August Hit And Run

Comic release. Minneapolis-native Robert Kirby flies in from Manhattan this month to sign copies of his newly released Curbside at DreamHaven Books. Over the last eight years we've caught Kirby's quips and strips in his infamous queerzines Strange-Looking Alien and Boy Trouble, but this is the hometown toonist's first comic collection in paperback format (a true 9 x 6!). Curbside chronicles the coeur d'affaires of the autobiographical "Rob" and his various friends and lovers. They proceed Pilgrim's Progress-fashion through the stations of gay and lesbian life: coming out, safe sex, bisexuality, performance art (he likes it), dealing with ex's, and--since this is the just-say-no Midwest--caffeine. Kirby's creations are characters, not caricatures; they're tender, romantic, annoying. We think he's probably the best male artist around to convincingly portray three-dimensional, funny lesbians. And everyone is so cute. (Such problem-free complexions!) We can't wait to see if his hair is anything like the guy's in the strip.

Ah, wilderness! This summer the Rose Garden and the Peace Garden near Lake Harriet seem eerily quiet, inhabited only by those who actually enjoy roses or peace. Seeking a real piece, dedicated tailblazers and bushwhackers have moved on to greener, and wetter, pastures--the Mississippi Riverflats. The traditional hotspots, just north of the asphalt incline, however, have been abandoned in favor of more promising grasslands to the south. We went exploring on our own after receiving an, um, anonymous tip. The new, southern pathways are definitely for the more advanced hiker. Sloping, crumbling riverbanks, overhanging tree trunks, and muddy boscage turn an afternoon of innocent cruising into one of those character-enhancing, team-building wilderness workshops favored by cheery human-resource departments and "Up With People" alumni. The near-inaccessible trails gradually open onto an Eden-like beach. And just across the river lies the boathouse for the men's and women's rowing classes. We found that hearing someone yell "Stroke!" or "Paddle!" in the middle of a steamy afternoon can add considerably to one's enjoyment of nature.

Dinner music. If you're a Broadway baby you could do worse than to dine Backstage @ Bravo. Given the swaggering, tableside, gustatory, opera buffa at Gustino's (if opera had a farm team, this would be ours), we were certain singing waiters could only make a bad meal worse. Quelle surprise! No starry-eyed, community-theater ingenue with more thigh than voice parking it near your four-top at Bravo. No sir! From a performance area lodged between two dining rooms, these kids belted out everything from Hammerstein to Sondheim on a recent eve. All live. All the time. There was even a Ragtime ensemble number! And these cute kids ala Fame! appear to be fresh meat...errr...talent!

Plain Jane postmortem. We tromped down to the Bryant-Lake Bowl to catch the last show ever for queercore local heroes, Plain Jane, in July. The way-too-warm-in-summertime BLB was sold out (no mean feat on a Wednesday night in this town) and packed to the rafters with dykes, dykes, dykes. The girls performed an amazing, tight power-pop set, one that made us sad to see them go. So what does the future hold for these minstrels? Drummer Rudy announced tongue in cheek that she planned to become a belly dancer, while bassist Sarah hinted at a strip career. We wish them well, of course, but what we really want is a reunion.

Stage strut. Homos who haven't bothered to see a show since O Calcutta! lined up to see Ronnie Larsen's Making Porn last month at the Hennepin Center for the Arts. Shakespeare in the Park it wasn't, but the porn-biz plot did involve more than shucking shorts. Michael Lopez, incidentally the only male cast member whose member went unseen, made our skin crawl as the smarmy, seedy director of fleshy flicks, and gangly Ryan Robson's geeky enthusiasm made us smile in spite of ourselves. Most eyes, however, were riveted on hunky David Gordon, playing the supposedly straight guy who works hard for the money but won't tell the missus about his rising, um, career. Our kindest kudos, however, is reserved for the Brit-born Blue Blake, whose equipage has earned him the respect of men (and horses) the world around. His funny, self-deprecating performance as an aging, bored porn star convinced us that, when it comes to acting, research is everything.

Keep Minneapolis charming! Send this letter to that Maven of Cultured Mayhem at Skyway News, Margo Seigel: Dearest Margo: For all the Chanel in Paris, we'll never understand why you won't preserve the Handicraft Guild Building in downtown Minneapolis. We, your staunchest allies, have for years relied on you to set the standard of style and worth in Minneapolis. And what local drag queen doesn't follow your fashion reports for the proper length of hand-beaded evening wear? And yet you dismiss one of our greatest architectural treasures as not worth a Warhol! Margo, at your age, shouldn't preservation be a top priority? Sincerely, a devout Margo-maniac.

Goodtime drag queens. Three Cherrio's to the winners of Miss Goodtime Softball League '98! From a field of dreams, only one of 13 team-sponsored acts was gonna win. And it was those venerable Big G-Men Mark Addicks, Daniel Duty, and Clark Vanderbroek who snatched the sash by paying homage to Zena and her Princess Warriors. Ms. Turner would have marveled at their frenzied rendition of "Proud Mary" (clever choice, no?), complete with cartwheel (stolen from Miss. R's talent arsenal perhaps?). Word has it that Zena was squeezed into a brief yet tasteful black-bead and fringe number (God bless the restorative powers of Lycra!), while her Warriors exposed the most in skin-tight, gold-lamé halter frocks. Their big hair was also a big hit (especially when Zena's fell off exposing a big, bald noggin!). And speaking of big, these boys donated their $175 in tips to the cause. Zena--bald or brunette--we love ya baby!

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