Inside D.C. entertainment

Archive for October 2011

TBD ArtsBook: Jesse Tittsworth's media empire, naked men news, more

October 17, 2011 - 09:30 AM
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Would you read a blog by this man? (Tittsworth photographed by Josh Sisk, joshsisk.com).

• How Jesse Tittsworth edits one of the region's best blogs: Kim Chi Ha takes a look at the U Street Music Hall DJ's eponymous blog. 

>>“We wanted to create a kind of culture portal at the epicenter of where all of the aspects of Jesse’s personality met,” "Titts Team" member Denman Anderson tells Ha. “We didn’t know exactly what that would look like, but it would involve style, exotic cuisine, progressive sounds, crass humor, and a lot of bad tattoos.”

>>Links include videos of Tittsworth dispatching an octopus AND a chicken.

• Naked men news! Jenny Rogers goes to the opening of Vitruvian Gallery on Capitol Hill, where Larry Hall and Jack Cox are hoping to quench D.C.'s appetite for seeing unclothed dudes.

>>"Outfitted in snug black pants and a bow tie, the young Bulgarian transplant works the gallery with a plate of cheese and crackers. Few patrons in the 15-square-foot pulsing sea of men resist Waldo’s tray.

>>'I am famous model in Bulgaria,' Waldo says modestly, tossing his early-Bieber brown hair out of his eyes. It’s his modeling work that’s prepared him to field so many glances, and perhaps the fact that none of the painted men on walls have shirts on either.

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D.C.'s first all-male nude art gallery debuts

October 17, 2011 - 06:00 AM
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Waldo has worked as a server at a lot of parties, but until Saturday night’s opening party at Vitruvian Gallery, he’s never done it without a shirt on.

Outfitted in snug black pants and a bow tie, the young Bulgarian transplant works the gallery with a plate of cheese and crackers. Few patrons in the 15-square-foot pulsing sea of men resist Waldo’s tray.

“I am famous model in Bulgaria,” Waldo says modestly, tossing his early-Bieber brown hair out of his eyes. It’s his modeling work that’s prepared him to field so many glances, and perhaps the fact that none of the painted men on walls have shirts on either.

The oil portraits of male nudes, done by Alexandria artist Rob Vander Zee, represent the vision of Vitruvian: all male figurative work, all the time.

How a gallery with such a narrow focus will thrive financially is a question on many of the party-goers’ minds, but such concerns are secondary to their happiness that such a gallery exists. Several artists in the packed space speak to the difficulty of displaying male nudes in D.C., or even finding male nudes to paint.

“It’s hard when you go to figure drawing class to find men,” says artist Vincent Hughes. “Eighty percent of the models are women. Teachers tend to get female models because that’s what they’re comfortable with.”

Hughes previously showed his work at a Capitol Hill gym up the road that’s  known to be gay friendly. He says a staffer wouldn’t allow him to show male nudes in the space. “She said this is a family gym,” he recalls. “I said, uh, what kind of family are you talking about?”

“Washington needs something like this,” he continues, glancing at the sculpted Waldo as he sashays by with a plate of grapes. “It’s the only gallery you can go to and see shirtless men.”

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Weekend events: Fashion District, Noir City DC, Hirshhorn After Hours

October 13, 2011 - 01:37 PM
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All The President's Men

FRIDAY

ReadysetDC's Fashion District Fall/Winter 2011 Week(end) opens with a Designer Meet & Greet at the Dunes. An evening soirée talking fashion with designers old and new — Artaya, DeNada Design, Derringer Friday, Durkl, Espion, Ginger Root Design, Hugh & Crye, SAintCHIC and Sika — at this season's Fashion District runway show.

The Full Length Runway Show's at Eastern Market North Hall Saturday + The Shop, an afternoon of shopping at the Dunes featuring designs seen from the runway as well as from locally owned shops Pretty People Vintage and Carbon Boutique.

Blisspop & Red Fridays presents the D.C. debut of French-based house producer Fred Falke & Lifelike with Volta Bureau's Micah Vellian at U Street Music Hall. $10.

