The Down Low

Thu. May 20, 2004 12:00 AM
by David Viggiano

Living in a culturally abundant city like Chicago, there’s never a lack of things to do. But if you find yourself stuck in a rut making the same rounds to the same bars every weekend (not that I haven’t been known to do the same from time to time) I’m here to offer some unique alternatives, many of which are reasonably priced and several even donate a portion of their proceeds to good causes. So get out your date book and make note of these worthwhile events.

Let’s start with this weekend. R&B legend and 8 time Grammy winner, Chaka Khan returns to her home town to take part in “Walk Now”, a 5k walk and community resource fair benefiting Cure Autism Now. This is a family event that will provide valuable educational resources with a carnival-like atmosphere.

The festivities take place Sunday May 23 from 8:00am to 2:00pm at The Parklands at Soldier Field. The event is free. If you choose to walk, you must register at Chaka is the official event host and has dedicated much of her life to social causes through her Chaka Khan Foundation which helps women and children transition out of poverty, offers drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs, and aids battered women. She will be honored as Woman of the Year at the 1st Annual I’m Every Woman Conference in Santa Barbara, California in June.

While we’re on the subject of Divas, here’s an evening you won’t want to miss. Dance Divas is a night of “high kicks, high camp, and high heels” celebrating legendary dancing women of the stage and screen. Here’s the twist: they’ll be portrayed by men from Chicago’s most notable dance companies including Hubbard Street, River North, and the Joffrey Ballet. The fun takes place on June 3 at the Moulin Rouge Showroom at the Fairmont Hotel, 200 North Columbus Drive. Tickets range from $25 to $85 and proceeds go to the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Chicago House, Project VIDA, and the Dance for Life Fund. Call 312-922-2322.

Chicago House will benefit from another high profile event. HIM is an exhibition and sale of the finest Decorative Arts, vintage accessories and wearables for “the discerning man”. That may exclude many of us, but I intend to go anyway. It’s all happening at DouglasRosin Decorative Arts & Antiques, 730 North Wells Street on June 10. Tickets are $35 in advance, $40 at the door. Call 312-337-6556.

If filmmaking is your passion, here’s a great event to benefit the Gene Siskel Film Center. This year, the Annual Gala is “Mission Possible: An Evening with John Woo”. The critically acclaimed director, Woo (“Paycheck”) will be joined in a discussion by actor/producer Bob Balaban (“The Mighty Wind”), Woo’s long-time producing partner, Terence Chang, and the Gene Siskel Film Center’s Director of Programming, Barbara Scharres. The event takes place on Saturday, June 12 at the Art Institute of Chicago, 210 South Columbus Drive. This is a black tie or “movie glam” event and tickets range from $300 to $25,000. If that may be a little on the steep side, you can attend just the discussion for an incredibly reasonable $35. All proceeds support the Gene Siskel Film Center’s mission to present the best in world cinema. Call 312-846-2072 or go to

There’s more for all you movie fans. The museum of Science and Industry is opening a new exhibit on Friday, May 28. Action! An Adventure in Moviemaking takes you behind the big screen and lets you look through a real movie camera, learn from a stunt pro, re-create special effects from your favorite films, and even make your own movie. You can be cast in the Museum’s film, “Escape From Zircon” and take your movie home to show your family and friends.

The Museum of Science and Industry is located at 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive. Go to

There are 3 stage productions currently running that I recommend.

The Defiant Theatre has revived for the third time it’s hilarious spoof, “Action Movie: The Play”. Why transfer to the stage effects that can only be done in the movies? You gotta check this out to see the creative genius that’s behind the flawless execution of these stunts. The show pokes fun at every action movie ever made and will leave you in awe at some of the most original ideas ever put on stage, even if they’re stolen from some of the most wretched movies ever made. The show runs through June 13 at the Chopin Theater, 1543 West Division Street. Tickets run $15 to $18 and can be purchased at or call 312-409-0585

Another hilarious spoof is Second City’s “Romeo and Juliet Musical: The People vs. Friar Laurence, The Man Who Killed Romeo & Juliet”. The show has been revived for a summer run at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier. It runs through August 15 and stars Keegan-Michael Key and Nicole Parker of Fox’s “MAD TV”.

If you’re looking for something more serious, check out “I Never Sang For My Father”. This revival of the Robert Anderson classic stars ensemble members, Kevin Anderson and John Mahoney (“Frasier”) and has just been extended until June 27. This powerful and moving show is playing at the Steppenwolf Downstairs Theatre. Tickets range from $36 to $60. Call 312-335-1650 or go to

I must leave you with one more option, if for no other reason than the unusual combination of “talent” that makes up this year’s “Pornopolooza”. Stage performances by Colt Studio models will entertain all night long along with porn stars Matthew Rush, Rob Romoni and Chicago Beef. Guest DJ Guido Osorio will be spinning the music. The event goes from 9:00pm to 4:00am at Circuit Nightclub, 3641 North Halsted. Tickets are $20 and $30 and can be picked up at Batteries Not Included, Universal Gear, or Borderline Music.

Here’s the odd part. A special performance will be happening by Melba Moore. Why this Tony winning actress and pop diva would choose this venue as forum, especially on the heels of releasing her first gospel album. Has her career come to this? At least she knows her audience. We gay men love ‘70’s pop divas!

And that brings my column full circle back to Chaka Khan.

Until next time, be fun, have fun, make fun.