Retro Review: Blast-Off Burlesque Takes a Joyride Back to the Heyday of the ’70s LA Porn Industry with BOOGIE NIGHTS at the Plaza Theatre Sat. Jan. 21

Posted on: Jan 18th, 2012 By:

By Dean Treadway
Contributing Writer

BOOGIE NIGHTS (1997); Dir: Paul Thomas Anderson; Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson; Starring Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, Don Cheadle, William H. Macy, John C. Reilly, Heather Graham; Taboo-La-La Series hosted by Blast-Off  Burlesque at Plaza Theatre, Sat. Jan. 21; 10 PM; arrive early for a night of innuendo-laden foods, Porn Persona superstar costume contest, prizes, Rollergirl madness and a hilarious stage show with special guest Cousin Dan; age 18 & over only; trailer here.

BOOGIE NIGHTS is one of those films I love in spite of my better judgment.  It’s a resolutely big-screen experience, and Atlanta moviegoers are going to have a rare opportunity to see it on the big screen at the Plaza Theater on Saturday, Jan. 21 when it appears as the feature accompanying Blast-Off Burlesque‘s saucy Taboo-La-La show starting at 10 p.m.

I can recall gendering at the beautiful one-sheet for BOOGIE NIGHTS before it was released in the fall of 1997.  I marveled at its huge cast, and was excited about the subject matter – a trip through the Los Angeles porn industry of the late ’70s.  I didn’t know who the writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson was at that time, having not seen his first feature, the small-time con film, HARD EIGHT, but that would soon change.  The poster, though, with its intricate photo collage of characters from the film, promised an epic portrayal unlike anything ever attempted.  I was extremely thrilled about seeing it.

Burt Reynolds in BOOGIE NIGHTS. New Line Cinema, 1997.

In BOOGIE NIGHTS, we follow its naïve central character, Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg), as he is ensnared into a makeshift family of porn filmmakers and performers.  He’s spotted by the patriarchal auteur Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds) as he’s performing tricks on the side at his busboy job at an L.A. nightspot.  Impressed by his entire…um…package, Horner invites Eddie into the porn fold, and there his triumphs and troubles begin.  Eddie’s eventual transformation into the XXX-star Dirk Diggler is followed in great detail, but this story is really a kind of connective tissue for all the many other tales the film has to offer. Julianne Moore is a top-tier porn actress battling the courts and her ex-husband over custody of their son while using Horner’s coterie of performers as sort of stand-in children. William H. Macy is a meek assistant director struggling with his wife’s brazen infidelity. John C. Reilly is an amiable second-string performer with a penchant for magic tricks who’s attempting to forge a stronger identity for himself. Don Cheadle is another beaten-down porn star who’s finding difficulty breaking into the world of legitimate business. Heather Graham is the sexy but largely innocent Rollergirl, searching for the family she can’t find at home.  And Horner himself is battling pressures to convert to video rather than film – an idea he finds abhorrent (this is especially poignant now, seeing as how this might be your last opportunity to catch BOOGIE NIGHTS on 35mm).   Throw into this mix Philip Seymour Hoffman as a schlubby sound guy, Luis Guzman as an enthusiastic outsider, Robert Ridgely as a troubled producer, Philip Baker Hall as an imposing moneyman, and Ricky Jay as Horner’s loyal editor, and you can get a sense of this film’s great ambition.

Heather Graham plays a sexy, but largely innocent Rollergirl in BOOGIE NIGHTS. New Line Cinema, 1997.

I still find moments in the film to be quite wonderful.  The widescreen cinematography, by Anderson regular Robert Elswit (who would go on to win an Oscar for his work on Anderson’s THERE WILL BE BLOOD), is always vibrant and inventive, as is the ’70s-era source music score (which pairs nicely with a sad circus underscore by Michael Penn).  Anderson writes dialogue for dumb people particularly brilliantly, so there’s always funny conversation going on.  The period detail in the garish art direction and costume design are spot-on.  I love seeing Burt Reynolds tearing into a good role, for possibly the last time, and Julianne Moore is lovingly histrionic here, as she would be in Anderson’s MAGNOLIA as well (both received supporting player Oscar nominations).  As always, I find John C. Reilly to be a hoot as Reed Rothschild, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman is sweet as the crewman who gets a crush on Eddie (his tortured confession of this to the unsuspecting Wahlberg is perhaps the movie’s most shattering scene).

