At a time when drag–once a radical affront to a heterosexist culture–has been appropriated by the mainstream and used to sell everything from movie tickets to basketball shoes, you have to cherish a performer like Neo-Futurist storyteller Anita Loomis. By crossing the other way and clothing herself in “male” attire–white shirt, tie, slacks, matching jacket–then stripping away, both literally and figuratively, the layers of the uniform, she does what drag used to do: reveal and revel. In her warm, witty, sexy semiautobiographical show Female Deviations, Loomis reveals the fiction of sexual identity, as when she slyly opens her fly and withdraws a pair of balls, then two more, and juggles them. Later she reaches way in to pull out a long strip of red velvet, signifying her period and revealing that under her suit is a rather feminine cocktail (get it–wink, nudge) dress. And she revels in the freedom that comes from refusing to play by society’s rules: much of the charm in this piece comes from the playful way she’s able to make serious points. Early on, for example, when she’s still jacketed and tied, Loomis critiques both one-person shows and academia by playing an uptight academic at a conference, clearing her throat and speaking too close to a squealing microphone–but her “lecture” turns out to be a very erotic account of adventures with a female lover. Such comic contrasts are yet another reason to see this show, which is as entertaining as it is liberating. Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland, 275-5255. Opens Friday, April 5, 8 PM. Through April 27: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM. $8.

–Jack Helbig

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