Re Creo Underground Supper

Lately, most of my adventures have been in food.  A great deal of it has centered around my proximity to Ricardo Zarate and Stephane Bombet of Mo-Chica, Picca and now Paiche fame.  They are my bosses.  (Amazing bosses, by the way.)  So, I’ve had the chance to eat some of the best food being created in LA.

Part of what happens when you are in the nexus of awesome energy is you meet a vast array of amazing people.  DTLA people are quickly becoming my favorite sorts.  They are artsy, creative, edgy, a little dangerous and full of life.  One of those people is Jean Francoise Valcarcel.

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Orpheus Descends Upon Los Angeles

Crosby, Mason and Harold in Orpheus Descending
Crosby, Mason and Harold in Orpheus Descending

When celebrities start doing theater in Los Angeles, you can bet it’s a labor of love.  And that’s absolutely true of the rarely produced Tennessee Williams play Orpheus Descending taking place at Theater/Theater until February 21st.  Starring Gale Harold (Queer as Folk), Denise Crosby (Star Trek TNG), and cover girl-turned-actress Claudia Mason (Vogue, Elle, W, Cosmopolitan), the play is Tennessee Williams’ take on Orpheus and Eurydice as set in the South, the perfect American equivalent for emotional repression and alienation.  It was his ultimate ode to his youth and took him a laborious 17 years to complete to his satisfaction.

The production itself was also a carefully constructed labor, born out of a collective of artists with director Lou Pepe leading the way.  I had the opportunity to speak with Claudia Mason, who takes on the role of the Greek Chorus as the outsider Carol Cutrere, about the process of bringing this play to life.  There was a great deal of artistic luxury with role playing to fill in the subtexts and events that directly affect what takes place on stage.  It was that intense commitment to exploration that Claudia shared as her favorite part of the rehearsal process.

Orpheus Descending opened last week to mixed reviews.  The play is a snapshot in time and very weighty in theme. In a time when so many people are still struggling in the hard hit Los Angeles economy, it’s not the kind of escapism many are seeking.  But, from what I can gather, watching Denise Crosby run the gamut of emotional range from one end of the spectrum to the other with a dizzying ease is worth the price of admission.  It’s the value of any celebrity driven theater – getting to see these people who are at the top of their game work just a few feet away from you.  Even if it isn’t award winning, it’s still incredible to witness.  If you go with that perspective, you won’t leave disappointed.

Orpheus Descending runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm, January 15 through February 21.  General admission is $25.  Theatre/Theater is located at 5041 W Pico Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90019 (two blocks west of La Brea, ample street parking available),  For reservations and information, call (800) 838-3006 or go to  www.BrownPaperTickets.com/event/92508 .

Hows Market NoHo Closes

fruit

In the column of disheartening news, the economy has taken away yet another of my favorite spots to visit while on the go during my daily routine.  First, the Famima in Downtown Los Angeles on Figueroa shut down just before Christmas.  And now the Hows Market in the NoHo Commons has started clearing their shelves in order to close.   It’s depressing in a very striking way. In times like these, the little things are what get us by.  This was one of my little things.

I know that many people, my closest friends included, felt that Hows was an expensive place to shop.  It was also often very quiet.  I am most likely in a minority when it comes to those who mourn its passing.  But it was convenient to my travel patterns.  I liked the fact that it wasn’t crowded.  It was open until 1 am so I could swing by after a late night of work.  And I could find exotic items without much trouble.

In trying to find a silver lining, I have high hopes for what will take its place.  If it has to be a huge chain grocery store… let it be a Vons Pavilions or a Whole Foods.

James Roday And Michael Weston Star In “EXTINCTION” By Gabe McKinley

James Roday
James Roday

To many of us, he’s the frenetic observational genius with a white hot wit Sean Spencer on USA’s Psych.  It’s a good thing to be.  As an admitted addict of USA’s original programming, I count on those characters to help me blow off steam after a long day of the intensity we call every day life in the City of Angels.  But I have to admit to being surprised (and more than a little excited) when I found out that James Roday was about to hit a local stage right here on theater row to perform a play with the theater company he founded (Red Dog Squadron).

Extinction, a play written by a classmate (Gabe McKinley) of James’ from his NYU days, is the story of two college friends on a wild trip to Atlantic City, a place they go to descend into their favorite vices with dark abandon.  But on this particular trip, something is different and results in a high stakes showdown between friends.  Co-staring with him is a close friend, Michael Weston, an actor who has been on many of the best shows on television from Six Feet Under to House.

