Riff Raff

As Phony as a $3 Bill Like folks at Dead shows of the past, where cries of "I need a miracle" wove between drum rumbles and bong gurgles, many of today's aspiring concert attendees can find themselves hoping for tickets, only to find that drugs may not be the only things bunk in the parking lot. At the Marin Music Festival, held Sunday, Aug. 24, at the Marin Civic Center Lagoon Park, manna from heaven came in the form of counterfeit tickets -- but this time, the promoters were the ones who got burned. (The festival's lineup included Missing Man Formation, String Cheese Incident, and Pete Escovedo; Wavy Gravy, one of the Bay Area's most famous mediocre pseudo-celebrities, served as master of ceremonies.) BASS handled the sales, and since their tickets are safeguarded by heat-sensitive ink (and a near monopoly), it was pretty safe to assume that the venture would be as relaxed and uneventful as an ocean cruise. But like the Titanic's thin hull, the obvious got overlooked. The festival's promoters, M&N Inc., had signed an agreement with the County of Marin to use the county fairgrounds, stipulating that the county's own ticket-taking employees would be used for the event. "We agreed to this because it was in the contract," says M&N promoter Karin Conn, "and BASS offers counterfeit training to ticket-takers for their events." BASS did, in fact, offer to train the Marin ticket-takers in the art of recognizing official BASS tickets, but for elusive reasons, Marin County officials declined. Iceberg ahoy. In spite of whatever training Marin's ticket-takers received independent of BASS (not to mention common sense), over 60 percent of the tickets taken at the Lagoon Park gate turned out to be counterfeit. What's more, when BASS inspected the tickets, they judged the fakes to be, according to Conn, very poor quality. As many concertgoers already know, BASS sells 95 percent of its back ticket space to advertisers, while the front is printed in that one-color, heat-sensitive ink. (Which explains why the things darken if you leave them on your dashboard or in your back pocket.) The counterfeits had a simple BASS logo on the back, and the ink was dull, cheap, and easily rubbed off. This might tend to indicate questionable eyesight on the part of the ticket-takers. Security personnel eventually discovered scalpers peddling bogus tix in the parking lot. After the concert, one attendee allegedly found a garbage bag full of fake tickets lodged in the wheel well of his parked car. M&N Inc. is investigating the extent of the operation, as well as the possible source of the counterfeits. Anyone with pertinent information may call the Marin Music Festival Hot Line at 256-7378. (R.A.)

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Eenie Meenie Miney Moe Lovers of the sort of fetishy frolicking offered at "Bondage A Go-Go" (BAGG) at the Trocadero every Wednesday night will now have another option in the middle of the dreary work week. Marie and Mike Powers, owners of the sprawling 38,000-square-foot SOMA sex club called the Power Exchange, have launched a DJ/fetish night, also called "Power Exchange," at the DNA Lounge. This will be great for folks who just can't get enough music, cocktails, and public bum-paddling -- except that, like BAGG, the DNA's Power Exchange is also being held on Wednesday nights. Regarding the competition, BAGG founder Damon Boyle says: "The indication is that we're doing something wrong. It kind of makes me feel bad." Indeed, the Power Exchange hot line implies that Bondage A Go-Go leaves something to be desired: "If BAGG-in' it just ain't cuttin' it, we suggest Exchangin' it." Marie Powers claims that the message was merely retaliation for a flier that BAGG circulated, which the Power Exchange found insulting. "Yeah, we ran a somewhat contentious flier awhile back," says BAGG co-promoter George Lazaneo. "The [regular] Power Exchange is a sex club that promotes itself as a mainstream experience. Some of our customers went down to check it out, and they had a bunch of raincoat guys following them around with their dick in their hands. They were not happy, so we did the flier. At the same time, though, we have allowed the Power Exchange to pass out handbills at our club. We have invited them to do demonstrations here. We try to be supportive of the community as a whole. That's why it's such a slap in the face that they would decide to compete with us directly. We don't claim to be anything that we're not. Bondage A Go-Go is a springboard, a place for newcomers to begin experimenting." Like BAGG, the DNA's Power Exchange will offer DJ dancing -- although Marie Powers says that there will be "no goth," since DJ Jamie of "Relapse" will be spinning house -- and an upstairs VIP lounge where people will be welcome to "spank, whip, flog, and bite." Unlike BAGG, a strict dress code will be enforced upstairs to cut down on gawkers. "I would've completely understood if [the Power Exchange] had just picked a different night," says Boyle. "There doesn't have to be a division within the community." "We had tried Tuesday nights," says Marie Powers, "but we didn't want to compete with 'Trannyshack' at the Stud. We want to hit a different crowd than Bondage A Go-Go. We want to incorporate all the different people that come to the Power Exchange -- gays, transsexuals, bisexuals, lesbians, and straights. In the future, we'll be changing the theme of the VIP lounge on a regular basis. We might have male strippers one night and a tranny show the next." Lazaneo counters: "We've done all that stuff. I think that [the Powers] saw a successful nightclub [in BAGG] and they decided to try and cash in. It's like deciding to open 'Spundaes' on Sunday night. Hey, it's already happening, folks." In order not to compete with their own business at DNA, the Power Exchange sex club will be reserved for couples only on Wednesday nights (except for the gay-only portion, which will offer business as usual). (S.T.)

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