Local event engineer Ben Popken might possibly be mad. "For many months, I have been obsessed with the idea of a cardboard party. In my mind, I see a topographical landscape built from cardboard, with cardboard furniture, a cardboard stage and cardboard props. Inhabiting this land, of course, would be cardboard monsters..." Now promoting under the moniker Cardboard Monsters, in the past Popken has been responsible for such popular hipster youth gatherings as last year's monthly Rollermania series, in which scenesters skated circles around their favorite bands at a Northglenn rink.
"Some people like to draw or play in bands. I like to put on parties," says Popken, who's set to unleash his latest groove creation, Communism Is for Lovers, tonight at the Loft, 1523 18th Street, Suite 3A. He describes it as the "bitchin'-est party of the summer, at your favorite 1,900-square-foot venue you've never been to."
The event, whose name was inspired by a slogan that Popken says is "sexy and states we're against the norm," stars Brooklyn's self-proclaimed "bi porno electro-punk rapper" Houston Bernard and indie retro-popsters XOXOXO from Phoenix. Popken is bringing the headliners to town to expose the city to a new flavor. "There are just not a whole lot of bands in this genre in Denver," he explains. "What attracted me to Bernard -- besides his beefcake muscles -- is that he is so interactive. He breaks down barriers and pokes fun at normal conventions. I really like these bands, and if people in Denver give them a taste, they will, too."
Popken himself will hop on a turntable or two during the evening, spinning what he calls "electrocockrock," while art installations from Eyecandy magazine set a sexy, synthy mood. Sharing center stage will be Denver's own eclectic electronic assemblage My Velcro and the queen of booty bass, DJ Sara T. "I tapped Sara because her peeps know how to get dancing freak-a-leek," notes Popken.
The all-ages party starts at 10 p.m., grooving everything from '80s new wave to disco punk. There's a $3 cover; call 303-818-6536 for info.
"A lot of people get really precious about their music or art, and I think that's fucked up," Popken says. "Everyone is invited to this. It's going to be a complete exotic electronic commie lovefest." -- Kity Ironton
Mixed media celebrates GLBT Pride
Do ask and do tell is the theme of Interconnections, a new exhibit at the Other Side Arts gallery that explores the often complex relationships in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities. The mixed-media show will feature the work of more than thirty artists in celebration of GLBT Pride Month. "This year, relationships and marriage are hot topics," says gallery founder and president Jeff Ball. "Interconnections is wide open to people's interpretations of those relationships."
So will it be controversial, like the subject of same-sex marriage? "It potentially could be political," says Ball. "But it's a community show and will be whatever the community wants to put out there."
The display will also include the unveiling of the Rainbow Alley Mosaic project, a collaboration between Other Side Arts and Rainbow Alley, the drop-in youth center at the GLBT Center of Colorado.
"We hope to help people integrate art into their everyday lives," adds Ball. "This show gives people an opportunity to express themselves."
Interconnections opens tonight with a reception from 7 to 11 p.m. at Other Side Arts, 1644 Platte Street, featuring musical accompaniment by Xois and Josh Novak, with DJ Cougar providing the beats. Admission is free, but donations are welcome. The show stays up through July 4; call 303-561-3000 or visit www.theothersidearts.com or for information. -- Kity Ironton
Actor and comedian Lily Tomlin will open up "Lily's X-Files" for the final installment of the Unique Lives and Experiences women's lecture series. "She was brought in because of her unique life," says Nancy Rebek, the series' Denver producer. "I think she's the final exclamation point on a wonderful series." From Ernestine the telephone operator to her hit one-woman Broadway show The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe and a recent hilarious turn as a high school guidance counselor in Orange County, Tomlin, an Emmy-, Tony- and Grammy-winning performer, has been entertaining audiences for more than three decades.
"Lily and her characters will sound off on everything -- childhood, love, the media, pop culture, her life and our lives," says Rebek. "She always has something to say that is humorous and yet thought-provoking."
The talk begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Buell Theatre, in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets. General-admission tickets range in price from $55 to $60; VIP tickets, $115, include a post-lecture dessert reception with Tomlin. Call 1-877-872-8124 or go to www.uniquelives.com. -- Julie Dunn
TransMetropolis weds art and drag
"People who dress up in drag tend to become more true when they put on all the accoutrements," says local artist Chris Loffelmacher, who specializes in large oil paintings of drag queens. "I think the idea of putting on makeup and wigs to become more revealed is fascinating." Loffelmacher's first solo show, TransMetropolis: Art and Drag, opens today at Hairspray, a Colfax salon.
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"My paintings are pretty over the top, color-wise," says Loffelmacher. "I do tight close-ups of drag queens, some historical and some current. One of the things that is really important to me is discovering the sitter's frozen moment of theater."
Hairspray will host a reception for TransMetropolis on Friday, June 25, at 8 p.m., to coincide with PrideFest 2004, which takes place June 27 at Civic Center Park. The salon soiree will feature local drag divas, as well as "drag stations" where guests can try a little gender-bending of their own.
"If somebody really wants to get wild, they can get totally tricked out," promises Loffelmacher.
The show will hang through July 31 at Hairspray, 3225 East Colfax Avenue; for information, call 303-864-9491 or visit www.chrisloffelmacher.com. -- Julie Dunn