I had the opportunity to speak with James and found out what I couldn’t discover with a little Google stalking.  My first question when confronted with someone having the courageousness to do theater in a city notoriously unappreciative of the medium is always about the dangers of that endeavor.  But he was unphased by it.  Red Dog Squadron was something he created as a way to keep himself anchored in the place that first made him want to pursue a creative life.  It was also a means to do all the theater he didn’t get to do between college and a fully formed career.  Like many actors coming out of school, he expected to pay his dues doing stage work while bartending to pay the bills.  But Hollywood came calling early on, rendering that transition unnecessary.

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Nemesis 11/11

nemesisFor those with imaginations that run dark in their romantic tendencies, the brain child of L.A. underground artist Nui Cobalt will be your dirty cup of tea.  Nemesis promises to be an end of the world descent into debauchery and exquisite poignance.

Dance to the sweet strains (Darkwave, New Romantic, Tribal Goth) of your final hours with music spun by DJ Xian and MP3J SARK while partaking of exotic libations. (I hear the coconut martinis are mindblowing.)  Also, fans of Gentleman Junkie can expect a chance to own a limited edition CD that can only be procured on this one occasion.

Nemesis debuts on 11/11 and will slither back to life quarterly. Doors open to the Electric Lotus (4656 Franklin Ave) at 10:30 pm.  Cover is $5 until 11 pm, after which it becomes $10. Valet parking is available.

A New Residency For Lucent Dossier

pastedGraphic(2)Those marvelous, magical purveyors of joy at Lucent Dossier will finally returned to a regular presence in their hometown beginning this upcoming Wednesday November 11th.  The new residency will be housed in the post apocolyptic meets vintage hot spot H.Wood in the heart of Hollywood through the end of the year.

If you’ve never experienced Lucent Dossier…. GO!  If you know why so many of us love these people to bits, now is your chance to play again and bring all your friends.

What can you expect from this latest incarnation?

Let the night take you away and if you please, indulge in a rose water foot bath, Post Portal Post Office, uplifting aura readings, Sweet Teddy Bear Tea Party and herbal elixirs to cleanse your soul.  What Lucent does best is create wonderlands for our guests to lose themselves in, so let us be your guide into a fantastical realm where brilliance and insanity fuse together in an exotic kind of ecstatic bliss.

H.Wood is located at 1738 N. Orange, Los Angeles, CA 90028.  Parking can be found in the Hollywood Highland Complex (rates are $2 for 4 hours with validation!)  Dinner is available.  Doors open at 8pm.  The show begins at 9 p.m. and lasts through to midnight.  Stay afterward until 2 a.m. to dance.  General admission is  $15 adv/door (Or join the Lucent Dossier mailing list for discount ticket “secret password.”)  VIP Table reservations are available by contacting H.Wood.

WTF?! Festival Week 3

hellhouseThe third week of the audacious WTF?! Festival is under way.  If you weren’t paying attention, you missed out on a couple of movie screenings.

Tonight at the Festival, you can check out Get Lit! – a group of teen poets bringing you classic literature along with their own unruly compositions.  It’s at 8 pm tonight at The Actor’s Gang.  Pay what you can!

Tomorrow evening Jewell Rae brings her cooking show live to the prison for her Johnny Cash tribute show All Cake, No File.  She’s a regular culinary political columnist with the Huffington Post!  Backing her up for the night is the tribute band With A Bible And A Gun as well as special guests The Broken Numbers Band.  The curtain goes up at 9 pm and it’s $15.

On Halloween night, WTF?! Festival invites you to take a peek into the damn scary world of Christian Halloween horror houses with a screening of Hell House. Stay afterward for a costume party!  The movie starts at 8 pm and tickets are $10.  Costumes are highly encouraged if not compulsory.

For more information or to see what else is going on with the WTF?! Festival visit the website here.

WTF?! Festival Curated By Tim Robbins

The WTF?! Festival, hosted by The Actors’ Gang and curated by Tim Robbins, began last week in an ambitious eruption of creative insurrection.  It’s a ten week multi-discipline performance art festival featuring music, dance, film, theater and more all bent toward the singular cause of putting forth artistic material during an unsavory economic climate.  (Thus the title of the festival which was literally Tim’s reaction to being told there wasn’t enough money in the budget to do theater.)

Each week of the WTF?! Festival offers a wide range of activities from free events to $150 fundraising productions.  Because there is so much going on with this mighty undertaking, I will be doing regular updates here at LA Metblogs to keep you on top of everything, including an interview with Tim Robbins.

Here’s what’s happening on this week!

disturbingtheuniverseTuesday night begins Week 2 with an exclusive look at the as yet unreleased documentary William Kunstler: Disturbing The Universe. It’s the story of the civil rights lawyer who fought for equality with Martin Luther King Jr. and represented the famed Chicago 8 activists as told by his daughters.  The screening will be followed by a Q&A session with Emily Kunstler.  It begins at 8 pm and is free!

