Welcome to Culture Hound, InsideHook’s deep dive into the month’s most important (pop) cultural happenings.
DO: Black Heart Burlesque
Once billed by Vice as a “sort of Comicon meets burlesque nerd orgy,” Black Heart is unlike any burlesque show you’ve been to. A roaming revue put on by SuicideGirls, the online community championing “alternative pin-up girls” for over 15 years, expect tattooed femme fatales and sexified geeky exploits. The crowd may skew young, but sexy Star Wars? C’mon, it’ll be fun. (June 3)
STREAM: The Big Sick
Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley) pines for his girlfriend in a coma in this indie drama, which wowed at festivals — and then got picked up by Amazon for a whopping $12 million. (June 23)
A wrestling drama-comedy based on the real-life exploits of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling circa the 1980s. Starring Alison Brie — the Community actress who is also (fact) a national treasure — it’s a mishmash of sparkly costumes, copious drug use and poofy '80s haircuts.
DO: Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg
Touted as Japan’s Andy Warhol, Takashi Murakami’s flashy pop art comes to Chicago with this retrospective at the MCA. While the Japanese visionary is best known known around these parts as the artist who did the album art for Kanye West’s third studio album, the show focuses on 50-some paintings created over his 30-plus-year career. (Opens June 6)
READ: Peak Performance
An Olympic coach and a former McKinsey consultant turned science writer demystifies the ideas behind peak human performance, be it athletic, artistic or academic (turns out they all share the same processes). If you’re a lifehacking fan or watch a lot of TED Talks, this is for you. (June 6)
DO: Printer’s Row Lit Fest
If you haven’t already, you’ll find your summer read. But don’t sleep on the companion events. Programming highlights include U.S. senator Al Franken in conversation with Chicago Tribune Editor-in-Chief Bruce Dold, a reading from local poet and author of People’s History of Chicago Kevin Coval and Publican pastry chef Dana Cree (whose new book we’ve covered here) talking the art of the scoop at the Food & Dining Stage. If you're a comic book lover, note that the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE) goes down the same weekend. (June 9-11)
ENJOY: Blood Drive
A cross-country death race (“in the distant future of 1999”) where cars run on human blood? Sign us up for Syfy’s cheesy grindhouse depravity. (June 14)
Illustration: Mike Falco
SHOP: Record Store Crawl
This vinyl shopping extravaganza will escort crate diggers from record store to record store by bus, offering discounts at favorites like Permanent, Reckless, Dave's Records and more. Expect goodie bags and audiophile swag, plus live music from Third Man Records' latest signee Craig Brown Band along the way. The day starts at 11:30 a.m. Grab your tickets here. (June 24)
REMINSCE: Your Favorite Albums
It’s a good month for digging deep into your musical past. Bob Marley’s new box set of Exodus (June 2) includes son Ziggy’s “restatement” of the original record, with previously unheard mixes and recordings. U2 revisits The Joshua Tree (June 2) for its 30th anniversary, which features 25 previously unreleased tracks and a hardcover photography book by the Edge. The late great Prince sees his musical nadir Purple Rain (June 23) re-released with a whopping 26 unreleased tracks (including “We Can Fuck” and “Wonderful Ass,” because Prince) and a 1985 live performance. Finally, Radiohead’s OKNOTOK (June 23) celebrates 20 years of OK Computer with 11 b-sides and unreleased tracks; a larger box set in July also features a cassette mix tape of studio sessions and a 104-page notebook chronicling the making of the album.
LISTEN: Our Monthly Spotify Playlist
Thirty new songs this month, including big returns (LCD Soundsystem, Broken Social Scene, Roger Waters) and soon-to-be-big newcomers (Aldous Harding, The Dirty Nil, The Big Moon).
New from Viscous, the publishing house where Emily Ratajkowski got a start, Visceral is a scantily clad ode to the city and its vices. Available now for preorder, we recently spoke with the book’s creator, artist/model Amy Hood.
WATCH: The Summer of Cage
You could go to Millennium Park for your outdoor movie fix. Or the Park at Wrigley. Or any of the 100+ parks around the city showing movies. But none of those involve Nicolas Cage. This year Wicker Park is dedicating the whole summer to the Cage, kicking off its Movies in the Park series with 1987’s Moonstruck. (Starts June 15)
And don’t forget: Bong Joon-ho (Snowpiercer) crafts an odd tale of a girl, her mutant animal pal and an evil Tilda Swinton in Netflix’s Okja (June 28) ... Jack White, Beck and the Avett Brothers (among many others) replicate a 1920s recording session in the soundtrack to PBS’s American Epic (June 9) ... In a console world filled with endless sequels, a synthpop-flavored isometric assassin game like Tokyo 42 feels like a revelation (out now) ... Aussie Jim Jeffries is the latest topical comic to land his own late-night talk show (June 6, Comedy Central) ... Scarlett Johansson, Zoe Kravitz, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell and Ilana Glazer throw a deadly and hilarious bachelorette party in Rough Night (June 16) ... Finally, it’s the welcome TV return of Orange Is the New Black (June 9), Idiotsitter (June 10) and Preacher (June 25).