The rarely seen documentary Ladies and Gentlemen -- Mr. Leonard Cohen, chronicling the successful poet's return to Montreal in 1964, a good four years before his first album surfaced, was never commercially released. Thanks to music lover and local impresario Ian Brennan, who dubbed a copy of the movie from a library 20 years ago, fans will get a peek at Lenny before the fame kicked in. Brennan calls the 44-minute film "something of an artifact," a strange telescopic window on the passing of the torch from beatniks to hippies, and the first awkward steps of a counterculture protagonist trying to reconcile his well-mannered upbringing with a growing penchant for Asian mysticism, interracial dating, and guitar. Ladies and Gentlemen -- Mr. Leonard Cohen will be shown on Friday, July 20, at the Roxie (3117 16th St.) along with Speed Racer: Welcome to the World of Vic Chesnutt at 7, 9, and 11 p.m. Tickets are $7; call 863-1087.
As impossible as it might seem in this day of mass-marketed dissent and creative homogenization, Hedwig and the Angry Inch has prevailed, retaining its perverse particularity from in-flight inception to off-Broadway theater stages to the film screens of Hollywood. Despite the illusory effects of celluloid, not a lot has changed in the real world of Hedwig. John Cameron Mitchell, creator and supreme personification of the East German transsexual punk diva, still plays Hedwig and directs the action; his writing partner, Stephen Trask, still writes the music for the rock opera, while also playing Skszp, leader of Hedwig's band; real-life "Hedheads" (noted for their yellow wig thingies) still act as extras and on-screen fans; and, despite the outrageous, headline-making tale of trailer park megastars, botched sex changes, disingenuous Jesus freaks, doughnut store concerts, and big, big hair, the music still comes first. In grand Hedwig style, the movie will open with live performances by our own super-glamorous gender-bending rockers, Blue Period. Folks are encouraged to dress appropriately (tranny or glam); those lacking the skills can take advantage of Damian's Instant Glamour Booth in the lobby. The opening night of Hedwig and the Angry Inch will be Friday, July 20, at Landmark's Embarcadero Center Cinema (Battery & Clay) at 7:30 and 10 p.m. Blue Period performs on the promenade at 5:30 and 6:45 p.m. Tickets are $9; call 352-0810. Also, see our full-length review of Hedwig on Page 51.
Made in Medina opens with North African percussion that is suddenly cleft by a strident rock guitar chord; the chord is then repeated and a chorus of ululating desert cries surrounds it, only to dissolve under the stern chanting of Rachid Taha. A dance beat rises in the album's twister of continents and sounds: Asia, Africa, Europe, rock, and ritual coil around each other in one defiant, hip-shaking storm, condemning all societies that create outsiders. Made in Medina is, without a doubt, a rock record -- sexy, rebellious, and visceral -- and Taha, with his melodic growl and composed anger, comes across like a young, Nigerian Joe Strummer. The influence of early Clash tunes is actually unmistakable, especially on the brooding "Ala Jalkoum" and the driving "Foqt Foqt," but the advent of reed flutes, Berber choruses, mandolutes, Bedouin rhythms, Maghrebian percussion, violins, well-placed samples, and lyrics sung in French and Arabic takes Taha's music to a place barely imagined by the culturally interloping Strummer. Rachid Taha performs on Saturday, July 21, at Bimbo's 365 Club at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15; call 474-0365.
The 1999 closing of Finocchio's was a historical tragedy of sorts: That San Francisco, of all cities, was not able to save the world's first nightclub devoted to gender illusionists seems absolutely absurd. (I won't even mention the, ahem, good use to which the building has been put.) For two years the staff of Finocchio's, headed by the exquisite Brian Keith, has been searching for a permanent home. Now, at last, the search has ended, and the new club floats! "After all," says Keith, "what could be more appropriate than putting the Finocchio's cast on a ferryboat?" The new show, Guys 'R Dolls, will feature lavish costumes, curtains salvaged from the old place, six grandes dames of the illusionist arts, and four jeunes filles qualified for voyeuristic pleasure. Guys 'R Dolls will be held every Friday and Saturday starting July 20 aboard the Santa Rosa (docked at Pier 3) at 8 and 10 p.m. Tickets are $39.95; call 551-9785.