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As the decade turned, a new force began to make its (literal) presence felt in San Francisco 's non-mainstream art circles. The almost simultaneous emergence of six noncommercial art spaces run mostly by young, former art students marked the possibility of a potentially vital phenomenon-in-the-making. Interested observers wondered if it would prove merely a trendy diversion or a movement of genuine consequence. Happily, the latter seems to be the case. With a year's experience under their belts, the founders of these new spaces have matched initial enthusiasm with sustained commitment and quickly acquired know-how. Club Foot, Valencia Tool and Die, A-Hole, Club Generic, Jet Wave, and A.R.E. (Artists' Revolution in the Eighties) are the six picturesquely named spaces. Such nomenclature suggests the New Wave sensibilities generally at play and in the cases of Club-Foot and Generic, an acknowledgement of the current mutuality of interests among the videophile, club-based punk music and the experimental performance communities. (Probably not coincidentally, Futurist and Dada performance of the early 20th century flourished in similarly theatrically and musically oriented cabaret milieux.) Performance is the major, but by no means exclusive activity presented in these spaces. Video, film and music are frequently scheduled (almost invariably for one night stands) and even paintings are sometimes shown. Beer drinking and joint smoking are also ubiquitous. The programming differences of the various spaces seem to have more to do with the scope than the kind of programs presented, although certain forms, painting for instance, are taboo at some spaces (Club Foot and Generic), de rigeurat others (Jet Wave, A.R.E. and, occasionally , Valencia Tool and Die). CAL ACTION Unorthodox Acts Out West Robert Atkins The audience-art and music-makers and buffs, critics and curators-on-themake -crosses over widely. It would be difficult , I think, to find someone regularly attending one of these establishments who had not visited several of the others. The six new spaces are housed in low rent storefronts, lofts, even an old boarding house/hotel, scattered across about a five mile corridor from the rather dangerous Tenderloin District (Club Generic must keep its door locked to prevent winos and junkies from wandering in) to Civic Center and the outer reaches of South-of-Market and the Mission District. Karen Finley prepares for her performance by regaling the audience with her onion stuffed, worn-over-the-blouse brassiere which results in surprisingly life-like effects . Stop Talking, Start Kissing has not, however, begun as yet. Finley is the last act on the night's triple bill with Gina Lamb and Jeff Stole. The double, triple and even quadruple-header has become standard practice at such events. Finley prefaces her performance with the announcement that the video camera operator ought to participate and in a manic burst of energy he removes his shirt, oils his torso and gets down to business. Business means emptying the contents of a nearby refrigerator, dousing herself, the floor and sometimes the audience with food, drink and assorted objects. Highlights of the first half include Finley overturning a dresser, stuffing canned peaches in her vagina and pantyhose and tossing live worms at the audience. The second half of Finley's performance brings a professional belly dancer who gamely keeps her cool while dancing in the now very messy space. Bradley Bailey sits down at a table flanked front and rear by mirrors. He verbalizes an internal dialogue provoked by a mail order tract on how to measure your head for a toupee. Reason and narcissism skirmish. The punchline (and title) tells the tale: Should I Get a Toupee or What? Bradley again presents what seems unusual material for a male, in a companion piece staged the same evening, called Getting Dressedto Go to a Party. Nudity, music and dance alternate, making Bradley's party preparations/quest for identity anything but a solemn ritual. 15 VJ For Kate Kline May's evocative Tableaux Vivants the audience is led from a basement , entered via a sidewalk trade entrance , to an upstairs gallery by mute docent Ed Holmes, communicating via a hand-carried, portable cassette recorder. The text is pure art double...


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