Models, drinks, and drawing with Dr. Sketchy’s at the Ruby Room
  • Models, drinks, and drawing with Dr. Sketchy’s at the Ruby Room
  • Image by Matt Hohlfeld
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Reader writers explore the elements of America’s Finest — water, air, fire, land.

Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School

At Dr. Sketchy’s (held the third Saturday of every month at the Ruby Room in Hillcrest, 1271 University Avenue), the models are burlesque dancers, belly dancers, rollergirls, drag queens and kings, and “rippling hunks of man.” Set to “carefully crafted music playlists,” models incorporate interesting props to complement your creativity. Artists (all levels are welcome) sip grown-up beverages in the casual bar setting. Drawing contests (judged by the models) lighten the mood and lead to free drinks and “fancy prizes.” 858-405-9453;

North Park Vaudeville and Candy Shoppe

2031 El Cajon Boulevard, North Park

Vaudeville Candy

If you are a fan of all things campy, then the North Park Vaudeville and Candy Shoppe is your place. It’s located off El Cajon Boulevard in the center of North Park. You can purchase Lemonheads, candy cigarettes, jawbreakers, and Black Jack gum to munch on while catching up on of their performances. The theater is intimate, seating only 35, and they often feature plays from local writers (tickets are $20). On occasion, they host musical acts. The Pleasant Cruise of the Carolinas plays the first two weekends in May — it’s an over-the-top melodrama that requires audience participation. In the fall, the Vaudeville hosts the popular North Park Playwright Festival. Upcoming shows are listed on their website. 619-220-8663.

Certify your city

“Nowadays, when a person lives somewhere, in a neighborhood, the place is not certified for him…but if he sees a movie which shows his very neighborhood, it becomes possible for him to live, for a time at least, as a person who is Somewhere and not Anywhere.” — Walker Percy, The Moviegoer. A while ago, I took it upon myself to recreate every still shot that Orson Welles took of Balboa Park for the opening newsreel scene of Citizen Kane. (The park, of course, stood in for Xanadu.) Not every shot was still there to be had, but I got enough to sense what Percy was getting at. You might try it with Some Like It Hot and the Del, or It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World and Pacific Beach, or The Naked Gun and San Onofre, or Born on the Fourth of July and La Mesa, or Demolition Man and the Convention Center, or Almost Famous and lots of places. The list goes on, though Hardcore might be tricky.

Mount Helix Park

4901 Mount Helix Drive, La Mesa

Mount Helix

“Friends! Romans! Countrymen! Lend me your ears!” This could be you, holding forth from the sunken stage of one of the best li’l sky-kissing amphitheaters outside Elysian Fields. We’re talking the amphitheater on top of Mount Helix, 1365 feet above sea level, a place that feels like a recently dug-up ancient Greek open-air theater. Official events happen up there, like the Easter Sunrise celebration, but most of the time it sits in splendid isolation, waiting for creative people like you. Why not put a little spontaneous play together and head on up? It’s an awesome experience. Best time is the hour or so before sunset, when the view out to Hawaii goes all spectacular. Of course, you can’t take any grog, and no blaring sound systems, and people have to be gone by sunset. But this is one of the freest places to find yourself. Or become someone else…Et tu, Brute?

Color Me Mine

10550 Craftsman Way, Rancho Bernardo

Paint ceramics

Painting your own pottery can be a fun family activity or an adorable thing for couples to do. Color Me Mine in Rancho Bernardo provides unpainted pottery. You pay for what you want (most items are under $35), plus a small studio fee ($10 per sitting for adults, $6 for kids). They also have all the paints and glazes needed to cover the virgin ceramics with whatever design comes to mind. After your masterpiece is painted, the studio will fire and cure the pottery, which will be ready to pick up in a few days.

Inn at the Park

3615 Fifth Avenue, Bankers Hill

Salsa and hot cocktails at Inn at the Park

For those of us who could never fully grasp the enigmatic three-step of salsa, Inn at the Park historic hotel in Bankers Hill offers free classes from 7:00–8:00 p.m. ($5 after 8:00) every second Tuesday in their rooftop Top of the Park penthouse. First, stoke your embers in the downstairs lounge, where bartendress extraordinaire Jersey serves $4 spicy cocktail specials, including the Fire and Ice (tequila, jalapeño, cucumber, lime simple syrup, black sea salt) and the Tropical Heat Wave (blood orange–infused vodka, cayenne, maraschino liquor, grapefruit juice) to the refined melodies of singer/piano duo Roman Palacios and Tommy Gannon.

The original fixie

Ricky Persky is on a mission: to bring back the original fixie, the direct-drive penny-farthing bicycle. With their up-to-six-foot-high front wheels, they’re risky riding at best. How to get going? Persky and lady enthusiast Brandy Lordigyan formed the San Diego Penny Farthing Club and ride every Saturday in Old Town. Club members meet at 1:30 p.m. in front of the blacksmith near the Seeley stables on San Diego Avenue. “Anybody is welcome to come and try,” he says. “I want to get people enthusiastic. So just turn up. I’ll get you riding.” The hardest part — I know, because I’ve tried — is hauling your body weight aloft and onto the seat, while the giant machine wobbles along, waiting to send you crashing earthward. But, for Ricky, no problem: “You can’t beat the view from up here.” Call Ricky Persky, 619-971-6868 or Brandy Lordigyan, 619-495-0448.

Ooh La La Dance Academy

7467 Cuvier Street, La Jolla

Burlesque classes

Sexify your humdrum workout routine at Ooh La La Dance Studio in La Jolla. Five days a week they offer beginner-intermediate Burlesque classes. Thursday nights, at 8:30, they host a semi-advanced Latin style burlesque lesson. On the weekends Ooh La La can be rented out for private parties. Geared for bachelorette bashes, birthdays, and ladies’ nights, they have three different packages to choose from. Parties range from $200 for up to 10 participants, to $550 for up to 20. Each package features an hour-long lesson that incorporates boas, chairs, hats, feathers, gloves, and more. The pricier options include a sexy boudoir photo shoot and a 30-minute champagne (bring your own) celebration.

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okimble May 9, 2012 @ 7:40 p.m.

RE: The Really Really Free Market

Just to give you a little more info, our next free market will be on Sunday, June 10th in Teralta Park (City Heights).

Map here.



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