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House of Tudor 

Electroclashers, grotesque miscreations, and flying imbeciles

Wednesday, Oct 23 2002
Just as fashion hound Malcolm McLaren ingratiated himself into the heart of the punk scene after meeting the New York Dolls, 43-year-old New York club DJ Larry Tee -- best known for the RuPaul hit "Supermodel (You Better Work)" -- created the Electroclash festival soon after hearing the music of Adult. and Chicks on Speed. Also like McLaren, Tee had an uncanny knack for publicity. The first Electroclash festival last year, which brought together groups like Fischerspooner, Ladytron, Adult., Peaches, and Khan, offered the music media a catchy new phrase to describe the bands' new wave aesthetics and brash sensibilities, while unveiling Tee's electroclash poster girls, W.I.T., a female trio from Brooklyn that lip-synced the Cars' "Just What I Needed" and found itself plastered on the cover of Billboard magazine. W.I.T.'s debut album will be released on Tee's label, Mogul Electro, which even W.I.T. admits is like a showcase for haircuts. Still, there's no denying Lee's eye for fashion, art, minimalist dance beats, unbridled excess, and sensual vulgarity, especially when it comes to the ladies of electroclash. In fact, Tee is the only man featured on the Electroclash 2002 Tour. The festival arrives on Friday, Oct. 25, at 10 p.m. at "Fake," Cat Club, 1190 Folsom (at Eighth Street), S.F. DJ Unknown of Fischerspooner spins. Tickets are $8; call 431-3332. On Saturday, Oct. 26, Tommie Sunshine and Larry Tee spin at 9 p.m. at 111 Minna Street Gallery, 111 Minna (at Second Street), S.F. Tickets are $10; call 974-1719. The live show takes place on Sunday, Oct. 27, at 8 p.m. at the Fillmore, 1805 Geary (at Fillmore), S.F. Peaches, Chicks on Speed, W.I.T., and Tracy & the Plastics perform, and Larry Tee DJs. Tickets are $20; call 346-6000.

What began with a dismembered Barbie-doll head floating in a jar of ooze has evolved into one of San Francisco's more delightful caches of freakishness: David Apocalypse's Oddity Museum, a collection of outlandish improbabilities and grotesque miscreations culled from years of sideshow serendipity and seasons on the carny circuit. The space now includes a deer head with mutant horns, purportedly owned by drive-in gore king Herschel Gordon Lewis; a woodchuck skull with a tooth growing through its brain cavity; two freeze-dried pig fetuses -- one with seven legs, another with three eyes, two noses, and two mouths; a little baby duck with one head and two bodies, "created by man"; and a jar of six skinned squirrel heads that Apocalypse bought for $1 off of eBay. The placard hanging over the squirrel display is a fair introduction to Apocalypse's particular brand of humanity and humor, reading simply, "Why?"

Sprinkled among the misbegotten natural specimens are cultural "oddities" -- a pair of tiny antique shoes used for foot bondage, a Tibetan horn made from a human femur, a goat skull beautifully inlaid with silver -- and fake items created by the masters of the "gaff" trade -- the horned and hoofed "Devil's Child" fashioned by Tate Studios in the '30s, the "Hand of Glory" said to be taken by witches from the corpse of a condemned murderer, two stuffed "Jackalopes," and the vicious "Flesh Eating Toad" rumored to stalk the Hunters Point Shipyard and move at speeds of nearly 100 miles per hour. Actually, the Flesh Eating Toad is just a prop from Rob Zombie's still-unreleased horror movie House of 1,000 Corpses, but it's enough to make you think twice about that moonlit walk through the shipyard. Thankfully, unlike oddity museum proprietors of old, Apocalypse happily separates fiction from fact, reveling in the ingenuity, history, and true weirdness of his curiosities during intimate flashlight tours, which benefit hugely from Apocalypse's languid drawl and devilish grin. "This is what I do," says Apocalypse. "I work, I eat Top Ramen, and I buy weird shit." This Halloween season, the Oddity Museum displays its wares on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 25-26, at Bernice Costume Designs (1295 Alabama at 25th Street) at 6 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 647-3417.

Like Daedalus and Icarus, mankind has continuously challenged gravity, pushing the limits of human ingenuity in a quest to reach the stars. Unlike those valiant heroes of Greek myth, most Red Bull Flugtag fliers worry more about clearing 20 feet of dock than flying too close to the sun. The annual Flugtag (German for "flying day") competition began in 1991 in Austria, home of the energy drink that "gives you wings." Contestants were asked to build human-powered flying machines and hurl themselves off the end of a pier, which they did with Teutonic aplomb. Since then, the competition has been hosted by cities across the globe, including Stockholm, Lisbon, Dublin, Berlin, and Dubrovnik. Of course, San Francisco was the first metropolis that came to mind when Red Bull looked to the United States for a crop of highly creative, unemployed imbeciles willing to drop themselves in the drink for glory. The inaugural U.S. Flugtag features 35 "crafts," including a PVC flying saucer piloted by a kazoo-playing Martian, a fat Elvis propelled by the weight of three teammates, a giant rubber duck, a dragonfly made of windsurfer sails, a flying squirrel, a smiling sea-horse-fly, and an oversized martini glass with a James Bond double dangling from its rim. The idiocy will be judged on distance, creativity, and showmanship when the Red Bull Flugtag takes place on Saturday, Oct. 26, at Pier 30-32 at 11 a.m. Admission is free; visit

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Silke Tudor


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