Nick Knave says puppets sometimes have stories of their own to tell.
A busker by trade, Knave left "a successful career as a juvenile delinquent" to get into puppetry and launch a new adult puppet salon, "PuppetLand: Confidential," to fill what he saw as a glaring need in San Francisco.
"I wanted to create the space that I didn't see for myself and other puppeteers," says Knave, who debuted the salon in February.
Each month, Knave and his puppet emcee Wolfie will offer a rare look at the sexy and sleazy shenanigans puppets can get into when they're not educating and entertaining children.
They're joined onstage by special puppet guests in shows that are bawdy and hilarious, and occasionally poignant.
Dave Haaz-Baroque, creator of the goth puppet show "Shadow Circus Creature Theatre," recently appeared as Agent Rod Brotaser, a Homeland Security operative whose sexual repression became apparent when he bullied and interrogated a vampire puppet named Count Flatula.
Other guests have included drag king Dean Disaster, who used a penis puppet bigger than his forearm and lip-synced a rendition of the song "Man or Muppet," and artists in Oakland's Big Tadoo Puppet Crew, who attach their own heads to puppet bodies and perform as bizarre puppet-human hybrids.
Puppeteers aren't the only artists in the mix. Knave's Wolfie puppet, who looks like a "Fraggle Rock" character suffering from mange, shares emcee duties with a rotating cast of sexy human co-hosts. They include Sgt. Die Wies (pronounced "device"), a shapely burlesque performer whose outfits sometimes consist of glitter and little else.
Like Dean Disaster, Die Wies' repertoire includes a bit of lip-syncing. Die Wies, who also appears as a faux queen in the drag and burlesque performance series "Womanopoly," says, "You can be anybody you want to be through lip-syncing, and drag."
One running gag between Die Wies and Wolfie is that they're romantically involved. But Wolfie recently got big laughs by chiding the audience for assuming "he" had a gender, saying, "Don't put your heteronormative labels on me!"
IF YOU GO
Where: Little Boxes Theater, 1661 Tennessee St., Suite 2S, S.F.
When: 9 p.m. Friday
Tickets: $5 to $15
Contact: (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com/event/603514