Sex has always been a competitive sport. It just took people awhile to organize a league and have championships with rules and judges and actual prizes. The Air Sex World Championships took care of all of that. Now we have official fuck-offs (contests between finalists) in cities around the country and competitors who vie for the privilege of calling themselves Fucker of the Year. The Air Sex Championships -- Houston is set for a one-night stand this Friday at Fitzgerald's. Hosted by comedian Chris Trew, the Championships are first-come, first-served. They're like an open-mike night but with imaginary genitals instead of guitars. You sign up, do your thing onstage and get judged by a group of supposed sexperts. Competitors air-sex in teams or alone, in any scenario with any partner they like (humans, aliens, monsters, animals and inanimate objects are all fair game).
Trew talked to our sister paper the Dallas Observer when the Championships came through Texas a couple of years ago. He shared stories about previous contestants, including a woman named Slut Truffle who pushed a power drill in her crotch and screamed in pretend pleasure while sparks went flying. (Ms. Truffle is a past champion.) There was also once a mother/daughter team that was a fail on a spectacular level. Competitors are as imaginative with their names as they are with their gyrations, so you can expect folks like Jack the Dripper, Colin Oscopy and Rick Ramrod onstage (yep, those are actual stage names used by past Air Sexers).
Get sexed up at 9 p.m. Friday. Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak Drive. For information, call 713-862-3838 or visit airsexworld.com. $10 to $12.
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You can tell by the title that the medical documentary Code Black is about serious life-and-death stuff. (Of all the codes you can hear in a hospital, "Code Black" has got to be the most dire, don't you think?) Filmmaker Ryan McGarry makes his debut with Code Black, which follows several young doctors-in-training as they struggle with the demands of C-Booth, the trauma unit at Los Angeles County Hospital. Working in the overburdened and understaffed emergency room is unlike anything you've seen on any medical reality show. It's brutal for both the staff and the patients.
The film, which opens on Friday and has a limited two-week run in Houston, won top prizes at several film festivals, including the Los Angeles Film Festival and Aspen FilmFest. It's screening here as part of the Sundance Cinemas Houston Calendar Series, a curated program of the latest award-winning films.
Code Black screens at various times daily. Through August 15. Sundance Cinemas Houston, 510 Texas. For information, call 713-223-3456 or visit sundancecinemas.com. $11.
When San Antonio artist Joe Lopez launched his Gallo series, a certain huge wine corporation objected. In court. The word gallo is Spanish for rooster, and Lopez, who considers the spirited birds a symbol of strength, courage and beauty, paints vibrant portraits of them. Lopez, supported by Houston folk art gallery owners and social activists Macario and Chrissie Ramirez, among other grassroots organizers, refused to abandon the name and faced off against the wine corporation. And won. "That changed my life," Lopez told us. "I wouldn't have done half the things I've done since then if it hadn't been for people like Macario and Chrissie."
As part of White Linen Night in the Heights on Saturday, Casa Ramirez is hosting "Joe Lopez: Calles de la Vida," an exhibition of Lopez's small watercolors. "I paint the people and things that I see," Lopez tells us. Works in the series show humble people involved in daily family life, a street vendor, children playing, a girl eating corn on the cob. One of the most striking is Caballo Chulito, which shows the head of a dark brown horse, mane flying in the wind, against a muted green background. As with much of Lopez's work, it's accessible, engaging and effective. Lopez will be in attendance at the exhibit. "I love going to Houston. I don't get there as often as I would like, but it's always great to see...everyone."
Meet Joe Lopez and see his work 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday. Casa Ramirez, 241 West 19th. For information, call 713-880-2420. Free.
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Years ago, Mirron Willis was one of the supernumeraries -- "the attendant to the far left" -- during the Houston Shakespeare Festival. This Saturday, he returns as a king in the title role of one of William Shakespeare's greatest plays, Henry IV Part I. Although Henry IV is considered one of Shakespeare's history plays, Willis says its greatest and most enduring appeal is "all of the relationships. The transformation of the son [Prince Hal] to go from the adolescent to the sense of responsibility." And let's not forget Falstaff and all the college debates there have been over whether he was betrayed by Hal or had to be discarded for the prince to grow into his kingly duties.
Willis, who has returned to Crockett, Texas, after a stage and film career in California and New York, also plays a duke in the companion piece at this year's festival: The Two Gentlemen of Verona, one of the earliest works (if not the earliest) by the English playwright. Brandon Fox, who is directing the "comic drama," said he found something to like about this play, considered by many critics to be a starter course for Shakespeare, who would employ similar though more developed strategies (including thwarted love, disguises and females posing as males) in later plays.
"This isn't King Lear or focused on older people. This is a young play by a young playwright about young people," Fox notes. "It's about four people trying to figure out who they are. They're very book-smart but not necessarily life-smart. They make choices that we might roll our eyes at or cover our faces. We have all been guilty of making those choices when we were in high school or college." The play has been reset in the 1930s complete with jazz music of the era, and there's even a live dog onstage, which Fox promises "will be fun for the audience."
The Two Gentlemen of Verona is at 8:30 p.m. August 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9. Henry IV, Part 1 is at 8:30 p.m. August 2, 6, 8 and 10. Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Drive. For information, call 281‑373‑3386 or visit milleroutdoortheatre.com. Free.
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When Christopher, a teenage boy, is caught next to a dead dog just after midnight, he immediately, though perhaps not justifiably, falls under suspicion. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, being presented on Sunday by the National Theatre of London, began as an award-winning novel by Mark Haddon. It was later made into an acclaimed stage play, winning seven Olivier Awards, including Best New Play in 2013. The production we're seeing here was filmed during the play's original run in the Cottesloe Theatre and is now in a limited theatrical release.
In the heartfelt story, Christopher has extraordinary mathematical ability but is an outsider, a loner who has never ventured away from home. He detests being touched, distrusts strangers and cannot lie, a combination that often gets him in trouble. Despite the objections of his father, Christopher determines to solve the mystery of the departed dog, a poodle named Wellington, but the investigation leads to discoveries, largely unwanted, that compel him to visit London on a daunting quest.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time screens at noon, August 3 and 7 p.m. August 6. Various locations. For information, visit fathom.com. Prices vary.
Margaret Downing and Jim J. Tommaney contributed to this post.