Look Closely Maoist propaganda and old photographs taken by Western visitors to "exotic" China are often the source material for Hung Liu's art. Liu's Bunny Dance depicts four children dancing in rabbit costumes, an artificially "happy" image that grows creepier the longer one looks at it. In recent years, Liu has used shots of family members and herself in her work, which incorporates different forms (painting, architecture, and decoration) and themes (personal, political, and historical). See it from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Mills College Art Gallery, 5000 MacArthur, Oakland. Free; call (510) 430-2164. "Hung Liu" continues through March 17.
I'm Every Woman A showstopping schizophrenic anthem (sample lyric: "I feel partly Jane Austen/partly Jane Fonda") sung by Lauren Bacall in Applause, "But Alive" was the highlight of Lypsinka's most recent show, As I Lay Lip-Synching. Sporting so many personalities she makes Sybil seem sane, the motor-mouth one returns to the Bay Area with the world premiere of Lypsinka Must Be Destroyed! (The First Farewell). The nuclear hissy fit begins at 8 p.m. at Josie's Cabaret & Juice Joint, 3583 16th St., S.F. Tickets are $15-20; call 861-7933. Lypsinka Must Be Destroyed! continues Tuesdays-Saturdays through March 31.
The Sissy and Shelley Show The fab Lili Taylor won two awards at the recent Sundance Film Festival, and reports from the fest indicate American films -- independent ones, at least -- are starting to offer choice roles for women who don't look like Michelle Pfeiffer. This signals a return to the '70s, when expressive faces were valued as much as "classical" white beauty, and eccentric talents like Sissy Spacek and Shelley Duvall flourished. In Robert Altman's Bergman-esque 3 Women, Spacek is a milquetoast who steals chatterbox Duvall's identity. The film screens at 1:40 and 7 p.m. at the Castro Theatre, Castro & Market, S.F. Tickets are $6; call 621-6120.
The Art of Dance Since the '60s and the heyday of her work with the Judson Dance Theater, choreographer Trisha Brown has collaborated with well-known artists. Brown's first solo dance in more than 15 years, 1994's If you couldn't see me, continues this trend: The music and costumes were created by Robert Rauschenberg. M.O. -- Brown's first work set to classical music -- is the second half of a Trisha Brown Dance Company performance at 8 p.m. at Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, S.F. Tickets are $12-20; call 392-4400. Performances of If you couldn't see me and M.O. continue through Feb. 11.
Jamaica in San Francisco Jamaica Kincaid's first novel, Annie John, is a coming-of-age story set in the West Indies, where she grew up; her second, Lucy, follows a West Indian au pair through New York City. Kincaid -- whose third novel, The Autobiography of My Mother, is due this spring -- will give a reading/talk for City Arts & Lectures' "On Arts and Politics" series at 8 p.m. at Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness, S.F. Tickets are $16 (proceeds benefit the Women's Foundation); call 392-4400.
Vox Populi S.F.'s (acid) jazz scene thrives partly because artists from different groups readily collaborate with each other. The four-installment "Solo Series" offers proof: "Part II: Vocals" showcases Piero Abdul-Basit of Los Angelitos; Anna Gurski of Jazz on the Line; the fiery Ledisi of Anibade; and One Nation Underground's commanding Lance Freeman. Individually and collectively, the four begin belting at 9 p.m. at Cafe Du Nord, 2170 Market, S.F. Tickets are $5; call 861-5016.
It's a Screamer! Since the '70s -- when horror auteurs used the genre to launch assaults on the sacred nuclear family -- filmmakers have rarely linked U.S. national identity with terror. In this context, "American Terror" -- a program of real and fictional film/video of modern-day horror -- sounds like a necessary evil. Curated by Molly Hankwitz, the show includes work by Rachel Schreiber, Jean-Pierre Lefevbre, and NY Paper Tiger TV. Look if you dare at 8 p.m. at Artists' Television Access, 992 Valencia, S.F. Tickets are $5; call 824-3890.
