There was a time when freakish talents went unappreciated. Oddballs who could pound nails up their noses confined their acts to the bedroom; fire-eating stripper clowns considered themselves lucky to get bachelor-party gigs. But then the Jim Rose Circus hit the 1992 Lollapalooza Tour, launching a keen appetite for don't-try-this-at-home entertainment.
Such sideshow-style acts are the name of the game at Blacklight Theatre, the revue that brings together the diverse talents of punk accordionist Duckmandu, harp-playing self-immolating busker clown Willy Bologna, and Dr. Hi Hor, who performs healing radiation therapy with his 10,000-volt LightStick. The mishmash of classic vaudeville and circus routines has a naughty edge (organizer Dr. Techno says one of his favorite characters is Mr. Sticknecknosefacemagicmouth, a shadow puppet "that performs strange adult tricks on himself") and an attachment to technology: Witness the 30-minute performance that features a character removing fluorescent clothing piece by piece under a black light, until all that's left is dancing fluorescent unmentionables. Need another reason to go? Dr. Techno guarantees that "if you don't like the show, I'll personally clean your house." Blacklight Theatre starts at 7 p.m. at the Center for Variety Arts, 608 Taraval (at 18th Avenue), S.F. Tickets are $10; call 242-4433 or visit www.technomaniacircus.com.
-- Joyce Slaton
A film festival for sickos
Drooling cannibals, demonic nuns, disco queens -- no, it's not the guest list for next week's Jerry Springer Show, just some of the characters in this year's CineMuerte. This Vancouver, B.C., export is comprised of eight films showcasing the grotesque.
Zombie, the seminal 1979 gorefest starring a few forgettable actors and a lot of unforgettable body parts, is a must-see. Equally crucial is The Apple (1980), an indescribably weird disco musical about a swishy Satan who tries to corrupt a pair of Donny and Marie act-alikes. File this under "so bad it's fabulous." Mexico's Alucarda (1975) stylishly riffs on the old demon-possessed-lesbian-nuns theme. What it lacks in historical accuracy -- the nuns' habits look like bloody Ace bandages -- it makes up for in style. Other worthies? Viva la Muerte (1971), a skewering of Franco's Spain that's alternately shocking and dull, and Herschell Gordon Lewis' Blood Feast 2 (2002). Screenings begin at 7 p.m. at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, S.F. Admission is $3-6; call 978-2787 or visit www.yerbabuenaarts.org.
-- Gary Morris
Bum! Bum! Bum! Bum! Bum! [crash]
More than just the tune behind your favorite movie trailers, Carl Orff's Carmina Burana is both sensually pagan and a great introduction to the classical style for those who believe that that genre of music is dull. As if! Part of the S.F. Symphony's "Summer in the City" series, the concert also includes Charles Martin Loeffler's A Pagan Poem, rounding out a night of harmonious heathenism. Our Symphony and Chorus earned the 1993 Grammy for Best Choral Recording for their rendition of Carmina Burana, so this promises to be a potent evening. The music starts at 8 p.m. at Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness (at Grove), S.F. Admission is $15-58; call 684-6000 or visit www.sfsymphony.org.
-- Brock Keeling
If you think art openings are stuffy, pretentious, and boring, this is the art opening for you. As an event with live music, graffiti, and outdoor installations, the Unpopular Culture Street Fair happens near a traditional gallery, but that's as normal as it gets. Most of it consists of independent film screenings and art made of bones. Check it out starting at noon outside Varnish, 77 Natoma (at Second Street), S.F. Admission is free-$5; visit www.deliciouskarma.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser