Naked Girls Reading Vancouver 2011. Frankie Panky photo.
Neil Gaiman Naked Girls Reading—preview
- by Shawn Conner
Naked Girls Reading is just what it sounds like.
The series began in Chicago and has spread to other cities, including Vancouver. A monthly event, the series began here in Oct 2010 with Naked Girls Reading Horror. To rapt audiences, Vancouver's Naked Girls Reading have read science fiction, farce, and fairytales; around Christmas they read How the Grinch Stole Christmas. And this Sunday, March 18, at the Backstage Lounge on Granville Island, Naked Girls will read work by fantasy/comics author Neil Gaiman.
We chatted with Diamond Minx, Vancouver burlesque dancer, Naked Girls Reading producer and Reading Naked Girl herself, about the event, and how nudity gives Dr. Seuss a whole new meaning.
Naked Girls Reading Science Fiction press pic by Frankie Panky.
Shawn Conner: How did you become involved?
Diamond Minx: I'm friends with the people who created it, Michelle L'amour and Frankie Vivid, in Chicago. They started branching out and I asked them about starting up a group here.
I'll tell you how it came to be - it's a cute little story. Michelle L'amour is a former Miss Exotic World, basically the world champion of burlesque from 2005, and as is fairly common with most burlesque performers, she has difficulty keeping her clothes on. So one day she was on the couch, completely naked, reading to her husband, and he said, "You know, you could sell tickets to that." And a wonderful idea was born.
SC: Are there any rules about what the themes can be? Do you have to consult with Michelle?
DM: We're pretty autonomous. I have two co-producers for the show, Frankie Panky our staff photographer and Malvina Masvino, but I'm pretty much the last word on what we're going to do theme-wise, but I take suggestions. If I get a lot of requests for a particular theme, I'm happy to put it on.
SC: Whose idea was it to read Neil Gaiman?
DM: That was mine. My absolute favourite book, which I've mentioned a number of times onstage, is Good Omens [written by Gaiman and Terry Pratchett]. I adore the book. It's probably the only book I've ever read and laughed out loud myself to.
And the cool thing is, Mama Fortuna, one of our readers, is actually acquainted with Neil. She used to do an online comic that involved him and they got to chatting via email about it. So she's the lady I got to draw the poster this month and he was in touch with her about it.
A fully-clothed Neil Gaiman reading at Fluevog Shoes in Vancouver Nov 6 2011. Robyn Hanson photo
SC: There are four performers at the show [including Riannaconda and Sweet Sashay]. Were they all acquainted with his work?
DM: Yes. I had a lineup of people going, "If you do a Neil Gaiman theme, can I read?"
SC: Is anyone going to read from his comics work?
DM: I'm hoping someone will bring one of his Sandman comics to read. I know we've got readings from Stardust, from American Gods and from Coraline lined up. I like to leave it in the hands of the girls who are reading.
SC: Is there furniture? I imagine the Reading Girls reclining comfortably on a divan...
DM: Oh God I wish! We sit on chairs they have at the Backstage Lounge.
SC: What are the wardrobe requirements?
DM: The wardrobe at Naked Girls Reading is awesome shoes, cool things in you your hair, fabulous jewelry, and accessories. And nothing else.
SC: You don't necessarily read sexy stuff. Does it become sexy because you're naked?
DM: That's one thing the originators have said, that it works better if we aren't reading erotica. There's something quite wonderful about a lovely naked girl reading something with some serious chops to it. Having someone read to you from Mary Shelly's Frankenstein is a lot better than having someone read to you from a romance novel.
We do end up having things come out unintentionally raunchy. We did The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and some things came out as double entendres.
SC: I mentioned this to my girlfriend and she said, "What about naked men reading?" I said, "No one wants to see that."
DM: I know the New York chapter has had Naked Boys Reading. It was my birthday last month and Frankie Panky got up onstage and read something naked. But at this point, while I have a collection of guys willing to do it, we don't have specific plans to do it yet.
Tickets for Naked Girls Reading Neil Gaiman are $15/20 (for reserved seating) in advance, $5 more at the door.