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House of Tudor 

Saucy sexagenarians, kooky King Kong, global grooves, and apocryphal atheism

Wednesday, Aug 14 2002
In 1976, a group of Bay Area women started a monthly supper club with the explicit intention of sharing their most clandestine thoughts. Eight years later, the Kensington Ladies Erotica Society, as the diners had become known, released Ladies' Own Erotica, a collection of tales written purely for one another's enjoyment. The book became a best seller, and as the members made appearances on Oprah and The Dr. Ruth Westheimer Show, female eroticism became the topic of many dinner conversations. It was clear that, behind their feathered masks and evocative pseudonyms, the Ladies were regular women -- neighbors, mothers, and colleagues -- and there was much to talk about. By popular demand, the society released its second collection, Look Homeward Erotica, in 1986, and then hung up its plumes.

Sixteen years later, the Ladies feel their services are required to accentuate the sex in sexagenarian. Sure, not everyone wants to imagine his grandmother having lascivious thoughts, but thanks to Sex, Death & Other Distractions, you can picture the carnal delights of a 40th high school reunion; envision trysts with a two-term president, a famous beach-town mayor, and, um, actor William H. Macy; and embrace the notions of soft tum-tums, tight tooshies, and smiling "diary lines." After all, as the Ladies write, "Nature is the great leveler: The beauty, speed, and prowess that may have distinguished and divided us is fading." The Kensington Ladies Erotic Society reads on Thursday, Aug. 15, at the Booksmith (1644 Haight at Cole) at 7 p.m. Admission is free; call 863-8688.

In 1995, we found Ethan Buckler -- King Kong lead singer and Louisville dishwashing darling -- intoning tales of a caveman's love for his pet yak over the booty-busting grind of Stax-styled soul. Later, he swung through the trees like Tarzan looking for Cheetah, yelling, "Me scared!" amid the infectious silliness of 1997's Kingdom of Kong. Now, in the 21st century, Buckler reaches for the stars, yearning for a more intergalactic union. Despite the dreamy, ethereal edges on new songs like "Space Travel" and "Deep Blue Sky," King Kong's cosmos is still delightfully danceable and, of course, utterly silly. If you can't imagine the B-52's Fred Schneider singing for Mr. Quintron, you might want to see King Kong perform at the Bottom of the Hill on Thursday, Aug. 15, with Young Trade and Boy Explodes opening at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $7; call 621-4455.

Armed solely with a digital camera, musicians/filmmakers Jamie Catto and Duncan Bridgeman traveled throughout the world for six months with one goal in mind: capturing the thoughts and sounds of some of the world's most influential artists. Having been to 25 countries, including Senegal, Ghana, South Africa, Uganda, India, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, the U.S.A., and the U.K., the producers came up with the film 1 Giant Leap and its accompanying soundtrack. During the picture, artists as diverse as Neneh Cherry, Michael Stipe, Dennis Hopper, Asha Bhosle, Kurt Vonnegut, and Baaba Maal discuss money, faith, inspiration, sex, blasphemy, and time, as the producers try to find a unifying vision that reaches beyond the chemistry of 70 percent water, 18 percent carbon, 5 percent nitrogen, and 2 percent calcium.

On the subject of death, the Mahotella Queens -- a group that helped create the style mbaqanga in the '60s by fusing South African tribal music, jazz, blues, soul, and gospel -- gathered at the Regina Mundi Church in Soweto to sing about the recent passing of their fourth member. The band's performance was so moving that Catto and Bridgeman asked the women to contribute another song to the project; both those tunes and many more will be performed when the Mahotella Queens open for fellow Giant Leap contributors Arrested Development at Stern Grove (19th Avenue & Sloat) on Sunday, Aug. 18, at 2 p.m. Catto and Bridgeman will give a pre-concert talk at the grove's Trocadero Clubhouse at noon. An outdoor screening of 1 Giant Leap will take place on Saturday, Aug. 17, at Yerba Buena Gardens (Third & Mission streets) at 8 p.m. Admission to all events is free; call 252-6252.

While there are those who still leave H.P. Lovecraft to youthful devotees of the macabre, there remain a few writers and academics who reach beyond the toothy slime to uncover Lovecraft's philosophical and literary acumen. They -- Colin Wilson and Jorge Luis Borges among them -- discover the vivid complexity of a mechanistic materialist devoured by his cosmic mythos. In Lovecraft's godless universe, human beings are entirely insignificant, no more than flotsam trailing behind more advanced races. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos -- in which quasi-immortal interstellar interlopers known as the "Elder Gods" rest among the ruins of Atlantis, Mu, and Lemuria, waiting to destroy all of humanity -- continues to be evoked by writers throughout the world. At the same time bands such as Black Sabbath, Dayglo Abortions, the Bevis Frond, the Fall, Gwar, and Metallica draw upon Lovecraftian lore for lyrics and inspiration, and Arkham House, the little publishing company founded by two of Lovecraft's friends in 1939, carries on the business of disseminating his work posthumously. The house's most recent titles -- Mysteries of Time and Spirit, a collection of correspondences between Lovecraft and Donald Wandrei, and Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works -- are both edited by S.T. Joshi, the world's leading Lovecraft authority. In celebration of the author's 112th birthday, Arkham's devoted staff will display rare letters, postcards, photographs, playbills, and an early edition of The Outsider and Others (considered the Holy Grail of horror among Lovecraft fans) and S.T. Joshi will read on Tuesday, Aug. 20, at the Booksmith at 7 p.m. Admission is free; call 863-8688.

About The Author

Silke Tudor


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