The legacy of the backstage baby usually musters images of famous folks' troubled broods dishing out the details of their woeful childhoods via shameless tell-all media stunts. But not every account of showbiz parentage requires the histrionics of a Mommie Dearest to be compelling.
Comedienne Marga Gomez (best known for her role as a military expert in Barry Levinson's barely passable sci-fi thriller Sphere) delivers a mirthful show in her own tribute to showbiz parents, Los Big Names, which hops from the Latin teatros of the 1960s Bronx to the big-budget studios of 1990s Hollywood. Gomez is the daughter of Cuban-born comedian Willy Chevalier and Puerto Rican dancer Margarita, who both shelved dreams of a white picket fence and the best schools for their little girl in favor of winning awards, sleeping late in ritzy hotels, and being slavered over by an adoring public. Gomez is celebrated for her appearances at vegetarian rodeos and on lesbian cruises, but her self-deprecating humor and gentle disdain of celebrity artifice translate smoothly to any stage. Catch Los Big Names starting at 8:30 p.m. Friday (and continuing through Aug. 21) at the Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, Building D, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Tickets are $20-38; call 441-8001 or visit www.magictheatre.org.
-- Nirmala Nataraj
The New Narration
Poets interpret feature films
When Tinseltown's silent films first came to Japan, the cultural wallop that hit turn-of-the-century audiences was lessened by onstage performers who explained the curious Western imports. Known as benshi, these narrators soon became the star attractions and artists in their own right, often inhabiting the characters and interpreting the action as they saw fit, a tradition that returns as S.F. Cinematheque presents "Neo-Benshi: The Latter-Day Art of Live Film Narration."
Standing at a mike onstage, six successful poets (they're published) will take on short scenes from feature films, without the soundtracks, and tweak the movies to their own artistic ends by lip-syncing, riffing on the action, or running with their own parallel text. Films include Gene Autry's The Phantom Empire and the 1957 Bollywood epic Pyaasa, along with more recent fare. "Neo-Benshi" plays at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Screening Room, 700 Howard (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $4-7; call 978-2787 or visit www.ybca.org.
-- Michael Leaverton
Sweet as sugar
Her Web site says: "I had many obstacles, being a large-sized, teenage welfare mom, [and] outspoken bisexual porn star raised in a dysfunctional household in the ghetto." What else do you really need to know about Candye Kane, other than the fact that she overcame all these obstacles to be widely adored? Only a couple of things we can think of: She's a dynamite blues singer who can play piano with her tits, and she's one of those super-hot Bettie Page types. Yep, that's pretty much all you need, right there.
Ms. Kane performs with Big Burlesque and Sue Palmer tonight at 8 at the Center for Sex & Culture, 398 11th St. (at Harrison), S.F. Admission is $10-20 sliding scale; call 255-1155 or visit www.candyekane.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Art and France go together like aerosol cheese and saltines (delicious!), so it comes as no surprise that Les Sans Culottes, conceived at the opulent Rhode Island School of Design, have an overall delightful French pop sound. Perfect for the parfait Bastille Day celebration, catch them alongside Loquat and My Life Is on the Line starting at 9 p.m. at Café Du Nord, 2170 Market (at Sanchez), S.F. Admission is $10-12; call 861-5016 or visit www.cafedunord.com.
-- Brock Keeling