Where were parental advisory stickers on rock 'n' roll albums when we really needed them? At least one pop-music star was singing about sex slavery way back in 1974. "The headlines read that a boy disappeared, and everyone thinks he died / 'Cept a crazy girl with a secret lover who keeps her satisfied." Uplifting thoughts from Helen Reddy, who'll be headlining Festa Italiana this weekend at Arvey Field, near Lake Shore Drive and Roosevelt Road at the south end of Grant Park. She plays sets at 7 and 9 tonight; the festival, which also features a lot of other music, runs from noon to 10 today through Sunday. Tickets are $6 at the gate, $5 if you buy them in advance from Dominick's or Butera. Call the fest at 829-8888 for details.
So what are the physical characteristics of the Mojo Room, "Chicago's newest live jazz and blues venue," at 1615 N. Clybourn? Well, there's a plate glass window looking out over the Ravenswood el tracks so that "passing trains visually punctuate the live music." (One hopes they don't sonically punctuate it as well.) Jazz flautist Herbie Mann will be rocking the house, with or without the trains, tonight through Sunday, with shows at 8 and 10:30 each night; cover is $10. The Mojo Room is upstairs from Wayne's Ribs, 1615 N. Clybourn. Call 988-9193.
The busy-as-a-beaver Chicago chapter of the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers is hosting a showcase of what they say are the midwest's most promising dance and alternative acts. Tonight on two different stages of the new China Club, 616 W. Fulton, you can see rappers Black A.G., the dance band Girlthing, alternative rockers Wild Kingdom and Zero Balance, and Chicago industrial rockers Wretched Excess. There'll also be shorter sets from Lindi and Tung Twista. Doors open at 9; you have to be over 21 to get in. Admission is $10. Call 466-0400.
The African American Book Center has a couple of readings today: At 1 Joyce Ann Brown will talk about Justice Denied, the book she wrote about her trial and conviction for a murder she didn't commit and her nine-year legal campaign to get free. At 4, reading and signing books will be Pearl Cleage, the author of Mad at Miles: A Black Woman's Guide to Truth and a book of fiction, The Brass Bed and Other Stories. The bookstore is at 1807 E. 71st St.; the readings are free. Call 752-2275 for more information.
World wrestling championships are like world boxing championships--because of all the different accrediting organizations, there are three or four "world champions" running around at any given time. So when you hear that world champion Lex Luger will be defending his title tonight at the UIC Pavilion, remember he's wrestling in a different league (the World Championship Wrestling organization) from, say, world champion Hulk Hogan (who has a contract with the World Wrestling Federation). Luger faces off against Barry Windham at the top of a bill that includes a "steel cage grudge match" between the Hardliners on one side and the team of Rick Steiner and El Gigante on the other, a "Texas death match" between Sting and Nikita Koloff, a six-man tag-team title match between the Freebirds and the Young Pistols, and several other matches. It starts at 8 at the pavilion, 1150 W. Harrison. Tickets are $9-$15, with half-price ducats for kids on all but the most expensive seats. Call 559-1212.
Telescope buff alert: The Chicago Astronomical Society will be stargazing at 1 and 8:30 PM today at the North Park Village Nature Center, 5801 N. Pulaski. In the afternoon the society is offering a free showing of celestial videos--taken by astronomers practiced in the fine and growing new art of astrovideography. Camcorder owners can also come and get tips on how to make their own space tapes. The 8:30 viewing will be of the real thing, as the society hosts another session in its ongoing free telescope series at the park. (There'll be evening viewing as well next Sunday the 25th and Wednesday the 28th, same time, same place.) Call the society at 725-5618 for details; it's good to call the day of the session to check the weather.
Invasion of the Flesh Eaters is a fairly obscure horror film made in 1978 and finally released in 1982 minus 14 minutes of its original gore. The uncut version--directed by Antonio Margheriti and starring John Saxon as a soldier who brings a cannibal virus back to the U.S. from Vietnam--is showing tonight under the title Cannibal Apocalypse as part of the Psychotronic Film Society's ongoing war film series "War Without End." It starts at 8 at the Red Lion Pub, 2446 N. Lincoln, and costs $3. Call 738-0985 for more info.
"A courtroom thriller, an exploration of psychosexuality, a meditation on our obsession with violence." Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho? No, it's Closing Arguments by Frederick Busch, as described by Barbara's Bookstore's Pat Peterson. Busch will read from and sign his book at the Barbara's at 1350 N. Wells at 7:30 tonight. It's free. Call 642-5044 for details.
The PAP Productions Magic Lantern Film Festival--a showing-at-various-places-around-town olio of indie film and live performance--will be hanging out at Lower Links for performances tonight and next Tuesday. Tonight's themes are rock 'n' roll and bondage; the show's centerpiece is a work in progress from Paula Killen, creator of the nostalgic, off-kilter revue Music Kills a Memory. The new piece is about a singing group called the Disgraces and features Killen, Memory star Karol Kent, the Loofah Method's Cindy Salach, and others performing original songs by Frank Ravin and Chuck Larkin. Also on the bill are some newsreel and animated shorts, along with the stag classic Man Trap, described as including "a buxom beauty, an empty bed, and a cocked bear trap." At Club Lower Links, 954 W. Newport, tonight and next Tuesday (when there's a different program) at 9. It's $6. Call 248-5238 or 943-7023.
"Disability is not synonymous with inability." So say the organizers of the Project Rembrandt program, which is sponsoring the current touring exhibition of nearly two dozen professional artists who suffer from multiple sclerosis. There are samples of sculpture, drawings, photography, and video among the 74 artworks on display at the 333 Gallery, 333 W. Wacker, starting today and running through September 27. The gallery's open Monday through Friday 11 to 6. It's free. You can call the local office of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society at 800-922-0484 for details.
The schoolhouse quilt came out of the mid-Atlantic states in the mid-1800s, as quilters experimented with various arrangements of schoolhouses and other buildings--churches, barns, houses--on their designs. More than a dozen variations on the motif exist, estimate the folks at the Wild Goose Chase Quilt Gallery in Evanston, and somewhere close to a dozen of them will be on display in an exhibit there that runs through the end of September. The shop's standard collection of hundreds of antique quilts is also on display, and all the quilts are for sale. Wild Goose Chase is at 1511 Chicago Ave. and it's open 10 to 5 Tuesday through Saturday. Call 708-328-1808 for more information.
"H.R. Pufnstuf! / He's your friend when things get rough / H.R. Pufnstuf! / He can't do a little 'cause he can't do enough." The Ka-Boom! nightclub opens a Thursday cabaret series tonight with TV maven Peter Neville, who has a collection not of TV shows but of TV-show intros, including ridiculous songs from such classics as H.R. Pufnstuf, Underdog, and Nanny and the Professor. Neville also has another hobby: capturing strange moments on TV and reassembling them into compelling montages. Fast TV is the name of his presentation; he and a character named "Mom," who'll be serving TV dinners, will be onstage starting at 9 in the club's Cordoba Room. Next Thursday the series continues and the club tests its audience's loyalty with the assaultive lounge singer Dick O'Day, same time and place. Ka-Boom! is at 747 N. Green, near Halsted and Chicago; cover is $5. Call 243-8600 for details.