L.A. performance artist Keith Antar Mason based his work In My Living Condition on the 1992 Rodney King beating and ensuing LAPD trial and riot. Mason calls it a "constantly evolving performance ritual" that "poses questions about the place and condition of black men in the ... last years of the 20th century." Opening performances are at 7:30 tonight, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Through June 28. Renaissance Performing Arts Center, 400 Northline Mall, Suite 308, 695-7469. $10 to $15.
The three-week Houston Lesbian and Gay Pride 1998 fest debuts with tonight's kickoff/toga party from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. at Riva's, 1117 Missouri. Other opening-week highlights include the Houston Gay Pride 5K Fun Run at 7:45 a.m. Saturday (Fonde Recreation Center, 110 Sabine), the sports-oriented Pride Jamboree '98 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday (Memorial Park), Miss Camp America, Inc.'s big-fake-hair blowout "Wigs on Fire ... The Heat Is On" from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday (Rich's, 2401 San Jacinto) and the opening of performance artist Tim Miller's Shirts & Skin at 8 p.m. Wednesday (Theater LaB Houston, 1706 Alamo). The HLGP confab continues through July 5. Info: 529-6979; www.pridehouston.org.
The second Houston Gay & Lesbian Film Festival goes out with a double bang: the local premieres of Peoria Babylon and Paul Monette: The Brink of Summer's End. Director/writer Steven Diller's Babylon is a madcap farce with a merrily convoluted plot about "voluptuous beauty" Candy Dineen (Ann Cusack) and "gay fashion victim" Jon Ashe (David Drake), who co-own "the most prestigious ... art gallery in Peoria, Illinois." Desperate for cash and notoriety (their "prestigious" gallery is also the only one in town), they hatch a harebrained plot to borrow a collection of masterpieces and destroy them in an act of terrorism. Paul Monette has a more elegiac tone. Writer/director Monte Bramer's profile of the late activist/author (Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir, Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story) stands as a tribute to a person who watched two of his lovers die and, in a sense, foresaw his own death (all three men died of AIDS, Monette in '95). Babylon: 3 p.m. today. Monette: 7:30 tonight and Sunday (Bramer is scheduled to attend both screenings; Q&As follow each, and an off-site reception for the filmmaker precedes Sunday's show). The Rice Media Center, Rice University entrance 8 (University and Stockton), 527-4853. More info: 914-5037. $5; $4 for Rice students and seniors. (For details about the other films in the HGLFF's final weekend, see page 42 .)
Two of our favorite pursuits -- art and amusement -- collide in "Putt-Modernism: An Eighteen-Hole Miniature Golf Course and Exhibition"; yep, we're talking about functioning minigolf holes designed by the likes of Mel Chin, Cindy Sherman, Sandy Skoglund, John Dieboll, Frank Gehry and Elizabeth Enders. It opens for play with a reception from 7 to 9 tonight and continues through August 9. Blaffer Gallery, University of Houston entrance 16 (off Cullen Boulevard), 743-9528. Viewing is free; the "putter" fee is $5, $3 for kids. (Blaffer's silver-anniversary party, "Studio 25," follows the reception.)
Two towering tunesmiths of Texas play musical tit for tat in "Song Swap": Guy Clark and Terry Allen. Rockport-born Clark's better known, but Allen (a graduate of songwriting's venerated Lubbock School) might be better; Terry'll almost surely tackle Guy's standards "L.A. Freeway" and "Desperados Waiting for a Train," and Clark is likely to interpret Allen material like "New Delhi Freight Train" and "Cocktails for Three." 6 and 8:30 p.m. today; 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Monday (the early shows are smoke-free). McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, 528-5999. $20.
Decorated author Ron Chernow (The House of Morgan, The Death of the Banker) discusses his new book, Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller. Brazos Bookstore is the sponsor of the appearance/luncheon, which starts at noon at the Houston Club, 811 Rusk. Book purchase is required, as are reservations; call 225-1661. More info: 523-0701. The $19 admission is separate.