Mr. Mouth Along with Karen Black's amazing cabaret turn, A View of the Heart (which featured a Wagner-esque cover of "Eleanor Rigby"), James Lecesne's Word of Mouth was a hit at 1995's "Solo Mio Festival." Lecesne plays seven characters in four connected stories, though Frankie Salzano -- who talks to the dead via shortwave radio -- and his beautician mother are at the show's core. A smaller character named Trevor recently became the source material for an Academy Award-winning short; currently, Lecesne is at work on a screenplay featuring another of his Word of Mouth creations. Lecesne's one-man show starts at 8 p.m. at Bayfront Theatre, Fort Mason Center, Third Floor, Bldg B, S.F. Tickets are $14-16; call 392-4400. Word of Mouth continues through Feb. 18.
Home Is Not a Place Displaced characters are the heart of The English Patient's narrative, perhaps reflecting author Michael Ondaatje's international experience: Born in Sri Lanka, he spent his childhood in England before moving to Canada, where he writes and teaches today. He stops by S.F. for a reading/talk presented by City Arts & Lectures; a benefit for the Women's Foundation, the evening begins at 8 p.m. at Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness, S.F. Tickets are $16; call 392-4400.
Louise, Part 1 Louise Bourgeois is best-known for her sculptures, huge object-metaphors for various sexual and psychological tensions. Still, the 84-year-old artist (wearing a feathery jacket, she holds a huge phallus in a famous Mapplethorpe portrait) has produced abstract and figurative sketches for more than a half-century. Often, Bourgeois' 2-D creations are groundwork for large-scale 3-D visions, but some -- her '40s-era experiments with the stillness/motion of line patterns, for example -- work on their own terms. "Louise Bourgeois: Drawings," a chronological retrospective with 130 works, is on view from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at University Art Museum, 2626 Bancroft Way, Berkeley. Admission is $4-6; call (510) 642-5188. The exhibition continues through March 24.
Louise, Part 2 Spiders are a dominant symbol in Louise Bourgeois' recent art. In Spider, a 10-by-21-foot metal mommy longlegs stands before a glowing, brightly colored suite of arachnid-obsessed etchings. You can see the sculpture from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Gallery Paule Anglim, 14 Geary, S.F. Free; call 433-2710. Spider will be on display through March 2.
Peechee Keen Berkeley's the Peechees have a few good singles with great cover art to their credit. Now they have a great LP with great cover art: Do the Math on Kill Rock Stars, produced by Mark Trombino (who has worked with Rocket From the Crypt). The strengths of the group's earlier recordings -- Chris Appelgren's cryptopoetics; Molly (ex-Bratmobile) Neuman's staccato beats -- have gotten stronger; likewise Carlos "Guitarlos" Ca–edo's riffs are louder (which means better). And "Tired Imagery" has this verse: "You got that tattoo/ So what you gonna do with a tattoo?/ You gonna/ You're gonna get it removed." Ouch. Punk + Rock = The Peechees at a concert/release party for Do the Math; the Donnas and Citizen's Utilities open at 9:30 p.m. at the Bottom of the Hill, 1233 17th St., S.F. Tickets are $5; call 621-4455.
Five Alive Part of a nationwide series of concerts, the S.F. "Grammy Showcase" is the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences' way of tapping into the megabucks "alternative" music industry at a grass-roots level. Five bands will play: jokesters the Clowns (who wear clown costumes, of course); Porcelain; the Silverjacks; the Sunshine (who utilize the musical saw); and the wacky, theatrical Billy Nayer Show. The "winner" moves on to a "National Showcase" concert in L.A. and a possible deal with Atlantic Records. The music starts at 8 p.m. at the Transmission Theatre, 11th St. & Folsom, S.F. Free; 861-6906.
