LAS VEGAS, NV — Las Vegas' world famous arthouse, theatre and gallery quietly turned one year old in March. Now, theatre7, the home of Vegas's budding indie film scene, half a dozen film festivals, improv comedy and more, is ready to celebrate with a month-long fest called the Synergy Junebilee.
A sensual art show curated by local artist Darryl Martin, a documentary narrated by late pinup icon Bettie Page, the kickoff of the annual CineKink Film Festival national tour, a nearly nude visit from a group of bodybuilding moviemakers dubbed "The Chippendales of Horror" and the display of theatre7 owner Derek Stonebarger's first ever-art collection highlight the upcoming schedule.
"This is going to be a lot of fun," said programmer Chad Clinton Freeman of the festivities, which he says are all about love, sensuality, creativity, collaboration, art and film. "Synergy is two or more things functioning together to produce a result not independently obtainable. That's what moviemaking is all about, that's what relationships are all about, that's what community is all about and that is what theatre7 is all about."
Aside from being a belated birthday party for theatre7 (1406 South 3rd Street Las Vegas, NV 89104), Stonebarger, Freeman and Martin have a lot to celebrate. In April, Gallery 222 (at 222 Imperial), just around the corner from theatre7 in the same complex, was added to its creative endeavors. Now comes the expansion of theatre7 itself. The keys to the space right next door at 1404 South 3rd are now theirs and it is currently getting ready to open as a gallery. Some time in the future, the space will house permanent movie theatre seating.
"It's going to take a lot of money and hard work in the next few months to get the expansion to where we want it to be," Stonebarger said. "But for now, we’re hoping everyone can come down and celebrate what we have accomplished and be a part of the excitement and surprises that are just around the corner.”
June kicks off with art shows on June 1, during First Friday. The romantic, highly stylized and sexy artwork of Martin, Nancy Good, Kelly Garni and Wendy Monahan will be on display via what has become known as The Gallery at theatre7.
"The positive synergy surrounding theatre7 is really amazing right now," said Martin, who in February opened a sister spot known as The Gallery in Boulder City. "I'm really happy to be a part of this and all of what's happening in the downtown arts district."
Also on First Friday, Gallery 222 will be displaying Stonebarger's Double Dutch Dogs. The collection of popular dog breeds mixed with classic Dutch poses started off with a gift Stonebarger set out to create for his brother. The set is now 11 oil and acrylic on giclee works of art.
Both Martin and Stonebarger's exhibits will be on display throughout the month and will have Fifth Friday closing receptions on June 29.
Additionally, each weekend throughout June will feature lots of cinematic gems at theatre7. Mark Mori's documentary Bettie Page Reveals All gets the month's screenings going on June 2, which also happens to be smack dab in the middle of Las Vegas' annual Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend.
Bettie Page Reveals All, which is Page's fully authorized life story, narrated by Bettie Page, featuring tons of unseen photos and film clips, opens the Synergy Film Festival. It will screen three times though the month with repeat showings June 15 and June 30. DVDs of the film will be available for purchase, as well.
Other Synergy screenings are Stonebarger’s award-winning feature film I.M. Caravaggio, on June 16 and the sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll film Apocalypse, CA on June 23.
Synergy and Freeman's PollyGrind Film Festival, which MovieMaker magazine recently named one of the top 25 film festivals worth the entry fee, team up for a charity event and Vegas premiere of Psycho Street on June 22.
Originally a short film that screened at PollyGrind 2010 called Hypochondriac, Psycho Street stars Tiffany Shepis, Raine Brown and Deneen Melody and promises to deliver blood, sex, laughs and four twisted tales that all lead to dead ends.
Several shorts from Muscle Wolf Productions, a group of bodybuilding actors and filmmakers that brought Psycho Street to life, will also screen. Muscle Wolf is known for putting the “muscle” in horror and trying to have something for most audiences in their projects, including men and women, both straight and gay.
Jared Degado, Marv Blauvelt, Paul and Jameson Barbosa (the Barbosa twins) and Marko Adams (who PollyGrind alumni Brooke Lewis has dubbed "The Chippendales of Horror") will be special guests.
After the films, The Chippendales of Horror are going to get naked,or close to it at least, with a Strip-Off Auction for Charity.
"Each of us will get on stage and do an 'auction' for us to take off clothing," Blauvelt said. "We could auction off me taking off my shirt, Jared giving a kiss and hug, the twins taking off their pants, whatever. Each of us are willing to go down to our underwear."
The money raised in the auction will go to Scares That Care, which is a national nonprofit organization that provides money, toys and other items to help children fighting diseases.
In addition to all of this, theatre7 welcomes CineKink of New York back to Sin City with festival screenings June 7 - 9.
CineKink organizer Lisa Vandever has said the showcase will be a specially-curated program of projects that celebrate and explore a wide and exciting world of sexual diversity, with works ranging from documentary to drama, comedy to experimental, mildly spicy to quite explicit - and everything in between.
"CineKink, theatre7, Las Vegas and June have now officially become a tradition that people can look forward to each year," Freeman said. "Lisa was one of the first outsiders to see what we were doing with theatre7 and support us. CineKink was the first festival we hosted and now it's sort of the spark that has ignited this June fire I now call the Synergy Junebilee."
Screenings from the kinky festival will include Cabaret Desire on June 7, Stage Brothers and Sweet Prudence & the Erotic Adventures of Bigfoot on June 8, short showcases Kink & Kinship, and Best of CineKink on June 9. There will also be a panel discussion about sex culture in Sin City on June 9.
Freeman calls CineKink a couple-friendly erotic festival and adds that it fits perfect as a centerpiece to the month's activities.
"Las Vegas is known as Sin City. Las Vegas is known as the Marriage Capital of the World. Las Vegas is known as the Entertainment Capital of the World," Freeman said. "What Las Vegas isn't known for, just yet, is its rich cultural and amazing art and film communities that continue to grow by leaps and bounds. Synergy Junebilee is a celebration of all of these things and then some."
Synergy Junebilee also serves as a historical reminder of sorts.
"Traditionally, June has been known as the most popular month for marriages," Freeman said. "During the 1400s and 1500s, May was the month in which the annual bath occurred, so this led to everybody looking and smelling their best. The romanticized version is many met and fell in love, resulting in marriages. But the truth is weddings were planned for June because the bride, the groom and all the guests had less body odor than normal and the smell at big gatherings were bearable. Regardless, hopefully everyone bathes, comes out and enjoys our celebration."
Located near the "Downtown Las Vegas" sign, theatre7 opened its doors early in 2011 and by the year's end was being called the "best new development in local film" by Las Vegas Weekly critic Josh Bell. Events at the venue have been featured by MovieMaker, National Lampoon, Fangoria, Robin Leach, Fear.net, Variety, Arrowinthehead.com, DreadCentral.com, Vegas Seven, City Life, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Las Vegas Sun and the front page of the Los Angeles Times. The arthouse was also named one of the 10 best alternative show venues in Las Vegas by GuardianNews.com.