John Wayne Bobbitt and the Bobbitt Girls: C'mon, you know you want to. Cast aside, for a moment, all those tiresome warnings from the cultural elite on both the left and the right--I mean journalists, scholars, and others who control the information flow--about America careening into moral and spiritual catastrophe because of a few "I Think My Mother Dresses Like a Slut" episodes on Jerry Springer. The talk show culture peddles gossip, the mob mentality, and cheap exhibitionist thrills--it is, in other words, a great example of democracy in action. Who ever said the spectacle of a free people gathered in the new town halls--TV studios in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago--expressing their opinions without fear of government backlash would be pretty or noble? And you won't find a purer example of capitalist self-determination than tabloid star John Wayne Bobbitt, a low-life woman-beater who's become the low-life woman-beating star of his own porno cassette (John Wayne Bobbitt Uncut, in stores now for the holiday gift-giving season) and adult club tour featuring his buxom co-stars. None of it would be possible, of course, without his manager Dick, the little fellow who bobbed back from a bimbo-with-a-knife attack to guide his client to the pinnacle of trash infamy (of course, if any of those rumors about John Wayne Bobbit Uncut going overbudget because of Dick's poor posture are true, maybe the hype doesn't match the comeback). John Wayne Bobbitt and his co-stars, the Bobbitt Girls, perform Nov 10-12, with daily shows at 12:30 pm, 5:30 pm, 8:30 pm, and 12:30 am at Baby Dolls, 3039 W Northwest Highway. There's no cover at the club 11 am-1 pm. For more info call 358-5511.
Joyce Carol Oates: People often think the timeless canon of American writers is determined by some independent Mount Olympus of all-knowing literary taste, but our favorite writers bob in and out of fashion with the same capriciousness as movie stars and supermodels. Perfect case in point is dramatist-short story writer-novelist Joyce Carol Oates, whose early Faulknerian potential was sounded in the 1960s by critics. Ever since then Oates has produced a prolific body of work which has earned significant applause but never quite managed to keep her on the forefront of fictional exploration. She has experimented with numerous points-of-view, genres, and media, leaving the fan to recall a favorite moment in which she seemed to represent all American writing. Oates is that diverse, and that open to conflicting appraisals of her work. She has spent less time courting the press and more seducing a college readership who secretly yearn to capture the kind of visceral, grotesque,and highly lyrical page-long paragraphs in which Oates specializes. She has always been most interested in the consequences of the horrific, and when Oates reads at 8 pm in the Hughes-Trigg Theater, 3140 Dyer at Airline, she'll be drawing from Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque, a recent collection of short pieces which draw upon her muse. Call 748-4466.
Urban Bush Women: The International Theatrical Arts Society (TITAS) is responsible for the Dallas debut of Urban Bush Women, an all-female troupe of classically trained dancers who've become one of the most talked-about world dance organizations in America and Europe. Founder and artistic director Jawole Willa Jo Zollar wanted a collective of artists with which she could explore the many ways that African rhythm, Negro spirituals, jazz, the blues, and contemporary Euro choreography intersected with one another. In the process, she found her street smarts rising up to inform the work she was doing. Many pieces by Urban Bush Women are defiantly political in the sense that they condemn cultural and personal complacency through wild, angry movements. Even Zollar's humorous performances are marked by an edginess, like her dancers are just about to break rhythm and begin wrestling with invisible demons which are taunting them on stage. This sense of dangerous urgency has sold out theaters all over the U.S. as well as in Germany, France, and Israel. They perform November 11 & 12 at 8 pm in McFarlin Auditorium on the campus of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $7-$40. 528-5576.
Stephen Sondheim: American theatrical great Stephen Sondheim writes musicals for people who hate musicals. As a child of blue-collar parents in New York City, he became best friends with the son of Oscar Hammerstein and was in that household while Oklahoma!, The King and I, and South Pacific were being written. Sondheim learned about the musical theater pressing elbows at the piano with one-half of the quintessential American musical theater factory, but Hammerstein managed to avoid infecting the super-serious young student with the same formulaic sentimentalism which has dated the work of himself and Rodgers, and, as a result, most of the major composers who have come after them. Where Rodgers and Hammerstein made their works mega-hits by serving them on a bed of vaudevillian flourish, Sondheim had a classical Greek sense of life, death, and the role which fate plays between them. While his works have made him a very rich and respected American artist, they have caused consternation and even bitter struggle among critics who can't decide whether the often unorthodox subject matter chosen by Sondheim adds to or detracts from his work. His latest musical, Passion, which won numerous Tony Awards this year, is based on a very old, grim European tale about an ugly woman who falls in love with a handsome soldier and must deal with her feelings. Bleak and meditative, the musical didn't dazzle so much as confound. Mr. Sondheim has made a 30-year career of such surprises. He comes to Dallas to receive the Algur H. Meadows Award from the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University. Although the ceremony itself is by invitation only, there are three chances for the public to hear Sondheim speak about his work--Nov 9, 8-9:30 pm; Nov 10, 7-9 pm; and Nov 12, 10 am-noon in the Greer Garson Theatre. All events happen at SMU and are free, but seating is limited. Call 768-2880.