Insane in the Brain In the rainbow-bright 1993 Pixelvision treat Joe-Joe, Cecelia Dougherty and Leslie Singer portray Joe Orton -- if he were a pair of lesbians surviving on macaroni-and-cheese in a Mission apartment. Dougherty and Singer are a great comedy team -- the former playing Peabody to the latter's Sherman -- but in 1995's My Failure to Assimilate, Dougherty goes solo. The film -- along with videos by Gary Hill and Janice Tanaka -- is part of the second installment of "Language and Disorder: Video Screenings on Madness, Deviance, and Mental Illness." The show starts at 8 p.m. at New Langton Arts, 1246 Folsom, S.F. Tickets are $5-7; call 626-5416.
Border Crossings TV talk shows, self-realization seminars, hypnotic lounge acts, and ethnic fashion shows converge in The Dangerous Border Game, a new performance conceived and directed by Guillermo Gómez-Pe–a and Roberto Sifuentes. Bay Area artists Nao Bustamente and Sara Shelton Mann collaborated on the show, which navigates the touchy terrain "between political correctness and compassion fatigue." Run for the border at 8 p.m. at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida, S.F. Tickets are $12.50-18.50; call 621-7797. The Dangerous Border Game continues through Feb. 4.
Multicultural Personality Disorder In the award-winning Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, Anna Deavere Smith portrays nearly 40 real-life individuals -- men, women, and children -- involved in the uprising that followed the verdict in the Rodney King trial. Based on interviews conducted by Smith, the show's characters include Reginald Denny, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and others. A new production of Twilight -- with video footage and music composed/performed by Joshua Redman -- previews at 8 p.m. at Marines Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter, S.F. Tickets are $21.50-34; call 845-4700. Twilight continues through March 17.
Pee-wee the Great Most people remember selected scenes from Tim Burton's 1985 gem Pee-wee's Big Adventure. There's the frightening, funny moment when big, butch trucker/ghost Large Marge scares the bejesus out of poor Pee-wee. And there's the sequence where our hero bonds with a motorcycle gang, giving new meaning to the song "Tequila" in the process. But the film's plot is about Pee-wee's search for his missing red bike -- perfect material for an S.F. Bicycle Coalition benefit screening at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. at the Red Vic, 1727 Haight, S.F. Tickets are $6; call 668-3994.
Prince for a Day Many presenters at the godawful "VH1 Fashion Music Awards" had sweaty pits. Faux pas or fashion statement? Either way, it wasn't pretty. Thankfully, the Artist Formerly Known As Prince stayed dry during his vigorous performance, a ditty titled "Pussy Control." The diminutive megastar from Minneapolis has his own Bay Area fan club: Power Fantastic. "Dance On" is the latest party hosted by the group; it includes videos and songs by the regal one, his concubines, and other musical associates. Will they play "Pretty Mess" and "Sugar Walls"? And what happened to the awesome Wendy & Lisa? Find out at 9 p.m. at 330 Ritch, S.F. Tickets are $7; call 541-9574.
Moanin' With Mona Helen Shumaker's lacquer-haired performance in Mona Rogers in Person gives new meaning to the phrase "scenery chewing." As burlesque/grotesque Mona says, "I can walk through a room and shred it." Mona doesn't need to be institutionalized -- she's already an S.F. institution: A prototype of Mona's much-abused "Little Fatty" doll, some broken high heels, and other sentimental raffle prizes will be auctioned off at a gala 500th performance of Mona Rogers in Person. The curtain rises at 8 p.m. at Cable Car Theatre, 430 Mason, S.F. Tickets are $16-18; call 956-8497. Mona continues through Feb. 3.
Takes One to Know One The next time you see Roger Ebert moralizing on TV about an exploitation flick, just remember that Roger himself penned a glorious piece of trash: Russ Meyer's racist, sexist, homophobic, and highly entertaining Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Meyer's parody of soap romances and greedy hippies has the color and clarity of an acid trip, and the characters are pure cartoon. Choice line: "This is my happening and it's freaking me out!" Choice performances: Crazy-eyed Edy Williams as a porn queen, Shakespearean wannabe John LaZar as a hermaphrodite rock promoter, and Erica Gavin -- who really can act -- as a jilted lesbian. The madness starts at 1, 5:10, and 9:20 p.m. at the Castro Theatre, Castro & Market, S.F. Tickets are $6; call 621-6120.
