists. Bliss out at 8 p.m. at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida, S.F. The good vibes continue Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 26 and 27. Tickets are $12; call 621-7797.
New Narrative A broad range of personal histories go public in "Coming Together: Two Nights of Lesbian and Gay Stories." Sponsored by Telling the Story, a new nonprofit organization devoted to community-building, the series starts with sign language poet Ella Mae Lentz, author/performer Wayne Corbitt, groundbreaking activists Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, and Cherrie Moraga's fierce youth performance group, Drama Divas. Drag queen/role model/astute politico Joan Jett Blakk, comic/cartoonist/canine aficionado Kris Kovick, and the Mothertongue Feminist Theater highlight the second evening. Lend an ear 8-10 p.m. tonight and Saturday at New College Theater, 777 Valencia, S.F. Tickets are $7-10; call 641-7285.
Hello Kitties Scary fact: Over 57 million cats are in homes across the nation, secretly plotting rebellion. See what happens when hundreds of felines and dozens of breeds -- from sleek Siamese to greasy Cornish Rex -- get together under one roof at the Cheshires Cat Show. Persians, Abyssinians, Japanese bobtails, Turkish vans, Ocicats, Bombays, Manx, Russian blues, and others will preen and pose from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday) at Nob Hill Masonic Center, 1111 California, S.F. Free; call (916) 678-5619.
Noise Annoys Kilowatt is the Bay Area stopping point for Japanese noise bands when they trek Stateside. This week, the space plays host to the bazooka horns and turntable terrorism of Skin Graft recording artists Space Streakings; California sonic experimentalist Bakamono and A Minor Forest round out a triple threat to the eardums. Doors open at 8 p.m. at Kilowatt, 3160 16th St, S.F. Tickets are $6; call 861-2595.
On the Waterfront A trip back to the Fisherman's Wharf of yesteryear, the Festival of the Sea features hands-on demonstrations of rope-making and wire splicing, an exhibit of early West Coast maritime photography, an antique steam engine display, and numerous century-old ships and vessels. Last year's fest attracted close to 30,000 people; proceeds from this year's event benefit the S.F. Maritime National Historical Park. The nautical activities last from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (same hours Sunday) at Hyde Street Pier, S.F. Free; call 675-9766.
Roll Out the Barrio In August 1977, over 50 Filipino-Americans were forced from their boarding rooms at the old International Hotel on Kearny Street. After the eviction, the hotel was torn down, leaving many people without homes. The Pilipino Barrio Fiesta observes the 18th anniversary of the event through photo exhibits (by Joe Ramos, Calvin Roberts, Chris Huie, Bob Hsiang, and others) of the eviction struggle, and through music, food, and dance. Performers include the big band Sampaguita Orchestra, jazz whiz Flip Nunez, Kulintang gong king Danny Kalanduyen, and some younger hip-hop artists. The commemoration/celebration lasts from noon-8 p.m. at SOMAR, 934 Brannan, S.F. Free; call 863-1414.
Shake, Rattle, and Roll The 12th Mister and Miss America of the Belly Dance show bills itself as "the biggest, sexiest, most exciting belly dance festival in the world." This year's contest introduces new categories that pit America's best bellies against stomach contortionists from around the globe; Duo and Troupe contests and performances by past winners are also on the bill. Sip cocktails at 6 p.m., then see the jelly bellies at 7 p.m. at the Holiday Inn, Union Square, S.F. Tickets are $25; call 387-6833.
Feminist High Jinks The Cartoon Art Museum doesn't just offer one cool show after another; it offers a bunch at the same time. The latest gem is "Twisted Sisters 2: Drawing the Line." Seventeen women cartoonists ranging in age from 20 to 50 are involved. Boys and girls of all ages can enjoy Fiona Smyth's manic, intricately detailed visions and Mary Fleener's cubist renderings of California surfers. Not all the comic strips are comic, though: Debbie Drechsler's Sixteen, for example, is pure teen-age trauma. Chuckle and sigh from 1-5 p.m. at the Cartoon Art Museum, 814 Mission, S.F. Tickets are $3.50; call 546-3922.
Tomorrow, Tomorrow In the afternoon-length "Next Time," Bay Area creators all ponder one subject: the future. Themes of technology and social change dominate the resulting installations, performances, and inventions, with outlooks ranging from utopian to bleak. Krystyna Bobrowski uses sound to play with notions of time; the NOW Lounge designs a "living room of the future"; Milton Kalish invents a shopping cart that also functions as a jail cell; and Sarah Cowles, Erin Forrest, Sarah-Samayra Filley, and Mary George unleash eco-superheroes like the Bionic Elk. Scope things out from 2-5 p.m. at Headlands Center for the Arts, 944 Fort Barry, Sausalito. Tickets are $5; call 331-2787.
Theatrical Lit In the Summer House is an old play by underrated Jane Bowles. Son of the Sun is a new play about the hot 'n' heavy affair between Rimbaud and Verlaine. Both are in that murky territory -- public readings -- between page and stage here in the Bay Area. Hear the Latina Theatre Lab perform the former at 8 p.m. at Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller, Mill Valley; hear the latter at 8 p.m. at Theater Rhinoceros, 2926 16th St, S.F. In the Summer House is a sliding-scale benefit; call (510) 658-4543. Son of the Sun is free; call 821-6122.
Send in the Clowns Part of the two-week retrospective "Tutto Fellini," La Strada and The Clowns find the Italian director using the circus for simple entertainment and lofty metaphors about the meaning of life. La Strada is a fictional tale involving a waif (Giulietta Masina), a strongman (Anthony Quinn), and a tightrope-walking fool. The Clowns mixes slapstick, pie-in-the-face high jinks with musings on memory. Both play with notions of fantasy and reality; see new prints of La Strada at 7 p.m. and The Clowns at 9 p.m. at the Castro, 429 Castro, S.F. All films in the series will be presented with a new system that displays subtitles beneath the screen. Tickets are $7; call 621-6120.