Sex, fire, rock ‘n’ roll. At the Crocker?

A pair of huge breasts looms above partiers waiting in line for drinks at the Crocker Art Museum’s Modern Culture Gala on Friday night. OK, it’s just an ice sculpture of breasts. But one that makes the crowd hot enough to send silicone—sorry, ice—melting all over the bartenders from 55 Degrees.

Grunge music kicks off a lusty belly-dance performance by Unmata in the courtyard. It’s not exactly traditionalist. These chicks slink around in lingerie tops and skirts made of ribbons, eyes transfixed in badass seduction of the diamond-dripped suburbanites drooling in their champagne. A projector sends flickering lights that look like flames onto the highest courtyard wall.

Upstairs, a topless woman gazes confidently into space while artist Paula Barkley paints her back and the crowd’s collective jaw rests on the floor. Hair-stylists from Byüti chop locks on a riser nearby.

The Burning Man slideshow on floor three is less interesting than the urban circus performers milling about the courtyard below on stilts, in glowing hoops, oozing a healthy counterpoint to the uptight white wool jackets and bleached-blond hair dotting the thick crowd. There’s a woman from Voo Dee Doo Fire Brigade straddling a revolving log of eight flaming spokes. That’s too easy, so she twirls a baton of fire above her head to pass the time.

Back inside, “Is that Jesse Camp from MTV?!” Yep, it’s the squatter-chic stringbean who once narrated the music-video countdown (way back when MTV actually played music videos) with an animated jawline and the voice of a crackhead surfer. He shoves a video recorder in my face, so I put him on the spot: “Want to dance?” He’s bashful, sweet even. He introduces me to his sister and we wander out to the balcony for a smoke break while Jesse tells me that he thinks SN&R is cool—“like the LA Weekly of Sacramento!”—and that he loves the people in this town—“they’re fucking positive!” Then a girl from Sactown magazine shoves her notebook in his face and I’m distracted by a partier who’s sweating out pharmaceuticals.

Just past midnight, the fashionable set starts to say its good-byes. A guy who looks like Prince. A woman who looks like Annie Lennox. An urban pirate. And visual artist Joshua Michael, one of the evening’s most social butterflies, who’s proud that the Crocker is “finally shedding its old, moth-hole reputation,” though he thinks the party could have gone on longer.

We leave “Neo-Crocker” behind, stumbling through the halls of old-school Crocker and down the outside steps. The fire dancers are hop-scotching through flames they’ve lit in the street.

But that’s when the Cinderella-fairytale evening meets its pumpkin. Unlike a major city event, this one ends with nary a taxi in sight. Velocab drivers of Sacramento: start your “engines.” We’re not in cow town anymore.