A Curious Grace

With your ass on my face

It's the holiday season, and you know what that means -- the NFL playoffs are right around the corner, which, in turn, means more Miller Light catfight commercials.

If you just can't get enough of those, try some of these titles out for size: Face-Sitting Frenzy, Big Boob Conflict and Busty Blood Bath II. This is but a small sample of the ungodly number of female-fighting videos available at Maplewood's Videos Unlimited (7215 Manchester Road, 314-781-4111).

With so many sub-subgenres of this porn subgenre -- Amazons, fatties, midgets and dominatrices among them -- mixing it up in the squared circle (or more often than not, on someone's living room carpet), the interest level has no zenith. "I handle a couple thousand different titles," boasts store owner Kevin Toal. "It's a big, big, big business."

And yes, Mr. Cybercam Aficionado, this category includes interactivity. Some of these movie grapplers will actually travel to the trailers of their most loyal fans to defend their fake titles. "I had a guy pick up a box and say, 'I met this gal. I wrestled her for a thousand dollars an hour,'" reports Toal. And if you think pro-wrestling fanatics are addicted to their passion, try this: "I had a guy call me from Little Rock, Arkansas, asking about the store, and two days later he was in asking how to get back to I-55!" he adds. "I recognized his voice."

The purveyor of the largest collection of female-fight fetish videos for rent in the area says that he doesn't judge his clientele, either. "The guy likes somebody sitting on his face," says Toal. "Who cares!" -- Tom R. Arterburn

Ho-Ho-Horrors
A feat of clay

Can things that creep, crawl and go bump in the night become a part of Christmas? Can anything that slithers and screams be merry and bright?

Yes, it turns out, they can. Especially when the aforementioned creatures spring from the twisted mind of Tim Burton.

The Nightmare Before Christmas was the first full-length, big-budget stop-motion animated film. It featured the well-intentioned antics of Pumpkin King Jack Skellington, who stumbles upon Christmas and simultaneously places two holidays in grave peril. This holiday pop-culture phenomenon, embraced by goths, weirdos, hipsters and children of all ages, oozes imagination and humor and features some amazing scoring by Danny Elfman.

Strike a fiendish blow against all things sugary and sanctimonious this season with the tenth-anniversary edition of The Nightmare Before Christmas at the Tivoli Theatre (6350 Delmar Boulevard; at various times Friday, December 19 through Thursday, December 25). Visit www.landmarktheatres.com or call 314-995-6270 for more info. -- Rob Levy

Vogue Notions
You can't spell "STYLE" without STL

SUN 12/21

When news of the first-ever Flipside fashion show hit the streets, punks were positively giddy (well, less snarly maybe) with anticipation. Curb your enthusiasm, Sid; this is the local Flipside (or The Flipside Newszine, to be completely accurate), the Flipside that represents St. Louis' minority and urban communities, not the venerable "Punx Only!" California publication. No Rancid-influenced fashionistas or Vivienne Westwood-style sex clothes at this show. Instead, you'll see the work of local designers Nici Bond, Kim Dillon and Styles Clothing, as well as some togs from Bebe and Banana Republic. Think urban and urbane and smooth, not ripped or safety-pinned or crusty. Haute Couture...The Runway Show, as it's called, takes place at the Kastle (3207 Washington Avenue, 314-534-1571) tonight. Tickets are $15 to $20 (VIP tickets are $40, for those who only travel first class), and the runway opens for business at 6 p.m. -- Paul Friswold

Basement Tapes (and More)

Every time the relatives visit, you gotta go to the Arch, hit the Museum of Westward Expansion in the basement and endure those animatronic cowboys talking about the hardships they endured in Ye Olde Wild West.

But now there's much more, thanks to a major new exhibit. Focusing on the five months of preparations that Meriwether Lewis and William Clark made in St. Louis before embarking on their history-making trek (200 years ago this summer, as we all know), this interactive display boasts original letters, documents, tools and weapons on loan from the National Park Service.

The exhibit runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through January of 2005. Admission to the exhibit and the museum, located on the downtown riverfront, is free (314-655-1600, www.gatewayarch.com). -- Rose Martelli

Edification

Ken Konchel is a visual artist who, as they say in the rap-music game, handles his business. You may have spotted him selling prints of his classy, black-and-white architectural photography at a recent Saint Louis Art Fair. You may have surfed on in to his strikingly designed Web site, which, like his work, is done completely in neutral colors (www.kenkonchelphoto.com). Through January 15, you can step into the wildly colored Houska:2 Fine Art Gallery (4728 McPherson Avenue, 314-454-0959, free), where Konchel's close-up shots of art-deco accents, catenary arches in stone, weathered signs and swooping roofs offer a calm oasis. -- Byron Kerman

 
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