200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, July 5, free, 5:00 - 11:00 ($10 discounted admission to “Ai Weiwei: According to What?”)
The Brooklyn Museum is throwing a summer party for its July free First Saturdays program, centered by a twenty-fifth-anniversary screening of Spike Lee’s Bed-Stuy classic, Do the Right Thing. In addition, there will be music from Matuto, Blitz the Ambassador, DJ Uhuru, and Nina Sky, a female comedy showcase hosted by Erica Watson, a talk and fashion show led by Afros: A Celebration of Natural Hair author Michael July, a sidewalk chalk drawing project organized by the City Kids, a hula hoop demonstration with Hula Nation, an art workshop in which participants will learn figure drawing with a live model, and an interactive talk with “Brooklyn in 3000 Stills” creators Paul Trillo and Landon Van Soest. In addition, you can check out the current quartet of exhibitions, all of which deal with activism through art: “Ai Weiwei: According to What?,” “Swoon: Submerged Motherlands,” “Chicago in L.A.: Judy Chicago’s Early Works, 1963–74,” and “Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties.”
The powerful, wide-ranging “Witness,” which has just been extended through July 13 (the other three exhibits continue into August or September), is a traveling show being held in conjunction with the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. More than one hundred paintings, sculptures, photographs, and installations are on view, divided into eight thematic categories: “Integrate Educate,” “American Nightmare,” “Presenting Evidence,” “Politicizing Pop,” “Black Is Beautiful,” “Sisterhood,” “Global Liberation,” and “Beloved Community.” In Bruce Davidson’s “USA. Montgomery, Alabama. 1961,” a black Freedom Rider sits by a window on a bus being escorted by the National Guard. David Hammons’s “The Door (Admissions Office)” is not exactly a welcoming sight. Norman Rockwell’s “New Kids in the Neighborhood (Negro in the Suburbs)” depicts three white children and two black children stopped on a sidewalk, curiously looking at each other. Melvin Edwards’s “Chaino” evokes slavery and lynchings. A trio of cartoonish KKK members drive into town in Philip Guston’s “City Limits.” There are also works by Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, Norman Lewis, Jack Whitten, Faith Ringgold, Ben Shahn, Betye Saar, Gordon Parks, Jim Dine, Yoko Ono, Barkley Hendricks, Robert Indiana, Richard Avedon, and others that examine the civil rights movement from multiple angles, displaying America’s continuing shame.
Union Square Theatre
100 East 17th St.
Thursday - Monday through June 1, $37.95 - $127.95
If you don’t like La Soirée, well, then you just don’t know how to have fun. The raunchy, risqué mixture of burlesque, cabaret, vaudeville, circus, and Coney Island sideshow that has been touring the world for the last several years — an earlier iteration called Absinthe ran in the Spiegeltent at the South Street Seaport back in 2006 — is playing at the misty Union Square Theatre, where the audience is seated in the round, centered by a small circular platform where most of the often mind-blowing action takes place. Hosted by emcee Aidan O’Shea (among others, depending on which night you go), the two-hour evening features a core group of performers along with special guests. Singer-comic Amy G gets intimate with audience members and uses an unusual part of her body to play an instrument. Rhythmic gymnastics champion Lea Hinz contorts her arms and legs while suspended in the air in a hoop. The self-deprecating Marcus Monroe juggles a home-made combination of dangerous items. Jeans-wearing Joren “Bath Boy” Dawson splashes plenty of water while engaging in acrobatics in and around a claw-footed tub.
Marawa the Amazing shimmies with a vast array of Hula hoops. Scrawny, wild-haired Ringling Bros. Clown College graduate Manchego offers a different take on the male striptease. The English Gents (the dapperly dressed — and undressed — Denis Lock and Hamish McCann) dazzle with breathtaking feats of skill and strength, balancing on each other’s bodies; the highlight of the night might just be McCann’s gravity-defying one-man “Singing in the Rain” pole dance. Burlesque star Julie Atlas Muz somehow gets inside a large balloon bubble. Other performers you might catch at La Soirée, which was first presented by Brett Haylock, Mark Rubinstein, and Mick Perrin in London in 2010, include Bret Pfister, Scotty Blue Bunny, Miss Ekaterina, Mooky Cornish, Le Gâteau Chocolat, Ursula Martinez, Cabaret Decadanse, Meow Meow, Jess Love, Miss Behave, and Mario, Queen of the Circus. There’s also free popcorn, a bar that remains open throughout the show, lots of audience participation, and surprises galore in this randy, very adult romp that isn’t afraid to go too low, or too high, to get a laugh, a smile, a gasp, or even a groan.
Gotham Comedy Club
208 West 23rd St. between Seventh & Eighth Aves.
Tuesday, December 24, $25 (two-drink minimum), 7:30 & 9:30
Every Christmas Eve, while most of America is sitting down to their holiday dinner, Jews gather in comedy clubs, laughing hysterically as Jewish comedians tell endless jokes about goyim. Well, maybe that’s not quite the gist of it, but only those in the know really know. On December 24, the Gotham Comedy Club will host its annual Yuletide celebration “A Very Jewish Christmas,” featuring Last Comic Standing finalist and anagram specialist Myq Kaplan (“Menorah? Harm one? Her moan? More? Nah.”) March Madness 2010 Comix champion Sam Morril (“I just complained to my mom on the phone for 40 minutes about how someone wasted my time”), former journalist Chloe Hilliard (“Christmas Eve you can find me at the Jewish show @ Gotham. Oh yeah! I’m probably getting paid in Chinese food.”), New York Giants fan Gregg Rogell (“Obamacare killed Brian”), and World’s Dumbest star Rachel Feinstein.