Hearty Appetites

FRI, 6/18

Last New Year's Day, while the rest of us were watching Bowl games or trying to figure out where, exactly, we lost that tooth the night before, Emily Blong and Natalie Taylor were frolicking together on a dump truck in north Denver. Summoned to the strange locale by a mutual friend and filmmaker, the girls, though total strangers at the time, spent the entire day dancing, acting and singing for the benefit of the camera. Over dinner that evening, Blong and Taylor discovered their mutual affinity for music and dance, and decided to pool their creative powers. Six months later, the two are ready to show Denver what they've been up to. Electro Lunchbox, a burlesque fairy tale, will hit the stage at 9 p.m. sharp tonight at Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom, 2637 Welton Street. Blong promises it will be "like nothing else you've ever been to."

Conceived as an electro-pop opera, the 25-minute performance dabbles in experimental noise and pop beats. Theme-wise, it focuses on the ongoing struggle to find one's self in a world of often damaging outside influences. The music and lyrics, composed by Blong, a member of local groups My Velcroe and School of Flirting, are a diverse and dramatic mix of synthesizer, drum machine, piano, bass and cello. "People tell me they've never heard anything like it," Blong says, "but they tend to like it."

Taylor, a classically trained ballerina who grew tired of ballet's strictness, choreographed the show based on storyboarding sessions with Blong. "I wanted to show that dancing can be sexy without necessarily being sleazy," Taylor says. "I get mad when people see dancing as just sex, when I see it as purely art." She notes that a particularly racy portion of the show is meant to highlight the distinction.

The remainder of the evening will play like an electric Kool-Aid acid test, with swingsets and trampolines, fashion shows and interactive booths, bouncing balls and big bowls of candy. Beat-meisters DJ Popken and OilCanHaire will drop an electro extravaganza until the bouncers clear the house.

Tickets are $7 at the door; call 303-960-7973 for details. -- Adam Cayton-Holland

Tress for Success
Vanity:A Hair Show evokes freedom
SUN, 6/20

The Reverend Martin Luther King had a dream, Gandhi had hunger strikes, and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Center of Denver has the blow-dryer and the paddle brush. This evening, local salons Bang, Berenices, El Salon, Evolution, Flirt, Phoebe Hair Apparent, Planet Laboratories, Salon Utopia and Vida will join forces in Vanity: A Hair Show for Freedom, a benefit for the center.

Each salon will work its particular skills on a handful of the ninety models, both amateur and professional, who will strut their stuff in the show. Themes run the gamut from Berenices' sport motif to Evolution's unusual rap and swing combo.

Planet Laboratories is going for an Egyptian look, and stylists will paint models to achieve that desert glow. Clothing, however, will consist of designer fashions from Gucci rather than flax from the banks of the Nile.

Organizer and Planet Laboratories owner Cameron Letterman cites the "harsh political climate in Denver" as the inspiration for converting Vanity from a bash to a fundraiser. Proceeds from the $20 tickets will go toward the GLBTC. The Church nightclub, 1160 Lincoln Street, is donating the space, and a cash bar will be available. Doors open at 4 p.m., and the show starts at 5; for details, call Planet Laboratories at 303-399-9469. -- Caitlin Smith

Satiric Sedaris Comes Calling
WED, 6/23

Luckily for his avid fans, life never seems to get any easier for humorist David Sedaris, who swings into the downtown Tattered Cover tonight to read from his latest laugh-out-loud book, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim. The best-selling author of Barrel Fever, Naked and Me Talk Pretty One Day, Sedaris has made a name for himself with his unique mix of witty observations and tart self-deprecation. In his newest collection of personal essays, he covers everything from childhood vacations at the beach and life as a New York apartment cleaner to his brother's wedding and flat-hunting in Europe.

"I think he appeals to the underdog in all of us," says Charles Stillwagon, events coordinator for the Tattered Cover. "He obviously touches a nerve with his sarcastic tone and somewhat off-kilter view of the world."

Sedaris will read and sign books beginning at 7 p.m. at the TC, 1628 16th Street. Free tickets (one per person) will be available starting at 6 p.m. "We're expecting overflow capacity," says Stillwagon. "He seems to get more popular with each book."

For information, visit www.tatteredcover.com or call 303-436-1070. -- Julie Dunn

Samba Nights
Claudia Villela brings a bit of Brazil to the Arvada Center
SAT, 6/19

Brazilian music has always floated through its own little universe, a cultural synthesis held delicately aloft by gentle vocals, haunting guitar work and worldly rhythms. Somehow, the genre -- a jazz-informed stew of European, American, African and Latin-American influences -- manages to remain pristine while still sounding fresh and modern. Bottom line, it's always been about those incredible voices caught in the interplay of music and rhythm, from the swinging bossa nova of Joo and Astrid Gilberto to the samba-driven pop of Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil. Now add a new name to the long list of Brazilian brilliants: that of vocalist Claudia Villela, who carries the music's uncategorizable gestalt into the 21st century with help from her own five-octave pipes, a rare instrument that she uses to color each tune, often wordlessly, over the beat. The artist, who performs with guitarist Ricardo Peixoto, appears tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the outdoor amphitheater at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, 6901 Wadsworth Boulevard; for tickets, $15 to $28, call 720-898-7200 or log on to www.arvadacenter.org. -- Susan Froyd

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Adam Cayton-Holland
Julie Dunn
Contact: Julie Dunn
Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd
Caitlin Smith