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.
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.
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.
Wildlife Wahoo! Meet a raptor and win a free dinner for two -- those are some of your options at this Friends of Texas Wildlife party. A variety of groups who work with Texas wildlife are inviting the public out to learn about conservation and rehabilitation. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Raptor Team, the Mexican Wolf Coalition, the East Texas Herpetological Society and others will be talking about giving animals a second chance. One lucky attendee will win the chance to release a rehabilitated hawk. Kids will have a chance to meet some non-releasable animals, and there'll be crafts to teach kids about the animals around us. Youngsters can also play "Snake catch" (dangerous snakes are not involved) and "catch a cat" (no cats will be at risk). 11 a.m.6 p.m. Wildlife Center of Harris County Precinct Four at Burroughs Park, 9738 Hufsmith, Tomball, 351-8306. Free.
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing Main Street Theater presents children's theater with live reptiles -- Fourth Grade Nothing features Fudge, a turtle-eating baby brother. Fudge crunches through a carapace in order, in typical baby brother fashion, to get more attention. The trouble this causes his older brother, Peter, has been a popular Judy Blume story for years; now it's on-stage. 2 p.m. Saturdays, through May 11. Main Street Theater at Chelsea Market, 4617 Montrose, 524-6706. $5.
Okuta Percussion Today's Pick for the Houston International Festival is an international percussion group. Okuta Percussion are an eclectic trio of drummers who come from different backgrounds -- German, Nigerian and Norwegian -- and who have traveled widely, omnivorously adding percussion techniques and drums as they go. In their current incarnation, they play South Pacific log drums, bata and dundun (talking) drums and Indian percussion instruments. They've performed with symphonies, but today they'll be on the large stage, 4:305:30 p.m. The Festival is up and running all weekend, over 20 blocks downtown. For more information, call the festival office voicemail, 654-8808. Single tickets, $5; festival friend deal, good for two season passes, $25; Supercuts passport, good for four admission tickets, coupons and parking, $12; kids under 12 get in free.
The Tree that Grew Human Express Theatre will present this tender children's tale three times this weekend, but today's performance is special. It's a shadowed performance, with a shadowcast actor who does sign language interpretation during the action assigned to each actor on the stage. Renowned playwright Thomas Meloncon based his play on an African folktale. Three teenagers are sent out to seek water for their village, and then get into a situation where they could maybe squander the village's resources on Air Jordans. 4 p.m. At the Children's Museum, 1500 Binz, 522-1138. For more information, call Express Theatre, 759-1314. $5.
Ten Percent Revue The Group Theatre Workshop has been producing gay- and lesbian-oriented performances since 1983, and now the group has brought a production of Tom Wilson Weinberg's famous musical review. The 10 percent in the title refers, of course, to the Kinsey Report's statistic of homosexuals in the population. Rebecca Bryars, David M. Dukes, Rob Farmer and J. Leigh Lucas will give their first performance tonight, and continue Sundays through June 16. 7 p.m. Ovations, 2536-B Times, 522-2204. $10.
Rigoletto Houston Opera Theater presents one performance of the popular Verdi opera. Artur Rodriguez, who's won awards in HGO competitions, sings the title role. This is a fully staged version, but with no distracting surtitles. You do, however, get a full libretto complete with plot synopsis. At MECA, 1900 Kane (at Silver). For reservations or information, call 802-9370. $10; $7.50, seniors and students.
Minister Louis Farrakhan The last time Farrakhan was scheduled to speak at TSU, a mild furor over the "men only" stricture on attendance resulted in his speech being transferred to a Fifth Ward church. This time, according to a press release from Muhammad Mosque No. 45, the "general public" is invited to the Nation of Islam leader's address at TSU's University Auditorium. Presumably, that includes Jews and other white people who've been the target of the minister's tongue. Farrakhan, according to the local mosque's release, will offer an "accurate personal account" of his recent meetings with such noted humanitarians as Saddam Hussein and Moammar Ghadafi, meetings which, of course, were "misrepresented and misconstrued" by the media. See and hear for yourself at 7 p.m. (the doors open at 5:30 p.m.). Texas Southern University, 3100 Cleburne. For more information, call 741-2747. Free.
Art Institute of Houston The "Society of Illustrators 1995-1996 Traveling Exhibition" features 40 works from illustrators such as Al Hirschfeld, Gary Kelley and Dugald Stermer. Al Hirschfeld's line-drawing caricatures are perhaps the best-known illustrations in the show. Hirschfeld drawings and other art from advertising, book jackets, stamps and more will be on view through mid-May. The Gallery at the Art Institute of Houston, 1900 Yorktown, 623-2040. Free.
Deutser Gallery "Survival in Sarajevo" is Edward Serotta's photo-documentary of La Benevolencija, an aide society organized by Jews in the former Yugoslavia. During the siege of Sarajevo, May 1992February 1994, La Benevolencija provided food, medicine and, in some cases, safe passage from the region to thousands of Serbs and Croats, Jews and Muslims. Text panels offer detailed background on the exhibition, and guided tours are available. Daily, through May 5. Jewish Community Center, 5601 South Braeswood, 729-3200, ext. 3269. Free.
A longer Legalline The average Joe may not know this, but May 1 is Law Day, a "national holiday recognizing the rule of law in our society." What can the law do for you? Find out by calling the volunteer attorneys who staff the Legalline. They'll answer simple questions, give some advice and, if needed, refer callers to social service agencies or other resources. Today's program allows members of the public to call lawyers not just for a short time in the evening, but from noon to 9 p.m. The number to call is 759-1133. Prepare for your call ahead of time: gather any documents or materials you'd like to discuss before dialing.