A night of surreal sights and sounds
The Alamo Drafthouse was having a “stag night” downtown. Gwen and I thought this sounded like fun, so we hied ourselves on down. There were a couple layers of difference between what I was expecting and what we saw. I was expecting, you know, stag movies. Grainy black-and-white porno shorts where the guy’s eyes had black bars across them. In fact, what they had planned to show was a more conventional porno movie, Fantasex Island (not even in the IMDB, but hey, look, it is in the Adult Film Database, mysteriously listing Holly Near in the credits!).
Well, it turns out that, according to the jackbooted thugs at the TABC, establishments that serve alcohol cannot show porno. So the people putting on the stag show edited it down to the non-pornographic parts–about five minutes (which, frankly, was enough)–and ran that.
For the main feature, they showed something much stranger: Sinful Dwarf, AKA “The Abducted Bride.” This was an English-language Danish horror movie, where a depraved dwarf and his hideous, washed-up showbiz mother lure young women into their attic, get them hooked on heroin, and use them as sex slaves for hire. Part of the schtick was that the sound was turned off, and a crew of four (?) live performers in the room took over all the voices, sound effects, and music. As near as I could tell, they stuck pretty closely to the original dialog, adding in a few of their own zingers along the way.
It turns out that none of the people in this movie have a Bacon number higher than 4. Amazing.
So, okay, that was weird. Watching it, we wondered two things: 1. What ever made anyone think that the movie had any artistic or commercial merit? and 2. How in the hell did somebody in Austin ever find this stinker and decide it would be fit to show in public?
After that was done, we then headed over to the Ritz for a night of ukulele music. The opening act was Sonic Uke (a great name that unfortunately appears to have been taken already). The three members all work at Cafe Mundi, so they were more or less familiar to me. The guy singing was doing a Bill-Murray-Lounge-Singer routine, and the chick had on a bizarre wig (as did Carl, on the uke). Most of their material was pretty weird, but not unpleasant–they do have musical talent, and they weren’t going out of their way to conceal it.
They were followed by Shorty Long, which always puts on a good show. The Ritz was filling up at this point, and not a lot of people really seemed to be into them, for some reason.
The third act was probably what most people came for: Petty Booka. A couple of Japanese chicks who cover a wide range of pop and country numbers in their quasi-Hawaiian style (along with some original numbers). I’d heard their stuff before, and appreciated it for the novelty value (which is high), but seeing them live, I realized that they really had serious musical talent, singing in harmony that reminded me a little of David Seville and a lot of a 60s girl-group like the Ronettes. I expected to see just the two of them–in fact they were backed up by a standup bass, guitar, and a very young-looking but talented Mexican guy on a slide reverb guitar. They covered everyone from the Ramones to Patsy Cline. Great show.
There was a fourth act on the bill, the Meat Purveyors, but I’ve heard them and it was already pretty late, so we left.