september 13
Nutty as a Fruitcake Betsy Salkind isn't one character, she's a whole cast of them. In “Betsy Salkind Unplugged,” the young comedian takes on the death penalty, violence, religion, health care, war, abortion, child abuse — all the funny stuff. She also portrays a garden variety of kooks, from Mr. Sutell (a schizophrenic Argentinian landlord) to Ethel Spiliotes (a genius child). See Salkind joke and sing songs, then become the Squirrel Lady at 8 p.m. at Josie's Cabaret and Juice Joint, 3583 16th St, S.F. “Betsy Salkind Unplugged” continues through Sunday. Tickets are $12; call 861-7933.

Photographic Memory The first of three exhibitions in a series examining immigration, “Tracing Cultures” features 54 photographic images of cultural migration and change. Artists like Albert Chong, Young Kim, Komar & Melamid, and Mar’a Mart’nez-Ca–as convey the experience of moving from one's homeland, while Gavin Lee and Kim Yasuda address the journeys of parents and ancestors. Organized by Andy Grundberg, the show also features recent image/text works by Carrie Mae Weems. See it from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Ansel Adams Center for Photography, 250 Fourth St, S.F. “Tracing Cultures” continues through Nov. 5. Admission is $2-4; call 495-7000.

september 14
Drag Racing Drag Queens John Waters rightly considers Russ Meyer's Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! the best film ever made; with Days of Pentecost, director Lawrence Elbert adds a drag queen twist to Meyer's tale of three bodacious, murderous hot-rodding go-go dancers. Like the main characters in To Wong Foo, the trio of queens in Days of Pentecost are stuck in a Middle American backwater, but instead of making friends with the locals, they're more inclined to kick ass and take names. Mario Gardner, Ta-Tanisha, and the infamous Alexis Arquette (of Last Exit to Brooklyn, Grief, and Wigstock) play the incensed and bejeweled beauties. They revolt against white-male patriarchal oppression tonight and Friday night at 8:30 p.m. at Artists' Television Access, 992 Valencia, S.F. Tickets are $5, call 824-3890.

Dreamy Images In Bernar HŽbert's new film, Velazquez's Little Museum, paintings by the famous Spanish Renaissance artist Diego Velazquez come to life. A fusion of art history, avant-garde cinema, and contemporary choreography (courtesy of the dance troupe LaLaLa Human Steps), the resulting work travels a labyrinth riddled with doubles and mirrors, where, according to the film's promoters, “everything seems to be involved in an infinite process of creation and recreation.” Trippy, huh? HŽbert's vision makes its U.S. debut with a benefit screening for Project Open Hand. Enjoy the film, cushy seating, and hand-delivered gourmet treats at 7 p.m. at the Casting Couch Micro Theatre, 950 Battery, S.F. Velazquez's Secret Museum continues through Oct. 14. Tickets are $45 for the benefit screening; call 986-7001.

Masculine Mystique Gary Palmer founded Men Dancing in 1981 to give male dance artists a creative space outside of traditional roles (as partners to ballerinas) or archetypes (heroes or villains). This year, Palmer's event features solo and collaborative works by a broad cross-section of performers, including flamenco artist Nemesio Paredes, ballet dancer/choreographer Lawrence Pech, Mexican group Los Lupenos de San Jose, and the Native American intertribal group Four Winds. The show starts at 8 p.m. at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida, S.F. Men Dancing continues through Sunday. Tickets are $12-22; call 621-7797.

