Star Gays

Despite whispers of its demise, the OutFar! Lesbian & Gay Film Festival traipses on. Festival director Amy Ettinger thought this year's event might be the last, and then she was barraged with ticket inquiries and film submissions. "I was looking at the stacks of stuff and almost had a panic attack," Ettinger says. She narrowed the roster down to 16 new films, including Brother to Brother, about a black artist who discovers the influence gays and lesbians had on the Harlem Renaissance; Brushfires, about a dangerous female love triangle; and On the Downlow, which chronicles the lives of two young Latinos involved in Chicago's gangland. "They're powerhouse films. They're made to reach a large cross section," Ettinger says. The festival also includes Eating Out, The Gay Republicans, and several short films. The OutFar! Lesbian & Gay Film Festival takes place Friday, February 4, through Sunday, February 6, at Harkins Fashion Square Theatre, 7014 East Camelback in Scottsdale. Single-show tickets cost $10 to $12, and festival and multi-day passes are available. Visit -- Niki D'Andrea

Grape Escape

Wine tasting caters to ears and eyes, too

WED 2/9
In the name of wine, rock and art, we'll kneel for the holy trinity at the Paper Heart, 750 Grand Avenue, on Wednesday, February 9. The venue's new monthly wine-tasting event, "Wines From Around the World," features vino, local artists, and "Latin rock" from Fatigo, all starting at 8 p.m. Admission is $15, $25 per couple. Call 602-262-2020. -- Joe Watson

Hoop for the Soul

Dance contest brings world=class talents to town

You don't have to jump through hoops to get some cultural entertainment. Just watch the pros do it at the 15th annual World Championship Hoop Dance Contest, on Saturday, February 5, and Sunday, February 6, at the Heard Museum, 2301 North Central. Competitors vie for titles in five divisions and spin up to 50 hoops at a time to create designs like bears and butterflies. The hoop shot starts at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets cost $7 to $10. Call 602-252-8848. -- Niki D'Andrea

Bright Ideas

It's a lamp! It's art! It's a lamp and art!

FRI 2/4
Thomas Edison's light bulb has come a long way, baby. Witness artificial light in all its forms at the Lamp Show, taking place at the Annex, 1022 Grand Avenue, on Friday, February 4. Eleven artists, including Steve Gompf, Jeff Falk, Annie Lopez, and Abbey Messmer, will show their artistic arrays of floor lamps, hanging lamps, wall lamps, and night-lights. Artist Mike Goodwin may show some neon, and Mike Miskowski will show his piece Floor Lamp, made of multicolored sunglasses. And you can really trip the light fantastic with live music from Fatigo, Shellylong, and Abe. The gallery opens at 7 p.m., and admission is free. Call 602-741-8253. -- Niki D'Andrea

Just for Fun

RenFest goes back in time, again

Just because you gave Mickey Mouse a walloping during your last trip to Disneyland, that doesn't mean you've gotta one-up yourself by heckling the costumed street actors at this year's Arizona Renaissance Festival, 12601 East Highway 60 in Gold Canyon, starting Saturday, February 5. These faire folk have spent many a fortnight honing their act, and the last thing they need is you asking, "Where do you hold your cell phone?" (Besides, they've probably heard your z-grade quips a hundred times over.) Reconsider asking Ded Bob why he has a hand up his rear and enjoy the 12 stages of entertainment, more than 200 artisans and vendors, and the requisite jousting. Medieval time runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each weekend though March 27. Advance tickets are $16 for adults and $8 for children, available online or at Fry's supermarkets. Call 520-463-2700 or see -- Benjamin Leatherman

Strange Brew

Fighting boredom with fire -- and sharp objects

SAT 2/5
Steve Strange puts scorpions in his mouth, swallows razor blades, eats fire, and rubs his face in broken glass. Why? Because he's bored. "We're all fairly bored most of the time," says Strange, who recently led a clown rampage through the streets of Tucson. "I do what I do in the hopes that people will just have a good time." So check out the Spellbinding Circus Sideshow at the Trunk Space, 1506 Grand Avenue, on Saturday, February 5, when Strange will perform his "cabaret classical magic with adult themes." He might do some card tricks, remove people's clothing, move a BB from one of his eyes to the other, pull a long string out of his abdomen, guess people's birthdays, or shove torches down his pants. Whatever the magic menu, Strange plans to "splice my death-defying feats with a heavy dose of comedy, to keep people from throwing up." The Galapagos comedy improv troupe joins the sideshow, which starts at 8 p.m. Admission is $7. Call 602-256-6006. -- Niki D'Andrea

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Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea
Joe Watson