The piano-bar performances of contemporary cabaret often don't hold a candle to the classic stuff. Think the Moulin Rouge, or Weimar-era entertainment full of top hats, feather boas, moody torch songs, and a glamorous touch of transvestitism. But now there's "Cabaret Verdalet's Retro Variety Show," which evokes the post-speak-easy enchantment of 1940s Hollywood with a medley of vintage-inspired acts.
Mistress of Ceremonies Jill Tracy is a Nina Hagen-esque neo-cabaret siren who sings about the allure of the green liqueur absinthe and keeps the acts moving along. The Lollies -- a troupe of three crimson-lipped, ostrich-feathered belles named Jezebel, Margot Montmartre, and Delilah -- provide a shade of classical-cum-disco ball glamour, while the Diamond Daggers, an all-lesbian ensemble, lip-sync and shimmy wantonly to spy tunes. The gaiety also includes local chanteuse Veronica Klaus and the Paper Dolls, a tongue-in-cheek ukulele trio. A late-breaking schedule change means the cherry on top is burlesque superstar the World-Famous *BOB*, whose complete lack of modesty is matched only by her Kitten Natividad-like physical bounty. Witness the extravaganza at 9 p.m. at the DNA Lounge, 375 11th St. (at Harrison), S.F. Admission is $15-20; call 626-1409 or visit www.verdalet.com. -- Nirmala Nataraj
Killer Robots Tips for the coming bloodbath
According to Daniel H. Wilson, robots will eventually turn murderous, shaking off human control and training their directed-energy weapons on anyone who stands in their way. And he should know: He's employed as a roboticist at Carnegie Mellon University. How to Survive a Robot Uprising is his gift to future generations, a black manual full of untested but theoretically sound tips, such as how to establish a hidden base in robot territory ("In a pinch, dig a hole and then park a car on top of it"), how to launch assaults properly ("Never fire from a static position. A robot might return fire to your exact location within milliseconds"), and how to spot a machine mimicking a human ("Bolt immediately if you hear an impassive Austrian accent"). You're laughing now, but wait till your robot vacuum tries to clean your clock. Wilson reads at 7 p.m. at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Cole), S.F. Admission is free; call 863-8688 or visit www.booksmith.com. -- Michael Leaverton
Your Show of Shows
Drag on a grand scale
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the most fabulous of them all? Find out at the 10th annual Miss Trannyshack Pageant. Just don't expect the recherché cabaret acts of old-school gender benders, and be aware that no one will be winning the Miss Congeniality prize. The longest-running weekly drag revue in town draws everyone from tranny luminaries to faux queens more likely to be inspired by Grand Guignolthan burlesque politesse.
Chi Chi LaRue and Jane Wiedlin are among the celeb judges determining who gets the crown and sash. Drag yourself in at 8:30 p.m. to the Regency Center, 1300 Van Ness (at Sutter), S.F. Tickets are $20-30; visit www.trannyshack.com. -- Nirmala Nataraj
Sculpted in Time
Clement Meadmore's modernist (which by some twist of fate currently means "vintage") bronzes and works in painted aluminum are stalwart, linear, twisting arrangements. They are, in a word, manly. "Geometry Transcended" features some of the late artist's pieces; see them at the opening reception at 5 p.m. on Thursday (the exhibit continues through Feb. 18, 2006) at the Sculpturesite Gallery, 201 Third St. (near Mission), S.F. Admission is free; call 495-6400 or visit www.sculpturesitegallery.com. -- Hiya Swanhuyser