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Sound Advice 

A scummy yet demure lounge act, and a poignant John Waters holiday moment

Wednesday, Dec 19 2001
There's a husband-and-wife lounge duo in Los Angeles called Marty & Elayne that has been performing at the Dresden for the last 20 years, transforming pop songs into overblown Casio tunes without the slightest hint of irony. By wearing matching outfits of white or red satin while offering bizarre, oddly endearing treatments of "Muskrat Love," "Livin' La Vida Loca," "I Got You Under My Skin," and "Stayin' Alive," Marty & Elayne earned a cameo in Swingers and probably inspired more than a few Saturday Night Live skits. For me, the couple has supplied a great excuse to go to L.A. every once in a while. But there's no need to travel south anymore, as San Francisco now has its own Marty & Elayne: Gary & Babs. Gary is the scummy-looking keyboard player whom Mojo Nixon once called "disturbed"; Babs is the demure chanteuse with the classically trained voice gone to seed. Together, they are the musical embodiment of the Buddhist principle of selflessness, a pair completely beyond ego (at least that's what they tell me). They're not afraid to hurl renditions of "Get Thee Behind Me, Satan," "Laugh! Clown! Laugh!" "Get Happy," or the themes from The Andy Griffith Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Hogan's Heroes at unsuspecting hipsters. As if that weren't enough, Gary & Babs share the stage for this show with Duckmandu, an accordion-and-upright-bass duo that dresses up in Donald Duck costumes to sing Dead Kennedy covers. Top that! Gary & Babs perform on Thursday, Dec. 20, at the Odeon Bar at 10 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 550-6994.

For connoisseurs of the criminally insane and devotees of the sick and deranged, the holiday season truly brings out the best in people. Aside from intimate family moments -- the turkey flying through the living room window, the gift-wrapped suitcase accompanied by a card that reads "Pack it," the lecherous uncle with more than rum on his breath -- there are macabre tidbits that make the national news, such as the middle-aged man in the small town of Malden, Mass., who executed seven people in his accounting department last year because his paychecks weren't exactly what he'd expected. Then there's the story of the woman who hurled her mother's head onto the steps of the New Jersey Statehouse during her office Christmas party in 1978. And who can forget the brutal rape and murder of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey on Christmas Eve of 1996? Of course, such seasonal tales of gore are just grist for the sadistic comic genius of John Waters.

Early in his career as a filmmaker, the "Sultan of Sleaze" wasted no time in putting his holiday well-wishes on celluloid. While Waters' 1975 flick Female Trouble does not indulge in the gut-wrenching coprophagy of Pink Flamingos, it does offer a lovely and timeless Christmas morning massacre. In the movie, Dawn Davenport -- a cocky and corpulent juvenile delinquent played by Divine in a chartreuse baby-doll nightie -- is more than a little bent out of shape when she receives saddle oxfords instead of cha-cha heels. Expressing one of film history's more poignant holiday sentiments, Dawn screams, "Fuck you, fuck you both! I hate you and I hate CHRISTMAS!" and then proceeds to crush her parents underneath a yuletide tree while her mother whimpers, "Not on Christmas, not on Christmas." Dawn goes on to a life of teen pregnancy and crime that includes writhing in a bath of raw fish, jumping on a trampoline, beating her daughter (played by Mink Stole), and butchering losers in the name of outer beauty and lowbrow comedy. This is still one of Waters' funniest films, sure to make you believe that nothing says Christmas like an electric chair. A brand-new 35mm print of Female Trouble with remastered sound and restored footage will be shown Tuesday through Tuesday, Dec. 25-Jan. 1, at the Castro Theater (429 Castro at Market) at 2, 4:30, 7, and 9:20 p.m. Tickets are $8 ($5 for 2 p.m. matinees); call 621-6120.

About The Author

Silke Tudor


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