Alfred Molina in BOOGIE NIGHTS. New Line Cinema, 1997

But I also find that many parts don’t work. William H. Macy is a barely-sketched punching bag of a character. Don Cheadle’s story fails to make a deep impression (note: any time you see a character in a white suit, you can bet that thing’s gonna be covered in blood by the end of the scene). And Graham’s Rollergirl, while extremely cute, also seems thinly-written.   It feels like Anderson just has too much movie here for 2 ½ hours to hold (BOOGIE NIGHTS would have been a much better TV series).

Still, though the film owes a bit too much to the GOODFELLAS style of soaring-then-crashing storytelling (with the onslaught of the 1980s being the rather too-obvious turning point), BOOGIE NIGHTS is required viewing if only for its extremely tense final third, which finds Eddie struggling with a cocaine addiction while trying to launch a hilariously ill-thought musical career (the songs, performed bravely and horribly by Wahlberg and Reilly, include the original “Feel My Heat“ and a cover of the closing song to THE TRANSFORMERS MOVIE, “The Touch“).  Particularly memorable in this segment, too, is one of the great scenes in movie history, where Wahlberg, Reilly and ne’er-do-well Thomas Jane are stuck inside a free-basing coke-dealer’s house.  The gun-toting dealer is played with a maniac’s energy by Alfred Molina; he’s so coked up, he has no idea that these three are planning to rip him off.  With firecrackers being thrown left and right by his houseboy, he holds the guys semi-hostage as he insists on playing “Jessie’s Girl” and “Sister Christian” for them on his stereo.  You’ll never hear these two songs in quite the same way again.  It’s really a marvelously scary moment that puts you right there in this mess and gets your heart pounding.

Mark Wahlberg and John C. Reilly in BOOGIE NIGHTS. New Line Cinema, 1997.

There are many other things I like about the movie: the stiffly-acted porn sequences, shot on a scratchy 16mm; the wonderful tour through one of Horner’s house parties, done in one long shot that recalls a scene out of I AM CUBA, where we follow a girl as she jumps into the pool out back, all to the tune of Eric Burdon’s “Spill the Wine”; and the final shot of the film, which recalls another Scorsese classic, RAGING BULL, but which ends with, at last, a glimpse of what made Dirk Diggler famous.  I wish BOOGIE NIGHTS as a whole was as good as these individual moments, but it’s certainly something worth checking out, especially if you’ve never seen it on the big screen.  And it remains an important film, if only as the breakthrough for an artist like Paul Thomas Anderson who, with each passing work, only seems to be getting better and better.

Dean Treadway is a longtime Atlanta film analyst and film festival programmer with more than 25 years of published works. His popular film blog is called filmicability with Dean Treadway.  He is also a correspondent for Movie Geeks United, the Internet’s #1 movie-related podcast.

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Taboo La-La! Blast-Off Burlesque Stirs Up Some FEMALE TROUBLE, John Waters Style, At The Plaza This Saturday!

Posted on: Nov 16th, 2011 By:

By Melanie Magnifique
Contributing Blogger

FEMALE TROUBLE (1974); Dir: John Waters; Writer: John Waters; Starring Divine, Mink Stole, Edith Massey; Taboo-La-La Series hosted by Blast-Off  Burlesque at Plaza Theatre, Sat. July 23; 10 PM; free makeup, meatball sandwiches (while supplies last), costume contest, Filthy Fashion makeovers with prizes from Libertine! Special guests include Patricia Lopez, Poly Sorbate, Babydoll & Baltimore’s own Elle Devene; age 18 & over only; trailer here.

This Saturday night, Blast-Off Burlesque will serve up a veritable cornucopia of camp while hosting John Waters dark comedy, FEMALE TROUBLE at the Plaza Theatre as part of their sin-sational new cinema series—Taboo La-La! Before viewing the film in its original 35mm format, moviegoers will be able to compete for fantastic prizes in costume and makeover contests, as well as enjoy performances by Blast-Off and their very special guests, Patricia Lopez, Poly Sorbate, Babydoll and Baltimore’s own Elle Devene.

