Few productions can mix tranny glam-rock, modern dance, and a barbershop quartet and still hold an audience, but Fresh Meat 2005: The 4th Annual Transgender & Queer Performance Festival is as much about blending genres as genders. Although the wildly popular yearly show has lost its "cabaret extravaganza" moniker (in favor of the more grown-up "Performance Festival"), it's still true to the goal of creating opportunities for transgender and queer artists. As Fresh Meat founder and Artistic Director Sean Dorsey puts it: "We have often been relegated or restricted to bars and cafes. But we are dancers, professional theater artists, trapeze artists -- we need high-quality spaces just as much as the ballet or the symphony." Success in this endeavor translates to three nights of controlled chaos in slick digs with a dizzying lineup of performances, from aerialist feats to homo hip hop and straight, er, traditional theater, each with its own take on gender.
As always, the show mixes high and low art with established and emerging acts -- Dorsey, an esteemed modern-dance choreographer, will satiate the culturally inclined with his premiere of 6 Hours, a dance-theater duet with Mair Culbreth about tranny love on the road; those looking for grittier fare will find it in the glammed-up tranny rock of the Viragos and in the spoken-word piece Randori by Ryka Aoki de la Cruz, a fierce-tongued goth trans dyke from L.A. who holds a third-degree black belt in Kodokan Judo. The show starts Thursday at 8 p.m. (and continues through Saturday) at ODC Theater, 3153 17th St. (at Shotwell), S.F. Admission is $15; call 863-9834 or visit www.freshmeatproductions.org.
-- Michael Leaverton
Long Night's Journey
Guy de Bonheur is acting as if his life depended on it. Stranded onboard a 1943 train destined for a concentration camp, de Bonheur is a French actor who's suddenly given a second chance when his train is derailed. To save his life, he must prove to the SS that his work is not subversive. His task: to perform all of the stories from Tales of the Arabian Nights before the train gets rolling again. Featuring solo performer Ron Campbell of R. Buckminster Fuller fame, The Thousandth Night previews at 8 p.m. Friday (and continues through July 24) at the Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison (at Shattuck), Berkeley. Tickets are $28-45; call (510) 843-4822 or visit www.auroratheatre.org.
-- Karen Macklin
Queen of wrenching heartbreak, queen of sultry rasp, queen of Southern dirt-nap blues, and queen of many a hot fantasy -- Lucinda Williams is nothing if not regal. The creator of songs like "Passionate Kisses" and "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road" has just released a new CD, Live at the Fillmore, so those who attended her shows here last time around should feel extra special. The queen brings her signature country blues and tight pants to the Stern Grove Festival -- legendary country-punk singer John Doe shares the stage, starting at 2 p.m. at Stern Grove, 19th Avenue & Sloat, S.F. Admission is free; call 252-6252 or visit www.sterngrove.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
San Francisco's favorite dragapella quartet, the Kinsey Sicks, is back in town, but lest you think the foursome's here to celebrate a little hometown Pride, they're actually stumping for the GOP. The Sicks' latest musical, I Wanna Be a Republican, features a fund-raiser parody dubbed Condoleezzapalooza, in which the performers campaign for George W.'s party in glorious four-part harmony. Among the troupe's reasons for turning to the dark side? Irwin Keller, who plays "Winnie," says simply: "Sex is better with Republicans." Confessional moments, presidential guest stars, and other chaos ensues at 7:30 p.m. at the Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness (at Grove), S.F. Admission is $25-35; visit www.kinseysicks.com.
-- Jane Tunks