Your mom tells you to smile, then counts to three while you stand in front of the Arc de Triomphe, posing like every other tourist jackass. Or you've gotten dolled up and your boyfriend wants a picture capturing you in all your glory, so he's staring at you from behind the lens; as you try to look sweet-yet-predatory, you're filled with anxiety, recognizing that, at this moment, only he knows whether you are succeeding. Scenarios like these never happen in a photobooth. In the movie Amelie, the title character is so shy that she can't even talk to the man she's got a crush on, so she shows her seductive side only to a photobooth camera. Babbette Hines' 2002 book Photobooth displays 300 images collected over a 75-year period, showing people at their most playful and uninhibited. Even as the subjects go from wearing pillbox hats and fancy scarves to sporting T-shirts and big hair, what they're doing remains beautifully consistent.
Old-school photobooths -- ones where you can get a basic, black-and-white photograph without having to pose in front of a goofy backdrop -- are hard to find. A Web directory of old-fashioned photobooths, www.photobooth.org, contains more than 200 entries to help wayward fanatics, but not a single machine listed is in Kansas City.
Of the photobooths we've explored in the area, most are newfangled models that offer silly backgrounds doomed to date the photos. Of course, these can be fun in their own way. One of our favorites can be found in Crown Center's Zoom; there, the backgrounds feature novelty characters like Hello Kitty. At Union Station, the Fotocab looks like a yellow taxi; kids can sit inside to create cards of themselves as space travelers.
The most legitimate local photobooth we've found is upstairs at Harpo's. You can choose a wacky backdrop, but you can use a plain, old-school background, too.
We're still burning to find one of the genuine black-and-white numbers in KC. If you can help us track one down, we'll update our readers with the info you share. E-mail special knowledge to email@example.com.-- Gina Kaufmann
Hot Hot Hot
Salsa fans have plenty of places to cut a rug on the weekends -- the Madrid, Westport Beach Club, the Oasis. Even such exotic Overland Park venues as American Bandstand and the Holiday Inn offer weekend salsa opportunities. But what about the rest of the week? One never knows what day Latin dance fever will strike. Starting August 5, every other Tuesday night at the Grand Emporium (3832 Main Street) is salsa night. Descarga KC will play salsas, merengues, cumbias, descargas, cha-chas, boleros and Latin jazz from 9 p.m. to midnight; admission is $5. The event is slated to last through September 23, but good turnouts will extend the run. For more information, call 816-531-1504.-- Sarah Smarsh
A group of whacked-out scientists recently created a medieval flying contraption based on a 500-year-old Leonardo da Vinci blueprint. Then they dropped some poor bastard off a cliff with it. See what happened in Adrenaline Rush: The Science of Risk, a giant-screen documentary on the psychology of risk-taking and the physics that make human flight possible. If skydiving isn't your thing, the crazy camera shots in this movie are as close as you're going to get without ripping the cord. The film shows frequently at Union Station's Extreme Screen Theater, 30 West Pershing Road. Tickets cost $4 to $6. For more information, call 816-460-2020 or see www.unionstation.org. -- Smarsh
Sunday's a mental-health day for most of the world, a blissful 24-hour stretch when you can do nothing at all and feel perfectly content about it. For those with loftier goals, A Taste of the Boulevard combines good fun and good health in one cheap package. For $2.50, beginning at 12:30 p.m., you can sample food from several Southwest Boulevard restaurants, set to the soundtrack of live Latin jazz, salsa and Tejano music. Since the festival was organized to promote good health, there'll be plenty of food for thought as well. Don't worry -- by the time it wraps up at 6, there'll be plenty of Sunday left to waste.-- Christopher Sebela