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The Five Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Outrageousness on Wheels

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It's shaping up to be another great weekend in Houston and Galveston with a celebration of all things Frida in the East End, outrageousness on wheels in the Art Car Parade (moved downtown this year) and an alien invasion when comedy meets wrestling at Market Square Park. Sunday looks like a good day for road-tripping to cheer on the athletes in Galveston's half-IRONMAN, giving us just enough time to check out the good old-fashioned "phallic humor" in Classical Theatre's The Birds.

What’s not to love about Frida Kahlo de Rivera? This iconic Mexican artist channeled her personal pain to produce surrealist folk art, often in the form of self-portraits, and received more fame after death than during her life, although her affair with Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky did cause a stir. East End Studio Gallery’s Frida Festival celebrates with art, music, vendors and — not one, but two — Frida look-alike contests. It’s a fairly easy costume to pull off: Pencil in a uni-brow and a lady mustache, add a few flowers to your hair, then place a pet monkey on your shoulder. Over the years, the contest became a little too popular and things soon came to a head. “Every year we would get lots of different children. They would usurp the adults,” says Lizbeth Ortiz, gallery curator and artist. Now the contest for adults is held on opening night and the contest for children at the festival’s closing event. Check out the Frida-inspired art and colorful lookalikes this Friday night, our pick for culture in the East End. “Twinkle-Toes is our resident DJ, who also is our visual artist. He has a wonderful mixture of contemporary songs of her day," says Ortiz. "He’ll play anything from a Mexican trio to some pop music.”

The adult lookalike contest is 8 p.m. Friday, and the children’s lookalike contest is 7:30 p.m. April 22. The gallery is open by appointment only, April 8-22. 708 Telephone. For information, email eestudiogallery@gmail.com or visit fridafestival.com. Free. 

The Houston Art Car Parade cruises into town this weekend, this time with a brand-new route, and it's our pick for outrageous entertainment this Saturday afternoon. Although Houston’s omnipresent road construction cannot slow down the city’s beloved tradition, it can make it change course. Because of construction along Allen Parkway, the world’s largest gathering of art cars will roll through downtown Houston from Smith to Pease to Walker, looping around Hermann Square and City Hall onto Bagby before turning onto Lamar, coasting past Sam Houston Park and ending at the Pierce Elevated. Participants have responded positively to the detour. “We’ve been working really well with the city to get a great route. The artists are very excited about it, so we’re excited as well,” said Jonathan Beitler, director of communication for the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, the organization coordinating the parade. Beitler says this year’s parade will host more than 230 entries – 75 of which have never taken part before. An estimated 250,000 fans will come to watch the spectacle of visual art on wheels. The Orange Show plans to return to the banks of Buffalo Bayou next year – just in time for the event’s 30th anniversary.

The Starting Line Party begins at 11 a.m. Saturday at Pease and Smith, with food trucks and drinks at Parade Central at Polk and Smith. The parade begins at 2 p.m. Saturday, rolling along Smith from Pease to Walker. For information, call 713-926-6368 or visit thehoustonartcarparade.com.

Texas is home to some of the greatest wrestlers of all time, men and women who take their craft seriously, even when it involves being a wrestling mortician or being nicknamed “The Bionic Redneck.” Doomsday Wrestling has been adding to the history of Texas wrestling since 2003, and is bringing its brand of “comedywrestling” to Market Square Park. Unlike what you see on TV, this show is supposed to be funny, and anything can happen. It’s the soap opera world of professional wrestling taken to its most extreme conclusion. “Aliens might invade. There might be time-traveling wrestlers from the future. Maybe a monster is under the ring,” says Doomsday Wrestling’s Tex Lonestar.

Before the hijinks in the ring, there’s a DJ set by the most appropriate act for this sort of thing: local favorites Wrestlers. All told, Saturday night's show will be the most fun you’ll have around a wrestling ring this year.

7 p.m. Saturday. Market Square Park, 301 Milam. For information, call 713-650-3022 or visit marketsquarepark.com or doomsdaywrestling.com. Free. 

In the world of endurance races, Galveston’s Memorial Hermann IRONMAN 70.3 ranks as one of the better courses for both spectators and athletes. We’ve got the flat terrain that makes for a fast 56-mile bike course, and the 1.2-mile swim in Offatts Bayou is relatively calm compared to ocean waters. “The wind is the theme of the race,” says (my brother) Bill Tommaney, veteran of 18 half IRONMANs, four full IRONMANs and “countless” sprint triathlons. “If it's windy, it can impact the swim and make it very choppy and challenging for inexperienced swimmers.” He says it's an even greater factor for the second leg of the race, the single-loop bike course that begins and ends at Hope Boulevard. “The biggest challenge is the wind, and whether you're going with the tailwind, headwind or crosswind,” says Tommaney.

The big payoff for everybody (spectators and athletes) comes with the 13.1-mile run. “The whole Moody Gardens property, the pyramids, they run through Palm Beach on the backside — three times as well — so there’s a lot to keep their attention while they’re running,” says Greg Pennington, Iron Star Triathlon race director. For spectators, there’s one sweet spot in the course near the Visitor Center, at the five-mile marker, where the athletes touch in twice. It’s a great place to both cheer on your team and also duck inside the Aquarium Pyramid for entertainment — and it's our pick for a fun way to spend Sunday morning. A lot of regional tri clubs are participating, so another great spot to watch is near “Team Tent Row,” with about 40 tents from participating tri teams. “That’s a huge cheering area besides the finish line area,” says Pennington.

7 a.m. Sunday. Moody Gardens, 1 Hope Boulevard, Galveston. For information, visit ironman.com. Participation is closed; free to watch. 

Aristophanes’s comedy The Birds is getting a 21st-century facelift courtesy of Philip Hays (his concept for the immersive theater experience, The Whale; or Moby-Dick, blew us away last year). But why this play? Why now? As the saying quite-nearly goes, ancient theater is all Greek to me. Hays, who pulls double duty on both directing and script adaptation, is quick to retort: “It’s pretty topical considering the light of the current political situation.” Breaking the show down, Hays selects his words carefully: “It’s a satire on the early days of democracy. It’s about an opportunist who takes advantage of gullibility. [The opportunist] takes the passion to be powerful and turns [that passion] into something to aggrandize, to make himself bigger.” Sound familiar? Maybe we haven’t come so far from 414 BC. Featuring a cast of Houston favorites including Julia Traber, Luis Galindo and Greg Cote, The Birds is, Hays says, a fun blend of original music, Abbott-and-Costello-style shenanigans and good, old-fashioned (as the director puts it) “phallic humor.” It may not be highbrow, but it's our pick for classic drama this Sunday afternoon.

2:30 p.m. Sunday. Continuing 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and April 11 and 20; 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Through April 24. Classical Theatre Company, 4617 Montrose. For information, call 713-963-9665 or visit classicaltheatre.org. $25. 

Sam Byrd, Cory Garcia and Vic Shuttee contributed to this post.

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