WTF_Paul Provenza_smWednesday night is a screening of The Aristocrats after which filmmaker Paul Provenza and special guests will discuss the film, not to mention offer up new Aristocrat jokes live.  Just $15 puts you in a seat for a rare evening of tawdry entertainment.  The bar opens at 7 pm. The show begins at 8 pm.

Thursday night is an evening of theater with the one woman production called The Need To Know performed by former Air Force Intelligence Analyst April Fitzsimmons. It’s a critically acclaimed performance exploring her journey from being a member of the armed forces to an activist in the peace movement.  The show is followed by a veterans’ forum.  The curtain goes up at 8 pm and tickets are $15.

Former Cirque du Soleil performer Daisuke Tsuji executes his one man visual poem Death And Giggles on Friday evening with a frenetic presentation of sock puppets, dance, clowning and balloons.  It begins at 9 pm and is $15.

WTF_Jackson Browne_smWeek 2 ends on Saturday with an intimate evening of music presented by 89.9 KRCW featuring singer/songwriter Jackson Browne with his son, Ryan Browne.  Tim Robbins and his son, Miles, will also put in an appearance.  This is a $150 fundraising event that begins at 8:30 pm.

For more information about the WTF?! Festival visit the website here.  Otherwise, keep a look out here at LA Metblogs for upcoming events.

Lucent Dossier – Purveyors Of Joy

Photography by Phil Holland
Photography by Phil Holland

Thursday night of last week saw the return of Lucent Dossier to its home town for a night of music and play at the El Rey Theatre called Ravenous Rouge.  The reverently restored venue was a perfect backdrop for the unique brand of theatrical whimsy that has made Lucent Dossier beloved all over the world.

I attended the event solo, entering very close to the moment the doors opened to the public. Unlike my forays into Lucent Dossier’s world in the past, I was an observer rather than a participant. I selected an unmolested little corner of the bar to sip on my wine and witness what unfolded before me with a sense of awe.

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American Masters – Jerome Robbins At Dance Camera West

jerome-robbins-west-side-medIt is impossible to discuss American musical theater or ballet without the name Jerome Robbins.  He’s the man who put the “American” into a dance form previously dominated by Europe as well as gave the world some of the most enduring musical theater experiences ever to grace the stage.  He took the frivolous musical theater genre and made it a forum  for discussing greater topics like racism and cultural identity.  His gift for movement was breathtaking.  His commitment to character changed the face of dance.  And his perfectionism was the stuff of tawdry dressing room gossip – most of which was true.

One cannot tell the tale of Jerome Robbins without mentioning Balanchine – the name of the shadow he would forever live beneath without ever once realizing his worth or contributions to American theater and ballet.  If Balanchine was the technical master to which American ballet would aspire, Jerome was the deep soul with an unflinching commitment to the truth no matter how it came out.  To the very day that he died in 1998,  Jerome Robbins never quite felt like he fit in, always questioned his skills and drove himself to unleash laboriously polished gems to the public.

American Masters – Jerome Robbins: Something To Dance About is a daring and adoring feat of documentation created by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Judy Kinberg and Robbins biographer Amanda Vaill with narration by Ron Rifkin.  It will be presented to the public in a rare screening at Dance Camera West Saturday June 13th at 7 pm just in time for the 90th birthday of the legendary choreographer.  The documentary is an exquisite and honest look at a controversial, tortured, brilliant man who battled with himself as well as the artists who worked with him to create visual odes to the human condition that have endured through the years.  To this day, the very same steps executed by the original cast of West Side Story are still being danced on Broadway and across the world, not to mention countless numbers of ballets.  The documentary not only offers up a comprehensive tale of his life and work but incredible archival performances by the man himself along with some of the greatest dancers ever to live.

Admission is free.  No reservations are necessary.  Seating is first come first serve.   The Hammer Museum’s Billy Wilder Theater is located at 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90024. For more information on this venue please call 310-443-7000 or visit www.hammer.ucla.edu. For more information on Dance Camera West (DCW) and to see its June 2009 schedule please visit www.dancecamerawest.org.

Fever!

 

Photo by Neil Berrett
Photo by Neil Berrett

Heidi “Bluegirl” Calvert is teaming up with twisted performance troupe Art Of Bleeding to present an evening of naughty nurses, gorey performance art and bandages applied for all the wrong reasons.  Fever! hits the Infusion Gallery this Saturday June 13th at 9 pm with a medical disco dress code.  So, break out your hospital gowns, six inch heels, gauze and glitter for a sick evening of disease driven expression. 