Released in 1974, FEMALE TROUBLE tells the story of Dawn Davenport (played by infamous drag queen, Divine), a bratty bad-girl who lives a hard-knock life of juvenile delinquency, experiencing sexual assault, subsequent single motherhood, employment in the sex industry, obsession with fame and victimization by sensationalists masquerading as artists. Did I mention that it’s rated NC-17?

Blast-Off’s Co-founder (and ATLRetro Kool Kat), Barb Hays, says the film’s caustic content fits right in with the sprit of Taboo La-La. “You know, the Plaza Theatre used to show adult films, so we decided that we would host a series which paid homage to its roots,” she explains. “They can’t show X-rated stuff anymore, but there’s plenty of great films out there which push the boundaries of societal taboo as decreed by the MPAA.”

Melanie Magnifique. Photo credit: March Turnley

Hays adds that now is a crucial time to support the Plaza Theatre. This week Plaza Owners Jonathan and Gayle Rej announced that they are looking for a buyer forAtlanta’s oldest cinema, adding that they do not wish to close, and are seeking individuals or organizations which might preserve the landmark theater as a historical site. Since purchasing the theater in 2006, the Rejs have focused on event-centered films with live audience-interactive elements, including Splatter Cinema, the Silver Scream Spookshow, Flicks & Giggles, Summer Camp, Art Opening and a Movie and Taboo-La-La! In 2009, the Plaza Theatre received nonprofit status.

Supporting the Plaza Theatre is a rare chance to do something special for this community and gifts of all sizes will make a big difference. The Plaza Theatre Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization and all gifts are tax  deductible. All funds generated will be used toward restoration, furnishings, equipment, operations and community initiatives for The Plaza Theatre.

Saturday’s events kick-off at 10 p.m., and the first 50 people in the door will receive free makeup! They can also eat meatball sandwiches (while supplies last), and the most beautiful, glamorous audience member in the costume contest will win a basket of makeup! The winner of the Filthy Fashion makeovers will win prizes from Libertine!

Are you willing to die for Art? As Dawn Davenport says, “Being executed will make you famous, like winning an academy award.” Put on your biggest hair and your cha-cha heels! The bad girls are back in town!

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Surf’s Up at the Plaza Saturday as Blast-Off Burlesque Throws a Taboo-La-La BEACH PARTY

Posted on: Jul 22nd, 2011 By:

BEACH PARTY (1963); Dir: William Asher; Writer: Lou Rusoff; Starring Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, Robert Cummings, Dorothy Malone; Taboo-La-La Series hosted by Blast-Off  Burlesque at Plaza Theatre, Sat. July 23; 10 PM; pre-show antics include Twister in the lobby, live music by Grinder Nova, cupcakes by The Sugar Dolls, guest star The Chameleon Queen; age 18 & over only; trailer here.

Before Blast-Off Burlesque take off on their World Tour Sept. 9 and 10, these crazy kats are heading to the beach for some Twister, hula-hooping, surfing and flirting. Yes, it’s Taboo-La-La time once again Sat. night July 23 at the Plaza Theatre, and keeping in the summer spirit, the movie is BEACH PARTY (1963) starring Sixties America’s favorite surf couple Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. And per usual, it’s not just a rare chance to see a cult classic in 35 mm on the big screen, it’ll be a party like only Blast-Off can throw. We checked in with the sensational Sadie Hawkins for a sneak preview of the fun they have in store…

BEACH PARTY seems pretty tame for a Taboo-La-La after SHOWGIRLS and FASTER PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!, but I’m guessing you’re thinking behind all that semi-bare flesh and adolescent hormones, there’s some sexy behind-the-scenes actiongoing on. How did Blast-Off decide on this movie?

Well, it’s summertime, and what better time for a beach movie? And BEACH PARTY is the one that started the whole beach movie craze. It may seem tame, but really, it’s a pretty weird movie that spends a lot of time lingering on adolescent/post-adolescent sexuality.

When did you first see BEACH PARTY and what do you personally love about it?

I first saw it on teevee when I was a kid. I loved Frankie and Annette. Seeing it as an adult, though, I’ve come to love the completely strange fabricated world in BEACH PARTY. It’s a lot of fun. It’s totally goofy—I mean, the motorcycle gang is astoundingly white bread.

