FACES ’93 : Some Names to Be Reckoned With in the New Year : PERFORMANCE

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Ahhh, a new year and so many unknowns: Will Jay, Dave and Johnny be genetically spliced to produce the Ultimate Talk Show Host? Will the Yuppie-in-Chief name Stevie Nicks to run the NEA? Who will Sinead pick as her tag team partner against Madonna and the Pope? Will the activist group AWOE (Actresses With One Eyebrow) demand that one of them be chosen to play Frida Kahlo? Oh well, frivolity aside, one thing is certain: You’ll be hearing these names and seeing these faces in the next 365.

Roger Guenveur Smith

1992 may have been a lousy year for a long-dead Italian explorer, but it was a great one for this performance artist. His “Christopher Columbus 1992” recast C.C. as a sleazy travel agent via Smith’s trademark blend of hip smarts and performing chops. A sexy challenge to some musty cultural presumptions, “Columbus” was P.C. thick, but also MTV slick. Ask Smith his age and he quotes a line from the work: “I was born the same summer Emmett Till was lynched and Disneyland opened.” Smith is socially conscious all right, but he’s also more sophisticated than most performance artists, and more skillful onstage. And that’s exactly the combination of politics and stage savvy that the medium needs. A Yale-trained Crenshaw homey, Smith has appeared in several Spike Lee films, and can next be seen live at a Jan. 30 benefit for Troy Cafe at LATC. No matter where you catch his act, he’ll tickle your entertainment bone even as he challenges you on the issues of the day.