The B List: Bizarre Finds in the Twin Cities

Minnesota Roller Girls
Steve Henke
Artcar ParadeArtcar ParadeLe Cirque RougeMinnesota Fringe FestivalMinnesota Fringe FestivalRoller GirlsMinnesota Roller Girls



The annual ArtCar Parade proves that people shouldn’t be judged by the cars they drive; they should be judged by how they decorate the cars they drive. Crazier is better, because crazy gets way more mileage than dull.



The Olivetto, Pip Hanson’s sour-strange cocktail, contains egg white and full-bodied extra-virgin olive oil to create a lush, smooth, ripe drink that is peerless in the city. Marvel Bar 50 2nd Ave. N., Mpls., 612-206-3929



An entertaining mix of good fun and bad taste, Le Cirque Rouge Cabaret & Burlesque Show re-creates the nostalgic naughtiness of a 1920s speakeasy. Call it strip polka. As the liquor flows and the clothes come off (almost), the show bounces between risqué and raunchy, with only a few tassles and some strategically designed undergarments separating the two.



They don’t call it the “fringe” for nothing. Every year in August, thousands of Twin Citians flock to this 11-day exhibition of theatrical high jinks to see how strange—and entertaining—plays can get when budgets are as low as the temperatures are high. fringefestival.org



Muscled women in tight clothes, on roller skates, bashing into each other to pulse-pounding rock music while men in dresses cheer them on. What’s not to love? Bouts happen at Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul. 612-296-4743, mnrollergirls.com


Patches and GretchenPatches and Gretchen


Patches and Gretchen

If Bob Dylan and Phyllis Diller had kids and hired Roseanne Barr to homeschool them, the result would be local indie band Patches and Gretchen. headquartersandimes.com


Hunt & Gather

Meander through this two-floor antiques shop and you’ll stumble upon doll heads, taxidermy, Scrabble letters (in case you lose a Z), and all kinds of retro decor. Then, when you least expect it, you’ll find something fabulous. 4944 Xerxes Ave. S., Mpls., 612-455-0250, huntandgatherantiques.com



How many retailers include black lights, incense, and stripper poles on their list of essentials? Dead Heads, Star Wars fanatics, artists, gawkers—all are welcome,so be prepared. 205 W. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-292-1623, maharajasgifts.com


underwear bike ride

The annual Underwear Bike Ride on July 4 has become a popular affair. But to be taken seriously in the world of scantily clad cycling, Twin Citians need to graduate to the Naked Bike Ride—which really is a thing in places such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Denver. Ours should happen in January, though. mplsbikelove.com


circus Juventas

Circus Juventas is our homegrown version of Cirque du Soleil. The performing arts school teaches kids amazing feats—trapeze, juggling, balancing—and puts on quite a show each summer. 1270 Montreal Ave., St Paul, 651-699-8229, circusjuventas.org

Renaissance FestivalRenaissance FestivalGallery GraffitiGallery GraffitiMinnesota Big SnowMinnesota Big SnowArt HousesArt Houses


Renaissance Festival

Turkey legs, jousting, wandering minstrels, saucy wenches, mermaids, and people mangling accents from another place and tyme are all part of the fun at this fall fair dedicated to what passed for entertainment before the dawn of electricity. Hwys. 169 & 41, Shakopee, renaissancefest.com


Gallery Graffiti

The art on the outside of Cult Status Gallery is a revolving gallery of colorful murals and graffiti-esque doodles by some of the nation’s top practitioners of the spray-painting arts. 2913 Harriet Ave. S., Mpls., 612-965-9162, cultstatusgallery.com


Minnesota Big Snow

It turns out Minnesotans are very good at snow sculpting. How good? Minnesota Big Snow—a six-man crew headed by founder Kelley Casey—is one of the top snow-sculpting teams in the world. mnbigsnow.com



Who needs a little pink house when you can have a rainbow-bright art house? The stretch of Xerxes Avenue south of 50th Street is a haven for eclectic homes, garden art, and wild paint colors. Drive slowly along with the other rubberneckers.


custom costumes

If you can’t find that perfect costume at Twin Cities Magic & Costume Co., fear not. Staff will also help you create an original one from the vast selection of wigs, masks, clothes, and other stuff. 250 E. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-227-7888


Snowsweet applesSnowSweet Applesballet of the dollsBallet of the Dolls


directionless directions

To review: Hwy. 35W and 35E run north and south. West St. Paul is located due south of downtown St. Paul. South St. Paul is located east of West St. Paul. And don’t confuse Maplewood with Maple Grove, or you’ll be sorry.


