Naked Girls Reading is a live event and, well, mostly self-explanatory. Essentially, there are naked girls and they're reading. The brainchild of burlesque veteran Michelle L'amour and her husband Franky Vivid, the series began in Chicago in March of 2009 and, after making waves all across the United States, was staged internationally for the first time in Toronto, Canada on March 7, 2010 at the Painted Lady bar on Osgoode.

The Toronto show was performed by local burlesque favourites Skin Tight Outta Sight. Franky Vivid and Michelle L'amour were in attendence as special guests, Michelle even taking the stage with the troupe as one of the readers.

It was... much less titilating than expected. I went in thinking I'd see something performative: memorized passages recited to slow, gyration-worthy jazz, say. This was, after all, burlesque, I thought.

Not quite. The ladies, about six of them, filed out from behind a Chinese screen, naked as billed, but rather than striking poses or launching into an act they gathered on wooden stools and, taking up books, took turns reading aloud. Naked Girls Reading is an almost ironically literal title. "Shame on you if you thought we'd be doing otherwise," is the implication. One of the girls did read Anais Nin, but the fare was otherwise mostly children's stories. One Miss Honey B. Hind, charmingly Southern in her affectations, told us all "Why the Sea Is Salt". Other offerings included an Edward Gorey story, deliciously violent German cautionary tales, the title essay from Me Talk Pretty One Day and, as a finale, a group read of Goodnight Moon.

While I did go in anticipating more salacious entertainment, what was actually on offer was something far more intimate and certainly better. There are naked women aplenty in venues all over Toronto, but ones who want to share a literary experience with you are rare specimens indeed.


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