Black Humor Comedian/activist Dick Gregory faces race issues other people sugarcoat or ignore: His '70s-era autobiography -- Nigger -- was a million-seller, laying the groundwork for Richard Pryor and others. Gregory last made headlines via a diet plan for Long Island's heaviest man, but he still speaks -- comically and politically -- about civil rights in America. He'll talk at 2 p.m. at McKenna Theatre, Creative Arts Building, S.F. State University, 1650 Holloway, S.F. Tickets are $5-10; call 338-2444.
Vintage Mercedes Mercedes Sosa was born on Independence Day in Argentina. After winning an "amateur hour" contest at 15, she pioneered the nuevo cancion, a blend of Latin American folk and social commentary. Never popular with Argentina's dictatorship, Sosa was banned from performing after 1968, forcing her to find refuge in Europe. Thankfully, she returned to a free homeland in 1983, where she still writes and sings today. Hear her at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft & Telegraph, UC Berkeley campus. Tickets are $14-26; call 776-1999.
Silly White Folk Described as "a reverse minstrel show" by playwright Douglas Turner Ward, Day of Absence features a black cast in whiteface. Set in slavery days, Ward's satire depicts a Southern town caught in a tizzy when all its "Negroes" disappear. See it at 8 p.m. at Black Repertory Theater, 3201 Adeline, Berkeley. Tickets are $3-10; call (510) 652-2120.
Attack of the Crabby Lesbian Hitchhiker The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black is a duo: vocalist Kembra Pfahler and her guitarist husband, Samoa. Onstage, Pfahler and Samoa wear colorful costumes, make big noise, and indulge in body painting (à la Ann-Margret in The Swinger). Yes, their group is a tribute to the actress; they even have a song based on a hilarious sequence in one of Black's films (the crabby lesbian hitchhiker segment in Five Easy Pieces). Hear them at 11 p.m. at the Trocadero, 520 Fourth St, S.F. Tickets are $7; call 995-4600.
Mind's Eye Though John Dugdale has lost over 70 percent of his eyesight to AIDS-related retinitis, his artistic vision -- powered by memory -- has grown more distinct. Using an antique camera and cyanotype printing, Dugdale creates blue-tinted still lifes and portraits about family and mortality. Previously a commercial photographer, Dugdale now allows flaws into his work. "I wish ... nobody would ever have to experience the agony of things disappearing in front of your face," he's said; this struggle between creation and loss permeates his art. Meet Dugdale and see images from his monograph Lengthening Shadows Before Nightfall from 6 to 8 p.m. at Shapiro Gallery, 250 Sutter, S.F. Dugdale's show continues through Dec. 23. Free; call 398-6655.
The Real World With "queers" mentally masturbating about identity and gender, and "virtually normal" homosexuals trying -- and failing -- to gain acceptance from mainstream America, gay/lesbian civil rights aims are increasingly fragmented and misguided. Clearly and methodically, Urvashi Vaid's new book, Virtual Equality, diagnoses these symptoms and the movement's current state: access to power but no real power; visibility, but no security from violence or discrimination. Then Vaid offers suggestions and solutions based upon principled action, not reflective theory and reflexive irony. Listen to her at 7:30 p.m. at A Different Light, 489 Castro, S.F. Free; call 431-0891.
Eternal Patsy In 1993, Joni Morris got plenty o' kudos for her starring role in the musical drama Always ... Patsy Cline; according to Edward Guthmann, her Cline impersonation was "almost spooky." Now Morris is back with the concert tribute A Portrait of Patsy Cline. "I Fall to Pieces," "Sweet Dreams," "Crazy": They're all part of the 21-song show, along with wigs galore, costume changes, and biographical anecdotes. See and hear Morris as Cline (backed by the After Midnight Band) at 8 p.m. at the Alcazar Theatre, 650 Geary, S.F. Tickets are $15-25; call 392-4400.
Rock Defense Rock Against Rape benefits S.F. Women Against Rape, a nonprofit organization that offers crisis lines, counseling, support groups, and political/criminal justice advocacy. The show's eight-band bill includes Seven Day Diary, Lilyvolt, Flower S.F., and Her Majesty the Baby. The music starts at 9 p.m. at Transmission Theatre and the Paradise Lounge, 11th St and Folsom, S.F. Tickets are $7; call 861-6906.
Nowhere Is My Home Raised by Wolves. That's the title of photographer Jim Goldberg's 10-year documentary project on homeless teens in S.F. and L.A. Goldberg signs copies of the monograph from 6 to 8 p.m. at Ansel Adams Center for Photography, 250 Fourth St, S.F. Free; call 495-7000.
Cocteau Twins Philip Glass' new opera, La Belle et la Béte (Beauty and the Beast), removes all sound from Jean Cocteau's 1946 film, pairing its imagery with Glass' simple, repetitive harmonies and rhythms. Live singers perform in synchronicity with screen images during the show; featuring Gregory Purnhagen in the Jean Marais (hubba hubba) role, La Belle begins at 8 p.m. (also Saturday) at Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft & Telegraph, UC Berkeley campus. Tickets are $18-36; call 776-1999.
Like Father, Like Daughter In A Line Around the Block, comedian Marga Gomez portrays and pays tribute to her father. Cruel and compassionate, Gomez's one-woman performance chronicles the career highs and lows of her show-biz dad; playing a number of characters (including herself), Gomez switches back and forth from tuxedos to lame dresses. See her at 8 p.m. at Josie's Cabaret and Juice Joint, 3583 16th St, S.F. A Line Around the Block continues through Dec. 3. Tickets are $12-14; call 861-7933.