Without spoiling any surprises, what can you share about the pre-show and how did you pick this month’s guest stars?

The pre-show is kind of Blast-Off’s take on a Beach Party, only inside the Plaza. We’ve got a couple acts of our own and some fun contests in the theme of the movie—hula hooping, twisting. We’re really excited to have Grinder Nova back for another show—this time, they’ll be playing a larger part of the pre-show. And we’re absolutely delighted to welcome our good friend, The Chameleon Queen, who will be performing as A’Lotta Wood. That act is awesome.

There’ll also be beach party action in the lobby, right? Did I hear something about Twister?

Yep! We’ll have Twister in the lobby and cupcakes from The Sugar Dolls [Read a scrumptious sneak preview of the delicious delights they’ll be bringing here].

When should beach partiers arrive at the Plaza and what should they wear have maximum fun in the sun?

The show starts at 10, so if folks get there a bit before that, they’ll have time to play a little Twister and have some cupcakes and chat a bit. We always encourage people to dress to the theme—we’ve got our swimsuits ready, and I know there will be some Hawaiian shirts on display.

What can we tease out of you about Blast-Off’s WORLD TOUR?

It’s shaping up to be a totally insane trip. Seriously, there’s some kooky stuff in this show. I think this may be my favorite Blast-Off show so far. Well, every one is my favorite, but really: it’s going to be a lot of fun. So, we’re really excited to share it with people. It’s going to be September 9 and 10 at 7 Stages. Tickets are available at blastoffburlesque.com.

Finally, gotta ask what’s new with the lovely Miss Sadie Hawkins and where else can we see you hanging around this summer?

Well, I teach lyra classes four days a week and I’m performing quite a bit. After Taboo-La-La, the next burlesque event at which I’m performing is Bellissitease: Film Noir, July 29 at Bellissima. I tend to keep myself pretty busy, between private events and fundraisers, regular aerial/fire work at night clubs and myriad other stuff. Also, the second weekend in August, I’ll be at the Pinups for Pitbulls fundraiser at The Graveyard, Man Day at Twain’s and Mon Cherie’s Burlesque With A Hitch at Masquerade. I try to keep my Website (www.sadiehawkins.net) pretty up to date with what I’m up to.

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I Want a Cupcake in the Sun! Baking for a Beach Party with The Sugar Dolls

Posted on: Jul 22nd, 2011 By:

By The Sugar Dolls
Contributing Bloggers

Beach Party! Who doesn’t wanna be at the beach?!  Who doesn’t want to “dissect those crazy kids” to figure out how we all relate or perform relations in a happening way? We have those conversations all the time in the kitchen. Who doesn’t love a good Rat [for the uninitiated: the baddies in 1960s beach party movies almost always were from biker gangs whose names had “Rat” in the title]!?  WE DO!!!

One of our favorite pastimes is watching Retro movies with a beach or tropical theme. It relates you, connects you and creates memories that just can’t be let go. I remember watching BEACH PARTY (1963), or even half-naked Amazon ladies in the beginning of KING KONG (1933)with my Meme and my mom as a little girl, and oh, what fun we would have! Not to mention how cool is it to see the ol’ Mickey Mouse Club couple [Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello] grabbing the surf and living and learning. It exudes our Sugar Dolls motto, “have a good time!” The Plaza Theatre and Blast-Off Burlesque really know how to bring back that charm in the best ways.

Annette Funicello & Frankie Avalon.

BEACH PARTY is such a good time, be it the music or the shakin’ or the fact that the old Mickey Mouse Club crew is there being nutty, and Blast-Off are just the folks to take this not just to the next level with a sensual exciting night full of burlesque, live music, games, contests and cupcakes!  When Blast-Off asked us to be a part of their last Taboo-La-La movie event FASTER PUSSYCAT KILL! KILL! starring and celebrating Ms. Tura Satana, we jumped at the chance to create the perfect cupcakes to match that movie’s action and sexuality. We had such a blast selling “boobalicious” cupcakes to accent the Taboo-La-La spirit and were so thrilled to hear that BEACH PARTY would be next flick that we clamored to bake for them again and they were sweet enough to oblige.

Wrestle cakes by The Sugar Dolls.

