Erasure’s outrageous gay antics and fondness for the blithest dance-pop imaginable have made them mega-stars in England, mega-demi-stars stateside. This is perhaps as it should be: before the synth-pop duo (keyboard whiz Vince Clarke, late of Depeche Mode and Yazoo, and singer Andy Bell released their amusing new Abba-esqe EP (four Abba covers) and a set of hilarious accompanying videos, their recorded work had been sliding perceptibly. Despite this, or maybe because of it, they have proffered increasingly outlandish stage presentations, culminating with the current “Phantasmagorical Entertainment” tour, which opens its U.S. leg with three nights at the Chicago Theatre starting Tuesday. The show, which sold out 15 nights at London’s Hammersmith Odeon and is shooting for ten in LA, reportedly includes ten set changes, a dance corps, dozens of costumes, a version of “Stand by Your Man” with Clarke in Dolly Parton drag and Bell wearing nothing but a pair of sequined chaps (“A tremendous double act,” reports the New Musical Express, “with lots of cheek”), a hot-air balloon, electronic gear that Clarke pulls around on train tracks, and a between-sets bingo game. Plus, appearently, some songs. Tuesday through Thursday,8 PM, Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State; 443-1130 or 559-1212.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Douglas Brothers.