Nutty as a Fruitcake Betsy Salkind isn't one character, she's a whole cast of them. In "Betsy Salkind Unplugged," the young comedian takes on the death penalty, violence, religion, health care, war, abortion, child abuse -- all the funny stuff. She also portrays a garden variety of kooks, from Mr. Sutell (a schizophrenic Argentinian landlord) to Ethel Spiliotes (a genius child). See Salkind joke and sing songs, then become the Squirrel Lady at 8 p.m. at Josie's Cabaret and Juice Joint, 3583 16th St, S.F. "Betsy Salkind Unplugged" continues through Sunday. Tickets are $12; call 861-7933.
Photographic Memory The first of three exhibitions in a series examining immigration, "Tracing Cultures" features 54 photographic images of cultural migration and change. Artists like Albert Chong, Young Kim, Komar & Melamid, and Mar’a Mart’nez-Ca–as convey the experience of moving from one's homeland, while Gavin Lee and Kim Yasuda address the journeys of parents and ancestors. Organized by Andy Grundberg, the show also features recent image/text works by Carrie Mae Weems. See it from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Ansel Adams Center for Photography, 250 Fourth St, S.F. "Tracing Cultures" continues through Nov. 5. Admission is $2-4; call 495-7000.
Drag Racing Drag Queens John Waters rightly considers Russ Meyer's Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! the best film ever made; with Days of Pentecost, director Lawrence Elbert adds a drag queen twist to Meyer's tale of three bodacious, murderous hot-rodding go-go dancers. Like the main characters in To Wong Foo, the trio of queens in Days of Pentecost are stuck in a Middle American backwater, but instead of making friends with the locals, they're more inclined to kick ass and take names. Mario Gardner, Ta-Tanisha, and the infamous Alexis Arquette (of Last Exit to Brooklyn, Grief, and Wigstock) play the incensed and bejeweled beauties. They revolt against white-male patriarchal oppression tonight and Friday night at 8:30 p.m. at Artists' Television Access, 992 Valencia, S.F. Tickets are $5, call 824-3890.
Dreamy Images In Bernar HŽbert's new film, Velazquez's Little Museum, paintings by the famous Spanish Renaissance artist Diego Velazquez come to life. A fusion of art history, avant-garde cinema, and contemporary choreography (courtesy of the dance troupe LaLaLa Human Steps), the resulting work travels a labyrinth riddled with doubles and mirrors, where, according to the film's promoters, "everything seems to be involved in an infinite process of creation and recreation." Trippy, huh? HŽbert's vision makes its U.S. debut with a benefit screening for Project Open Hand. Enjoy the film, cushy seating, and hand-delivered gourmet treats at 7 p.m. at the Casting Couch Micro Theatre, 950 Battery, S.F. Velazquez's Secret Museum continues through Oct. 14. Tickets are $45 for the benefit screening; call 986-7001.
Masculine Mystique Gary Palmer founded Men Dancing in 1981 to give male dance artists a creative space outside of traditional roles (as partners to ballerinas) or archetypes (heroes or villains). This year, Palmer's event features solo and collaborative works by a broad cross-section of performers, including flamenco artist Nemesio Paredes, ballet dancer/choreographer Lawrence Pech, Mexican group Los Lupenos de San Jose, and the Native American intertribal group Four Winds. The show starts at 8 p.m. at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida, S.F. Men Dancing continues through Sunday. Tickets are $12-22; call 621-7797.
Spy vs. Spy At last, William F. Buckley and Fran Lebowitz have something in common: They're both scheduled to participate in the Friends of the S.F. Public Library series, presented by City Arts & Lectures. British espionage master John Le CarrŽ launches the nine-part schedule of "onstage interviews" with well-known literary figures, which will take place sporadically over the next five months. The author of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley's People will be interviewed by writer Orville Schell at 8 p.m. at the Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness, S.F. Tickets are $15; call 392-4400.
Dancing for Dollars A benefit for the AIDS Project of the East Bay, "Awakening the Tribes" brings together numerous Bay Area DJs, including Downtown Donna of Faster Pussycat and Page Hodel of the Box. Before the hip hop, house, techno, and funk festivities begin, a reception will honor Hodel for her efforts in combating HIV/AIDS and female cancer. The reception starts at 7 p.m.; the dancing starts at 9 p.m. at 177 Townsend, S.F. Tickets are $35 for the reception, $10 for the dance; call 974-6020.
Mexican Mania "Viva Mexico!" features dance by Ballet Folklorico, music by mariachis, and arts and crafts demonstrations. Enjoy it from 4 to 7 p.m. at Pier 39, Beach and Embarcadero, S.F. Viva Mexico! continues through Sunday, and it's free; call 705-5500.
Scream Theater By most accounts, the Spanish Inquisition was a scary time to be alive. Capitalizing on this, Michel de Ghelderode has set Escurial -- a "late-night fright show" -- during the final days of that era of bloody tortures and plagues. A murderous love triangle involving a queen, a king, and a fool, Escurial is set deep within the dark, dreary catacombs of a castle. Will it frighten you? Find out for yourself at 11 p.m. at Bindlestiff Studio, 185 Sixth St, S.F. Escurial continues Friday and Saturday nights through Oct. 31. Tickets are $6-8; call 882-1199.