We dames at the Sugar Dolls love perfecting our combos for every event we attend. It was easy as cake to figure out how we were going to get people really glassy at this Saturday’s Taboo-La-La screening of BEACH PARTY at The Plaza. We knew we wanted to change your developmental taste buds, so we decided it was finally time to debut our zingy Lemon Drop! You’ll pucker up for this sweet and sour treat that will definitely be the most refreshing cupcake you’ve ever had.

Then we wanted finish it off with something really sensual and breezy. We wanted to make sure the chocolate lovers weren’t left out, so we also whipped up our Chocolate Coconut Cupcake, which will leave you shakin’! We would be lying if we said it wasn’t inspired by the mocha coconut [Starbucks] Frappuccino coffee that often keeps us going in a tasty kinda way.

Zingy Lemon Drop!  Chocolate Coconut! BEACH PARTY! So you can be ready to bring out the pendulum and start swinging!

Want the Sugar Dolls to bake some cupcakes for your beach party or other Retro-fantastic special event? You can reach ’em through their Website or Facebook page.

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Weekend Update, July 22-24, 2011

Posted on: Jul 22nd, 2011 By:

Friday, July 22

Dig out the glitter bodysuit and platform heels and get yourself down to The Masquerade for Gilded Trash, a glam rock theme party to be remembered featuring live music from The Sexual Side EffectsThe Unsatisfied and Starbolt 9; classic hits from T. RexBowie to IggyEno; burlesque by The Chameleon Queen; the scandalous banter of Dax Exclamationpoint!; foot-pounding grooves by Glitterdome‘s DJ Tiny Tears; body-painting; gilded go-go dancers, glam-inspired art by Chris Buxbaum; glam-orous vendors; and much more. Get a sneak preview from Kool Kat of the Week Amber Taylor, show mastermind and vocalist/guitarist for The Sexual Side Effects here.

The Stumblers make it a rockabilly/Southern roots night in The Basement at Graveyard Tavern in East Atlanta. Read ATLRetro’s Extra Kool Kat of the Week interview with lead singer/rhythm guitarist Keith Martin here. Eighties multi-platinum heavy metal band Dokken rocks Wild Bill’s in Duluth. Country chanteuse Emmylou Harris plays Concerts in the Garden at the Atlanta Botanical GardenRod Hamdallah is at Fat Matt’sCallanwolde‘s popular Tango Night is back including introductory lessons in the sexy Argentine version from Tango Rio‘s expert instructors at 8 p.m., followed by an open tango dance party at 9:15 p.m. Catch an IMAX movie and dance to soulful jazz standards performed by The Kayla Taylor Quartet at Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s Martinis and IMAX. And last but not least, the wacky cast of Cineprov! bait and tackle Humanoids of the Deep, a sensationally schlocky 1980 horror flick about half-man/half-fish mutations starring then-hottie Doug McClure, at 8 p.m. at Relapse Theatre. Free admission if you wear a bathing suit!

Last but not least, a high school ritual gets an undead makeover in a ‘50s setting in ZOMBIE PROM, this weekend only at Fabrefaction Theatre. The girl-loves-ghoul rock ‘n’ roll off-Broadway musical is fun for the entire family and performed by actual high school students as the culmination of a two-week theatre education program. The opening night show is at 8 p.m., and additional performances are at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Sat. and 3 p.m. on Sun.

 

Saturday July 23

What’s that, Artie? A steampunk theme night with a Wild West twist? That’s the wild, wild premise behind The Artifice Club‘s Weird West Saloon, at The Solarium in Oakhurst. The frontier-inspired festivities begin at 5 p.m. with a Trading Post Market, with doors opening officially at 7 p.m. and entertainment lasting to midnight culiminating in an after-party at McGowan’s Oakhurst Pub. There will be gambling and a quick draw tournament to benefit the Dream Power Therapeutic Equestrian Center, and featured acts included Blair Crimmins and the Hookers (read an ATLRetro interview with Blair about this ’20s-ragtime-inspired band here), DJs Swivel and Doctor Q, emcee and sheriff comedienne Sabrina Pandora and a bevy of burlesque beauties…er sexy saloon dancing girls includingFonda Lingue, Ruby Redmayne, Tupelo Honey and Talloolah Love, who treats you lucky ATLRetro readers to an exclusive preview here.

