July Snippets from Out and About

Where's the afterglow? Queers of all shapes and sizes turned out to see national "sexpert" Carol Queen along with some local folk doing what was billed as sex-positive performance art one eve last month at the Playwright's Center. We were warned at the door that things might get a little hot and heavy, but frankly the show didn't come close to climax. It's difficult to believe that anyone in the audience would have been shocked by Elise Mathessen's musings on the term "cunt" or a rather limited sketch from the Minneapolis Safer Sex Sluts ("Use lube, use latex"...well, duh!). The best performance art pushes the boundaries and buttons of its audience, and those of us expecting a radical dialogue about sex needed something...sexier. Performers Mathessen, the Sluts, and Laurie McKiernan have become local performance-scene regulars, but the next time a show like this comes along, well, honey, we've got a headache.

Showstopper. If you didn't make it to a performance of Fairy Tales, then consider yourself a huge loser. A series of songs penned by Chicago native Eric Lane Barnes, the show featured a sparkling cast and some of the wittiest lyrics to play this tired old burgh since, well, we can't remember. Among many standout moments were Doug (blonder than ever) Trapp's turn as a very citified cowpoke and Erin Schwabb rebelling against the most dysfunctional family ever. Julie Madden got scads of laughs, particularly when she donned a choir robe and chimed "God Hates Fags" with all the earnestness of a 700 Club-watching, Bandolino-wearing suburban mother of three. And we loved Jonathan Rayson warbling almost anything. Next time director Kevin Dutcher does something, we're so there.

Is he dating? He's rich, he's a snappy dresser, and he cooks! Chuck Williams, who put the Williams in the Williams-Sonoma empire, dropped in at the Mall of America in early June to sign copies of his latest cookbook, Celebrate the Pleasures of Cooking. The 82-year-old cookware king is the Louis L'Amour of the cookbook biz, having penned more than 40 tomes in his 42 years at W-S. Spry, trim, chatty, and openly gay, Chuck is more than twice our age and we don't look half as good. Must be all that home cooking.

Requiem for Acres. Where do Kenwood matrons and gay boys with a green thumb (not always mutually exclusive groups) browse for the latest in garden tchotchkes? Acres, of course. But not for much longer, because Uptown's version of Smith & Hawken is closing up shop mid-month. After five years of hawking terra cotta pots, Victor Luna stoneware, tulip bulbs, and other darling doodads, owners Cort Schwanebeck and Jim Wickesberg are pulling a Mary Tyler Moore and going out while they're at the top of their form. Gay Twin Citians haven't been this broken up since Dayton's closed its Out of Sight shop. Acres will be missed for many reasons, particularly that magical time of year when the weather turned warm and Cort and Jim donned shorts and showed off the kind of legs rarely seen outside the pages of a Colt calendar. The going-out-of-business sale includes everything in the store, with the exception of Jackson, Acre's adorable guard pooch.

Does she or doesn't she? As always, it was wall-to-wall dykes at the Guthrie when Paula Poundstone turned up in Minneapolis last month. And equally predictable, she kept us in stitches, riffing on everything from her nine cats to the toasting instructions on a box of Pop-Tarts. It was mighty mirthful indeed, but we were all a bit perplexed when Ms. P launched into a monologue about the difficulties of dating while raising her three foster children. You could actually hear the head-scratching when the audience realized that this bit was about Paula dating...men. Isn't she a sister? She was the one at all those gay benefits during the '96 election, wasn't she? Aside from our confusion, it was side-splitting and girl-watching as always. Now if we could just know for sure....

Love is Blue. While biking over to the Mississippi the other week to, um, investigate the native fauna, we stopped in at the premier coffee shop at the other end of Lake Street. Blue Moon Coffee Cafe (3822 E. Lake St.), removed from the tense, 10-speed pace of Uptown, offered us a fair haven of caffeine, lemon bars, and prodigious sunlight. We sat on a blonde, faux-Swedish bench and stared out the enormous picture windows. We also stared, Buddha-like, at the purple ceiling, the 3-dimensional stars, the softly glowing lights. While Cafe Wyrd is Edward Hopper on a gallon of Moccachino, Blue Moon is Grant Wood sipping summer lemonade. Pink lemonade. The Moon's patrons who come to read and write are actually doing just that, and not pretending to skim Spin or study Spanish while checking out their Quicksilver-clad neighbors. The clientele was friendly, but we didn't feel, as we often do at other more yang-centered hangouts, that we had stepped into a bar. Here, our spirits were yinned back into shape. We finished our respite with a sin from the Häagen Dazs cooler, and then parked at one of the outside booths, beneath hanging pots of fuschia flora. The call of the wild Mississippi, only eight blocks away, could wait.

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