Issue 361

Bartender Spotlight

Who
Joe

What
Recipe:
The Bar Fight
1 part Bacardi Limón Rum
1 part Jose Cuervo Gold Tequila
Splash of Absolut Citron Vodka
Fill with Red Bull

When
Thu.-Fri. • 4 PM-1 AM
Sat.-Sun. • 3:30 PM-1 AM

Where
Tickles
1032 3rd Ave. NE, Mpls.
(612) 354-3846
www.ticklesbar.com

Why
“We have something for everyone, from live piano music to pool, darts, and video games. We have some of the most friendly staff around.”

Interview with Gary Iriza, International Mr. Leather 2008 Part One

Gary Iriza came to Chicago last May as Mr. Palm Springs Leather and left as International Mr. Leather (IML) 2008. He’s Latin, he’s passionate, he’s energetic—and he has a great sense of humor. I interviewed him when he visited Des Moines, Iowa, February 13-15 to judge the Mr. Iowa Leather Contest.

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On the Townsend

The Devil’s Disciple / Through Apr. 12 / Theatre in the Round, 245 Cedar Ave., Mpls. / (612) 333-3010 / www.TheatreintheRound.org

The face off between puritanical Christianity and rugged individualism has been a sore spot in American culture since the nation was founded. So if you think the current evangelical onslaught against what ever the sin du jour is today (homosexuality, contraception, etc.), bear in mind there was a variation of it way back when.

Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw’s one single play about the U.S., The Devil’s Disciple, lances this sore spot brilliantly and director David Coral’s staging of it by Theatre in the Round Players sparkles with mischievous wit and sharp intelligence. It was Shaw’s first commercial success in the 1890s and was a New York sensation back then. It’s setting is New England during the American Revolution and Shaw’s sympathies are clearly with the Yanks.

Lila M. Smith is deliciously monstrous as a grimly authoritarian Christian zealot who sees the worst in everyone. Robb Krueger is intriguingly subtle as what seems to be a beta male character in the minister Anthony Anderson. That said, Krueger shows us another side of this man of contradictions. He convincingly portrays a radical shift in Anderson’s character that may well surprise you. Steering this fun and smart production is the charismatic Joel Grothe as protagonist Richard Dudgeon, the cad who is a much more complex figure than his puritanical critics are able to comprehend. Grothe is utterly dynamic and dazzling. And his heretical scenes with Anderson’s wife, Judith played  by Anissa Siobhan Brazil are juicy in their erotic tension.

When a Man Loves a Diva / Through Apr. 12 / Lab Theatre, 700 No. First St., Mpls. / (612) 333-7977 / www.thelabtheater.org

When Sanford Moore and Dane Stauffer combine music and comedy, odds are you’re in for a treat. And according to audiences and critics their latest combo is just that. A combo of tunes that nod heavily to genderbending and gay sensibilities. They’re joined by the talented Ben Bakken and Julius Collins. Stauffer says “we are having the time of our lives, singing this fabulous pop music. Sanford’s playing and arranging is, as always, gorgeous, soulful, sensitive, and rhythmic. Julius and Ben are singing their hearts out, and I’m sort of the ringleader of the whole thing.  And I’ve been on a Dusty Springfield kick lately, so I’m enjoying different syles.” And among those styles is the majesty of that mythic mega-diva herself: Cher!

By the Bog of Cats / Through Apr. 5 / Guthrie Theater, 818 So. 2nd St., Mpls. / (612) 377-2224 / www.guthrietheater.org

By the Bog of Cats has stirred up opinions more than most plays by major theaters do, which means if you miss it, you’re missing out on thought-stimulating controversy. This Frank Theatre production at the Guthrie’s Dowling Studio is a crackling experience that delves into the wounded psyche of a member of a marginalized group known as ‘Irish Travelers’ or ‘tinkers’. This group of nomadic people in Ireland and Britain are also called ‘pavees’ among themselves and those who respect them. But of course, there are all kinds of derogatory names for pavees or tinkers. Such is the lot of any marginalized people.

Director Wendy Knox, who I’ve described in the past as a quintessential feminist director is in her element here. By the Bog of Cats is inspired by the ancient Greek Medea myth of a queen who killed her own children. Knox is also a stage analyst, so to speak, of mythic and folkloric archetypes, as is evidenced in her superb past productions dealing with Scandinavian folklore and Italian fairy tales. In fact, Virginia Burke who electrifies as Hester Swane, Bog’s leading role, was also wonderful as another mythic archetype, Antigone, which Knox directed her in years ago for Northern Sign Theater.

