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Ricky Martin brings his hipness (and hips) to Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Plus: The Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame in Hico rounds up a few heroes; a Spring Storm makes a fall premiere in Austin; the No Tsu Oh Festival turns Houston upside down (and backward); and four hot TV comics are crowned in Dallas and Houston.
Those Hips! Those Eyes!
The chance to see the planet’s hottest performer in your neck of the woods comes but once a year—if you’re lucky. Alas, at least some Texas fans of Ricky Martin’s won’t be, as the gyrating singer’s upcoming shows here (at Reunion Arena in Dallas on November 4, at the Alamodome in San Antonio on November 6, and at Compaq Center in Houston on November 7) sold out faster than you can say “genetically engineered crossover.” What will they miss, assuming additional dates aren’t added? An orgy of oozing omnisexuality, with a crush of school-age girls and grown-up boys panting at the pulsing beat of this year’s inescapable hit single, “Livin’ la Vida Loca.” Martin—who got his start in the mid-eighties as one fifth of Menudo and then broke hearts as a babelicious bartender on General Hospital—will sing other songs too, but the music isn’t the draw; he is. He’s the Beatles in ’64. He’s David Cassidy, Leif Garrett. He’s pre-paunch Presley. Of course, the lesson of history is that hunkdom is fleeting, so enjoy him while you can. Eventually, Pelvis will leave the building. EVAN SMITH
How ‘Bout Them Cowboys (and Cowgirls)?
It’s amazing that no one thought of this before. On November 20, in the little town of Hico, the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame holds its grand opening. Located in the back of a small Western art gallery called Cowboy Art, it is surprisingly well equipped with photos, videos, chaps, belt buckles, saddles, and trophies, but don’t expect to see just ranch cowboys lauded. This hall also honors the most famous rodeo cowboys, rodeo cowgirls, and rodeo clowns to have come out of Texas. Currently more than thirty such stars—from all-around champion cowboy Larry Mahan to world champion barrel racer Charmayne James—are featured. In addition to their exhibits, you can see the bull rope used by Tuff Hedeman when he scored his 95-point ride on Bodacious, perhaps the toughest rodeo bull of the nineties; and the rigging Ty Murray, whom Texas Monthly called the greatest cowboy ever in May 1999, used in his bareback rides. Most of the people mentioned above are expected to attend, including a former steer roper who is perhaps more famous for being a different kind of Cowboy, running back Walt Garrison. Live music, including a downtown street dance featuring the Bellamy Brothers, rounds out the day. By the end, you’ll be ready to put on your own set of spurs. SKIP HOLLANDSWORTH
Though some longtime residents are inspired to register their disgust with Austin’s explosive growth on T-shirts and bumper stickers, the Capital City is no longer a cozy college town for the counterculture. Certainly, some aspects of the boom have been frustrating; now you can expect to crawl down I-35 during the morning commute. However, as the embracing of the film community proves, the city isn’t averse to quality cultural institutions that result from the changing demographics. One such enterprise making its debut this month is Actors Repertory of Texas (ART), a professional equity theater company that hopes to become Austin’s answer to Houston’s Alley Theatre. And it’s off to the right start: Charles Duggan, the producer of the successful Greater Tuna series, founded ART as a “theater laboratory,” with plans to pump $1 million into each of the first two seasons. In addition, ART’s premiere performance, on November 10, features a never-before-produced play by Tennessee Williams, Spring Storm. Like Not About Nightingales, the Williams play that premiered in the U.S. last year at the Alley, it was discovered in the archives at UT’s Harry Ransom Center. But director Michael Bloom says that while Spring Storm is another of the playwright’s early efforts, it is a more typical Williams play than Nightingales. Not only does it establish models for characters in some of his later works, but, he says, “it really demonstrates how at twenty-nine he was already a mature poet.” The play should provide a serendipitous beginning for the company—and to think it was here all along. KATY VINE
In One Era and Out the Other
Calling Houston’s 1999 No Tsu Oh (pronounced Note-sue-oh) Festival a one hundredth anniversary is like calling Garth Brooks’s fictional rocker Chris Gaines the real thing. This year’s event, which takes place November 12 through 21, does revive a tradition started in 1899 when local merchants staged dances and street parties to promote Houston’s goods and services. No Tsu Oh (that’s “Houston” spelled backward, in case you didn’t notice) was discontinued in 1915, and it was not until the eighties that local artists began trying to resurrect the event. In the process they changed the focus, spotlighting the works of Houston’s unknown and underground artists, but Jim Pirtle, the festival’s organizer, says the goal is the same: To show that Houston has plenty to offer “and doesn’t need to buy it and bring it here.” And, what the heck, it sounds like fun. You can listen to live music, including a 24-hour jazz performance by the Free Radicals; attend an art opening in Mop Su Oh, an art space located in a mop closet curated by the Art Guys; watch dozens of dance and theatrical performances, including Horton Foote’s Roads Back Home (which is set in Houston in the twenties); enjoy the Art Crawl, a behind-the-scenes look at some fifteen warehouse art spaces; and—it wouldn’t be a Houston celebration without a reason to get decked out—dance at a masquerade ball. Wow (that’s “wow” spelled backward). EILEEN SCHWARTZ
People who think that Richard Pryor’s primary contribution to stand-up comedy was adding that handful of dirty words that Lenny Bruce had held back need to have their brains washed out with soap. Pryor led audiences from the borscht belt to the ghetto, making the world safe for black comics (not the other way around),from Jimmie Walker to Eddie Murphy to Chris Rock, whom Time recently called the funniest man in America. Now black comedians enjoy a higher visibility than ever, as upstart networks (first FOX, now the WB and UPN) have enlisted them to build core audiences. Four such comics, Bernie Mac, D. L. Hughley, Steve Harvey, and Cedric “The Entertainer”, will be coming to Houston and Dallas on the second Crown Royal Kings of Comedy Tour, and just witness their success: Host and headliner Harvey, who lives in Plano and who once owned a comedy club in Dallas, is beginning his fourth season on the WB’s The Steve Harvey Show, where he stars alongside tourmate Cedric the Entertainer, the 1994 recipient of BET’s Richard Pryor Comic of the Year Award. Bernie Mac, Uncle Bernie on UPN’s Moesha, is developing a sitcom, and D.L. Hughley’s ABC sitcom, The Hughleys, was one of television’s top-rated new shows last season. With such talent, it’s no wonder that Kings of Comedy is the highest-grossing comedy tour of all time. Though it probably doesn’t hurt that Gene Wilder isn’t tagging along. JOHN SPONG