Ten Feet Deep The Summerfest/Dance '98 showcase offers a three-week crash course in the history and style of San Francisco contemporary dance, through the movement of emerging and veteran dancers and the multiple collective local influences they bring to the stage. The ghost of the late choreographer Ed Mock lingers around opening night when former Mock dancer Wayne Hazzard and Margaret Jenkins company member Mercy Sidbury team up in the tragicomic duet Down Softly, while former Mock dancer Tamara Yoneda joins LINES Contemporary Ballet dancer Yannis Adoniou in a duet by Katherine Warner. And so it goes throughout the showcase, in two programs a week, as LINES's Tomi Paasonen investigates the push and pull between pedestrian movement and the artifice of ballet (July 11-12); Nesting Dolls dance out a punk rock fable (July 18-19); and AXIS Dance Company takes six dancers, three wheelchairs, and two rattan poles to the limit (July 22-23). Shows begin at 8 p.m. at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida (at Mariposa), S.F. Admission is $12-15; call 646-0661.
Mouthing Off Smart Mouth Theater won raves for its production of John C. Russell's comedy Stupid Kids and was razzed for staging the U.S. premiere of Sarah Kane's raunchy mythology redux Phaedra's Love. For an encore, director Steve Cosson has taken The Children's Hour -- Lillian Hellman's controversial drama about a girl who accuses her teachers of lesbianism -- and remixed it with transcripts of a 19th-century lesbian sex-scandal trial and writings by Joan Didion and Judy Blume. This piece of cut-and-paste camp is called Fingered; it begins at 8 p.m. (and continues through Sunday) at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $5-7; call 978-ARTS.
Playtime for Workers The city's monthlong Laborfest '98 was inspired by the 1934 San Francisco General Strike, but its scope is international: Tonight's video evening, for example, features The Single Spark, about the history of the Korean labor movement. Merle Woo and James Tracy are among the local poets reading at a Bastille Day event commemorating the storming of the French prison (7:30 p.m. July 14 at the Women's Building), Intersection for the Arts hosts an "International Labor Cartoon Show" (opening July 18), and the labor songs of Ireland, Latin America, Asia, and the U.S. will be sung at the "International Labor Music Night" (7:30 p.m. July 18 at the Mission Cultural Center). Closer to home and local history, festival organizers have planned labor history bus and boat tours and a tribute to leader Paul Robeson (7 p.m. July 12 at the Bayview Opera House). The video evening begins at 7:30 p.m. at Mission Cultural Center, 2868 Mission (at 25th Street), S.F. Admission is free, but donations are accepted; call 642-8066 for information about this and all other Laborfest '98 events.
Home If learning to tile, paint, wallpaper, and decorate your own home isn't incentive enough to swing by the Brave New Home Expo, there's always the lure of improving someone else's home -- the show benefits Habitat for Humanity, the good-works group (one of whose most active members is ex-President Jimmy Carter) that helps build housing for ownership by low-income families. Presentations include "How to Talk to Your Boss About Telecommuting From Home" and "Home Improvement for Dummies." Lest we forget, there will also be food, wine, and microbrewery beer tastings. Doors open at 11 a.m. (also Saturday and Sunday) at the Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $6; call (888) 298-EXPO.
Celluloid Closet Priscilla, Queen of the Desert was packed with adventures and all that, but what lingered in the memory after it was over? Guy Pearce, draped in yards of vibrant silk that billowed out over the bus in the windy Australian Outback. Priscilla, which won an Academy Award for costume design, would have been a good candidate for the summer series "The Way We Wore: Fashion in Cinema," which spotlights designers whose costumes set the mood of a film and influenced pop culture of its era. Among the striking selections: Jean Paul Gaultier's elaborate couture for The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover, fabled Hollywood studio designer Edith Head's creations for Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief, Yves Saint-Laurent's mod boot-and-trench ensembles for Catherine Deneuve in Belle de Jour, and Wim Wenders' film about designer Yohji Yamamoto, Notebook on Cities and Clothes. The series, which also includes rarely screened works like Artists and Models Abroad and The Scarlet Empress, begins with Adrian's mannish designs for Greta Garbo in The Kiss at 7 p.m. in the George Gund Theater of the Pacific Film Archive, 2625 Durant, UC Berkeley campus. Admission is $6-7.50; call (510) 642-1412.
Kilt Trip Plenty of he-men can heave a 140-pound, 18-foot-long pole across a field, but it takes a Scot to pull off an outfit like knee socks, hairy legs, and a plaid skirt. A whole field full of men in kilts will be tossing cabers and big stones at the Oakland Scottish Highland Games, a modernized Celtic celebration where marching bagpipers and Celtic bands, sheep-dog herding exhibitions, Highland dance competitions, and heavy Scottish athletic events share the parade grounds with the Oakland Zoomobile and a birds of prey show from the Lindsay Wildlife Museum. Delicious U.K. treats like meat pies and Cornish pasties will be served, and guests who stay for the family barbecue and Ceilidh dance can use the haggis ceremony as an opportunity to explain to their kids what happens to sheep once they've been herded. The games begin at 10 a.m. (also Sunday); the barbecue and dance begin at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Dunsmuir House and Gardens Historic Estate, 2960 Peralta Oaks Court, Oakland. Admission is free-$15; call (510) 615-5555.
