Item World: Mistress Ginger's cookbook; Apollonia & Carmen Electra as neighbors; dancing at the American Swedish Institute

  • Updated: June 26, 2014 - 1:32 PM

Justin Leaf, tricked out as his drag persona Mistress Ginger, has published a vegan cookbook because “it should be fun to be vegan.’”

Vivaciously vegan

We’ve never thought it possible to use the words “vegan” and “glamour” in the same sentence, until now. Minneapolis dancer/performer Justin Leaf, or rather his drag stage persona Mistress Ginger, has published a vegan cookbook replete with photos of the pink-bobbed diva gettin’ veggie with it in her kitchen. “Mistress Ginger Cooks!” is full of tasty-looking and easy-to-prepare dishes like Mushroom Poppers, Miso Sexy Soup and Cosmic Curry Stew. Asked about what he hopes to gain by slapping a sequined miniskirt and sky-high platforms on the dour, granola image of veganism, Leaf said, “Being vegan shouldn’t be all serious and angry. It’s happy, joyful, sexy, fun. I’m not asking people to change who they are, just move in a new direction toward a more plant-based diet.” Well all right then, you rambunctious little radish, you.

KRISTIN TILLOTSON

Princely neighbors

Even in Beverly Hills, it’s a small world. What are the odds that two former Prince protégés — Apollonia and Carmen Electra — would end up as next-door neighbors in the 1990s? As Apollonia tells it, the townhouse next door was empty for a year and a half, much to her delight. Then one day, a limo pulls up, the driver buzzes Apollonia’s door and announces: “Car for Carmen Electra.” Later, Apollonia goes over to introduce herself: “I’m Apollonia. You’re lucky I’m not Vanity otherwise I’d have to bite your head off.” They laughed. “It was that kind of friendship,” Apollonia told I.W. “We should have had a reality show back then, with Dennis Rodman coming over here, [Leonardo] DeCaprio. It was party time.” One thing was off limits, though: “We never talked about Prince.”

Jon Bream

Art meets baseball

Former Minnesota photographer James Crnkovich will launch a sweet new book of his photos with a signing at the St. Paul Saints game on Tuesday. The Mesa, Ariz., resident has been featured on “CBS News Sunday Morning” with Charles Kuralt, and his work is in the collection of the Minnesota Museum of American Art and has been exhibited around the world. Locally he’s best known for 1980s Iron Range photos that were displayed throughout the Midwest. His new paperback, “Authentic Americana: The Art of Social Documentary,” reprints about 50 of his images from 1980 to the present. They capture the American scene in all its gaudy vulgarity, latent violence, decay, cornball nonsense and good humor. His five-day tour of Minnesota will include additional stops in St. Paul, Aurora, Gilbert, Virginia and Mountain Iron. “I like the notion that you can go home again,” Crnkovich told I.W. in an e-mail. “Thomas Wolfe might disagree, but it captures the fondness I have for a state that fills me with its spirit.”

Mary Abbe

Contract extensions

Two more contracts have been signed with the Minnesota Orchestra. Conductor Sarah Hicks has agreed to extend her contract through 2016-17. Hired as principal conductor for pops and presentations in 2009, she will lead the orchestra’s “Live at Orchestra Hall” series, which includes popular music, jazz, Broadway tunes, movie scores and world music. Andrew Litton has re-upped as Sommerfest Artistic Director through 2017. He’s held the post since 2003. Litton’s contract had been set to expire after next month’s festival, July 5-26. This year’s session is the first to be held in the newly renovated Orchestra Hall. Litton will also inaugurate the Target Atrium as a performance venue on July 12 when he will play selections from his first solo piano recording, “A Tribute to Oscar Peterson.”

GRAYDON ROYCE

Adopt ‘Winter Sleep’

Adopt Films, the art house distributor founded in Minneapolis, has acquired all U.S. rights to the 2014 Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or winner, Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s “Winter Sleep.” The Turkish writer/director is an unparalleled Cannes darling. His last five features have screened in competition at the festival, and each has scored big. Set in starkly beautiful rural Anatolia, “Winter Sleep” (whose title might be more strictly translated as “Hibernation”) is a Chekhov-inspired portrait of an ill-natured hotel owner gradually dealing with the harm his hardheartedness has caused to his family and world. Adopt Films president Tim Grady said, “A film like this, so rich with ideas, dazzling dialogue and intelligent characters, is one that is instantly unforgettable.” It’s slated for release during the year-end awards season.

Colin Covert

A house full

The ghost of August Strindberg is invoked, but don’t expect a literal narrative about the famed Swedish writer in “KOM HIT!” The site-specific dance-theater piece, created by Sally Rousse and Noah Bremer, just opened a short run at the American Swedish Institute. Audience members, often looking a bit deer-in-the-headlights, follow 15 performers through most of the 33 rooms in the Turnblad mansion on Park Avenue. Why is Sewell Ballet dancer Chris Hannon freaking out in that large closet? What about the scene between a bearded accordionist in angel wings and bass-playing Mona Sewell (daughter of Rousse and James Sewell)? Feathers float in the air, flashbulbs pop and Ballet of the Dolls veteran Stephanie Fellner gets her modern on in a greenhouse-y room. Remember, it’s possible to admire something you don’t understand.

CLAUDE PECK

 

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