Spy vs. Spy At last, William F. Buckley and Fran Lebowitz have something in common: They're both scheduled to participate in the Friends of the S.F. Public Library series, presented by City Arts & Lectures. British espionage master John Le CarrŽ launches the nine-part schedule of “onstage interviews” with well-known literary figures, which will take place sporadically over the next five months. The author of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley's People will be interviewed by writer Orville Schell at 8 p.m. at the Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness, S.F. Tickets are $15; call 392-4400.

september 15
Dancing for Dollars A benefit for the AIDS Project of the East Bay, “Awakening the Tribes” brings together numerous Bay Area DJs, including Downtown Donna of Faster Pussycat and Page Hodel of the Box. Before the hip hop, house, techno, and funk festivities begin, a reception will honor Hodel for her efforts in combating HIV/AIDS and female cancer. The reception starts at 7 p.m.; the dancing starts at 9 p.m. at 177 Townsend, S.F. Tickets are $35 for the reception, $10 for the dance; call 974-6020.

Mexican Mania “Viva Mexico!” features dance by Ballet Folklorico, music by mariachis, and arts and crafts demonstrations. Enjoy it from 4 to 7 p.m. at Pier 39, Beach and Embarcadero, S.F. Viva Mexico! continues through Sunday, and it's free; call 705-5500.

Scream Theater By most accounts, the Spanish Inquisition was a scary time to be alive. Capitalizing on this, Michel de Ghelderode has set Escurial — a “late-night fright show” — during the final days of that era of bloody tortures and plagues. A murderous love triangle involving a queen, a king, and a fool, Escurial is set deep within the dark, dreary catacombs of a castle. Will it frighten you? Find out for yourself at 11 p.m. at Bindlestiff Studio, 185 Sixth St, S.F. Escurial continues Friday and Saturday nights through Oct. 31. Tickets are $6-8; call 882-1199.

Southern Gothic Once you've seen the dreamy (as in nightmarish) river sequence of Charles Laughton's The Night of the Hunter, you'll never forget it: Escaping from a murderous stepfather, a boy and girl glide by boat through a darkness that dwarfs them. A Southern Gothic tale worthy of Flannery O'Connor, Laughton's only directorial effort offers an equally memorable vision of repressed sexuality and religious hypocrisy: a Depression-era preacher (Robert Mitchum) with L-O-V-E tattooed on the fingers of his right fist and H-A-T-E tattooed on the fingers of his left. See a new 35 mm print of Laughton's masterpiece — one of two '50s films in which Shelley Winters winds up at the bottom of a river — at 7:10 & 9:30 p.m. at the Castro Theatre, Castro and Market, S.F. The Night of the Hunter continues through Sept. 21. Tickets are $7; call 621-6120.

Surreal Deal Experimental cinema of the '20s meets improvised tune-making of the '90s in “Dadaists, Cartoonists, and Clarinetists: A Concert of Surreal Film and New Music.” Dziga Vertov, Sergei Eisenstein, Man Ray, Salvador Dali, and Otto “Felix the Cat” Messmer provide the visuals. Clarinetist Beth Custer and reedman Ralph Carney serve up the sounds. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. (also on Saturday) at Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez, S.F. Admission is $8; call 386-1291.

september 16
Classic Duds The shirts, pants, and dresses at most S.F. thrift stores are primarily '70s-era nightmares, but the Vintage Fashion Expo offers a (temporary) alternative. Over 100 dealers will display clothing, textiles, jewelry, and accessories dating from the 1850s through the dreaded 1970s; the largest show of its kind in the nation, the event also covers nine American and European style periods. Try things on and see how they fit from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday) at the Concourse, Eighth St & Brannan, S.F. Tickets are $6; call 822-7227.

Max on Science Best known as the man behind Betty Boop, Max Fleischer also made educational films. Evolution, his hand-tinted response to Darwin's theories, is history's first animated feature; 1923's Einstein's Theory of Relativity was praised by the scientist himself. See the beginnings of the solar system, the solidification of Earth, mankind's evolution, and the creation of Betty Boop (in Bimbo's Initiation) in an evening of rare Fleischer screenings at 8:30 p.m. at Artists' Television Access, 992 Valencia, S.F. Admission is $5; call 824-3890.

