Prison Blues Michael Franti, formerly of Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy and late of Spearhead, is one of the guests slated to play Critical Resistance: Music and Solidarity, a benefit concert for the Prison Activist Resource Center and the California Fund for Women Prisoners. Franti tends to layer his grooves with politically informed lyrics, which should stand him in good stead with the show's other artists, folkie Ani DiFranco and Native American poet-musician John Trudell, who has re-emerged after a lengthy absence from public performance. Jazz-funk singer Me'Shell Ndegeocello and activist Angela Davis, who was jailed for 16 months in 1970 on charges for which she was later acquitted, round out the bill. The show begins at 8 p.m. at the Berkeley Community Center, 1930 Allston (at MLK), Berkeley. Admission is $26; call (510) 762-2277. The concert ushers in the two-day conference "Critical Resistance: Beyond the Prison Industrial Complex," held Sept. 25-27 at UC Berkeley. Call (510) 643-2094 for more information.
Every Harlot Was a Virgin Once Mature drag queens who pine for their lost youth -- or any youth, really -- might consider adopting a contestant in the Virgin Queen Contest. Novice queens must have drag mothers to help them wax, shave, primp, pin, and, um, tuck before they debut (the contest is open to people who've never publicly performed in drag, with the exception of amateur drag outings on Halloween or the Gay Pride Parade). Drag mothers will also coach first-timers through their short performances -- typically, lip-sync numbers -- and stand by nervously clutching their handbags as a panel of celebrity judges like exotic dancer Carol Doda and Republican gubernatorial candidate Dennis Peron judge their charges on appearance, personality, and talent. Doda will perform and DJ Robeena Diet-Biscuit will spin dance tunes following the competition. Proceeds benefit Larkin Street Youth Center and the medical marijuana club C.H.A.M.P., and viewers can sway judges by tipping their favorite entrants. The show begins at 8 p.m. at 715 Harrison (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $5-25; call 331-1500, ext. DIET.
Wild Bill Rubber-faced physical comedians Bill Irwin and David Shiner share antic space with tap-dancing comic Wayne Doba at the Wild Cabaret Gala, a group show benefiting ODC Theater and ushering in a mini-marathon performance weekend. Irwin, Shiner's silent co-star in Fool Moon, hosts the benefit, which also showcases street theater/ circus cabaret duo Le Pamplemousse, S.F. Circus contortionists, musicians Raz Kennedy & George Brooks, and in-house contemporary dance company ODC/ San Francisco. For the Wild Cabaret Mini-Marathon, new ODC Theater director Lizz Roman (who takes over from Brava Theater-bound Alleluia Panis) tapped scores of old-timers, some of whom perform there again this season. The local contemporary dance scene is heavily represented here by Stephen Pelton & Robert Henry Johnson, Steamroller, Nesting Dolls, and more. The gala begins at 8 p.m. tonight and the mini-marathon runs at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 25-27 at ODC Theater, 3153 17th St. (at Shotwell), S.F. Admission is $20-25 for the gala, $10-15 for the marathon; call 863-6606.
Expose Yourself to Art "Alternative Art!? Alternative to What?" is the first of three topics scheduled for discussion at September Critical II: Mixing It Up in the Arts, a forum at which the public is invited to vent on the local arts scene. Touchy questions like "Is there a significant correlation between the form of an alternative art and its funding source?" will spark tonight's discussion. The idea is to get viewers thinking and speaking critically about art, and to liberate artists from stagnation in their work and their audiences. Subsequent discussions focus on queer identity politics and art (Sept. 29) and "citizen" artists (Oct. 6). They all begin at 8 p.m. at Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia (at 15th Street), S.F. Admission is $3-5; call 626-2787. Then there's the Assfair, a viable alternative to a discussion about alternative art. Arts boosters can feel like they're contributing to the local arts scene, since proceeds from the fair will help pay the printing costs for biannual literary arts journal Asspants. Current and former Borders book store employees (the journal's co-editor is one) conspicuously populate local bands Dolly Rocker, Foxglove Bell, and Continental, who'll play live. The show starts at 8 p.m. at Cocodrie, 1024 Kearny (at Broadway), S.F. Admission is $5; call 551-2538.