Burns & Fred Falke - YSLM (Club Mix) by Fred Falke

• A night at the museum: Hirshhorn After Hours at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. An evening of exhibits after sunset, drinks and live performances by The Crystal Ark + Nancy Wang. 8 p.m. to midnight. Bar is cash only. $25, advance tickets only.

DC Labor Film Fest opens at AFI Silver Theatre. The 5-day festival features poignant films about work and workers, from the newsroom of All The President's Men to a discussion of what led to the economic crisis of 2008 in Inside Job.

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Bethesda Safeway's fine art debut goes unnoticed by shoppers

October 13, 2011 - 10:25 AM
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Guests at Wednesday’s “Celebrating the Art of Safeway” soiree in Bethesda seemed to miss the memo about the “art” part of the evening.

The fine work of Washington Glass School artists Erwin Timmers, Michael Janis, Robert Kincheloe, and Tim Tate, which lines the new store’s exterior along Bradley Boulevard, generally went unremarked upon by the well-heeled crowd.

“I didn’t even pay attention,” says Tommy Hemphill, who, like several other guests, didn’t realize that the wall of cast-glass panels he’d walked by on his way in was art. “But I will,” he promises.

Companion Quianne Parrin also failed to notice the art, even though she had heard it would be displayed tonight. “I was aware of it, but I forgot about it,” she admits. Parrin says the fresh fruit bruschetta being served in the store is delicious though.

Several party-goers did express appreciation for the glasswork. Bethesda resident Carol Ramirez says she has driven her teenaged son and his carpool friends past the store numerous times during its construction. “They thought it looked really nice,” Ramirez says, though, “the 13-year-old boys were a little worried that someone would drive their car into the glass.”

Adds Amy Thomas, “We’ve had some salons driven into by older people.”

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TBD ArtsBook: 'Shear Madness' at 24: as if 'the Louvre had a permanent collection of clowns on velvet.'

October 13, 2011 - 07:33 AM
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• "It’s like if the Louvre had a permanent collection of clowns on velvet." That's Peter Marks quoted in Benjamin R. Freed's comprehensive oral history of "Shear Madness," which has run at KenCen for 24 years. Also in Freed's piece, Arch Campbell, whose original review has been quoted in the play's promotional materials ever since, defends his praise of the show: "I’ve been attacked. I’ve been called a philistine, lowbrow, a clown, but you know, go ahead. Some of it is knowing your audience, so the only thing I can say in my defense is I knew my audience. And yes, I was Mr. Middlebrow, and Patton Oswalt is right. And he’s welcome to bash me all he wants."

>>For the curious, Oswalt's Arch Cambell routine is part of "Sterling, Virginia," his bit about his hometown.

>>Also in the "Shear Madness" package: Bob Mondello re-reviews the show: "it may be best to regard Shear Madness as the theatrical equivalent of an entry-level drug" (Washington City Paper inside baseball: the capsule blurb from Mondello's original 1987 review has run in the paper ever since; no idea if this is still the case but when I was there it was the first blurb we cut if space was tight in the back of the book).

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TBD ArtsBook: Looking closer at Artisphere, destroying Remy's new video, RIP Frank Kameny

October 12, 2011 - 08:00 AM
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Artisphere dome

• As Artisphere turns 1, there's been some scrutiny of its financial presumptions, starting with Mark Jenkins' article about the center's disappointing first-year numbers. ArlNow yesterday recorded a couple of branching arguments: David Boaz quotes some of the arguments against public financing of stadiums to show that these things rarely work out. Meanwhile, Alex Baca takes a different tack, arguing that Artisphere "deserves to succeed." Fine, fine, these are both valid points of view. What I'm wondering is why these things never seem to reflect badly on the arts consultants who write these fanciful business plans, telling municipalities what they want to hear (e.g. "Project X will be a roaring financial success and revitalize your neighborhood").

>> Webb Management Services Inc., which did the 2006 Needs Assessment for Arlington County Cultural Facilities, said an Arlington facility would be comparable to several other arts centers. But a little (admittedly post-housing crash) digging on Guidestar about the venues cited shows why the report didn't get into, you know, specifics: Yerba Buena Arts Center (2009 revenue less expenses: $-870,444), Walker Art Center in Minneapolis ($-5,571,685), Arvada Center for the Arts in Arvada, Colo. ($ 303,970), Contemporary Art Center of Virginia in Virginia Beach, Va. ($-93,484).

