Greasy food and cheesy tchotchkes are staples of almost any Valley festival. But the Rathayatra Parade and Festival in Tempe on Saturday, February 14, promises something a bit different -- a chance to touch the ethereal plane. Such spiritual transcendence comes by way of pulling a towering, 20-foot-high, crimson-domed, garland-anointed chariot of Krishna avatar Lord Jagannatha -- "master of the universe." The traditional celebration is presented by the local temple of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, pairing wanna-be dharma bums with devotees chanting "sankirtans" (melodic mantras), all who await "a liberation to a higher planet of existence," says Bhakta Raj Das, the temple's president. The two-mile ritual procession winds through downtown Tempe and ends at Tempe Beach Park, where dancing, music, henna tattoos and a vegetarian feast await. The parade begins at the intersection of Rural Road and Lemon Street at 11 a.m., and festivities at the park run from noon until 6 p.m. Call 480-705-4900 or see iskconaz.org/upevents.html for details. -- Benjamin Leatherman
Short and Sweet
Local film company screens its latest
With The Message, the latest short from local film production company Caribou Moving Pictures, writer Stanley Robinson and director Ethan Moe have created an off-center tale of a man with a moving postmortem message.
The première at Alice Cooper'stown will be attended by the usuals -- cast, crew, Chekov from Star Trek. Seriously. (Actor Walter Koenig, who played Chekov, is the executive producer.) Visit www.geocities.com/stanrobinson2002 for a free ticket. The screening starts at 7 p.m. Friday, February 13, at Cooper'stown, 101 East Jackson. -- Quetta Carpenter
Let your inhabitions go at Alwun House
It's the original Sex and the City.
Phoenix's most tantalizing art exhibition -- the Alwun House "Exotic Art Show" -- turns 21 this year. And true to tradition, the pioneering downtown gallery hosts a decadent opening-night gala, on Friday, February 13. To get you in the mood, two stages of outrageous entertainment include live dance, a drag king show, and an exquisite latex and bondage performance. A buffet of "caviar lips and cordial dips" sweetens the deal.
Of course, that's just foreplay for the uninhibited art on display. The work of more than 60 artists fills two floors with deliciously diverse eye candy.
Advance tickets -- highly recommended -- are $20; admission is $25 at the door. Alwun House is located at 1204 East Roosevelt; parking and shuttle service is available at the northeast corner of 16th Street and Roosevelt (at the former Kmart). Call 602-253-7887 for details. -- Michele Laudig
Pin-up art in Tempe
Get your Valentine's Day heart on at Tempe's reZurrection Gallery, 601 West University. On Saturday, February 14, a reception unveils "Varga Valentine," a group exhibition of pin-up paintings, while some tough cookies (local roller derby dames, that is) wheel and deal home-baked goodies. Call 480-377-9080. -- Jill Koch
Gettin' Jiggly With It
No guts, no glory for Bellydance Superstars
Seems Homer Simpson's stomach of steel (not to be confused with abs of steel) isn't the only abdomen to rock the alternative music circuit. The Bellydance Superstars and Desert Roses, fresh off the Lollapalooza tour, are about to give Valley navel gazers an eyeful. The first touring troupe of its kind, the 'Stars and Roses shake it like so many Polaroid pictures this Tuesday, February 17, at the Rhythm Room, 1019 East Indian School. Putting a modern twist on the ancient dance form, the ab fab performers fuse tribal, Egyptian and cabaret styles of belly dance into a "Middle Eastern Riverdance-style show." Doors open at 7 p.m. for the 8 o'clock performance; audience members must be 21 or older. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 day of show. Call 602-265-2842 for reservations. -- Jill Koch
Here's the Deal
Gamble for a good cause
Charity's on the tables this Thursday, February 12, when De Colores Domestic Violence Shelter hosts its Third Annual Casino Night fund raiser. High rollers are invited to roll into La Casa del Mariachi restaurant, 1420 North 24th Street, from 5:30 to 11 p.m. Call 602-269-1515 for more information. -- Jill Koch