Green Period 

What is this "Strange Attraction"?


Mike Woolson likes to paint women green. Or sometimes gold. Or maybe blue or even silver. He also likes to dress himself and other people in unusual costumes, ranging from the macabre to the whimsical, and photograph the odd events that follow. Why? He calls it Strange Attraction. Literally. It's the name of his show of "surreal erotic portraiture," running through February 29 at Lanesplitter Pub in Berkeley (2033 Shattuck Ave.), with a reception Sunday at 7 p.m. for Woolson, 42, a published cartoonist, photographer, and graphic artist. Woolson describes his shoots as decidedly collaborative efforts. This makes sense, as all his models are friends or romantic interests. "I've had models totally grab the shoot away from me and tell me what to do," says the Ann Arbor, Michigan, native.

Woolson's work is heavily influenced by 1960s television characters such as Catwoman, Emma Peel, and Vina, the "green babe" on Star Trek who provided the inspiration for his first shoot. The content is decidedly sexual, but not explicitly so. His self-portraits tend to be gender-bending and somewhat disturbing. "I want people to fantasize as much about having breakfast with the model as anything overtly sexual," he says. You can look into Woolson's strange world at -- Keith Bowers

SAT 2/7

Down There

South Asian stories at Mills

Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues has been performed thousands of times all over the world, inspired a new documentary, and raised more than $20 million for international antiviolence programs. But there are still some things that need to be said. So, last summer, Bay Area women's collective South Asian Sisters performed its own version of the play, Yoni Ki Baat, a collection of monologues written by South Asian women from all over the United States. The Berkeley performances raised $5,000 to abate domestic violence in local South Asian communities. Now, women of all ages and ethnicities can get in on the discussion about sexual identity, menstruation, body image, and other skirted-around topics during the Yoni Ki Baat Day of Dialogue. The free event takes place from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Mills College Student Union (Rothwell Center, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland). 510-828-6696. -- Stefanie Kalem

TUE 2/10

Talk It Off, Baby

S.I.R. Video Productions -- creators of such forward-thinking porn as the Bend Over Boyfriend series and Sugar High, Glitter City -- are at it again, and, like usual, they don't mind if you watch. Talk to Me Baby: A Lover's Guide to Dirty Talk and Role Play features S.I.R.'s Shar Rednour shining a proud red light on role-playing and naughty chatter. She leads a workshop on the subject at Good Vibrations (2504 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley) this Tuesday from 8 to 10 p.m. Cost is $40 per couple. 510-841-8987. -- Stefanie Kalem



Another place, another time

Life magazine photographer Jack Birns voyaged to the Chinese coastal megalopolis of Shanghai in 1947 -- a time when the former European colonial city awaited the onslaught of Mao Tse-tung's Communist revolution -- and caught the uneasy mood of the place with a remarkable series of street scenes and portraits that were subsequently shelved by Time-Life publisher Henry Luce, presumably because they offended his anticommie sensibilities. But now Birns' images are on full display, in a UC Press book (Assignment: Shanghai) and a show at UCB's Graduate School of Journalism. Jack Birns -- Photographs: China 1947-1949 runs through March 19 at 121 North Gate Hall. -- Kelly Vance


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