It's a bit strange to be interviewing a fellow writer for this piece, especially when it's about her band, and especially when the band came together while all three members were working at another alt-weekly. Former New Times Broward-Palm Beach staffer Emma Trelles, along with freelance photographer Mindy Hertzon and art director Andrea Vigil, collaborated on a 2002 story for Street Miami about Spy-Fi Records, an indie label based in Miami. After the story came out, Spy-Fi founder and local musician Ed Artigas approached Trelles with an idea. "Ed called me up one day and said we should all be in a band: me on bass, Mindy on guitar, and Andrea on drums," Trelles recalls. "I was like, 'I don't play the bass.' And he said, 'So what?'"
With that seed planted, Secret P.E. Club bloomed. Trelles was used to writing about music but basically learned bass on the fly. Hertzon was an original member of the Laundry Room Squelchers (an experimental noise-rock band founded by scene veteran Rat Bastard), and Vigil had a brief stint in the brilliantly named Oprah's Dildo. "And so, Ed baptized us with the name, because we started out practicing in this old gym on Biscayne near the Street offices," Trelles explains. "After work, we'd haul our gear up there and play, using extension cords. We'd basically practice in the dark, with a small desk lamp. We didn't have any preconceived notions of what we wanted to sound like. We were just learning our instruments."
SPEC cooks up a blend of punk-rock aplomb with pop gusto. And as their website sums up: "Ed, he's our Pop-Daddy. And we don't even have to put out. All we have to do is play." Check out Secret P.E. Club, along with Mr. Entertainment, at Tavern 213, 213 SW Second St., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-463-6213. -- Audra Schroeder
Miami Improv Festival
Don't leave the house without your plunger, your statue of St. Ignatius, and your anal beads... or items of that sort. Audience members are encouraged to bring unusual objects to A Man, A Boombox & A Blowup Doll -- the live, interactive, one-man comedy show that kicks off the Miami Improv Festival. With 33 shows spread over five nights, plus workshops in acting, singing, and business, the festival has become a unifying event in the national improv community. Last year's inaugural festival was snubbed by big shots of the genre -- namely, Chicago's Second City comedy troupe and the Los Angeles-based Groundlings. This year, however, both groups are clamoring to get in on the action. One of the festival's organizers, Alex Perdomo (a high school teacher who masquerades as Cracko the Clown with Miami's Just the Funny troupe), stressed the unique opportunity to catch tomorrow's rising stars of comedy today -- before they go on to join the cast of Saturday Night Live and then switch to making horror films like The Cat in the Hat. The festival takes place at the Miami Museum of Science and Planetarium (3280 S. Miami Ave., Miami) Tuesday, January 27, through January 31, and workshops run January 31 through February 1. Tickets cost $10 to $25. Call 305-668-4821. -- Deirdra Funcheon
New steps in ballet's quest for relevance
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For too long now -- actually, for pretty much its entire history -- ballet has been seen as the province of the few. Make that the rich few. No, make that the rich, white few. As a result, ballet has been relegated to the same tiny niche as monocles, tuxedos with tails, and the Rolls-Royce Phantom V. But Urban Ballet Theater tries to change all that. The company mixes traditional ballet with inner-city influences in dances that address contemporary issues. Even the troupe's dancers come from unorthodox backgrounds, usually through Artistic Director Daniel Catanach's inner-city artistic programs. Of course, it is still, at the end of the day, ballet. We'll see if the company can manage to drag people away from the TVs, movie theaters, and other forms of entertainment media involving lots of flashing lights and pretty colors. Performances by Urban Ballet Theater take place at the Hollywood Performing Arts Center (1770 Monroe St., Hollywood), at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets cost $15, $13 for seniors and students. Call 954-921-3274. -- Dan Sweeney
Stop. Kiss. Discuss.
Being a lesbian is all the rage. There's The L Word, Showtime's new lesbian version of Sex and the City. Kissing Jessica Stein, the film about a straight woman who finds herself attracted to a lesbian friend, became an underground hit. And Madonna and Britney have no problem playing tonsil hockey on live television for the sake of boosting ratings. Let's face it -- the idea of two women kissing is always going to unlock some sort of guilty-pleasure door in the recesses of our brains. With that idea in mind and with the recent success of Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, the Sol Theatre (1140 NE Flagler Dr., Fort Lauderdale) presents Stop Kiss. The story is simple enough: Two women living in New York City, both with boyfriends, begin to feel more than friendship for each other and decide to kiss. Does that put an end to their bicuriosities? No. Their kiss instead leads them on a journey of self-exploration (wink, nudge). Check out Stop Kiss at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and at 6 p.m. Sunday. Tickets cost $20. Call 954-525-6555. -- Audra Schroeder