Homo-hop punk rockers, faux drag divas, and PlaySkool-inspired orchestras -- typical Saturday night hipster fare in S.F. But how often do you get to see them in a fancy joint? "Bay Area Now 4: Under the Radar I" brings us tried-and-true stage icons and unsung inventiveness in Yerba Buena's slick setting. Four ear-to-the-ground curators put together the crème de la crème of local underground stage arts for this show, and it could wow even the snootiest performance habitués of the museum world.
Charming Hostess is one of the heavy hitters. The trio describes its musical genre as "nerdy-sexy-commie-girly," draws its inspiration from punk/klezmer fusion and the unlikely erotic charge it finds in Marxism, and tosses in percussive 1980s-style handclaps for good measure. Another massively popular group not usually associated with the upper crust is Toychestra, a musical ensemble that creates atmospheric soundscapes not with pianos or violins, but rather with kitschy children's toys like the board game Don't Wake Daddy. The five ladies also clank away at toddler-size pianos and Muppet drum sets on jangly original tunes like "Grover Rides a Happy Honker." No Bay Area arts showcase would be complete without a queen, but drag superstars Glamamore, Fauxnique, and Kiddie are well-known for inspired costumes and unusually intelligent design. Catch the gamut of San Francisco's curious talent this Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum, 701 Mission (at Third Street), S.F. Tickets are $15-20; call 978-2787 or visit www.ybca.org.
-- Nirmala Nataraj
This year the Exotic Erotic Ball turns 26. With age comes wisdom and tact (we hear), which is why alongside a show by Bow Wow Wow and contests with names like "Let's Have a Seat on Your Face" you can participate in a wine tasting hosted by some of your favorite adult stars. Very sophisticated for a gala based on casual fucking. Although it lacks the gut punch of the Up Your Alley Fair, the Exotic provides a better alternative to the scary teenagers roaming the Castro on Halloween night. The smut starts at 8 p.m. at the Cow Palace, Geneva & Santos, S.F. Admission is $59.50-175; call (888) 396-8426 or visit www.exoticeroticball.com.
-- Brock Keeling
Fall Into It
It's now possible to love a scrappy local band without ever having seen it, thanks to the Internet. So it goes with the Fucking Ocean. I've never been to a show, but I know through stealthy online research (aka MySpace) that FO makes sharp-edged art-rocky songs that take cues from the Fall and Gang of Four. An elegantly angular guitar characterizes the band's sound: Whose is it? We do need to go to the show to find that out. Battleship and the Fucking Ocean open for the Mall at 9:30 p.m. at the Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk (at Post), S.F. Admission is $6; call 923-0923 or visit www.hemlocktavern.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
After a Fashion
San Francisco International Fashion Week is upon us, bringing a slew of Philippine, South African, Indian, and French (Parisian, even!) designers to our (some would say) fashion-challenged city. A number of homegrown clothes-makers present collections as well; my favorite is local girl Cari Borja. Her fanciful, fluid dresses and skirts often use delicate fabrics cut on the bias, heavily inspired by 1930s-style glamour, but with a palette that tends toward the brights and earth tones of the Bay Area outdoors. Borja's show starts at 3 p.m. in Herbst Pavilion, Fort Mason Center, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $35-175; visit www.cariborja.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser