Shirley Hemphill You probably remember this comedienne as Shirley the waitress on What's Happening, yet her career encompasses far more. When Moms Mabley passed in 1975, Jet magazine ran an article on "Who will succeed Moms Mabley as the top X-rated comedienne?" Hemphill was a contender -- and, for what it's worth, she told the first gynecologist joke I ever heard on TV. (She was on Mike Douglas or something similarly '70s, and she said that the doctor was casting his hand around down there as though he were fishing for bus change.) Hemphill, part of any number of proud and noble comedy traditions (African-American, female and sitcom survivor, for instance) performs five shows. 8 p.m. tonight, Friday and Saturday; and late shows, 10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday. Laff Stop, 1952 West Gray, 524-2333. $8.50, Thursday; $12.50, Friday and Saturday.
The Seven Deadly Virtues Bering and Friends presents another theatrical to benefit the Bering Support Network. This year's production is a really big show -- 30 people affiliated with the HIV/AIDS charity are in the all-singing, all-dancing cast. Musical numbers from Broadway shows and big movies have been appropriated for The Seven Deadly Virtues, a look at the age-old battle between good and evil, and at how dat ol' debbil human spirit will beat out both every time. Gala, black-tie opening with a bit of the bubbly and hors d'oeuvres tonight. Reception, 7; curtain, 8:30 p.m. Subsequent shows are at 8:30 p.m. Friday; 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Parkway. For tickets, call 526-5846 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Advance tickets are also available at Basic Brothers Clothing and Uniglobe First Choice Travel. $50, gala opening; $15, other shows; $12, seniors.
Shakespeare in The Woodlands The drive doesn't seem so far when you consider that the performers for this production of Julius Caesar came all the way across the Atlantic. The Anglian Open Air Shakespeare Company has been imported for tonight's evening of drama, intrigue and dirty politics as writ by the bard. Our friends at the pavilion say, "With its 27-member cast and massive stage set, this English production is one not to be missed." Friends, Romans, countrymen, pass me the bug spray. 8 p.m. rain or shine. Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2005 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands, 629-3700. $10 and $8.50, reserved seating; $7, lawn seating.
The AIDS army wants you Or at least your rummage-shopping dollars. AIDS Housing Coalition Houston (AHCH) is selling donated goods to raise money for housing and shelter programs for HIV/AIDS patients. They got it all -- household goods, objets d'art, jewelry, things printed and recorded, gadgets, clothes, electronics, baby items, sports equipment, toys and other stuff that people donated to this worthy cause. The Summer Rummage-A-Rama is one day only, and it's like a whole neighborhood's worth of garage sales right in one place. 8 a.m.3 p.m. AHCH volunteer center, 117 Tuam (at the end of Fairview at Helena Street). For more information, call 521-1613.
Holistic Exposition 1996 Why stay home and watch Arthur C. Clarke's World of Strange Powers when you can seek "physical, mental and spiritual answers for today" in the company of live humans? More than 16 speakers and empowerers will be present, all professionals who've had "aha" experiences or used mandalas or other modalities. 10 a.m.5 p.m. today and Sunday. Presented by the Houston Search for God Council at the University of Houston, Hilton Hotel (entrance no. 1 off Calhoun). For more information, call 893-4540. $49.50, all presentation and exhibits and Saturday night dinner with Charles Thomas Cayce, Edgar's grandson; $19.95, everything except the dinner.
Bellaire Coin Show The 31st annual Bellaire Coin Club show features a wide variety of old and rare coins (and paper money) for sale and trade. This collector's festival also offers an event to lure new enthusiasts: a children's auction. Kids (17 and under) are given play money, but can bid on real items such as proof sets and silver dollars and other entry-level numismatic paraphernalia. Auctions for the kids are at noon and 4 today; 2 p.m. Sunday. Show hours, 10 a.m.6 p.m. today; 10 a.m.5 p.m. Sunday. Bellaire Civic Center, 7000 South Rice, Bellaire. For more information, call 439-4335 or e-mail JimBevill@aol.com. Admission and parking are free.
South Asia Friendship Fest '96 How many of us are up to speed on Bhutan and Mauritius? Sure, we all know a thing or two about Nepal and Madagascar, but the less flashy countries and islands of southern Asia don't get much attention. Happily, lesser known neighborhoods and big players such as Afghanistan, India and Nepal will all be celebrated with food, games and craft booths. Also, cultural information booths staffed with the culturally informed will be scattered among the food and craft booths so festivalgoers can be edified as well as entertained. 6 p.m.midnight. Sam Houston Race Park, 7575 North Sam Houston Tollway (Fallbrook-Windfern exit). For more information, call 367-1395. Regular admission, $3; children under 12, free. Parking, $2.
