Fine Tuning

Men croon, men swoon

Give credit to the guy who sings in front of a karaoke crowd, but can't carry a tune in his Nike gym bag. Or maybe he's actually a shy Justin Timberlake, afraid to take the mike but fully capable of rocking it thoroughly once he does. Whatever your personal karaoke style, if you've wanted to join in or just listen to songs from The Producers, or even one-liners from "The Golden Girls" without the agony of standing out in a crowd, the opportunity has been in your backyard all along. Show Tune Nights at The Loading Zone (16 South Euclid Avenue, 314-361-4119, 9 p.m.-1:15 a.m. Tuesdays and 4:30-9 p.m. Fridays, free) have been a Central West End tradition for years.

A DJ plays upscale club music with widescreen videos shown all around the bar, so everyone can gather and croon with Goulet and Madonna. Karaoke literally means "little empty orchestra," but this is gay-bar camaraderie, campiness and sheer appreciation for the music at its best. (Picture Boy Scout campfire sing-a-longs moved indoors, with the guys in button-downs, holding martinis.) Whether you can sing or not, make Judy proud. Sing hallelujah, come in, get happy. -- Cathy Cohn

The Don of Evil
Art Coop Rises Anew

FRI 7/11

Free spirit and Art Coop executive director Don Erickson celebrates the grand re-opening of his relocated gallery with Nue Vue, a show featuring 33 artists, 99 works, live music and other performances (1620 Delmar Boulevard, 7 p.m.-midnight, free, 314-644-7676). Erickson says that this show's highlights include Sharon West's installation of lighted fantasy costumes on mannequins, and Madge Gressley's painting of what appear to be "lost souls swimming in molten hell, but they're happy." The party is also part of a series of stunts known as the Downtown Art Crawl, with simultaneous art openings at the nearby Cummel's Café, Gallery Urbis Orbis, Rue 13 and Farrago. -- Byron Kerman

Aliens Invade Earth City!

The phrase "science-fiction convention" often makes eyes roll and conjures images of goofy people in costumes or the Comic Book Guy on "The Simpsons." However, this fascinating subculture isn't quite as Galaxy Quest-ish as it appears.

ShowMeCon (Friday-Sunday, July 11-13, at the Four Points Sheraton, 3400 Rider Trail South in Earth City, $15-$40, www.showmecon.com) is St. Louis' newest sci-fi shindig. It's a haven for fans of all ages and lifestyles to talk shop about their passion for futuristic, kitschy pop culture. The ridged-forehead, pointy-eared, laser-beamed fun includes panel discussions, a sci-fi mystery dinner, art show, dealers' room, gaming, a "Survivor"/"Fear Factor"-themed masquerade and a continuous anime video room. You can even bid on that elusive P38 Aludium Space Modulator at the charity auction (benefiting the Open Door Animal Sanctuary).

Confirmed guests include Star Wars novelist Timothy Zahn and old-school actor Dick Durock, who's appeared in countless films and TV series, including Swamp Thing (pictured above), "Star Trek" and "Lost In Space." -- Rob Levy

 
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