Americana classic Dex Romweber and sister Sara throw a party mix of originals and obscure nuggets from rock n roll’s dusty closets at the Star Bar for the release of the Dex Romweber Duo‘s latest album, IS THAT YOU IN THE BLUE. It only gets better with local rockabilly faves The Blacktop Rockets, classic rock-inspired The Booze and Chattanooga-based garage rock band The Bohannons also on the bill.

Meanwhile over at the Plaza, Blast-Off Burlesque are throwing a BEACH PARTY tonight for their third Taboo La-La sin-sational film series. Much more than a rare chance to see the classic 1963 frolic with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello in 35mm on the big-screen, there’s a zany and sexy preshow featuring special guests Grinder Nova and The Chameleon Queen as the float-tastic Alotta Wood, as well as a Twist-Off Contest, a Hula Hoop Contest, and Twister games and beach party-inspired cupcakes from Atlanta’s own The Sugar Dolls, who were kind enough to serve up a tasty sneak preview of the treats they’ll be bringing here.

Eighties hit makers Huey Lewis and the News try to take you Back in Time to when it was Hip to Be Square at Classic ChastainCapitol City Opera players sing Broadway standards in ON THE LIGHT SIDE, a themed night of lighter music that has become a 20-year tradition at the vintage Callanwolde mansion. The Reverb-O-Rockets deliver Chicago style-blues “straight, no chaser” at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack. And of course, DJ Romeo Cologne transforms the sensationally seedy Clermont Loungeinto a ’70s disco/funk inferno late into the wee hours.

Sunday July 24

Alick Gerard & the Dixie LTD play blues “dunch” between 1 and 4 PM at The Earl. Learn Beginning Vintage Hair Styling from award winning pin-up girl D’lilah D’lite from 1 to 3 p.m. at SpinARella Pole/Dance/Fitness. The class is part of the Syrens of the South‘s ABCs & 123s of Burlesque Class SeriesGET DELICIOUS AGAIN at 8 p.m. at the Plaza Theatre as Jim Stacy (PalookavilleStarlight Drive-InAM Gold, Greasepaint, etc.)  samples Atlanta’s Asian eateries in the latest installment of his unconventional culinary series serving up Atlanta’s Hidden Restaurant Treasures. If you can’t make thisFREE screening with special foodie guests, tune in or set your DVR to PBA 30 also at 8 p.m. Nature is Dangerous and It will Hurt You: A Benefit for Jessica Miller features some a great line-up of local blues and rockabilly bands, beer specials, Fat Matt‘s BBQ, raffle prizes and more from 2:30 p.m. to late at Blind Willie’s, including Bill Sheffield, Rocksploitation, Nat King Coal Miners, Bob Page and Co., The Shadows, Rod Hamdallah, Joe McGuiness Trio, The Electromatics, and The Stooge BrothersBlair Crimmins and the Hookers headline Unplugged in the Park at the Park Tavern.

Ongoing

The latest revival of Tony Award-winning musical FIDDLER ON THE ROOF is at The Fabulous Fox through Sunday June 24.

VIDAL SASSOON: THE MOVIE not only chronicles the life of the rock star hairdresser/artist but also features lots of ’60s/’70s fashions and hair styles. Playing through Sun. July 31 at Cinefest.

At the High, RADCLIFFE BAILEY: MEMORY AS MEDICINE, the most comprehensive exhibition of the Atlanta artist’s works to date, opened last Sunday June 26 and runsthrough Sept. 11. Read more about the artist and this powerful exhibition that in last week’s Kool Kat. JOHN MARIN’S WATERCOLORS: A MEDIUM FOR MODERNISM, a companion exhibit also at the High this summer through Sept. 11, surveys the work of the man named America’s number one artist in a 1948 LOOK magazine survey. While his name is not a household one today, this exhibition reminds us of his important place in the modernist movement and why watercolors became such a powerful instrument for avante-garde art in the hands of him and other artists in the Stieglitz Circle,including Georgia O’Keefe.