Make the Puppets Go Bang People kept telling Circus Redickuless proprietor Chicken John that they wanted puppet shows, but every time he did one, he says, they lost interest midway through. At tonight's CR show, however, he'll debut his solution to the problem: Exploding Puppet Theater. He's stuffing puppets with fireworks he stockpiled on a recent outing. The audience gets 10 minutes of dialogue and then boof! The puppet show is over. Circus Redickuless isn't one of those cheerful family shows: This band of misfits recognizes the freakishness and black humor particular to circus tradition, and magnifies them with acts like the bunk bed of nails and a reverse stripper. For an extended look into Chicken John's world, see the feature story in this week's issue. Austin's Brown Hornet, an experimental band that melts down klezmer, funk, and tape loops with screeching horns and industrial percussion, provides the live soundtrack to the spectacle, which begins at 10 p.m. at the CW Saloon, 917 Folsom (at Fifth Street), S.F. Admission is $4-8; call 974-1585.
I Yam What I Yam The No Yams Performance Group, named for a certain vegetable given an indelible place in theater history by performance artist Karen Finley, gives the nod to the famed NEA Four member with "True Stories," a night of solo performance that could very well fall short of the decency standards recently restored to federal arts funding. There won't be naked women smeared with chocolate or urine-soaked crucifixes in this show, but Linda McRoy will be invoking Hamlet in a piece dealing with incest, and Julie Feinstein, whose master's thesis performance project was called You Have to Take Your Clothes Off and Change Your Name If You Want to Be a Performance Artist, plans to examine the connections between debutantes, eating disorders, older men, and Di's death in Princess. Former Martha Graham Company dancer David Chase contributes the squirm-worthy Revelations, wherein he ruefully recalls a childhood obsession with pinning butterflies as he recovers from hip surgery. Naomi Stein rounds out the show, which begins at 8 p.m. (and continues through July 18 at Exit Stage Left) at Venue 9, 252 Ninth St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $10-12; call (510) 839-1310.
Afternoon Delight The Ferry Building celebrates its 100th anniversary with a daytime fireworks show over the waterfront, a ferry boat and fire boat parade, and landlocked entertainment from John Turk & the Voices of Spirit Gospel Ensemble, Bloco Steel Drum Band, and Beach Blanket Babylon. Architect A. Page Brown modeled the building, which withstood the 1906 and Loma Prieta earthquakes, after the clock tower in Seville's Giralda Cathedral, and before the Bay and Golden Gate bridges opened in the '30s, over 50 million ferry passengers a year walked through its doors. The centennial party begins at noon at the Ferry Plaza, Market & Embarcadero, S.F. Admission is free; call 274-0488.
Liberte, Egalite, Crudites Bastille Day is to the French what Independence Day is to Americans: a holiday commemorating bloody liberation from aristocratic rule, celebrated with intoxicants, music, food, and explosives. Fireworks aren't as integral to the Belden Place Bastille Day Celebrations as they might be in Paris, but the wine and conversation are expected to flow freely until the wee hours as the city's French community and Francophiles jam into the downtown pedestrian-only square. The sidewalks will be lined with outdoor bars and restaurants including Cafe Bastille, Cafe 52, and Fizz that have planned celebratory menus. Cafe Claude, on the adjoining Claude Lane, offers dinner and hors d'oeuvres, and DJs Franky Boissy, Julius Papp, and others will be spinning dance tunes throughout the evening. Belden Place is located between Pine and Bush and Montgomery and Kearny; call 392-3515 for more information.
Love Is Blond As former Oakland Tribune investigative reporter Susan Stern notes in her documentary Barbie Nation: An Unauthorized Tour, "Everybody has a Barbie story." And Stern does mean everybody: The surprisingly strident chorus of voices includes Barbie Support Group drag queens marching in San Francisco's Gay Pride Parade, Southern conventioneers swapping Barbie paraphernalia with a sort of religious fervor, kids engaged in the Ken-and-Barbie mating dance, and adults who spoof Barbie's pervasive All-American image with thematic variations like Sweatshop Barbie. Barbie's own story began in 1959, when Mattel co-founder Ruth Handler created and marketed an adult-shaped doll, despite popular opinion that baby dolls were more suitable for kids. Barbie's worldwide toy-market domination (two dolls sold internationally every second) proved Handler right, but Stern devotes equal airtime to children of the Barbie revolution who link the doll's improbable figure to bulimia and implant-related breast cancer. Stern's additional reporting on Handler, one of America's first female executives and a breast cancer survivor who founded a second company that manufactures women's breast prostheses, adds depth (and irony) to this entertaining toy story. The show airs at 10 p.m. as part of the "P.O.V." series on KQED Channel 9.