By Randy Harward
One man’s creepy crawly thing is another’s cuddly little kitty. Just ask the thousands of reptile and invertebrate enthusiasts who’ll slither to the Utah State Fairpark this weekend for the ninth annual WASATCH REPTILE EXPO.
One-time snake breeder Guy Versluis first staged the expo—which attracts local and national purveyors of snakes, lizards, spiders and other exotic fauna—in 2000. It was big then—around 1,000 visitors—but 2007’s attendance of around 6,000 indicates it could grow to Godzilla-like proportions.
The expo’s popularity starts and ends with the animals. They’re already exotic, mysterious and even, to the uninitiated, scary. But one thing most people don’t know is that they come in a fascinating array of sizes and colors. Sure, everyone has seen an albino Burmese python—but have you seen a hypomelanistic caramel ball python or leucistic rat snake? These mystifying genetic morphs, which can cost reptile fanciers tens of thousands of dollars, are one of the main attractions, along with Goliath bird-eating tarantulas, Mexican walking fish and big ol’ emperor scorpions. “The animals are always awesome,” says Versluis.
So go for the wildlife but stay for the food; the expo attendee who can eat the most crickets or cockroaches will get a pair of tickets to the X96 Big Ass Show. “We, of course, keep large garbage cans nearby for the weak-stomached,” says Versluis. “The funny thing is everyone was disgusted, but no one would look away as they cheered … God, I love America.”
Wasatch Reptile Expo @ Utah State Fairpark, 155 N. 1000 West, Sept. 20 (10 a.m.-6 p.m.) & 21 (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) WasatchReptileExpo.com.
By Brian Staker
Did you know that Utah has had an official poet laureate since 1997? Somebody has to sing the more poetic virtues of the Beehive State. First to serve were David Lee and the late Ken Brewer, both distinguished local educators as well as beloved voices in the larger poetic sphere.
All this activity hasn’t interfered with her own work; rather, it’s seemed to nourish and invigorate it. Her fourth volume of poetry Fault (Red Hen Press) charts a path across the natural environs, both within our state borders and in the larger world from Paris to Padova, using history, science, culture and even love. But a map is always an imperfect representation. In “Good Eye,“ she asks of astronomers, “Some nights/ Surely they remembered just to gaze,/ Instead, say, of counting—all those points!—/ Or measuring the arc from star to star,/ And, by measuring, fixing it.” These Fault lines show what slips between the cracks and escapes measure.
Katharine Coles: Fault reading and signing @ Ken Sanders Rare Books, 268 S. 200 East, 521-3819, Thursday, Sept. 18, 7p.m.
By Scott Renshaw
Park City’s Egyptian Theatre Company has already produced PAGEANT twice, most recently in 2003. And there’s a reason it’s back again: Guys in drag are funny.
Let’s be more specific: Talented guys in drag are funny, and ETC has put together a great cast of lovely man-testants. The premise finds cheesy small-time TV personality Frankie Cavalier (Jason Tatom) hosting the Miss Glamouresse competition, with six semi-finalists vying for a beauty product-sponsored tiara: Miss Bible Belt (Wayne Burton), Miss Deep South (Dallin Garber), Miss Texas (Douglas W. Irey), Miss Industrial Northeast (Jacob Johnson), Miss West Coast (Sean J. Carter) and Miss Great Plains (ETC stalwart Marc Raymond).
It’s true that Pageant assumes that the mere sight of muscular dudes in evening gowns will put you in a giggly frame of mind—along with the possibility, as occurred on opening night, that someone’s prosthetic boobs might end up slung around his waist during a particularly energetic production number. But the gimmick also makes it possible to wallow in the true absurdity of the entire beauty pageant concept, with its specious “talents”—inept ventriloquism, roller-skating/accordion playing—and vacuous platitudes.
And then there’s the chance for great over-the-top performances. Raymond gets some hilarious moments, Johnson does terrific double-duty (also playing the bitter reigning champ) and Irey lets loose with the most infectiously enthusiastic forced smile. When the opening night audience “judges” got to pick the winner, they got it right—but as Frankie Cavalier might say, these “ladies” are all winners.
Pageant @ Egyptian Theatre Company, 328 Main St., Park City, 435-649-9371, Sept. 12–Oct. 18. EgyptianTheatreCompany.org
Here & Now: Other New Happenings This Week
THE OVERWHELMING J.T. Rogers’ new play about an American academic who arrives in Rwanda in 1994, just as the country is disintegrating. Salt Lake Acting Company, 168 W. 500 North, 363-SLAC, Sept. 19-Oct. 12. SaltLakeActingCompany.org
MY FAIR LADY Lerner and Loewe’s beloved musical version of Pygmalion teaches us all where the rain in Spain falls. Pioneer Theatre Company, 300 S. 1400 East, 581-6961, Sept. 19-Oct. 4, PioneerTheatre.org
RAWMOVES: OUR DIVIDED ANATOMY New works by Nicholas Cendese and Natosha Washington in an evening of physical and athletic dance. Rose Wagner Black Box Theatre, 138 W. 300 South, 355-ARTS, Sept. 19-21. RDTUtah.org
BODY WORLDS 3 The fascinating world-touring exhibit provides a glimpse inside the human body. The Leonardo, 209 E. 500 South, 888-695-0888, Opens Sept. 19. TheLeonardo.org
HYUNMEE LEE: “TOUCH, MEDITATION JOINS GESTURE” An exhibition of new abstract paintings by the Korean-born artist. Phillips Gallery, 444 E. 200 South, 364-8284, Sept. 19-Oct. 10. Artist reception Sept. 19, 6-9 p.m. Phillips-Gallery.com
UTAH SHAKESPEAREAN FESTIVAL The fall season kicks off with Julius Caesar, Gaslight and Moonlight and Magnolias. 300 W. Center St., Cedar City, 800-PLAYTIX, Sept. 19-Oct. 25. Bard.org
MOUNTAINCON Superman II villainess Sarah Douglas and author Brandon Sanderson are among the guests for this science-fiction/fantasy gathering. Davis Convention Center, Layton, 1651 N. 700 West, Layton, Sept. 19-21. MountainCon.org
JOHN GROGAN The author of the best-selling memoir Marley & Me visits the Tree Room Author Series. Sundance Resort, Provo Canyon, 801-233-4567, Saturday, Sept. 20. SundanceResort.com
A WATERBIRD TALK Dominick Argento’s one-man opera leads the program for the Utah Symphony’s New Music Series season opener. Westminster College Jewett Performing Arts Center, 1840 S. 1300 East, 355-ARTS, Sept. 24-25, 8 p.m. UtahSymphonyOpera.org