More Shakespeare in The Woodlands Following the English company's Friday performance of Julius Caesar, the way-outside-the-Loop Shakespeare festival continues with a Houston Ballet production of Old Bill's story of star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet. This production is a special jewel in the ballet's crown, receiving rave reviews whenever and wherever it's staged. 8 p.m., rain or shine. Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2005 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands, 629-3700. $10 and $8.50, reserved seating; $7, lawn seating.
Schlitterbahn Some Texas rivers are not exactly white-water this summer, but at the not-entirely-natural Schlitterbahn, there's always tubing fun and more -- and now, with raised speed limits, a day trip to New Braunfels is quick and easy. An all-new, all-wet four-acre addition to the Schlitterbahn Waterpark features four thrill rides and a big beach with waves. Dunk the kids in sunscreen, and head out for a day on such water coasters as the Dragon Blaster, the Family Blaster and the new Master Blaster. Open daily through August 18. The park opens daily at 10 a.m.; closing time varies from 6 to 8 p.m. $21.95, adult all-day pass (12 and older); $17.95, child all-day pass (three-11 years); $15.50, adult midday pass (12 and older; 3:30 p.m. to closing); $12.50, child midday pass. Children under three are admitted free and there is no charge for parking, inner tubes, life vests or bodyboards. 305 West Austin, New Braunfels, (210) 625-2351, http://www. schlitterbahn.com.
Family Day Summer Sampler African, Asian and American deserts are all explored in this wide-open MFA family day. The whole crew can tour the desert with "Crimes and Splendors: The Desert Cantos of Richard Misrach," a photography exhibit, and then, at a drop-in workshop, kids can make their own desert cantos with a little help from artist Marsha Dorsey-Outlaw. African art is on the agenda in a postcard tour of the Glassell Collection of African Gold. (You really ought to see this; the craftwork is amazing.) Also on the African angle, Kuumba House presents Tripping with Fudugazi, a performance a 2:30 p.m. Fudugazi the tortoise is a South African character. Inspired kids can then make their own African mask at a drop-in workshop. Asia? A postcard tour covers art from China, India and Japan. 12:154 p.m. Museum of Fine Art, 1001 Bissonnet, 639-7300. Free.
Puss 'n' Boots The Children's Theatre Festival concludes with a well-costumed production of this classic tale, one of the few cat-centric children's stories. Instead of a loyal dog, our hero has a clever cat, Anne (Gwendolyn McLarty). Thanks to Anne, Stu (George Parker III) ends up with wealth and fame. 10:30 a.m. weekdays through August 11 and then some. (Other shows listed in Thrills, Kids, On-Stage.) Lyndall Finley Wortham Theatre, University of Houston (entrance no. 16 off Cullen), 743-2929. $5.50; $4.50, children; group rates available.
National Night Out Here's the poop, if you haven't already gotten it from McGruff on TV: National Night Out is an evening when almost 9,000 communities in all 50 states, the U.S. territories and Canada take time for crime-prevention awareness, to bolster grassroots anti-crime efforts, to build neighborhood spirit and police-community relations and send a message to criminals. It's all done via block parties, cookouts, parades and rallies. For more information or a schedule of events in our town, call the Houston Police Department's Community Services Division, 247-8941.
Absolut Art Guitar Auction Thanks to Swedish vodka producers, artists from all over and the Velvet Elvis, you and yours can party and bid on art guitars. (Proceeds benefit DiverseWorks.) Don't drink vodka? Don't worry: other spirits and sodas will be served, and snacks, too. Party, 69; auction begins, 7:30 p.m. Velvet Elvis, 3033 Richmond. For more information, call 223-8346 or e-mail email@example.com. $35.
Grease! Fans of touring Broadway musicals are sure to turn out en masse for this production of the sock-hop extravaganza starring legends of the small screen. Internationally known comic, General Nutrition Centers spokesdude and friend of Mattress Mac Joe Piscopo stars as Vince Fontaine, and Mackenzie "One Day at a Time and precious little else" Phillips has the coveted role of Rizzo, leader of the Pink Ladies gang. Opening tonight, 8 p.m. (Other shows listed in Thrills, Theater.) Wortham Center, Brown Theater, Texas at Smith, 629-3700. $38$44.
Anteater If your ant awareness has recently been raised by those cute fire-ant insecticide commercial on the radio, or by the presence of actual fire ants on your property, then perhaps you'd like to gaze upon a creature who can eat, with impunity, 30,000 ants a day. Our zoo has recently introduced an anteater, Jatai. Of course, as a zoo creature, she eats a special mash of cat food and ground biscuits, but still, you can stroll by the cage and take a good long look at her impressive claws, and from then on imagine those same claws ripping open every ant home you see, imagine Jatai destroying the work of worker ants and eating all of them, and their queen and larva, too. This won't get the ants out of your yard, but it might make you feel better. The Houston Zoological Gardens is open daily, 10 a.m.6 p.m. Hermann Park, 1513 North MacGregor, 523-5888. $2.50; $2, seniors; 50 cents, children three - 12; free, children under three.