Veronica as Violetta One of Giuseppe Verdi's most-performed and beloved operas, La Traviata is scored to a libretto (by Francesco Maria Piave) based on a novel (La dame aux camelias) by Alexandre Dumas fils. This year's production by the S.F. Opera is conducted by Italian Wunderkind Steven Mercurio; it also features Chilean-born soprano Veronica Villarroel as lovelorn courtesan Violetta Valery. Does she die at the end? Find out at 8 p.m. at War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness, S.F. Tickets are $21-125; call 864-3330.

White on White She played ball-busting, cake-baking Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She dared to share the small screen with scenery-chewing Bea Arthur on The Golden Girls. Now she's ready for her toughest TV challenge yet: starring opposite Marie Osmond in a sitcom this fall. She's Betty White, she has a new book called Here We Go Again: My Life in Television, and she'll be signing it from 1 to 3 p.m. at Books Inc., 140 Powell, S.F. Free; call 397-1555.

september 17
Bomb Squad Previous benefit concerts for The Bomb Hip Hop Magazine have showcased big names past and present, including Schoolly D, Yo Yo, and the Pharcyde. This year's event, the fifth, looks to the future with a roster including the Solesides Crew, Key Kool & Rhettmatic, Homeliss Derilex, Soul Kitchen, 10 Bass T, Jurassic 5, and Mystik Journeymen. Surprise guests are likely; be in the house after 9 p.m. at DNA Lounge, 375 11th St, S.F. Tickets are $10, call 995-4600.

Dog Bites Spike and Mike's Best of the Fest is a mix of audience favorites from previous festivals and Oscar-winning animation. In between shorts like Bruno Bozzetto's Grasshopper (an insect's-eye view of war and survival) and Tim Burton's Vincent (a macabre daydream narrated by Vincent Price), Scotty the Amazing Shredding Dog will tear his way through numerous inflatable objects — including beach balls and other pool-party floatables — onstage. Have a dose of this highbrow culture at 7:30 p.m. at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, 3301 Lyon, S.F. Best of the Fest continues through Oct. 8. Tickets are $5-7; call 567-6642.

september 18
'60s Camp Jayne Anne Phillips first gained notoriety with Black Tickets, a collection of soul-searching glimpses into the lives and psyches of widely disparate characters united only by their ordinariness. More traditional in structure, Phillips' most recent novel, Shelter, focuses on the interactions of a drifter, two young sisters, and an abused boy at a West Virginia girls camp in the early '60s. Hear her read from it at 7:30 p.m. at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books, 601 Van Ness, S.F. Free; call 441-6670.

september 19
Art and Politics Adrienne Rich has addressed, in poetry and nonfiction, the same themes throughout her career: male dominion, the heroism of women, racism, colonization, and the necessity of the “will to change.” Hear her read from her most recent poetry collection, Dark Fields of the Republic, at a benefit for the James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center of the new S.F. Library's Main Branch. The event starts at 8 p.m. at Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness, S.F. Tickets are $15; call 392-4400.

Pas de Diablo This season's opening performance by the Diablo Ballet features new company members, as well as premieres by Artistic Advisor Sally Streets, Gina Domenichelli, and Bruce Wells. It also features Emeralda Pas de Deux, a virtuoso dance performed by Nikolai Kabaniaev and Patricia Tomlinson on the eve of their appearance at an international competition in Japan. Setting choreography by Balanchine, Pazik, and others to music by Prokofiev, Glinka, and more, the show starts at 7:30 p.m. at Regional Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic, Walnut Creek. Tickets are $20-30; call (510) 943-7469.

Zine Queens (and Kings) At heart, the best approach to making a zine is to have an idea and put it on paper. But even in the free-for-all world of self-publishing, the creative process isn't always so simple. “Underground Publishing: The Zine Machine” brings together a bunch of S.F. zine mavens — including folks from Anything That Moves, Factsheet Five, Fat Girl, Funny That Way, and Street Sheet — for a panel discussion about issues, voices, and the practicalities of DIY publication. The idea and information exchange lasts from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Media Alliance, 814 Mission, S.F. Free (registration suggested); call 546-6491.

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