What’s the best way to parody a crappy movie? You can scream at it (see The Rocky Horror Picture Show) or turn it into a musical (see Little Shop of Horrors) or remount it scene for scene as a sock puppet show. That’s what the founders of the Harvey Finklestein Institute — a lowbrow, Chicago-based comedy troupe — decided to do to Showgirls, Paul Verhoeven’s gloriously awful romp through the underworld of sequin-G-string-clad Las Vegas strippers. I caught Sock Puppet Showgirls (Ace of Clubs, 9 Great Jones St., Oct. 15-30) at the 2004 Fringe Festival and was thankful that I was wearing stockings — they made me feel a hell of a lot less dirty. Half the audience didn’t know what the hell to make of the show (they had probably never seen the movie). The other half, including myself, roared as a sock puppet Nomi (the aggressively trashy Elizabeth Berkley character) performed a pole dance, shtupped a fellow puppet in a pool, and had a freak-out while putting ketchup on her french fries. If you’ve never seen the flick, rent it before booking your tickets. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on one of the scariest pop-culture in-jokes ever put on stage... in socks, anyway.
Continuing the theme of horrendous pop culture phenomena, Seth Rudetsky Deconstructing: The Good, The Bad, and The Headachy (Ars Nova Theater, 511 W. 54th St., Mondays through Dec. 19) is brimming with terrifying 1970s nostalgia. Manic musical fanboy Rudetsky painstakingly dissects variety show kitsch by analyzing clips culled from his private video collection. Marvel at the amount of footage he has amassed of The Brady Bunch Variety Hour and steel yourself for a Liza Minnelli/Joel Grey/Ben Vereen spiritual medley that confirms God truly has given up on us. Who knew the apocalypse would arrive covered in glitter and gold lamé?
If you prefer your fears to be triggered by blood and guts rather than Broadway belters, prepare for Nightmare (Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, 107 Suffolk St., Oct. 14-31). Director Timothy Haskell — best known for transforming Patrick Swayze’s Road House into an off-Broadway show — has joined forces with a number of theatrical producers to mount this massive haunted house, an interactive maze of psychologically damaging chambers populated by — oh the horror! — actors.