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Dinner At Eight: Today only occasionally are several big stars gathered for a studio-production event--Meryl Streep and Glenn Close plus Jeremy Irons and Wynona Ryder in Bille August's House of the Spirits is the most recent somnambulant example. But the precedent goes back many desperate decades--if 1932's Grand Hotel represented the penultimate MGM star vehicle, in which a taciturn Greta Garbo sparred with a hungry Joan Crawford, then Dinner at Eight, directed by George Cukor in 1933, was the studio's most ambitious drawing-room comedy. A cavalcade of beloved actors--including the pugnacious Wallace Beery, the statuesque-vaudeville-star-turned-retired-nurse-turned-Oscar-winning-movie-actress Marie Dressler, and the insistently chattering, charming newcomer Jean Harlow--adorn George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber's raucous comedy in which the social-climbing hostess orchestrates a disaster of clashing personalities. Dinner At Eight screens at 2 pm in the Horchow Auditorium of the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N Harwood. Tickets are $2-$3. Call 922-1200.
Bernadette Peters: How can you miss this Kewpie-Doll-made-good who remains one of the most in-demand actresses on the New York stage? Bernadette Peters has trespassed on the public consciousness from TV and feature film star (she was hilarious in Steve Martin's The Jerk and terrifically recriminatory in Impromptu, but for the most part, her TV and feature film rsum has been lamentable--does anyone remember her 1981 turn in Heartbeeps, with the late Andy Kaufman ("ya win some, ya lose some" was Peters' world-wise assessment of that gobbler in a recent interview). But who needs the film camera when you have some of the top American and European musical theater composers writing parts just for you? Peters comes to Dallas with all of her rag-dollish lamentations intact. She gives a performance entitled "Another Opening, Another Show" for the greater Dallas section of the National Council of Jewish Women. Peters is also in town to help present Stephen Sondheim with the Algur H. Meadows award on Nov 12. Her performance happens at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora in the Arts District. Tickets are $20-$375. Call 520-ARTS.
Grigory Sokolov: God has been good to internationally acclaimed pianist Grigory Sokolov--ever since the 46-year-old artist won First Prize at the 1966 International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in 1966, his natural flamboyance at the keys has been hailed as "breathtaking," "impulsive," and "volcanic"--but government hasn't. After he conquered the classical music circles of Eastern Europe and toured the great halls of the world under tight security, the next and perhaps most fabled frontier, America, was pulled from his reach by, among other incidents, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and an increased paranoia by Kremlin officials about Russian artists skipping their mother land for greater financial and aesthetic opportunities in the states. For 25 years now, Sokolov has been nothing but a reputation--and, of course, the star of multiple best-selling recordings--to North American audiences. Taking advantages of the enormous changes in Russia and her relationship with the U.S., Sokolov is now booking American appearances, and the Cliburn Concert series has invited the artist for one of his first U.S. recitals. He performs at 8 pm at the Ed Landreth Auditorium on the grounds of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. A one-hour preview performance by Shields-Collins Brary, principal keyboardist for the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, happens at 7 pm in the band hall of Ed Landreth. Tickets are $10-$30. Call (817) 335-9000.
Russian Religious Icons From 300 Years: Religious art from any nation is arguably the most detailed, intimate record of that country's history--and therefore often very difficult for world historians to gain access to. The University of Dallas opens an exhibition of Russian religious art which represents several firsts--the first time many of the 50 pieces on display here have been viewed during the last 77 years, when they were stolen from Russian holy places for preservation during the anti-religious Bolshevik Revolution shortly after the turn of the century. Religious Russian Icons From 300 Years reflects the fundamental change which would forever affect the people and politics of Russian existence--the Greek influences of 4th century Byzantium reflected Mediterranean polytheism until seven centuries later, when Russian artists began to mirror the strict Biblical interpretations and epiphanies favored by orthodox Christianity. The images represented here are probably most familiar to Catholics, but anyone who has an interest in the way religious dogma acted as a stealth philosophy beneath the mandates of countless imperialist philosophies should be intrigued. Russian Icons opens Nov 12 and runs through Dec 10 in the Haggar Art Gallery of the University of Dallas, 1845 E Northgate Dr in Irving. It's free, of course. For more information call 721-5194 or 721-5262.