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Freestyle: ‘Naked Girls’ take reading to extremes
BY ELIZABETH KIESZKOWSKI / email@example.com
Do you love books? Being read to?
How about women? How about naked women?
If you can say yes to all four of those questions, I have an event for you. This one’s for enlightened lovers of the printed word who would like to be read to by naked women. It’s called “Naked Girls Reading.”
‘Naked Girls Reading’
» Where: The ARTS at Marks Garage, 1159 Nuuanu Ave.
Or, as the organizers put it: “BEAUTIFUL WOMEN. BOOKS. NO CLOTHES. HONOLULU.”
Lola Love, organizer of this event, explains that Naked Girls Reading is a national organization. She has arranged to present a Honolulu version.
“One of my favorite burlesque performers, Michelle L’Amour, created it,” Love said, and that’s how she became involved. L’Amour, a nationally known burlesque artist based in Chicago, tours performances including Naked Girls Reading around the country. Her most recent event took place in New Orleans, based on readings from Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”
Love is a hard-working performance artist herself. She’s also known as “Hawaii’s Sizzling Samba Siren,” a burlesque and samba dancer/instructor, and she’s co-founder/principal dancer in the woman-directed burlesque revue Cherry Blossom Cabaret. Love is also creator of “BurlyQ Bingo,” a burlesque-themed recurring game in Honolulu, and performer in “Taboo Revue.”
And as it happens, she’s also a “book nerd,” she said, who won a library award in eighth grade for reading the most books in her class.
The possibilities in this event caught Love’s eye, and her imagination.
The event revolves around the theme “Banned and Challenged Books.” Burlesque dancer, costumer, promoter and public relations princess Miss Catwings will host.
Love, ChiChi Roniz and Miss Fortune will read from choice titles. Naked.
“Completely” naked, Love affirmed. Full makeup and shoes will help create a sense of character, as will the choice of readings.
“I know it’s a bit risque,” said Catwings. But these women are as passionate about the beauty of the body as they are the value of communication, and here they certainly have something to say.
Love said, “Basically the thought that inspired this was Michelle L’Amour was reading, naked. Her husband walked by and said, ‘Oh, that’s so beautiful.’”
And as time goes on, as the nudity becomes less shocking or distracting, the value of the words may also captivate you.
PLEASE NOTE that there are no ticket sales at the door. This isn’t the kind of event that lends itself to random walk-ins. The event is meant to be respectful to the women presenting and those participating.
I can vouch for this, as I’ve attended several events presented by Cherry Blossom Cabaret and the troupe’s separate members, and have always been impressed by the womancentric, warm and sincere aspects of their performances. Unlike some other presentations of women as “entertainment,” it makes a difference that these performances are conceived and controlled by the performers themselves. They are not presented as characters submissive to male fantasy, but as actors in the fullest sense of the word.
In other words, women and men can enjoy the show, without misgiving.
“If a man brings his wife, she may enjoy it more than he does,” Love said, enthusiastically. “This is very personal to me. We all have our body image issues.
“Before I started doing burlesque, I wouldn’t even wear a two-piece bathing suit!”
She finds that her performances, however, “help make women feel comfortable with their own bodies, because we’re just normal people.”
As for the books, Love promised that Maya Angelou will be among the authors included, and perhaps an excerpt from “Lolita” … maybe even some Dr. Seuss.
“We’re going to choose one more risque piece,” she promised.
If you like the concept and want to support it, get your tickets, and reserve before Monday for a discount. The event was postponed from its previous date because there weren’t enough advance sales, and Love hopes to avoid that this time around.
I look forward to seeing (plenty) and hearing from the performers there.
Elizabeth Kieszkowski is editor of TGIF, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s weekly arts and entertainment section. Reach her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter.