Outside the candy box

Valentine’s Day is a controversial issue at chez Mendick. While I strongly disagree with any commodification of love, my fiancée believes Valentine’s Day is cause for all sorts of pomp and circumstance. Anyway, for those of you who aren’t V-Day traditionalists, here are five celebrations that don’t involve boxes of candy, flowers or dinner dates:

1. Naughty Gras

Sure, this isn’t technically a Valentine’s Day-related event. It’s KSFM 102.5 FM’s annual Mardi Gras event, and it just happens to be the weekend before Valentine’s Day. But it’s still a good place to bring a 21-and-over V-Day date who enjoys dancing at flashy parties, Mardi Gras drinks (hurricanes, Louisiana lemonade, etc.) and the singer Jonn Hart—known for his risqué single “Who Booty,” which will be performed live. Saturday, February 9, at 8 p.m.; $24-$75. Cal Expo, 1600 Exposition Boulevard; http://ksfm.cbslocal.com.

2. Dead Hookers Ball II: My Bloody Valentine

Zombie and freaky-costume lovers will enjoy the second Dead Hookers Ball. Costumes at this party are encouraged, especially zombie-hooker and pimp costumes. There will be ’70s disco music, a “Hooker of the Night” competition, art exhibitions, games and drink specials. Organizers caution that the event features “explicit themes and role playing,” and attendees must sign a waver and agree to act in a “responsible manner.” Saturday, February 9, at 9 p.m.; $15-$20. Shenanigans, 705 J Street; www.deadhookersball.com.

3. Valentine Run for Legal Services of Northern California

Run in a 4-mile or 1.8-mile race to raise funds for Legal Services of Northern California, an organization that’s mission is to serve underrepresented citizens and help the poor achieve justice. Walk or run, bring a canine companion or dress up—it’s a lighthearted and untimed affair. It’s kid friendly and same-day registration is available starting at 7 a.m. There will also be refreshments, vendors and entertainment after the run. Saturday, February 9 at 9 a.m. (kids’ events start earlier); $20-$35. Macy’s parking lot, corner of Butano and Lusk drives; www.lsncrun.info.

4. Don’t Touch My Private

Check out an art exhibition that is sort of related to love, but that also pushes boundaries. It’s called Don’t Touch My Private, and it shows the artwork of recent Sacramento State University graduate Cat Hellxia. Her work “questions tabooed objects or daily things that we want to hide,” according to the artist. Monday through Friday, February 11-15; from noon to 4:30 p.m., with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, February 13; free. R.W. Witt Gallery at Sacramento State University, 6000 J Street; www.facebook.com/hellxiaart.

5. Heritage Dessert Tour

With stops for treats at Rick’s Dessert Diner (2322 K Street), TreyBCakes (1801 L Street, Suite 70) and Devine Gelateria & Café (1221 19th Street), this walking tour led by historian William Burg is a sweet alternative to a box of chocolates. It starts at Midtown Village Café (1827 I Street) and lasts two hours, so you can burn calories while you’re gorging on sugary confections. For more information, see “Cake walkabout” (SN&R Food Stuff) on page TK. Saturday, February 9, at noon; $30. Midtown Village Cafe, 1827 I Street; http://sacheritagedesserttour.brownpapertickets.com.