Press Picks

thursday
april 25
Dom Irrera Hey, sports fans, here comes Dom Irrera, the CableACE Award winning host of Offsides. The cable star has a long TV history, and his current project is providing the voice for an animated ape on Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys (due out this fall). But this weekend he's in Houston, getting in touch with his standup comedy roots. Irrera is smart, he's mean and he does great characterizations. Early in his career, Irrera would do a bit about Ed McMahon -- he'd describe the venerable second banana as a loutish, pasty-faced, no-talent suck up, and then Irrera would give his now-famous tag line, "But I don't mean that in a bad way." Come on out for some real comedy. Badda-boom, badda-bing! 8 p.m. tonight; 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Laff Stop, 1952-A West Gray, 524-2333. $12.50 tonight; $16.50 Friday and Saturday.

The Dam Debate Nancy Ford, well-known Houston comedian and author of The Scratch on the Snatch, a Dr. Seuss-like musical about sexually transmitted diseases, is your host for an evening of comedy and health advice. Ford likens her educational evenings to comedy defensive driving. "It's a very serious subject, but the information is so much easier to learn and absorb when you're having fun. Which is the point of sex, right? In any case, always fasten your seat belt." AIDS Foundation Houston is also involved in The Dam Debate: Safer Sex for Lesbians. The group provides safe sex kits that include literature and, yes, a dental dam. Women also get three condoms (one that's Kiss-O-Mint flavored and two that look like chocolates in gold foil) and a how-to pamphlet explaining how to snip standard condoms into dental dam shape. This evening may not be your cup of tea, but it's been fun for the hundreds of women who've attended in the past year. Always the last Thursday of the month, 9:30 p.m. Ms. B's, Plaza 9200, 9200 Buffalo Speedway, 627-0301. No cover charge.

friday
april 26
The Return of the Mother: A Journey into the Sacred Feminine Andrew Harvey has never done a workshop in Texas before, although fans of his books, such as A Journey in Ladakh and Hidden Journey, may have studied at home with Harvey's series of cassette tapes. Harvey is in town for a book signing (today) and a workshop (tomorrow). His latest book discusses the role of the feminine in major world religions and in a variety of ancient and lesser-known contemporary aboriginal traditions. Harvey currently teaches at the California Institute of Integral Studiesin San Francisco. Book signing and two-hour lecture, 7 p.m. tonight. Workshop,10 a.m.5 p.m. Saturday. Both events at 5200 Montrose. For reservations and information, call 528-0897. Tonight's event, $10; workshop, $95.

Houston Ballet Academy Professional Division Performance Students will have a showcase for their skills, and dance mavens will have an evening of new dance -- including two new pieces by Ben Stevenson -- and new dancers. One of the Stevenson works to be premiered is still untitled, but we can tell you that the music is Chopin. The other premiere is "'50s Cuba," a jazzy dance to the music of Tito Puente. Students will also demonstrate their expertise in Stevenson's technically demanding, tutus-and-toe-shoes style Tchaikovsky Variations. The performance is at 7:30 p.m. with a reception following. Cullen Theater, Wortham Center, 500 Texas Avenue, 227-ARTS. $10, performance; $25, performance and reception.

Kiss of the Spider Woman Too often, these touring shows have sitcom has-beens in key roles, but this is a cut above that. Spider Woman is a wonderful, intelligent story, and this production has Chita Rivera in the title role, for which she won a Tony in 1993. Opening tonight, 8 p.m., and continuing through May 4. Presented by American Express Broadway Series at the Music Hall, 810 Bagby, 629-3700. $45$50.

saturday
april 27
Great Texas Beach Trash-Off People continue to mess with Texas, on both large and small scales, and the Texas General Land Office has a plan to deal with some of the small-scale garbage. For a decade now, one day in spring has been set aside for cleaning up our beaches. Last year, 10,000 volunteers picked up 180 tons of trash. Grab a Hefty bag and get out to do your part. Volunteers will work from9 a.m.noon, and then enjoy a surprise event. For more information or to volunteer, call (800) 85-BEACH. For on-line information, visit http://www.glo.state.tx.us/.

Tuff-E-Nuff Street Machines Competition Put your beer hat on and bring the family out for an afternoon of custom cars and Southern rock. Bikes, motorcycles, hot rods, art cars and low riders will be competing for cash and prizes and the opportunity to compete in the Tuff-E-Nuff semifinals in San Antonio. Creative car designs will be on view all over the park, and the family can also enjoy arts and crafts, swap meet booths and food. Plus, for the kids, there'll be special entertainment, games, rides and face painting. 10 a.m.10 p.m. today and Sunday, Velvet Park, near The Summit between Richmond and Highway 59. $10; $5, with donation of non-perishable food; free, children under 12. Donations of non-perishable food are requested. EarthWorks Productions, the LORDS Hot Rod Association, the JUICED Low Rider Club and the Tribe of Judah Motorcycle Club will distribute the food to local charities.

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