THANKS TO ALL those irritating, endearing street-corner mimes, the art form itself has developed a bad rep.

I suggest casting that predictable, white-faced image aside and opening your mind to The Adaptors. This prodigiously talented, New York ensemble employs its training in classical mime to create hilarious, on-target satires of many cultural stereotypes and phenomena.

The group's artistic directors, Kari Margolis and Tony Brown, met more than a decade ago in the Paris studio of "New Mime" guru Etienne Decorux and honed their craft while performing on the streets of Europe and with a traditional Montreal-based troop. Upon returning to the United States in 1982, they founded a school and later a company devoted to the exploration of American society by means of mime and other movements, music, video, words, costumes and utterly wacky props.

Their best known and wildly acclaimed piece "Autobahn" fulfills that mission to perfection. "Like the West German speedway of the same name," reads their program note, " 'Autobahn' takes a look at life from the fast lane, sweeping you through a potpourri of impressions from our recent past and our uncertain future." Housewives dancing with their ironing boards, a woman engaging in an erotic duet with a beauty shop hairdryer, astronauts, a belly dancer and robots all have their place in this unhinged survey. Whether they're skewering TV commercials, suburban domesticity or the perils and inanities of the arms race, The Adaptors communicate in ways that are both unpredictable and highly entertaining.

ADAPTORS MOVEMENT THEATER -- Friday and Saturday at 8:30, Sunday at 4. The Dance Place, 3225 Eighth Street NE. 269-1600.