by Linda Shapiro

I walked into the Rogue Buddha Gallery, and it was instant nostalgia. So reminiscent of the 1960's and 70's: intimate and low tech, street front theater, a mostly young audience in knit caps. Feeling like the oldest person in the room, I walked carefully around Emily, who was hanging over in a blond wig at the edge of the performing area. It seemed so natural to have her there. I found the bathroom in the back, clean, cheerful, and plenty of toilet paper. When I returned, she was still hanging there and I did not even think to wonder why. Just like back then, when I took harrowing journeys down into New York Subways, up onto ominously deserted streets, then up some more, several flights of rickety steps, into someone's warm and dimly lighted loft space where anything could happen, even as I caught my breath.

In Minneapolis, circa 1980, I went to a performance in a studio space housed in the bowels of Sex World, in the Warehouse District, before gentrification (although Sex World is still there, going strong). A man I knew (he was married to one of the dancers performing that night) stood outside selling tickets. As I approached, I noticed him hanging over a dumpster, as if retrieving something from the garbage. But no, he told me, he was periodically hiding the ticket proceeds, in case he got mugged.

So you never know why people might be hanging over.

Back to Rogue Buddha, where the sinister and the absurd were strictly limited to what was going on onstage. What I recall: Emily moving -- fierce, nervy, with a touch of floozy -- with and then without wig. She littered, she held a small CD player from which a man's voice issued, talking about ecology, issuing dire warnings (I think. At some point I stopped really listening and just watched Emily). I was not reviewing, I had had a glass of wine or two. I had the luxury of just relaxing headlong into Emily's world.

Then I got to relax into Hijack's world. Like Emily, they seemed to be trying to figure something out about being friendly aliens in a baffling world, and that's enough for me. What did they do? Well, they (Kristin and Arwen ) came onstage in glittery green outfits, looking like a cross between Disney undersea creatures and leprechauns. They had a long pole that suggested at various times a ballet barre, a penis, a prodder, a pointer. At one point they pulled down a map, and pointed some things out. As usual, they infused everything they did with droll gravitas.