Milly May Smithy is Chicago’s premiere impresario and greatest talent scout; for three years she’s scoured clubs, back alleys, and garages for acts you’ve never seen and might never want to see–from a gay rap group (the Biggest Sissies in the World) who do only one song to a strange woman (Consuelo Allen) who recites Shakespeare with a spoon hanging from her nose; from an adolescent band of synchronized lariat artists (the Rodeo Gals) to a group of three male Cher impersonators (the Chers). Smithy herself–the creation of performance artist Brigid Murphy–essays her own brand of modern country (“I’m a Sucker for a Trucker”) and does a sometimes uncomfortably accurate rendition of an emcee from hell, dragging a huge tangled pile of microphone cord behind her as she chats with the audience about her menstrual cycle. The acts in Milly’s Orchid Show, her monthly revue, add up to a warped but cheerful testament to performance art, rap, being gay, being a woman, liking music, wanting to express yourself; it’s chaotic and inconsistent, frequently uproariously funny, and occasionally brilliant. Wednesday’s third-anniversary show is being billed as a greatest-hits affair; besides the acts mentioned above, look for disturbing performance artist Matthew Owens; female Elvis impersonator Linda Stoney Jones; John “Sinatra” Connors; a found film from the early 70s called Man in the Trevara Era, a promotional effort for a polyester fabric; Smithy’s own tribute to Billy Jack; the New Duncan Imperials; and much more. Wednesday, 8:30 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage; 929-5959.

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