MODERN BY DESIGN, the High‘s other Retro exhibition, celebrates three key moments in modern design and also the Museum of Modern Art, New York‘s (MOMA) collection history. The works on loan from MOMA cover “Machine Art” (1934), “Good Design” (1950-55) and “Italy: The New Domestic Landscape” (1972), with the latter addressing modernism in the context of 1960s and ’70s counterculture.

The Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA)‘s newest exhibit WaterDream: The Evolution of Bathroom Design, runs through Sept. 24 in the dynamic new Midtown space. Displays take visitors through a four-part journey into the bathroom from the birth of minimalist aesthetics in 20th century design to current concepts.

Get a rare chance to view original manuscript pages from the last four chapters of ATLANTA’S BOOK: THE LOST GONE WITH THE WIND MANUSCRIPTat the Atlanta History Center. The new exhibit, which opens today and runs through Sept. 5, is part of a series of activities celebrating the 75th anniversary of the publication of the international bestseller and also includes foreign and first edition copies, the desk Margaret Mitchell used while writing it and select images.

Tune back in on Friday for Weekend Update. If you know of a cool happening that we’ve missed, send suggestions to ATLRetro@gmail.com

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Kool Kat of the Week: Talking Taboo-La-La, Tura Satana, Travel, Truckin’ and The Rapture with the Beautiful “Barbilicious” Hays of Blast-Off Burlesque

Posted on: May 18th, 2011 By:

ATLRetro wishes Blast-Off Burlesque would put on a few more full shows— these seven delectable dolls and one groovy guy are way too much clever and creative to be on stage just twice a year now and we miss them at the Silver Scream Spookshow. But this talented ensemble is thankfully tiding Atlanta over with Taboo-La-La, a sexy vintage movie series with extras, at the Plaza Theatre. They kicked off with SHOWGIRLS in March, but this month’s show on Saturday May 21 is even more of a special treat as they present a rare chance to see exploitation classic FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! on the big screen (read ATLRetro’s exclusive review by Mark Arson here). Of course, it’s a Blast-Off production, so that’s just the tip of the fun from Tura Satana lookalike, beefcake boy and all-girls arm-wrestling contests to a shrine to recently deceased B-movie siren Satana and a silent art auction fundraiser for a documentary celebrating her life.

Dickie Van Dyke and Barbilicious. Photo credit: Derek Jackson.

To find out more, ATLRetro asked Barb Hays, aka Barbilicious, for a sneak peek behind the naughty plans and got her to spill a few sexy secrets. If you’ve been to a Blast-Off Burlesque performance—and shame on you, if you haven’t—you know each has a unique personality. For Barbilicious, it’s her big smile and a certain mischievious glint in her eyes that’s likely to grab your attention first. She’s the wacky comedienne who adds that extra “oh, my,” whether in an ensemble dance sketch where everyone is dressed in banana suits or steering a giant plastic bubble around stage in homage to Jane Fonda as Barbarella in the company’s Sci-Fi-A-Go-Go show last year.

 

Barb also drops a few tantalizing hints about future happenings involving an all-Blast-Off photo shoot next week, Blast-Off’s September show, her punk band LUST and the debut of Burt and the Bandits, her newest collaboration with the multitalented Jon Waterhouse (read ATLRetro’s profile of Jon here), at the East Atlanta Beer Festival also this Saturday.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Retro Review: FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!: Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome to Violence!

Posted on: May 18th, 2011 By:

By Mark Arson, Contributing Blogger

FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! (1965); Dir: Russ Meyer; Writer: Jack Moran; Starring Tura Satana, Haji, Lori Williams; Taboo-La-La Series hosted by Blast-Off  Burlesque at Plaza Theatre, Sat. May 22; 9:30 PM; pre-show antics include a Tura Satana costume contest, beefcake contest for guys, all-girl arm wrestling, live music by Grinder Nova, a chance to leave an offering at the Tura Satana shrine, a silent auction of Tura art and memorabilia to raise money for Varla Films to help complete a documentary on the recently deceased actress, and super special prizes & surprises; age 18 & over only.

When describing FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!, I’m tempted to describe it as an orgy of fast cars and violence. I can’t really say that though, and those of you familiar with director Russ Meyer‘s other work will know why. Most of his films resembled incredibly well-made porn, but I believe the correct term is “Sexploitation.” This film, however, doesn’t have any nudity or actual sex, though the actual sexuality in the film is plenty ratcheted-up. The focus here is on action, treachery, and, of course, cars. For my money, this is one of the best exploitation films ever made, it’s never boring, and its (mostly) sleazy characters revel in their spider-web of bad intentions and revenge.

