Show nudes are good nudes
Humans began wearing clothing approximately 72,000 years ago. That means that for more than 100,000 years our kind frolicked around naked as jaybirds. And if the naturists (aka nudists) of the world had their druthers, we'd still be at it. In America, naturism has a bit of a sleazy rep thanks to swinger-populated "nudist colonies," but the movement is underpinned by the European belief that naked outdoor exercise is good for one's mind and body. Germans have been particularly enthused, forming the first nudist compound in 1903 and conducting military and civic exercises with shamelessly nekkid participants. Knowing all this might not keep you from giggling at "In Licht und Sonne (In Light and Sun)," an exhibition of Kurt Reichert's vintage naturist photos showing folks in 1935 Deutschland running and playing in their birthday suits. But it may help you appreciate the appealing innocence of the unselfconscious subjects, who were sanguine enough to allow photographers such as Reichert to publish their alfresco exploits. The exhibit runs through July 31 at Artseal Gallery, 1847 Larkin (at Pacific), S.F. Admission is free; call 567-3523 or visit www.artseal.com.
BY JOYCE SLATON
Fest of Steel
Trichotillomania, or the compulsive pulling of one's own hair, is relatively unknown as a disability. It can manifest in different ways, from too-strenuous eyebrow-plucking to other behaviors that cause baldness, but because it's so obscure, people often live with it in shame and silence. At Superfest, the annual international disability film festival, our vote for best movie title goes to Jennifer Raikes' documentary on the syndrome, Bad Hair Life. Way to use the camera's bright light and your own good humor to make the world a better place, Jennifer! Other entries look at African women learning to make their own wheelchairs in Mama Wahunzi, a disabled performance artist in Julia's Body, and children with autism and their families in Talk to Me. The 11 films may not have feel-good subject matter exactly, but organizers say they're bowled over by the high quality of all the entries. The screenings begin at 1 p.m. each day at La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck (at Prince), Berkeley. Admission is $5-20; call (510) 849-2568 or visit www.madknight.com/cdt.
By Hiya Swanhuyser
Something's rotten in suburbia
Growing up in Southern California, I had many of my formative experiences in the San Fernando Valley -- losing my first tooth, getting kicked out of Brownies, being shamed out of bringing Snoopy to school every day. Just over the hill from Hollywood, the Valley is a suburban haven where respectable folk can raise their families sheltered from the temptations of the urban core. But if my Midwestern parents had known that this mall-soaked oasis was the epicenter of the adult film industry, they might have moved us away and prevented me from turning into the lovable moral reprobate that I am. Valley native and professional photographer Larry Sultan was fascinated to discover that many of the suburb's homes were rented out as porn sets, the seemingly ordinary houses being used as venues for the porn industry's wet-dream factory. Compelled to document the apparently everyday world of this underground milieu, Sultan has used his large-scale images to zero in on the details -- a roll of unused paper towels, an actress demurely sitting on the bed between takes. Any overt sexuality is pushed far into the background. One photo, Hayvenhurst, depicts what would be an average middle-class living room if it weren't for a pair of disembodied legs sticking up from behind the couch.
Sultan's arresting photos can be seen in his latest exhibition, "The Valley,"at SFMOMA until Aug. 1. Today he gives an "Artist Talk," at which you can ask him about the mixed emotions his evocative work may bring up. Look behind the lens at 2 p.m. in the museum's Phyllis Wattis Theater, 151 Third St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is $8-12; call 357-4000 or visit www.sfmoma.org.
BY JANE TUNKS
Get Off, Get Out
As the precipitous rise of Web sites catering to men seeking no-strings sex proves, there are an awful lot of fellas who want gratification fast. Quickies 3, the latest entry in the series of homoerotic anthologies of 1,000-words-or-less tales, is like an express train to paradise. Local contributors read at 7 p.m. at Modern Times Bookstore, 888 Valencia (at 20th Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 282-9246 or visit www.mtbs.com.
By Joyce Slaton
Authors A Go-Go
We've got a bone to pick with Allen Ginsberg: When we saw him read in 1989, he refused to sign our friend Jon's baseball. Where was the poet's keen sense of the absurd that day? We can finally ask him at "Live and in Person." At this panel discussion, various knowledgeable types portray Ginsberg -- as well as Mark Twain, Jack London, and Dashiell Hammett -- and talk about the writers' illustrious lives. You can ask them your dumb questions, too, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Main Library, 100 Larkin (at Grove), S.F. Admission is free; call 557-4277 or visit www.sfpl.org.
By Hiya Swanhuyser