But, if you’re into positive, reassuring images of women, Burke is not your gal. Her Hester is not warm and fuzzy. She is unmistakably monstrous, but then being marginalized and poor doesn’t make you into sugar and spice. Say all you want about personal choices and personal responsibility, society and whatever the social contract of a time place is, contextualizes one’s behavior and choices, outside of one’s control or influence. Class, gender, and other measures of marginalization also figure into it incalculaby and extensively; something that Carr conveys brilliantly. And something alot of people don’t like to give credence to.

The play’s permeating social world is revealed by a fabulous cast to be an inexorable patriarchal engine that rolls over human sensitivity and nuance. An engine driven by religion, economic power and property monopoly, and unquestioned male-led tradition. Though we may be very uncomfortable with Hester, we understand how she arrives at the destructive choices she makes.

Knox notes that in the Medea tale and in Carr’s play, “the women are fighting for recognition. In Bog, it is the child who does not want to be separated by the mother, and the mother, unable to leave the child behind , takes her with her.” With Medea’s story, the children are not developed as fully, but they are clearly the hapless victims of adult actions in a man’s world. Carr reminds us that we haven’t come that far in the past two and half millennia. As Annie Enneking’s delicious portrayal of the prophetic Catwoman reminds us. She too makes us uncomfortable with her vision that Fate rules us. Something that those who posit a culture of rugged individualism rebuke. Yet, by the end of the play, even the rugged individualists may find themselves purring along with her.

The Color Purple / Through Mar. 29 / Grey Gardens / Through May 17 / Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, 345 Washington St., St. Paul / (612) 224-4222 / www.ordway.org

Both Ordway stages currently feature gay themes in the threads of two of this decade’s most acclaimed musicals.
A quarter-century ago, the classic Spielberg film The Color Purple was the first megahit movie to have an extended unmistakably lesbianic scene complete with touch and sensuality. Thankfully, the current national tour of the Tony-nominated stage musical doesn’t shy away from this scene.

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On the Record

Elvis Perkins in Dearland

Popular culture is packed with the progeny of the famous, but Elvis Perkins sidesteps it all on his second album. Freely mixing a ton of influences—from chamber pop to folk to New Orleans jazz and blues—Perkins and his band craft one of the most beguiling albums I’ve heard recently. While his debut, Ash Wednesday, was an intimate solo piece, this collection highlights Perkins and his backing trio in a set of road-tested tunes that showcase a band playing at a high level. The real centerpiece here is “I’ll Be Arriving,” a five-minute dirge accented with a growling trombone solo. The unusual instrumentation—solo horns and harmonium in place of electric guitars or more modern keyboards—gives the set a timeless quality, while the music is sophisticated enough to never sound dated.
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The Page Boy

Home: Tom Arndt’s Minnesota

Tom Arndt
University of Minnesota Press
$49.95

Tom Arndt has spent more than 40 years honing his eye to capture life in his home state. More than 100 photos, printed from his original gelatin silver prints, eloquently portray both rural and urban life: farmers in Lake Crystal; wrestling spectacles from Wilmar to the Minneapolis Auditorium; wary teens and carnival performers at the State Fair. Arndt’s observations convey more than is seen at first glance, drawing the viewer back again to delve more deeply into the images. Change itself is a subject, and one can observe in images from the ’70s on the evolution in architecture, style, human-body types, and attitudes of subjects going about their business on Franklin and Hennepin Avenues as well as outlying rural districts. “When I put my camera to my eye,” Arndt writes, “I accept people for who they are and respect them for their uniqueness.” Home will resonate with anyone admiring fine photography—doubly so if Minnesota is their home, too.

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Camille Collins Leaves After 19 Years at Gay 90’s

La Femme Show Lounge Superdiva Best-Known for Colorful Headdresses

For nearly two decades, superdiva Camille Collins has graced the stage at the Gay 90’s. She’s best-known for her rainbow-colored showgirl costume with a bodacious headdress, performing her signature song, “Justified and Ancient,” by The KLF.

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Fat Nat’s Eggs

It was a long drive from my home in Highland Park in St. Paul to Fat Nat’s Eggs in Brooklyn Center, but once I visited with Jeff Nat, and tasted the foods he makes, I was hooked. This place serves some of the best breakfasts and sandwiches I have had in the Twin Cities.
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Passing: Carmen Dreissig 1946-2009

Carmen Dreissig, 63, died February 17 in Minneapolis. She was born January 6, 1946.
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Ireland: You’re Very Welcome Here

Some countries you discover by trolling through a guidebook’s list of monuments. In Ireland, it’s all about the people.
“You’re very welcome here,” they greet you, and then, the stories flow, burnished with a lilting brogue and blinding smile. Read the rest of this entry »

Out in the Stars

Horoscope for Mar. 27-Apr. 9 Welcome spring and the start of the new solar year! Sun enters Aries, giving us a burst of vital energy that takes us in new directions. Pack a map, lunch, and water, and get going. Read the rest of this entry »

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