Even hazy patrons bumbling their way out of opium dens– if the dope cave hadn’t been replaced by frou frou cocktail bars– would have had a hard time missing a gallery boom like the one currently going down in Chinatown. Increasingly fancy art palaces are moving in, bringing with them pristine minimalism and white-walled remove, which presents a pretty dramatic departure from the existing chaotic density of saggy red-yellow-and-smog-colored awnings, old ladies in bucket hats hustling meat sticks, careening unmarked buses hiding in alleyways that you didn’t know New York City had, murky fish tank smells, frenetically blinking neon signs, and countless aging storefronts overflowing with sun-bleached gecko supplements, acupuncture diagrams, and yellowing, curly-edged Chinese calendars.
Things always get interesting at the Mr. Lower East Side pageant, a raucous beauty contest for men (last year, in Brooklyn, the winner held up three computers with his penis). But they got really interesting last night, when the pageant returned to its namesake neighborhood for its 17th annual installment.
If you’ve decided that Stairwell Theater’s scatological Ubu Rex seems a little too extreme for you, there’s no shortage of oddball performance events around every corner this week. But sorry to all you straight-laced folk out there, none of them are particularly traditional.