The temperature goes high in Shoreditch when the sexiest intellectual men perform on stage, reading without clothes. It’s definitely the hottest and most open-minded literary salon of the city, a bi-monthly event at Ace Hotel that will arouse you and take away fears and prejudices about nudity. If you are not into books yet, it’s definitely the right time to turn your passion for literature. But above all, be ready to undress your mind!
We interviewed Justin (Sharon Husbands) and Alex (Duchess of Pork) to know more about it.
Literature, nudism with a touch of healthy exhibitionism. How did you start this project? And why?
We started Naked Boys Reading in 2013 as a way to create a new performance based event in VFD (Vogue Fabrics Dalston). It was fashioned after the co-producer Justin had been involved in“Naked Girls Reading”, an event in New York, together with famous literary salons of NYC and London. We wanted to bring the books back to the clubs, along with the cock. Why not?
Why did you choose Shoreditch as your main headquarters?
Shoreditch chose us. We had moved from VFD to a slightly larger venue when we began to chat with Ace Hotel and the Mirdana Bar. We were excited to join the cultural events at the Ace Hotel and are completing our second year of residency there. We also have residencies in Brighton, Berlin and a satellite event in Toronto.
Not only a naked reading at Ace Hotel, but you also offer a semi-naked brunch at Dalston Superstore. Is there a direct connection between food and sex or is it just a softer invitation/temptation to join the fully naked reading?
Everyone wants a side of nudity with their brunch, but not a main course. That’s just too much. At our brunch headquarters, Dalston Superstore, we let the delicious food do all the real talking and the boys just amp up the flavor. Furthermore, licensing laws prohibit us from full nudity on a Sunday on the high street! YAY!
How do you choose the books or the pieces to play?
In most events we select a curator who works with a theme and organizes a range of texts for the boys who are reading to choose from. These range from canonical texts to critical theory, amazon reviews to recipes.
Mark Simpson, Daily Telegraph journalist, said that the metrosexual has been replaced by the spornosexual, a man who is not afraid to show off his naked body and uses it to communicate himself and his style, without dependency on clothes. What do you think about it?
I think that male nudity (full nudity) is still a major taboo. The use of semi-naked male body, especially via images driven social media, is a useful, sometimes necessary, but also damning and shame-producing tool of subject identification. Bodies that do not conform to various norms will either be reified or damned (to the point of obliteration). Of course a “style” is communicated via the nude self-image. For NBR such “nudity” is woven in the textures of language and voice. But we still use the near-naked image to “sell” our brand. We’re just as interested in critiquing such images as we are in producing them.
I like the idea that you are not just offering brainless sex objects. Is it true?
We hope not. But Sharon’s pretty dumb. And the Duchess of Pork is definitely a sex object.
I like to think that “Naked boys reading” could be a first step to let people think that everyone should bring more sexuality in real life, breaking the boundaries between private and public. What’s your opinion about it?
We are for sure blurring the sense of private and public. The shared association with nudity and private space is the first hurdle. The intimacy of reading and reading aloud, and its relation to public and private address also come into play. And the erotic is always a part of everything – that is what we want to highlight. If sexuality plays in well, then that’s how the person wants to see it. And that’s awesome!
What’s the reaction or the feedback that you’ve had from people? Something unusual, unexpected or weird?
We usually get very positive feedback from those who have come to an event. We get some lovely feedback on our images and text we put online from our e-fans across the world. We also get a lot of hate mail – usually just asking why we would do this. The best email we’ve ever received was certainly the man from America who just wrote: “WHY WOULD YOU DOOOOOO THIS?” We just thought: “Well babes, cause we wanted to”.
“Naked boys reading” is an international project, isn’t it? Which cities have been involved?
We are regularly in Berlin (co-produced with Pansy Presents) and have a satellite event in Toronto. We’re working to bring the event across more of Europe and the United States in 2016. We also have a wonderful fan base in Asia and South America and would love find ways to go over and bring the fun to them!
What are your next projects?
We’ll be back in Brighton 13 Feb for our Valentine’s event and 25 Feb in Berlin for our Duets event. We’ll be having our first Leeds outing in March and then celebrating Shakespeare at the Ace Hotel in April. We’ll be doing a double bill at the Brighton Fringe this year in May and hoping to kick off to a few more countries this Summer. Keep up to date at www.nakedboysreading.com