Kings and Queens "I won't die an old maid, I'll die an old bachelor." So says Greta Garbo in perhaps her best role (and film), Queen Christina. The 1933 adventure/romance about a cross-dressing 17th-century monarch is part one of a Garbo double bill: It screens at 7 p.m., followed by Ernst Lubitsch's 1939 Ninotchka at 9 p.m. at the Casting Couch Micro Cinema, 950 Battery, S.F. Tickets are $8.50; call 986-7001.
Songs and Stories Fans of soul and the blues have two legendary female voices to choose from: Gladys Knight and Etta James. Knight appears sans Pips for a special concert including a conversation with Terry Gross of NPR's Fresh Air; the singing and talking start at 8 p.m. at Masonic Auditorium, 1111 California, S.F. Tickets are $15-40 ($150 includes a post-performance party at Hayes Street Grill hosted by Fran Lebowitz); call 392-4400. Etta James & the Roots Band perform -- along with Annie Simpson Band and special guests -- at 9 p.m. at the Family Dog, Maritime Hall, 450 Harrison, S.F. Tickets are $20-25; call 974-0634.
Measure for Measure In Freaks: Myths and Images of the Secret Self, Leslie Fiedler takes a long, smart look at the relationship between "freaks" and "normal" humans in art and history, noting that children's tales like Alice in Wonderland manipulate kids' confused, ever-changing conceptions of size. If Fiedler were still alive today, he'd surely enjoy "About the Size of It: A Circus of the Big and Small" -- its treasures include a suit belonging to the world's tallest man and gloves once worn by Mrs. Tom Thumb. The exhibition's final day -- featuring a 1-4 p.m. show by Wise Fool Puppet Intervention -- lasts from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon, S.F. Admission is $5-9; call 563-7337.
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes Sadly, Blossom Dearie isn't involved, nor Julie Halston. But the first-ever "Mabel Mercer West Coast Cabaret Convention" is a huge success: Performances by Meg Mackay, Julie Wilson, David Staller, Mary Cleere Haran, Michael Feinstein, and Andrea Marcovicci have already sold out. Direct from Bemelman's Bar in New York, the breathy, smoky jazz pianist Barbara Carroll appears from 8 to 11 p.m. (through Feb. 3) at Inn at the Opera, 333 Fulton, S.F. Tickets are $10; call 543-8889.
Frantastic "There is no such thing as inner peace," writes Fran Lebowitz in Metropolitan Life. "There is only nervousness or death." Advice San Franciscans could learn from: "If you have a burning, restless urge to write or paint, simply eat something sweet and the feeling will pass"; "If your sexual fantasies were truly of interest to others, they would no longer be fantasies." Other words of wisdom: "Sleep is death without the responsibility"; "Breakfast cereals that come in the same colors as polyester leisure suits make oversleeping a virtue"; "If you are of the opinion that contemplation of suicide is sufficient evidence of a poetic nature, do not forget that actions speak louder than words." Author of a wicked Susan Sontag parody ("Notes on Trick"), Lebowitz has been compared to Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker; currently, only David Sedaris matches her wicked wit. City Arts & Lectures presents an evening with her at 8 p.m. at Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness, S.F. Tickets are $15; call 392-4400.
Turn the Beat Around STOMP is an eight-member percussion/dance/comedy team that creates rhythms out of everything but conventional instruments. Their stage show incorporates brooms, boots, hub caps, oil drums, even the kitchen sink. You can hear and see it at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft & Telegraph, UC Berkeley campus. Tickets are $14-26; call 776-1999. Performances continue through Feb. 4.