The City Sun It's easy to forget that urban neighborhoods once spawned their own distinct, vibrant cultures. "Harlem Renaissance: New York in the Twenties" -- a lecture/performance event paying tribute to Bessie Smith, Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington, James Van Der Zee, and others -- provides a reminder. A talk by Professor Donna Akiba Sullivan Harper and a Cotton Club-style concert featuring jazz/blues singer Dr. Margie Baker and tenor saxophonist PeeWee Claybrook starts the series at 8 p.m. at Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness, S.F. Tickets are $30; call 392-4400. "Harlem Renaissance" continues Saturday.
Loose Lips Nancy Sinatra songs, credit cards, cucumbers, dolphins, pianos, yogurt, and Esther Williams water ballets all become tools of female desire in "Girl Talk," an evening of lesbian video shorts. The show features German and American artists, including Diane Bonder, whose Dangerous When Wet -- a first-orgasm tale illustrated with found footage -- has earned comparisons to the great Sadie Benning. The lights go down at 7 p.m. at Transmission Theatre, 314 11th St., S.F. Tickets are $7 (music and dancing follow the screening); call 487-6305.
Inferno Martin Scorsese's yuppie nightmare After Hours stars Griffin Dunne but has many great cameos: Linda Fiorentino as a SoHo boho who sculpts plaster-of-Paris bagels; Catherine O'Hara as a sadistic phone-call saboteur; Teri Garr as a sad waitress with a bouffant. The film -- which also makes perfect use of Peggy Lee's sublime "Is That All There Is?" -- begins a three-week tribute to Scorsese at 7 p.m. at the Castro Theatre, Castro & Market, S.F. Tickets are $6; call 621-6120.
The Birds and Bees S.F. residents bored by human polymorphous perversity can revive their erotic imagination with a trip to the zoo. "The S.F. Zoo Valentine's Day Sex Tour" is a 90-minute infotainment train ride. Leg fetishists can learn about millipedes; nostalgic types can watch necking giraffes. Champagne and truffles are part of the tribute to animal magnetism, which begins at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. (continuing Saturdays and Sundays through Feb. 18) at the S.F. Zoological Society, 1 Zoo Road, S.F. Tickets are $25-30; call 753-7165.
Pop Tarts Q: What local group has a ditty about back-masking in which demonic chants of "Do it!" mutate into "Dewitt" (as in Joyce)? A: Enrique. "Dancin' With the Devil" is one of 16 songs on Cut the Cheese, the group's long-time-coming debut LP. Originals like "Supermarket Samba" mix with the Jim Steinman tribute "Total Eclipse Out of Hell" and the Dolly/Kenny/Styx goulash "Roboto in the Stream" at a 9 p.m. concert/release party at Transmission Theatre, 314 11th St., S.F. Tickets are $6; call 861-6906.
Louder Than Bombs Guy Debord didn't just write "The Society of the Spectacle"; he also created a filmic collage of his visionary Situationist essay. Through newsreels, ads, and movie clips, Debord charts mass-mediated alienation and rebellion. After Debord's recent suicide, only a video version of "Society" (with subtitles by Keith Sanborn) remains. The first installment of this year's "Other Cinema" series, it opens at 8 p.m. at Artists' Television Access, 992 Valencia, S.F. Tickets are $5; call 824-3890.
So Emotional German expressionism uses landscape to express emotion. Covering art produced between 1895 and 1935, "Innocence and Experience: German Expressionist Prints and Drawings" includes work by many of the era's best-known artists: Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, George Grosz, and Käthe Kollwitz, among others. You can see it from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the University Art Museum, 2626 Bancroft, Berkeley. Admission is $4-6; call (510) 642-0808. "Innocence and Experience" continues through April 21.
Darling Niki Who Is the Monster -- You or Me? is a film about a filmmaker: '60s avant-garde director Niki de Saint Phalle. Emphasizing Saint Phalle's firm feminism and eccentric personality, director Peter Schamoni interweaves her past art with her current life. The lights go down at 7 p.m. at Lark Theatre, 549 Magnolia, Larkspur. Tickets are $6; call 924-3311. Who Is the Monster continues through Tuesday.