>> How that kind of research was good enough for Arlington and why it continues to be good enough for other municipalities is the story here.

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‘Arlington Rap’ guy takes on Occupy DC with new video

October 11, 2011 - 10:29 AM
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Arlington rapper and comedian Remy Munasifi, perhaps best known for his musical tribute to his neighborhood (“all these dudes in brown flip flops”) addresses the Occupy DC protesters in his latest number. The Dylanesque ballad more or less says “you’re silly, protesters.”

Munasifi, who describes the protesters he met as “very nice and welcoming,” says that, like them, he doesn’t support corporate bailouts. “I just disagreed with some of the proposed solutions,” he says. “Some people choose personal attacks over substantive discourse, and it’s neither productive nor persuasive.” Munasifi, who says he’s an independent and not “formally political,” recorded the video in partnership with libertarian organization ReasonTV.

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ShowBizRadio is expanding to St. Louis

October 11, 2011 - 08:30 AM
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(Photo: National Park Service)

ShowBizRadio, a community-theater-oriented website, started in 2005 as a resource for Washington-area theatergoers. This past May, it expanded to Baltimore. And now it's going a little further out of town, to St. Louis.

Wait — St. Louis?

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Georgetown before Brooks Brothers — like, when toilets crashed through ceilings

October 7, 2011 - 10:59 AM
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At the Brooks Brothers grand opening party in Georgetown on Wednesday, guests were greeted with a full-court conceptual press—this store is your “home.” Manager Don Miller says the new M Street store aims to be “a living room for the community, where people can be comfortable.” That’s why there’s a pool table, furnished patio, a dozen plaid and plushy chairs, and antique books wedged into sock displays. “This building,” Miller adds, “was, at one time, a residence.”

Indeed, two decades before Brooks Brothers reared its herringbone head on M Street, people did live at 3077, but probably not the Chardonnay-sipping set who showed up to the store’s invite-only party. Former resident Bob Greenberg describes a very un-Brooks Brothers life at 3077 M.

Greenberg, whose parents inherited the building in 1945 and owned it until 1995, moved into one of the four apartments that stood above the building’s lower retail level in the 1970s. Greenberg remembers rent costing around $150 --  less than a Brooks Brothers cashmere sweater. Tenants tilted toward the bohemian, and the floors tilted at a 10-degree angle. Toilets occasionally crashed through the ceilings of apartments below.

“At that time, Georgetown was a very vibrant artist community,” says Greenberg, 65. Renters included artists, musicians, and at one point, five or six members of the Chez Odette’s kitchen staff crammed into one apartment. Greenberg, who was “something of a musician myself,” calls the scene “riotous.”

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Weekend events: Taste of DC, Nouveau Riche, James Blake

October 7, 2011 - 06:30 AM
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FRIDAY

• From MAD TV and The Tonight Show, comedian Bobby Lee performs stand-up comedy at D.C. Improv Comedy Club. The San Diego native brings a Korean-American perspective to the stage. Friday – Sunday. $22.

After Hours: Autumn Mix at Pass Gallery. Drinks to celebrate Pass Gallery’s 16th season featuring sculpture by Michael Gessner, and paintings by Lucy Clark, Kathryn McDonnell and Stuart Greenwell.

After The Quake, set in the aftermath of the 1995 earthquake that killed thousands in Kobe, Japan, opens at Atlas. The play, adapted from the short stories of Haruki Murakami, tells the story of a world where the lines between what’s real and surreal merge.

 

SATURDAY

Nouveau Riche at U Street Music Hall. Residents Gavin Holland, Steve Starks and Nacey spin a night of club, electro and house. Two Smirnoff drink tickets for each patron with entry before 10 p.m.!

