Happy Valentine's Day, You Whore! The most romantic day of the year has become ground zero for dueling event promoters, whose gestures toward one another have been anything but romantic since they began squabbling a year ago over rights to the name "Whore Church." Self-proclaimed media whore Chicken John, who orchestrated a series of live performance "churches," claims he came up with the "Whore Church" idea, but agreed to let Exotic Dancers Alliance member Tallulah Bankheist use it once while he was out of town. Bankheist, meanwhile, claims that since she did the first actual "Whore Church" and has continued to do them under that name as charitable benefits, she should have the rights. It's come to the point where legal action has been threatened, reluctant performers have had to pick sides, and Bankheist's 9-year-old son has badgered Chicken over the phone. Why don't they just collaborate? "I'm a goody-two-shoes whore who likes to have people do ludicrous acts onstage to raise money for a good cause," explains Bankheist, who suggests that Chicken's motives are a tad suspect. Chicken agrees: "It's important that I consistently be the biggest asshole I can be," he says in his defense. "Consistency is what people admire -- it's what separates the amateurs from the professionals." Bankheist's "Sleazy Valentine's Day Whore Church," a benefit for the Dolores Street Women's Services Needle Exchange, features a burlesque bingo show MC'd by the Rev. Billy Stoned and music from Fluff Grrrl; it begins at 9:30 p.m. at the DNA Lounge, 11th Street & Harrison, S.F. Admission is $7 ($5 for people who donate clothing, blankets, or food, and free to guests who check their clothes at the door); call 487-5199. Just down the street, "Chicken John's Whore Church" also offers bingo, as well as a puppet show with the world's longest sock puppet, and an auto-erotic presentation by Dr. Ducky Doolittle. It begins at 9 p.m. at the Transmission Theater, 11th Street & Folsom, S.F. Admission is $7; call 695-2884. For more Valentine's Day festivities, see our event guide on Page 34.
Or We Could Just Skip the Whole Thing ... There's more to Feb. 14 this year than candy hearts and invective: A Vietnamese Tet New Year's Celebration will be held today as well. If the new year has found you loverless, simply start over with a new new year, one that begins with the first day of the lunar calendar. (Lunar new year traditions vary by Asian country: A Tibetan New Year Losar Festival with circle dances and an incense burning ceremony will be held Feb. 13 at the Asian Art Museum, and Chinese New Year, which falls on Feb. 16, will be celebrated with public events through the end of the month. Check next week's Calendar for more information.) This is 4697, the Vietnamese Year of the Cat, and though tradition dictates a fresh start through cleaning house, buying new clothes, paying debts, and setting off firecrackers to scare away bad luck, the local celebration has been slightly modified: A holiday mass will be followed by a public feast prepared by the St. Boniface's Vietnamese Mother's Club, and performances by local Vietnamese singers, dancers, and comedians. The mass begins at 3:30 p.m. followed by festivities at 5 p.m. at the St. Boniface Restoration Project, 133 Golden Gate (at Jones), S.F. Admission is free; call 863-2395. Meanwhile, Croatian expatriates celebrate their country's version of Carnaval with the Poklade Festival, where the Slavonian Traveling Band, Seattle's Ruze Dalmatike, and the Loweizanie Polish Dance Ensemble perform. Croatian food will be served at the party, which begins at 3 p.m. at the Slavonic Cultural Center, 60 Onondaga (at Alemany), S.F. Admission is free-$10; call (510) 649-0941.
The End Is Near Complacency threatens to eclipse emerging bacterial strains as public health enemy No. 1, as science writer Laurie Garrett explains in The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance. In this exhaustively researched book, Garrett, a former fellow at Harvard's School of Public Health and a longtime medical correspondent for Newsday, tracks not only the modern means by which disease is spread (sex, drugs, war, travel) but the factors accelerating its spread, including political unrest, socioeconomic deprivation, and environmental corruption. Garrett argues that fighting the advance of bacteria and viruses through traditional Western medicine is turning into a pitched battle, since many types of bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics, and emergent diseases like AIDS and the Ebola virus are proving highly resistant to treatment. While developing countries are a big part of the battleground, Americans are wrong to be smug: Lyme disease, once isolated in Connecticut, has now been diagnosed in 50 states. Garrett speaks at 8 p.m. at the Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness (at McAllister), S.F. Admission is $17; call 392-4400.
Send in the Clowns In the physical comedy tradition of Charlie Chaplin and Bill Irwin, Yury Belov goes beyond the gags and pratfalls of regular clowning to express something of himself and the human condition. In his original comedy Getting-A-Head, the Russian clown and his cast of fellow clowns and actors find the humor and pathos in ambition, that universal compunction to succeed at work and relationships. This type of clowning is not for everyone, particularly Russian bureaucrats: Belov, a performer-turned-political-dissident, gave up his post as the Moscow State Circus director of clowning and moved to the States in 1981, where he picked up a gig at the North Carolina School of the Arts and was put to work in the film Moscow on the Hudson. Yury and director Tanya Belov make their local debut in this show, which previews at 8 p.m. (and runs through March 7) at the Eureka Theater, 215 Jackson (at Battery), S.F. Admission is $9-22; call 788-