The Truth Is Out There Some people watch The X-Files because of Gillian Anderson's strong, smart female protagonist. Others watch it because they want to have children -- or at least safe sex -- with co-star David Duchovny. The FBI-suspicious show is a natural draw for conspiracy theorists, so it must be big in the Bay Area. Creator/executive producer Chris Carter and actors Mitch Pileggi ("Skinner") and Steven William ("X") will attend "The Official X-Files Convention"; video displays, a prop museum, and lots o' merchandise will also be on hand. The event runs from 1 to 8 p.m. at Nob Hill Masonic Center, 1111 California, S.F. Tickets are $10-15; call (818) 409-0960.
A Four-Letter Word Beginning With L The title of Nancy Wilson's 55th LP is Love, Nancy. The LP's subject is -- surprise! -- happy love, sad love, excited love, and unrequited love; the cover versions include Bonnie Raitt's forlorn "I Can't Make You Love Me." Wilson prefers the tag "song stylist" to jazz or blues singer; witness her style at 8 and 10 p.m. at Kimball's East, 5800 Shellmound, Emeryville. Tickets are $24; call (510) 658-2555.
I Like Bikes The Chaplin-esque Jour de Féte -- Jacques Tati's 1949 comedy about a bicycling postman on Bastille Day -- is the opening treat at the "Bicycle Film Festival." The two-wheel celebration also features documentaries (Wella Lasola and Seth Weinstein's punk-messenger pic Beasts of Burden), pseudo-documentaries (David Engwicht's 2040: A Message From the Future, and a personal appearance by Steven Smith, who is pedaling around the world. Watch from 1 to 9 p.m. at the Berkeley Store Gallery Annex, 2295 Shattuck, Berkeley. Admission is $2-4; call (510) 704-5599.
The Feminine Mystique Taking its title from a slasher flick that Siskel and Ebert loved to hate, Wilhelm and Birgit Hein's media-violence meditation Kali Film: I Spit on Your Grave caused a scandal in Europe. "This film shows us women soldiers, watchmen, and criminals as well as child-bearing, drunk, masturbating, circumcised, dismembered victims," the female Hein says of her recent solo work, The Mysterious Women. ("It's also about me," she adds.) Hein appears at an S.F. Cinematheque screening of The Mysterious Women at 7:30 p.m. at S.F. Art Institute, 800 Chestnut, S.F. Tickets are $3-6; call 558-8129.
Look at Yourself One of the more moronic local film reviews in recent memory came from a daily critic who found the casual use of the word "nigger" by white L.A. cops in Charles Burnett's The Glass Shield unrealistic. The truth hurts, and truth be told, Burnett -- unlike the celebrated Hughes brothers -- shuns sensationalism for deeper human and political depictions of racism. Burnett appears at a screening of The Glass Shield and When It Rains (a 1995 short) at 7 p.m. at Pacific Film Archive, 2625 Durant, Berkeley. Tickets are $3.50-5.50; call (510) 642-1124.
A Heavy Read The Big Book of the Week Award goes to designer Rem Koolhaas, whose S,M,L,XL (Small, Medium, Large, Extra-Large) -- written with Bruce Mau -- sums up the design work of his firm, the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, in a mere 1,376 pages. Utilizing an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to authorship, the book contains photos, sketches, diary excerpts, dictionary definitions, and fairy tales. Koolhaas signs the tome and presents a lecture at 7 p.m. at Center for the Arts, 700 Howard, S.F. Tickets are $4-8; call 978-2787.
Radical Roots Rhythm + Jews is the title of a recent LP by the Klezmatics, who provide East Village updates of Eastern European jazz and wedding music. Drummer David Licht (of the late, great Bongwater) propels the traditional instrumentation -- horns, accordions, violins -- with witty, ticky beats. Listen up at 8 p.m. at Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell, S.F. Tickets are $10-12; call 885-0750.