Michael DeGrace These are tough times for house DJs, scrapping to have their signature sound heard above the ubiquitous din of Top 40 and hip-hop. (As if there were much difference between the two nowadays.) If anyone has earned the respect that comes with longevity, though, it's local spinster veteran Michael DeGrace. The venerable resident turntablist at the Habitat after-hours party has kept dance floors hot for more than 20 years, which in DJ years is actually something like 487 years.

Michael DeGrace These are tough times for house DJs, scrapping to have their signature sound heard above the ubiquitous din of Top 40 and hip-hop. (As if there were much difference between the two nowadays.) If anyone has earned the respect that comes with longevity, though, it's local spinster veteran Michael DeGrace. The venerable resident turntablist at the Habitat after-hours party has kept dance floors hot for more than 20 years, which in DJ years is actually something like 487 years.

Masquerade Theatre Musical theater doesn't get too adventurous in Houston. TUTS revives the usual suspects of Broadway warhorses; Broadway in Houston tours the safest current hits; and most of the smaller troupes in town, ever on the edge of financial ruin, can't afford to take too many chances. But for seven years, Masquerade Theatre, near the Heights, has consistently put on terrific, low-budget productions of risky but rewarding shows such as City of Angels, Sweeney Todd, Floyd Collins and A New Brain. The resident acting company all have fine voices, and director Phillip Duggan tends to make the most out of the cramped space that serves as home. The only drawback is the sparse musical accompaniment -- there's no swelling of strings or blasting horn sections here -- but if Masquerade had to pay for a large orchestra, they'd compromise the edgy shows we admire.

Masquerade Theatre Musical theater doesn't get too adventurous in Houston. TUTS revives the usual suspects of Broadway warhorses; Broadway in Houston tours the safest current hits; and most of the smaller troupes in town, ever on the edge of financial ruin, can't afford to take too many chances. But for seven years, Masquerade Theatre, near the Heights, has consistently put on terrific, low-budget productions of risky but rewarding shows such as City of Angels, Sweeney Todd, Floyd Collins and A New Brain. The resident acting company all have fine voices, and director Phillip Duggan tends to make the most out of the cramped space that serves as home. The only drawback is the sparse musical accompaniment -- there's no swelling of strings or blasting horn sections here -- but if Masquerade had to pay for a large orchestra, they'd compromise the edgy shows we admire.

The Men's Club You can go to any club and get rejected by that sweaty college girl with the limp hair in her eyes. You know the routine: The drinks will make you broke and the DJ will play techno that was old last year. So why not try a club where no girl will reject you for a dance and there's also a killer late-night breakfast buffet? As for the techno, that will be replaced by even older and lamer Lynyrd Skynyrd, but if you're in a place like this and you're actually listening to the music, then maybe you're in the wrong joint. At The Men's Club, dances will cost you 20 bucks a pop, but the girl will be topless (and probably not in college) and your lap will get a workout. The Men's Club is the real deal: late hours (until 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays), cheap drinks, girls aplenty, rock and roll, sweat and boobs. Who could ask for anything more?

The Men's Club of Houston
The Men's Club You can go to any club and get rejected by that sweaty college girl with the limp hair in her eyes. You know the routine: The drinks will make you broke and the DJ will play techno that was old last year. So why not try a club where no girl will reject you for a dance and there's also a killer late-night breakfast buffet? As for the techno, that will be replaced by even older and lamer Lynyrd Skynyrd, but if you're in a place like this and you're actually listening to the music, then maybe you're in the wrong joint. At The Men's Club, dances will cost you 20 bucks a pop, but the girl will be topless (and probably not in college) and your lap will get a workout. The Men's Club is the real deal: late hours (until 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays), cheap drinks, girls aplenty, rock and roll, sweat and boobs. Who could ask for anything more?

Sicardi Gallery María Inés Sicardi started her gallery ten years ago, focusing on Latin American artists. The always carefully curated space has a history of introducing intriguing contemporary work and thoughtfully presenting lesser-known works by 20th-century masters (such as the elegantly awkward late sculptures of the Venezuelan artist Gego). On the contemporary front, Oscar Muñoz's exhibition at Sicardi Gallery was the standout of FotoFest 2004. The artist delivered an aerial view of notoriously violent Cali, Colombia -- shown on the floor under fractured sheets of safety glass. Muñoz's video, in which he painted and repainted a rapidly disappearing self-portrait on concrete with a water-dipped brush, was, hands down, the best exploration of FotoFest's water theme. But the gallery is relaxed about straying from its Latin American specialization in order to show something unique like the (pre-Frank Stella) tape drawings of Houston artist Harvey Bott, which were made in the early 1950s, while he was still a teenager.

Sicardi Gallery
Sicardi Gallery María Inés Sicardi started her gallery ten years ago, focusing on Latin American artists. The always carefully curated space has a history of introducing intriguing contemporary work and thoughtfully presenting lesser-known works by 20th-century masters (such as the elegantly awkward late sculptures of the Venezuelan artist Gego). On the contemporary front, Oscar Muoz's exhibition at Sicardi Gallery was the standout of FotoFest 2004. The artist delivered an aerial view of notoriously violent Cali, Colombia -- shown on the floor under fractured sheets of safety glass. Muoz's video, in which he painted and repainted a rapidly disappearing self-portrait on concrete with a water-dipped brush, was, hands down, the best exploration of FotoFest's water theme. But the gallery is relaxed about straying from its Latin American specialization in order to show something unique like the (pre-Frank Stella) tape drawings of Houston artist Harvey Bott, which were made in the early 1950s, while he was still a teenager.

Late Nite Pie Complete with bulging veins and a ribbon tied around the shaft, the penis drawn on the wall of the women's restroom is accompanied by a message: "For those who pass through here this is a present for you." It shares the wall with the usual political fare, such as "George Bush is an asshole," and self-referential remarks like "Girls write stupid shit on bathroom walls." Next door in the men's restroom you've got the requisite messages from the Sugar Beats and the Dum Dum Boys, not to mention a few debates. "You might think yer cool, but Opie Hendrix fucked your girlfriend!" is countered with "Go home Opie. You're drunk!" And then, of course, everything on the wall is trumped with the classic "Why read the wall when the joke is in your hand?" It's enough to make you hang out in a public restroom far longer than you should. But don't forget to wash your hands, Opie.

Late Nite Pie Complete with bulging veins and a ribbon tied around the shaft, the penis drawn on the wall of the women's restroom is accompanied by a message: "For those who pass through here this is a present for you." It shares the wall with the usual political fare, such as "George Bush is an asshole," and self-referential remarks like "Girls write stupid shit on bathroom walls." Next door in the men's restroom you've got the requisite messages from the Sugar Beats and the Dum Dum Boys, not to mention a few debates. "You might think yer cool, but Opie Hendrix fucked your girlfriend!" is countered with "Go home Opie. You're drunk!" And then, of course, everything on the wall is trumped with the classic "Why read the wall when the joke is in your hand?" It's enough to make you hang out in a public restroom far longer than you should. But don't forget to wash your hands, Opie.

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