As I prepared this week's column, Orange County had yet to decide the fate of its proposed, utterly ridiculous "anti-dance hall" ordinance. The threat of legislation hung in the air, and I was feeling a little antsy about the trajectory of Central Florida culture. So I called Victor Perez.
The cheerful event promoter, I knew, had scheduled his annual Nude Nite compendium of figural art and performances for a three-evening stand next Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 22-24, in the part-time gallery space above NYPD Pizza. It was said that "Nude Nite 2001" would fully realize the undertaking's expansion into three dimensions, with live models, body presses, naked DJs and even declothed waiters complementing the exhibit of works by 96 artists.
God bless Perez: He had really picked his moment to push the boundaries of civic tolerance. Was he concerned about potential fallout?
"Am I always concerned about that?" he asked, with a sarcastic nonchalance that lifted my spirits.
Perez quickly switched to booster mode. "It's unbelievable," he said. "The way this show has grown and the potential of 'Nude Nite' is unbelievable." (Somehow, I was getting the impression the event would be beyond belief.) "There are so many new things coming out, so many people wanting to do more things with it. Who knows what's going to happen?"
Yes, but isn't that the point? Doesn't that very unpredictability court official, um, interference?
"Imagine if they came and busted the show just because it's nude artwork," Perez mulled. "I don't think they would dare. If they did ... man, forget it."
What about the more corporeal elements? Just because this isn't Casselberry doesn't mean that ...
"Actually, yeah, I do concern myself with that. ‘Nude Nite' is about the art. The art should always come first. `But` I can't stop people from having their own opinion about what 'Nude Nite' is."
Neither did he appear interested in gleaning the thought processes of the moralists who, even as we spoke, were seeking to identify dancing as an undesirable influence. "That's the craziest thing I've ever heard," Perez dismissed.
It's almost as crazy to consider "Nude Nite" a primarily libidinous outing. Yes, the immersion in bodily imagery tends to coax pick-up lines from the mouths of the attending singles. But it's hardly a pornographic affair; three years ago, I ran into Wendy Chioji, of all people. (You're less likely to spot an anchorperson at "Erotica Night," NN's sexually enhanced cousin, which Perez has scheduled for May 25 at Fluid. That one, he says, is "totally underground" -- or at least as underground as you can get after you've supplied a reporter with a location and date.)
"The art scene in Orlando is going in a positive and straightforward direction," Perez assured me as our conversation came to an end. He probably could have set my mind to rest about the whole Middle East situation, too, but I had already taken enough of his time.
Perez's better half, Tiphanie Windsor, is quite the busy, abstract little bee these days. In addition to contributing six works to "Nude Nite 2001," she's also taking part in this Friday's free Red Door Show at The Lounge (the second-floor space above the Pine Street Bar and Grill, below Aqua Luna). Dan Erminger, Jennifer Dournaux and Jennifer Wilfong complete the quartet of artists, whose display will betray a scarlet color scheme. Music is by acoustic bluegrass combo Six Legged Steer and emo/indie rockers Song of Mercury (joined by cellist Cindi Kornhaus).
You may have unknowingly stumbled onto some of the event's promotional materials. For three weeks, co-presenters Erminger and Marsha Green have been installing actual red doors (procured from Home Depot) on a temporary basis at various downtown locations. If you happen to find one still standing before the show, do the civic-minded thing: Dance around it.
The morning after the "Red Door Show," the portals of art will still be open. Downtown gallery proprietor Robin Van Arsdol will lead adults and children in a five-hour mural-painting session that will decorate buildings in the Parramore district. (The group meets at 10 a.m. at the corner of Division Avenue and Church Street.) Spearheaded by RV's assistant gallery director, Matthew Nogrady, the project heralds Van Arsdol's involvement in a support program for Fern Creek Elementary School, where his son attends classes -- and where budget cuts, he says, have had a negative effect on the art curriculum. The mural session is also smart community outreach for Van Ardsol, who's in the process of buying Parramore property `The Green Room, Jan. 18`.
Lloyd Kaufman, co-founder of Troma Entertainment, will be feted Saturday, March 3, at Maitland's Enzian Theater. Responsible for some of the finest modest-budget outrage ever to hit the screen -- as seen in such films as "Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD" and the "Class of Nuke 'Em High" series -- Kaufman will treat Enzian to a screening of the recent Troma opus, Terror Firmer.
A "film within a film" (groan), Firmer pits a movie crew against a serial killer in a campy, bloody tale that was inspired by Kaufman's printed autobiography, "All I Need To Know About Filmmaking I Learned from the Toxic Avenger." Just in case that book hasn't covered everything we need to know about the delicate art of faking entrails, Kaufman will answer questions posed by the Enzian audience.
The same weekend, Kaufman will drop in on the MegaCon 2001 sci-fi soiree at the Orange County Convention Center. So his Enzian wingding is a clear case of killing two birds with one stone -- or at least getting them to throw up on cue.
At this point in my life, I've given up on my dreams of purging movie theaters of cell phones or establishing "no toddlers" areas in restaurants. But a steady diet of live theater has left me with a new pet peeve: People who wear hats to performances, then seat themselves squarely in the front row. I have seen young and old alike commit this "chapeau faux pas," then take serious offense when I or someone else complained of obstructed vision.
If you're guilty of this heinous behavior, you obviously don't understand that Cats is far less fun for the rest of us to watch when the tabbies' bodies are bisected by the brim of a Greek fisherman's cap. But don't say you weren't warned if someday, one of us summons the great spirit of Southern vigilante justice and beats you insensate with your own bonnet.