When Walt Zipprian first went to an "over 50" drag show at the Lazy J in 1988, it was strictly for laughs. He certainly wasn't expecting to spend five years making a documentary about one of the acts. But that's the impact that Wendy Chicago made. "She just blew me away and didn't even care if she got the words right," Zipprian says. "For her, it was feeling the music and being in the zone." Today's pop culture has diluted -- and desexed -- the drag queen to a lovable disco gal always ready with a coiffed wig and witty retort. But Zipprian doesn't shy away from the less cheery past. "Some of our younger people haven't experienced the level of discrimination some of the older gays and lesbians did," he notes. "It makes me respect them more knowing it took a lot more courage to be loud and proud in the old days than now." That's something Wendy Chicago knows firsthand, having performed in drag since 1952 and in Houston since 1972.
Wendy herself will perform after the film, but don't expect a triumphant romp. "Wendy on stage mostly tries to stay on her feet," Zipprian says. "She lives on the fringes of society, but the truths she touches on in her life are ones we all live with." 8 p.m. Friday, June 18. The Axiom, 2524 McKinney. For information, call 713-522-8443 or visit www.infernalbridegroom.com. $10. -- Bob Ruggiero
If you're gonna throw a poetic house party, then Helios is definitely the place to do it. Wordsmiths have been spitting at the mike in this converted three-story house for years. At the Starving Poets' Poetic House Party, you can expect plenty of spit from the Starving Poets (Patrick "PJ" Davis, Inertia, Shug Avery, J-Rome, Venom, Charles B and Shai), not to mention a slew of not-so-hungry guest poets, including Marie Brown, Will Richey, Love Robinson and Mona Webb. And if that ain't enough to put a little bounce in your soul, then check out live music from Legacy, Joe Lee McCoy and Savvi. (Please don't tell us you were expecting Kid 'n Play.) 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday, June 19. 411 Westheimer. For information, call 866-811-4111 or visit www.starvingpoets.org. $10. -- Keith Plocek
Though the term "Tex-Mex" didn't appear in the media until 1941 in Time magazine, the culinary trend had already been around for more than a century. Houston Press food writer Robb Walsh's The Tex-Mex Cookbook: A History in Recipes and Photos spices up the genre's history with entertaining images: a pot of beans on a dirt road in Marfa, the smile of Mama Ninfa and a tortilla autographed by golfer Lee Treviño. And then there are his yarns, like the one about Texas sports' possibly oddest mascot, the Stuffed Taco of San Antonio. Foodies can use the book as a primer for recipes while brushing up on Tex-Mex terms and learning who invented the margarita. It'll make you proud to be a Texan -- and hungry. Autographed copies of The Tex-Mex Cookbook are available at Barnes & Noble, Borders and other bookstores. $17.95. -- Steven Devadanam
For the Juneteenth Time
Celebrate the end of slavery
On June 19, 1865, the slave population of Texas jubilated at the news that it was now illegal for human beings to be considered property. Okay, so this was actually more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation became official but, hey, better late than never, right? Damn straight. Since then, Juneteenth has become one of the great celebratory benchmarks of civil rights. This weekend the Eldorado Ballroom (right across the street from Emancipation Park) is channeling the spirit of Juneteenth for a massive get-down. The entertainment lineup this year spans multiple generations of African-American performers, including legendary Louisiana singer-pianist Carol Fran, now in her seventies; Houston's great soul-era diva Trudy Lynn; and young, eclectic touring dynamos Lil' Brian and the Zydeco Travelers. 8 p.m. to midnight. Saturday, June 19. 2300 Elgin. For information, call 713-526-7662 or visit www.houstonbluessociety.org. $8 to $10. -- Scott Faingold
So overpowering was the sex appeal of Brigitte Bardot that John Lennon once convinced his wife Cynthia to go blond in order to look more like the French screen siren. Bardot's drool-inducing charms are on ample display in Jean-Luc Godard's 1963 film Contempt. She plays the wife of a meek screenwriter hired to pen a commercialized adaptation of The Odyssey. When Bardot falls for the seductions of a slimy producer (Jack Palance), her marriage (and the film-within-a-film) begins to crumble. A classic of the French New Wave, the flick also poses a question that has baffled film fans for years: How the hell could Jack Palance possibly get Brigitte Bardot? 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 23. Cafe Brasil, 2604 Dunlavy. For information, call 713-528-1993. Free. -- Bob Ruggiero