It took a few hard spankings to give Mollena Williams her epiphany. Back in the 1990s, she was involved in a torrid affair that set off her feminist alarm bells. "One part of me was wondering why he strapped a belt around my neck and threw me around the room," she says. "But instead of wanting to run away, what I really wanted was to do his laundry, and get his breakfast, and do whatever it took to keep him happy enough to stick around. And that made me wonder why."
What the soul-searching Williams went through to figure out the answer culminated in 69Stories: One Pervert's Tale, a solo show that chronicles her transformation from vanilla Everygirl to submissive masochist. In it the actor spends more time analyzing her background than displaying kinky tableaux, turning what could have been an exercise in voyeurism into a funny autobiography impressive enough to sell out for weeks when Williams first staged it in 2001.
Joining 69Stories this time around is Williams' new play, No Good Deed, which relates her horror upon being accused of sexually harassing a female co-worker at the bank where they were employed. "Basically, it's the story of what made me move to San Francisco and have this sexual awakening in the first place," says Williams. And with shows like this, we're glad she did. Both plays open at 5 tonight (and run through Nov. 13) at the Exit Theatre on Taylor, 277 Taylor (at Ellis), S.F. Admission is $15-30 (with a pay-what-you-can night on Nov. 8); call 675-5995 or visit www.crowdedfire.org.
-- Joyce Slaton
The former lead singer of the Dead Kennedys doesn't need a lot of introduction; suffice it to say, Jello Biafra is an articulate and completely unrepentant leftist. One of his best moves post-band was suggesting, on national television, that the United States impose a universal maximum wage of $100,000. And it bears remembering that he is a veteran candidate for political office, even if he usually runs as a member of the Spoof Party. Tonight he's joined by Meliza Bañales and Daphne Gottlieb in a spoken-word performance supporting the serious campaign of Jesse Townley for Berkeley City Council, starting at 9 at the Starry Plough, 3101 Shattuck (at Prince), Berkeley. Admission is $10; call (510) 841-2082 or visit www.townleyforcouncil.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
A flub is a flub is a flub
When George W. Bush invents a word, such as "resignate," we laugh, forgetting that James Joyce did the same thing and got a book deal. So perhaps we should go easy on Donald Rumsfeld, whose Pentagon press briefings seem, shall we say, opaque, unless you look at them through the prism of art. Take this statement, rendered in verse, in which he channels Gertrude Stein smashed on absinthe: "As we know/ There are known knowns/ There are things we know we know/ We also know/ There are known unknowns/ That is to say/ We know there are some things/ We do not know." Right you are, Donald. Tonight his "poetry" gets the classical treatment as soprano Elender Wall and pianist Bryant Kong perform "The Poetry of Donald Rumsfeld and Other Fresh American Art Songs" at 8:15 at the Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez (at 24th Street), S.F. Admission is $16-18; call 454-5238 or visit www.noevalleymusicseries.com.
-- Michael Leaverton
Killing My Lobster targets politicos
The consultants who want young people to get hooked on politics might take some cues from the new show Killing My Lobster Goes to the Polls, in which the improv cutups create a new political party for men aged 18 to 34. The Vagina Party even has its own slogan: "Because that's a party I'd like to be invited to." Building upon the wealth of material handed to it by pols both local and national, the troupe skewers uptight GOP advisers (flummoxed by an improv coach's creativity training exercises), pandering Democrats (one of whom gains voter leverage by pimping his campaign bus MTV-style), and Gavin and Kimberly's embarrassing Harper's Bazaar photo spread, starting at 8 p.m. Thursday (and running through Oct. 30) at the ODC Theater, 3153 17th St. (at Shotwell), S.F. Admission is $12-17 (with regular pay-what-you-can performances); call 558-7721 or visit www.killingmylobster.com.
-- Joyce Slaton
Serving His Country
Plenty of people take odd jobs and tell themselves they'll go back to school after a while. But Alonzo Fields was hired as the White House butler in 1931 and stayed for 21 years. In Looking Over the President's Shoulder, actor Larry Marshall (the scene-stealing Cab Calloway from The Cotton Club) interprets this fascinating character, whose gig must have been pretty tough. Let's hope Fields eventually made it back to the New England Conservatory of Music. Previews begin this evening at 8 (and performances continue through Nov. 7) at the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, 620 Sutter (at Mason), S.F. Admission is $22-30; call 474-8800 or visit www.lhtsf.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser