Third Thursday of every month, 8 PM, 1349 N. Wells, 312-943-5397, facebook.com/upstairs.downstairs.54
The notorious Bijou, a gay porn house and sex club around since 1970, is now home to Upstairs/Downstairs, a delightfully eclectic, enlightening, raucous, bizarre, and sexually explicit variety showcase that's been playing the Old Town institution since February. Each month cocurators and producers Ricky von Anhalt and Miriam Webster take a truly liberal approach to the format, programming stand-up, improv, dance, music, poetry, performance art, video, 16-mm films, site-specific installations—pretty much anything, so long as it has a left-of-center sensibility. (Host Chris Sowa once introduced himself to the crowd wearing a tuxedo and ball gag.) Much of the show takes place in the Bijou's 80-seat black-box theater on the main floor, but some acts move to the Circle Jerk Theater upstairs, where it resides with the Meat Market, the Grease Pit, Blow Job Alley, and other attractions. The venue is as integral to Upstairs/Downstairs as the entertainment.