Gavin Holland - MOOMBARENA by gavinholland

Nacey - Work For This (Gavin Holland Remix) by gavinholland

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Performance poet Pretty Face goes into semi-retirement

October 6, 2011 - 06:00 AM
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Pretty Face is unsentimental as he takes the stage at Busboys and Poets open mic poetry night on Tuesday, his last poetry performance for the foreseeable future.

“This shit is 10 percent show, 90 percent business,” he greets the audience, before informing them that his CDs are on sale.

After 25 years of writing poetry and 15 years of performing it in D.C., Pretty Face, occasionally called Jerome, is pausing poetry performance to spend more time with his rock band, Sexy People Club, "and I have to focus on my literary career," he says. With his hiatus, D.C. loses a veteran who, as the show’s host Derrick Watson Brown points out, represents a part of the city that’s “either ignored or slowly disappearing.”

In his drooping sweater and huge pants, Face, 45, bears little resemblance to his fellow poets Tuesday night, a stylish cohort of earnest folks who rhyme about assault and Wall Street. A Canadian transplant in plaid performs a piece about being a white Indian. A guy reads a love poem that turns out to be about his motorcycle. But Face’s outrageous, screaming, entertaining, and provocative story about the town drunk demanding a cocktail at a bar wins the night.

After thunderous applause, Pretty Face apologizes to the ladies in the audience. “I didn’t mean to turn you on,” he says. The crowd titters uncertainly.

Face’s voice mesmerizes both ladies and gentlemen. “He has an unmistakable voice,” writes local poet Joshua Weiner by email, “both in the language and in the power—timber, resonance, tone—of his physical voice.” Weiner describes Face as part of the performance poetry scene, but distinct from it. “He is totally resistant to the vocal clichés that one hears all too often projected from inside that scene.”

A Pretty Face performance from 2007:

Face, gesturing grandly with his hands, says his art tends to frighten “people who want to maintain the status quo.” He rhymes about capitalism, drugs, and women in an unpredictable mix of high-minded social commentary and borderline erotica: one poem is devoted to a woman’s exciting, inviting, appetizing lips, another to a woman who refuses to date drug dealers.

She don’t do jail
No lovemaking through the mail
Requesting permission from the devil to see her loved one in hell
No, she don’t do no ghetto stars
One whose destination be the prison bars
Fuck the temporary bankrolls, the ice, and the fancy cars

Holly Bass, a poet-in-residence with Busboys and Poets, calls Face "the Tricky of the D.C. poetry scene."

"There's something dark and disturbing, but highy compelling and memorable about what he does," she says. "He's a bit like HR from Bad Brains--talented and troubled and hard to pin down." Bass also praises his underrated singing voice.

Face fans can still enjoy his vocal stylings in Sexy People Club, a recently formed venture he describes as a “fusion of rock, funk, blues, theater, and acid jazz” as well as a “school of etiquette.” Face calls his musical lyrics "more blissful than destructive."

The band is currently "getting our minds set together" and spending time in the studio; performances are yet-to-be scheduled. Face, who has self-published six chapbooks, will also be doing some writing during his poetry performance hiatus.

“It’s not a ceasing of the art,” Pretty Face promises. “It’s a never-ending flow.”

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Mandy Moore tries to shake specter of Nicholas Sparks and talk about global health

October 4, 2011 - 01:37 PM
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It became apparent at last night's Power of 1% event to promote global aid that Mandy Moore will never, ever escape A Walk to Remember. The party/panel at the Newseum featured Moore in a pair of leather pants, but despite her earnest words on malaria in Cameroon, she couldn't change the fact that her name only summons thoughts of Nicholas Sparks. Asked to discuss their impressions of Mandy Moore, the crowd at the Newseum only knew four words.

“I know A Walk to Remember,” says Elizabeth, who works in global health. Her friend Rani, who also works in the field, can’t name a film or song associated with Mandy Moore.

“She’s a little younger than us,” she offers by way of explanation. “If I heard a song I’d probably recognize it.” Like “Candy,” her best-performing single to date, which was featured in the classic ballet flick Center Stage? The ladies’ blinking stare shows no flicker of recognition. “She seems to have kept a clean image,” Rani offers.

A table of young brunettes does no better. “I only know A Walk to Remember,” says one brunette.

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