Smitten Kitten

Nope, not a pet store. The toys sold here are 50 shades of the adult variety. 3010 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-721-6088, smittenkittenonline.com


Drag shows at Gay ’90s

You don’t have to be under 90 or gay to enjoy some gender-bending fun at this sprawling nightclub featuring six distinct bars. Drag shows happen every night but Monday. 408 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-333-7755, gay90s.com


SnowSweet apples

A new kind of apple developed at the University of Minnesota is popular among chefs and caterers. Why? Because it doesn’t turn brown when you cut it. The white flesh of the SnowSweet apple oxidizes very slowly when exposed to air, reducing the ick factor considerably. Watch for it at orchards and in stores. apples.umn.edu


Ballet of the dolls

Venerable Star Tribune dance critic Mike Steele once described Ballet of the Dolls as “defiantly anti-high art, dance on its worst behavior.” To be sure, choreographer Myron Johnson and company have been throwing convention and snootiness out the window since 1986, creating along the way a deliciously subversive form of dance-theater that is as elegant as it is outrageous. 345 13th Ave. NE, Mpls., 612-436-1129


icehouseIcehouseTwin Cities ReptilesTwin Cities ReptilesWalker Art Center's Talking DolphinWalker Art Center's Talking Dolphin


Polar Bear Plunge

Certain local rituals are hard to understand, no matter how long you’ve lived in Minnesota. Why would anyone jump in a frigid lake in the middle of winter? For bragging rights, of course, and to raise money for the Special Olympics. plungemn.org


our Gangster past

To get a taste of how lively St. Paul would be if a few of the gambling houses and speakeasies from its gangster past were still in business, take the Wabasha Street Caves’ gangster tour. 215 S. Wabasha St., St. Paul, 651-292-1220,


Hard-knock life

Is it a hard-knock life for us? No one cares for you a smidge, huh? Maybe you can take solace in a $5 sipping shot consisting of Canadian whiskey with a pickle-juice back. Maybe. Icehouse, 2528 Nicollet Ave. S., Mpls., 612-276-6523


Twin Cities Reptiles

So you want to buy a king baboon tarantula, a Brazilian rainbow boa constrictor, and maybe a couple of emperor scorpions? Go to Twin Cities Reptiles in St. Paul and ask the nice tattooed man. He’ll be glad to oblige. 2363 University Ave. W., St. Paul, 651-647-4479


a talking dolphin

The Walker Art Center’s “talking dolphin” is technically known as Dolphin Oracle II, a computer-animated installation created by multimedia artists Piotr Szyhalski and Richard Shelton. Ask the dolphin a question and he may or may not give you a prophetic answer, but either way it’s fun to converse with a wisecracking creature that isn’t afraid to be smart and stupid at the same time. Walker Art Center, 612-375-7600

Belly Dance ClassBelly Dance Classhouse of ballsHouse of BallsRaptor Center


Belly Dance Class

It may not ease tensions in the Middle East, but a belly dancing class from the Jawaahir Dance Company’s Cassandra School is a guaranteed stress reliever. To enhance your global perspective, try a Tribal Fusion class with Mistress Tara. Three metro locations, 612-872-6050


Tree house

Yep, there’s a sprawling, slightly surreal, multilevel tree house in St. Louis Park. Check it out on Minnetonka Boulevard just east of Highway 100.


House of Balls

Bowling balls and other ordinary objects become something else entirely at sculptor Allen Christian’s mind-bending House of Balls gallery. 212 3rd Ave. N., Mpls., 612-332-3992


Ice Chamber Bar

Floridians don’t get it, but when winter comes to the Twin Cities, it’s time to head outside—specifically to Le Méridien Chambers, where the bar is carved from 12,000 pounds of super-clear ice. 901 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-767-6900


The Raptor Center

Have you ever seen a bald eagle close up? Of course not—unless you’ve been to the Raptor Center, in which case you’ve probably been closer to one than you ever thought was possible. And be honest: It was a little scary, wasn’t it? 1920 Fitch Ave.,St. Paul, 612-624-4745



Sea dragons

Possibly the weirdest animal at the Minnesota Zoo is a tiny creature with a big name: sea dragon. Related to seahorses, sea dragons are small, delicate creatures that have transparent, feathery fins to help them blend into the seaweed forests where they live off the south coast of Australia. 13000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley, 952-431-9200


Tall bikes

Those guys who ride around Nicollet Mall on goofy, impossibly tall homemade bicycles raise lots of questions. For instance: How do they get up on those things? More important, how do they get off? And, of course, do they have decent health insurance?


Ax-Man Surplus

If you can’t find it anywhere else, you might find it at Ax-Man, but probably not. That’s OK, though, because you’ll find plenty of other amazing crap to buy, and, if nothing else, the signs are always funny. Four metro locations, 651-646-8653


Nun massages

Sister Rosalind Gefre and her team of trained nuns have been relieving the aches and pains of Twin Citians for more than 30 years. One massage and you’ll become a convert. Two metro locations, 651-698-9123, sisterrosalind.org

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