NGR Boston in The Phoenix

The March 22, 2010 cover story in the Boston Phoenix was on “Naked Boston” and Naked Girls Reading wrapped up the article. Here’s our section for your reading pleasure!

Aural Pleasures: Naked Girls Reading

For those looking for an in-the-raw thrill, nude reading is probably not what they had in mind. But though Chicago-based burlesque star Michelle L’Amour started “Naked Girls Reading” as a joke a year ago, it was so successful that she bought nakedgirlsreading.com, opened up Studio L’Amour, and began hosting monthly live events that are exactly what they advertise: approximately five naked women onstage, reading select works of literature in 15-minute spurts.

Producers in other cities — including Boston — have since approached L’Amour about starting up their own naked readings. (She will be in town the first week of April for the Boston Burlesque Exposition; go to burlesque-expo.com for more information.)

Here in the Hub, L’Amour’s friend, who goes by Scratch, runs the Boston Academy of Burlesque Education (BABE). At first, when she told him about her idea, he thought she was out of her mind.

“I thought, ‘Nobody is going to be interested in people sitting around reading,’ ” he recalls. “You can’t make a movie anymore that doesn’t have CGI. You can’t do a play on Broadway that doesn’t have a helicopter landing onstage. One of the hallmarks of reading is the single, quiet voice. No pun intended, but it’s stripped down.”

L’Amour muses, however, that the show is like combining two historic taboos for women: reading and nakedness. She was right: the show in Chicago was a hit.

Their first show in Boston, back in January, was at the Oberon Theater, the ART-owned space that seats approximately 200 people, with high ceilings designed to mimic a nightclub. Unsurprisingly, the show had some difficulty conveying an intimate setting. In February, it moved to BABE’s home turf in Allston for a Valentine’s Day–themed reading, with pieces ranging from The Song of Songs to Boccaccio’s The Decameron. On April 23, Naked Girls Reading will once again take the local stage for a midnight performance of “Down the Rabbit Hole,” a collection of Lewis Carroll’s works and other Alice-inspired literary gems, at the Coolidge Corner Theatre.

Although implicitly sexy pieces like the Kama Sutra might be obvious choices, it is in the less obvious selections where Scratch says the company finds its gems. Vicka Rael Corry, PhD, for instance, read from Times Square Red, Times Square Blue, Samuel R. Delany’s autobiographical account of his experience as a gay black man in New York, who takes a straight female friend to a porno to watch gay sex in the audience.

“I just wasn’t sure how well it was going to go over with the audience,” says Scratch. “Shared with a bunch of people, it brings that out.”

“NAKED GIRLS READING: DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE” | Coolidge Corner Theatre, 290 Harvard Street, Brookline | April 23, midnight | 617.734.2501 | coolidge.org |BOSTON BABY DOLLS/BOSTON ACADEMY OF BURLESQUE EDUCATION (BABE) | 119 Braintree Street, Suite #208, Allston | 617.869.2000 | bostonbabydolls.net

Alexis Hauk can be reached, fully clothed, at alexishauk@gmail.com.

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