Featured artists include Heidi Calvert, Al Ridenour, Muffinhead, Debra Haden, Paul Torres, Eban Lehrer, VK7, Marianne Williams, Miss Numa, Alan Deforest, Auriana- Lynn, Radhika Heresy, Paul Zollo, Rajiv Jain, Jason Hadley, June Julliet, Jezebelle X, Dr. Mangor, Jerry Shawback, and Joe Holliday.  Live performances throughout the evening from Art of Bleeding’s Ambulance Theater & Nursing Fetish Ward will melt your brain while DJ Howie Pyro spins the soundtrack to your demise.

Fever! is 18+ with a bar available for those who can legally kill brain cells. $8 donation at the door ( only $6 for those in themed costume ).

Bar Sinister Premieres BLOOD

index_blood_thumb2Bar Sinister, in conjunction with Fire Groove, is premiering BLOOD – Cirque Du Noir this evening (and reoccurring every month).  As the cirque craze takes hold of Los Angeles, it’s no surprise that the darklings are doing their take on the genre.  Expect a darker version of Lucent Dossier’s Burning Man meets cirque love fest with vampires creeping around corners and wicked showgirls who’d just as soon spank you as dance.  Perhaps they’ll do both.

As per usual, there will still be bands playing out on the patio. Tonight’s performances are by Mather Louth and Radio Noir.

Tickets are $16 in advance ($1 paypal fee included) and $20 at the door.  The word whispered amidst shadows is this evening will sell out fast so all of you die hard gloom cookies need to slap that eyeliner on early.  If you’ve never been to Bar Sinister it is expected that you either dress in your gothic/alternative finest or, at very least, mainstream upscale.  Creativity is highly encourage and sometimes rewarded with free entry at the door.

Robyn Peterson’s Catwalk

wpee2383ee_0fThere is quite a bit of buzz about a one woman show that opened on May 15th called Catwalk.  It’s the true story of a former model as told by the woman herself.

Robyn Peterson’s account of the precocious rise of a 16 year old model to the runways of high fashion and Parisian couture of the `70’s, working with such design icons as Yves St. Laurent, Charles Jourdan, Karl Lagerfeld, and photographer Helmut Newton, has now been adapted for the stage and receives its world premiere production this May/June at Sidewalk Studio Theatre, immediately afterward transferring to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival courtesy of SST Productions.

The production runs until June 20th on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm with one Sunday matinee on June 7th at 2pm.  Reserve tickets by calling (818) 558-5702 or go here.

Mental Head Circus – One Night Only

still-475It has just come to my attention that Terry Beeman’s Mental Head Circus is back for a command performance at the King King Hollywood on Sunday May 31st for a single night engagement.  If you’ve never witnessed one of Terry’s productions, this is a must-see event.  Mental Head Circus is one part modern cirque and one part erotic cabaret elevated to fine artistry.

Tickets are already selling out. Unreserved bar seating ($10 presale/$15 at the door) and reserved general seating ($20 presale/$25 at the door) are still available so get them while you can.  It’s an early night performance at 6 pm so you’ll get home in time for plenty of sleep!  Insider Tip – arrive early so you can get the perfect spot and grab your drink before the venue fills.  You can buy  advanced tickets (highly recommended) here.

Dynamite Walls At The Viper Room

dynamite-walls-photo
Photographer: Steven Khan / From Left-to-Right: Alex Blundell, Tom Pritchard, Allan Bates, Paul Kimmel

One of my favorite parts of living in Los Angeles is the music scene.  While it’s not nearly the veritable buffet it has been in the past, particularly due to the death of Sunset Blvd’s nightlife, there are still bright spots to be found. A faint, nostalgic pulse returns any time Camp Freddy takes up residency at The Roxy but beyond that one has to dig past all the hobbyists and garage bands paying to play in various venues.

Earlier in the year I was turned on to an indie rock band called Dynamite Walls out of San Diego. While I missed the opportunity to see them during the last L.A. Fashion Week, I did soak up as much of their music as I could find on the internet.  It was good enough to keep my attention.  But that’s only half the formula for me.  They have to put on a killer show to be truly rock worthy.  Apparently, from what I can gather, Dynamite Walls delivers on that promise.  They’ve been named the 2009 break-out San Diego act by more than one source. 

Dynamite Walls has been around for a few years, paying their dues while finding their stride.  They have made the most of their learning curve, evolving beyond the typical guys in a band circumstance to garner the interest of Paul Fox – a producer with an eclectic musical pedigree.  I can only imagine what magic and serendipity has been occurring with such fertile grounds to create upon.

Dynamite Walls will be returning to Los Angeles twice in the next couple of weeks to play at the Viper Room on May 21st (11pm/$10) and June 4th (10pm/$10).  If you like what you hear, you can pick up their brand new limited run EP Stay Awake.