It's called poetry slam. Not the other way around. And just because anybody can do it and the judges are everyday Joes selected randomly from the audience, that doesn't mean it's not art. It's performance art, people. More specifically, "spoken word." Sure, the purist literati might sit back with arms crossed, nostrils flaring, and heads shaking in apologetic deference to Shelley and Keats, but something tells us these verse slingers don't care. And if they do, they're likely to tell you about it... in three minutes or less at the Hot Air 2004 4th Annual Florida Poetry Slam Team Championships.
"We're not trying to please the academics," competition organizer Marya Summers says. "I came in with an academic attitude, and people hated me." Well, hearts have since warmed to the "Slam Mistress," whom you're likely to find behind the mic on Tuesday nights at Dada in Delray Beach after the dinner crowd clears out. Scheduled to compete in the state slam competition are teams from Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Winter Park, and the host team from Delray Beach. The winner will move on to the National Poetry Slam, to be held in St. Louis during August.
Makeup of the teams reflects "a diverse spread of personalities and styles," Summers says, "which is good because it forces artists and writers [who are usually very individualistic] to collaborate." Unlike traditional poetry -- "only an ego stroke for the person who wrote it," Summers says -- the idea is to win favor with the audience. Started in the '80s at a Chicago jazz club by construction worker Marc Smith, the "theatrical art form," now attracting slam groupies in a hundred cities across the country, has earned its critique-worthy due. Russell Simmons' Def Poetry on HBO won the 2002 Peabody award, and the Broadway stage production of Def Poetry Jam took last year's Tony. Saturday's Hot Air competitions begin at 7 p.m. at two locations -- Respectable Street Café (518 Clematis St., West Palm Beach) and next door at the Lounge (517 Clematis St.) Tickets cost $8 in advance, $10 at the door. Call 561-832-9999, or visit www.respectablestreet.com. -Michelle D. Omenson
Punk and Proud
Punks vs. Psychos. For the uninformed, that sounds like some kind of free-for-all street-fighting match, like from a Sony Playstation game or something. But, alas, there's no steel cage, only an outdoor stage. And bands. Quite notable bands too, if your knowledge of punk extends beyond Rancid and the Offspring. The "Punks vs. Psychos Tour," which rolls into Spanky's Sports Bar (500 Clematis St., West Palm Beach), brings to town British street punk/Oi! veterans the Business, psychobilly punkers Tiger Army, and the Disasters, led by former Agnostic Front vocalist Roger Miret. Of course, the bands aren't actually battling one another. In fact, they're all on the same page in the not-always-cohesive book of punk. The Business, however, has long practiced merging the historically schismed punk scene. It isn't every day you see a live set that includes cover songs by social realist punk bands like Sham 69 and anarcho-idealists like Crass. Yet the Business covers both bands -- irony-free -- amid its own set of classics, such as "Drinking and Driving," "Loud, Proud, and Punk," and the Oi!-filled anthem "Suburban Rebels." The show starts at 6:30 p.m. and costs $13. Call 561-832-7964. -- Jason Budjinski
Take a Drag
Queens of Voodoo
Friday night: Leave work and party. Saturday night: Wait out your hangover and party. Sunday night: Uh... go to bed? Hell, no -- there's still plenty of fun to be had. If you think Sunday nights have to be a drag, well, you might as well celebrate that fact at "Life's a Drag," the weekly drag show at the Voodoo Lounge (111 SW Second Ave., Fort Lauderdale). You'll laugh away any thoughts of the workweek as in-house drag host Daisy Deadpetals entertains with her outrageous Top 40 lip-synching mimicry. Deadpetals is joined by a rotating list of queens like Glitz Glamour, Lola Lush, and Valentina -- all characters in the truest sense of the word. You can't possibly get bored with this lot. As a dolled-up David Johansen once sang: "I'm talkin' 'bout per-so-nal-i-ty. " The first show starts at 11:30 p.m. and is followed by a second show at 1:30 a.m. House DJs spin the tunes that get these ladies shaking their silicon all night long. The cost is $7 for ages 21 and over, but bring lots of small bills too. Call 954-522-0733, or visit www.voodooloungeflorida.com. -- Jason Budjinski
Producing a Scam
You've heard all about it in the scores of press reviews, and now's your chance to see what everyone's gushing about. Mel Brooks' hit Broadway musical The Producers is showing at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale). Not familiar with the story? These two guys, a failed producer and his accountant, put their creative talents toget her for the perfect scam. The result is a musical, titled Springtime for Hitler, for which the clever connivers managed to elicit quite a production budget. The plan was that the show would fall flat and they would walk away with the unspent production budget. But as all too often happens, the audience can't tell a stinker from a jewel, and the show is a success. Can you say "reality TV"? The Producers runs through May 23. Tickets cost $22.50 to $70. Call 954-462-0222. -- Jason Budjinski