Naked girls reading

I’d like to highlight that at no point while writing yesterdays Sunday Times column, was I ever naked. However, reading it is a whole different story.




When my friend Lisa told me there were nude women reading books in Cape Town the other night, and we could go watch, I thought, if I can’t get a column out of that, I may as well hang up my ballpoint pen.


I’m sure there are nude women reading in cape town every night, but you don’t get to pay to go and watch those ones.

Naked Girls Reading is a new show in Cape Town, but it has international roots. It started in Chicago in 2009, created by international showgirl Michelle L’amour and Franky Vivid (I’m guessing these are stage names) as an intimate live event. By 2012, Naked Girls Reading was showing in more than eighteen international cities.

I recently visited a strip club, so was keen to compare experiences. I also wanted to explore the stigmas attached to different kinds of nudity. Why is it that if you’re naked while you dance it’s considered smutty, but if you’re naked while you’re reading, then it’s art?

It was one of those rare experiences in life, where none of us had any idea what to expect, I think even the cast felt the same way, as it was their debut performance.

You have to wonder what it is about human beings, that we can make a spectator sport out of anything, even a woman sitting in an armchair, reading Deepak Chopra.

I dragged along some friends; three guys and three girls, including one married couple. I suffered a brief moment of anxiety, wondering if it would be weird sitting next to friends and strangers, ogling tits and ass?

I made it to the venue first and selected our seats, choosing somewhere vaguely towards the middle. I wanted to be close enough to see the action, without being so close we could all pass an OBGYN exam at the end.

We needn’t have been so curious. The show really was as simple as it’s name. Four women in robes entered stage left, faced front and dropped their gowns, to reveal their complete and magnificent nudity. With big, slightly nervous smiles, they took their seats. Then one by one… they read.

At first sight of their nudity, my mind raced to process it all. Tall, short, white, black, creamy, voluptuous, pert. No wild bushes, but polite, trimmed Brazilians, mostly. All beautiful, proud women.

It was one of those hot, sticky, thirty-something degree nights in Cape Town. And with about sixty of us crammed into the venue, at one point I kind of wished I was naked too.

What is it about nudity that’s so fascinating? I tried to put my mental finger on it. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before. We all have the same basic parts, just in different quantities. So what then? The relationship between naked performer and the voyeur perhaps?

But here’s the real thing, once we’d settled into the first reading, it all very quickly became kind of normal. Maybe it’s because the naked women were seated and mostly still, so there wasn’t all that much to see. Or perhaps it was the calming lull of the readings, but it was sort of… uninteresting.

What would I rather they were doing? Playing a sport naked? I don’t know what I wanted to see. Maybe some of these naked bodies in movement, was that it? Cos I could always just do yoga naked in front of a mirror, if that’s the case (poor mirror, nothing should have to see that).

My mind wandered to what these women do for a living? And how they would feel if a boss or colleague came to the show? And whether any of them had fake boobs? (They all looked real.) And how they had made their selections of what to read? All interesting, entertaining pieces.

I also wondered how the authors would feel if they knew how they were being read? As an writer, I can hazard a guess, as long as you’re reading my book, I don’t care if you’re doing it standing on your head wearing crotchless lederhosen.

Then I bounced back to the matter at hand, nudity, and whether it actually really matters? It’s kind of silly really, something that’s been man-made, like money. After long enough, being naked is just like being clothed. But then most tribes in tropical zones could have told us that.

After the show, my mate James, said that when he gets read to, he always wants to close his eyes, which here kind of defeated the object.

Lisa asked her husband if he found it a turn on? I wanted to warn him these were dangerous waters. He said yes, but maybe that was because we weren’t in the front row. Clever guy. We all questioned why only naked women? Do men not read in the nude? Or is that just too many heads in the room?

Ultimately, one thing the evening did make me want to do, was read. Preferably clothed – as all books can attest, some things in life are better left to the imagination.


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