Varla (Tura Satana) leads a threesome of go-go dancers who are out in the desert to blow off some steam when one thing leads to another and they end up having to run from the scene of a murder. The first 20 minutes of the film are pretty much nonstop, and it only becomes more deliberately paced when the ladies find their way onto a farm with a creepy old man in a wheelchair (Stuart Lancaster) whose fortune they intend to acquire one way or another. This part of the story bears an interesting resemblance to TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, except there are bad intentions on both sides. To complicate things, the three have abducted a girl (Susan Bernard) whose boyfriend met an unfortunate end at the hands of Varla, and the old man might want her more than they do.

The entire cast does a great job (except for maybe the gas station attendant, but hey, he’s not supposed to be smart, right?), but make no mistake, this is Tura Satana’s film. As Varla, she not only is responsible for most of the (bad) things that unfold, but she has the screen presence to back it up. Gender equality is something that we’re more or less used to these days, even if it does have a ways to go, but in 1965, this film must have been pretty shocking. Varla does what it takes to get what she wants and won’t hesitate to kill a man with her bare hands in a fair fight, an unfair fight, or with her car. Her friction with the old man, himself a literal representation of male oppressiveness and lechery, is plenty poetic as well. Satana is both alluring and terrifying here, to the characters in the film as well as the viewer. When Billie (Lori Williams) gives her trouble, you can’t help but wonder when Varla is just gonna go ahead and kill her.

Russ Meyer was a master director and editor, and FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! stands with his finest work. This was also one of the few times that he didn’t feel the need to include excessive sex in a film, and you will hardly miss it…..maybe. But there’s plenty of action, fast cars, and off-the-wall slang to satisfy your urges, and you probably will still want more. FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! is both a relic of a bygone era and a timeless work of art. Movies that take place in the middle of nowhere are good like that. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go watch it again.

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Weekend Update: March 18 – 20

Posted on: Mar 18th, 2011 By:

Friday, March 18

Phoenix Flies tours go into their final weekend with Ivy Hall (Peters House, now SCAD Writing Center), Edward Gay House, Inman Park Arboretum, Historic DowntownCatholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, whose beginnings date back to 1848 and cornerstone was laid 1869.

Glenn Phillips and Swimming Pool Qs play Red Light CafeBryan Adams rocks Atlanta Symphony Hall with a solo acoustic night. SFJAZZ Collective performs hits of Stevie Wonder at Emory University’s Schwartz Center. It’s Salsa Night with Salsambo Dance Lessons & Entertainment at Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s Martinis and IMAXFatt Matt’s Rib Shack serves up roots, blues and BBQ with Atlanta Boogie. Better Than the Beatles with Johnny Porazzo and David Lowell pays tribute to the Fab Four at Jerry Farber’s Side Door.

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Retro Review: SHOWGIRLS Behind the Sequins: Silly, Strange and Smart?

Posted on: Mar 17th, 2011 By:

By Mark Arson, Contributing Blogger

SHOWGIRLS (1995); Dir: Paul Verhoeven; Writer: Joe Eszterhas; Starring Elizabeth Berkely, Kyle MacLachlan, Gina Gerson; First in Taboo-La-La Series hosted by Blast-Off  Burlesque at Plaza Theatre, Sat. March 19, Plaza Members Party at 8 PM with complimentary refreshments; showtime at 9 PM featuring costume contest, audition to recast Nomi and audience recreation of the infamous pool scene; age 18 & over only.

Some time ago at my day job, a coworker tossed off something that could be easily misinterpreted as innuendo. Another one says, “That’s what you call a double entender!” A third coworker takes it upon themselves to correct him, “It’s pronounced ‘entendre.’” As she walked off, we all smiled to each other at the obvious irony; the person who considered themselves the “smart one” simply wasn’t smart enough to get the joke. SHOWGIRLS is notorious for being one of the “worst movies of all time,” and while I’m not here to question the intelligence of anyone who genuinely thinks so, I’d like to at least make the case for it being not just a good movie, but a great one.

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