No Doubting Thomas Like J.D. Salinger and Sasquatch, Thomas Pynchon is an elusive sort; it isn't likely that the author of The Crying of Lot 49 and Gravity's Rainbow will materialize at the release party for his new book, Mason & Dixon. If he did, he'd have to face guests dressed as their favorite Pynchon character, or as Pynchon himself, reading passages from his work at an open-mike session, describing rare Pynchon encounters, and clamoring over a prize drawing for winners of a Pynchon trivia quiz. The party begins at 7 p.m. at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight, S.F. Admission is free; call 863-8688.
Spend Bread, Get Jam Backed by an onstage DJ, former members of hip-hop dance troupes Rock Steady Crew, Rhythm Technicians, and Magnificent Force join forces in GhettOriginal Productions Dance Company, an urban dance squad that vitalizes the history of hip-hop culture through art, rap, music, and movement in Jam on the Groove. Graffiti artist Erni Vales provides a mural backdrop against which the 14-member company traces the evolution of street dance from African beat-based movement through shadow jousting, break dancing, moonwalking, hip hop, and combinations of these styles with others. The show begins at 8 p.m. (and runs through May 4) at Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft & Telegraph, UC Berkeley campus. Admission is $14-26; call (510) 642-9988.
The Game of Life What you say can and will be held against you, as the principals of D.L. Coburn's Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Gin Game find out. Over card games at a seedy home for the elderly, a sore loser and a self-righteous winner swap stories of their lives, using the personal details they glean from one another as ammo in their game. Linda Ayres-Frederick, late of Entertaining Mr. Sloane, directs Robert Elross and Lee Brady in the local production. The show previews at 8 p.m. (and runs through May 18) at the Phoenix Theater, 301 Eighth St, S.F. Admission is $10-16; call 621-4423.
Pecs and Ass Like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, L.A.'s Strip! Bare-ly Legal lines 'em up and packs 'em in nightly with an interactive, ever-changing musical comedy characterized by ... dynamic tension. L.A. cable show host Madame Dish is proprietress of the Cat Club, where a couple celebrate their anniversary against a parade of male stripper "tomcats," including choreographer Euri Oliveira as Latin Lover Julio and porn star Kevin Kramer as Golden Boy. With Party just closing and Making Porn just opening, the question of how long audiences will spring for another show about naked men awaits an answer. Strip!, for audiences 21 and over, previews at 8 p.m. (and runs indefinitely) at Rococo Showplace, 165 10th St., S.F. Admission is $25-40; call 392-4400.
ACT 2 Pretty soon they'll name a street after Olympia Dukakis, who pays yet another visit to the city for American Conservatory Theater's world premiere production of Leslie Ayvazian's drama Singer's Boy. Locals will remember Dukakis, who won an Oscar for Moonstruck, from Tales of the City and ACT's production of Hecuba; here, she plays Grace, a compulsive talker who lives with her aging parents and whose zest for life is revived after the arrival of Singer (Michele Shay) and her handyman/lover (Stephen Caffrey). This is also Dukakis' second collaboration with the playwright, with whom she helped found the theater company Voices of Earth, which produces new work by women. Singer's Boy previews at 8 p.m. (and runs through June 1) at the Geary Theater, 415 Geary, S.F. Admission is $14-47.50; call 749-2228.
Run for the Shadows Spirals of incense and the metallic chime of a gamelan orchestra usher in Shadowlight Productions' Wayang Bali, a traditional Balinese shadow play held outdoors against a screen lit by a coconut oil flame. The stories, improvised from Hindu mythology and involving scary demons, magic weapons, and ravishing princesses, begin at twilight (approximately 8 p.m.; also Friday, May 9) in South Park, between Bryant and Brannan, and Second and Third streets, S.F. Admission is free; call 648-4461.
Bring an Egg Fools rush in, only they've paid for tickets and obtained secret directions to the Feast of Fools, a medieval debauch organized by some of the same folks behind Defenestration and the St. Valentine's Midnight Masquerade Debauch. This weekend of performance, ritual, and utter silliness (a tribute to the patron saint of absurdity and trickery, Lord Misrule) commences with performances by Heliotrope and a cappella men's chorus Fae Poot, followed Saturday by a pilgrimage through the Seven Deadly Realms of Sin, a series of interactive sculpture/theater installations that facilitate gluttony, lust, etc. The coronation of the Lord of Misrule is capped by performances from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and Idiot Flesh, hearty feasting and copious drinking, jigging, belching, and farting contests, and dancing between giant flaming eggs. Sunday's Journey Through the Seven Heavens concludes the affair. The festival begins this afternoon as pilgrims set up camp at Hot Dog Heaven, a 120-acre ranch two hours north of San Francisco. Admission is $30; tickets and directions available through Junk-O's, 3527 20th St., S.F. Call 826-1730.
Seeds of Greatness Budding green thumbs and old-hand horticulturalists will find plenty of succulents at the Strybing Arboretum Society's 30th annual Plant Sale, but the big draw is rare items like beautiful blue poppies, passion vines, orchid cacti, and monkey hand trees. A healthy oxygen-to-carbon dioxide ratio is maintained by the huge array of houseplants, bonsai, shrubs, trees, flowers, and sale staff volunteers, who answer plant care and handling questions. The sale, which also features garden accessories and services, begins at 10 a.m. in the San Francisco County Fair Building, Ninth Avenue & Lincoln Way, S.F. Admission is free (sales proceeds benefit educational and horticultural programs of the Strybing Arboretum Society); call 661-3090.
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