Literature is about to get a whole lot sexier when Naked Girls Reading in the Garden makes its debut at the Adelaide Fringe.
Produced by burlesque performers Frankie Valentine and Vesper White, the show – cheekily subtitled You Can’t Spell Literature without a T & A – will see four “beautiful ladies” reading the work of authors ranging from Beatrix Potter to Baudelaire in The Garden of Unearthly Delights.
You might imagine there will be a screen of some sort protecting their modesty. Perhaps a strategically placed bookshelf or vase … a feather boa, maybe.
No, says Valentine: readers will be in-the-bath starkers.
“The girls will be reclining or sitting on a couch or armchair and they will be completely naked … but there will be no money shots and it won’t be lewd.”
Although new to Australia, with the first event held in this country in Canberra last December, Naked Girls Reading is something of a phenomenon in the United States. The story goes that international showgirl Michelle L’amour and her husband Franky Vivid came up with the idea after Vivid came home one night to discover L’amour reading naked in her boudoir. They hosted the first show in Chicago in 2009, the buzz quickly grew, and it has gone on to appear in more than 18 cities.
Valentine says she has been following the series for several years and, as a burlesque performer, has no qualms about reading naked herself in front of an audience.
“I’ve always been completely comfortable with these situations… I think it’s a really brave and beautiful idea, and I think it’s a great thing to introduce to Australian audiences.
“Who doesn’t want to gaze upon a beautiful woman naked? And who doesn’t like to be read aloud to?”
She and White will be joined by other readers throughout the series, with those confirmed so far including a musician, an author, a dominatrix and a number of showgirls. They would also like to get a politician on board – perhaps someone from the Australian Sex Party.
“We’re hoping to get people from different demographics to come and read to us – people who have a presence and will be recognised,” Valentine says.
Reading material will be chosen by both the show’s producers and other participating readers, and is expected to cover an eclectic collection of classic and contemporary texts. Readings will be organised around themes such as Women; Diaries and Letters; Trash; and The Drunks, The Beats and The Hopeless Romantics.
While Naked Girls Reading seeks to avoid being seedy, surely this late-night “story-time for adults” will attract its fair share of voyeurs?
“To me, it’s inevitable that people will come to perve, but we invite them to do that and dare them to have their intellect stimulated as well,” Valentine says.
“We hope they will take something more from the show than just boobs.”
Naked Girls Reading in the Garden will take place from February 14 until March 16 in The Campanile in The Garden of Unearthly Delights.