Still Hungry

Our inaugural Naked Girls Reading event in Seattle was a phenomenal success.  Polly, Heidi, and I walked away reeling from the powerful moments of genuine connection that we’d shared with a room of nearly 150 audience members.  As February’s event drew nearer I started to get nervous.  Were we a doomed one-off or would the people flock again to this quirky, brainy, sexy salon?  Can Seattle sustain the attendance, the enthusiasm, the desire that we experienced last month?

YES!  They would!  They would and they did; the room was again full, alive with curiosity, warm with anticipation, fluttering with conversation and chatter until the Naked Girls took the stage.  Then, there was only silent, intent focus.

The simplicity of the concept of Naked Girls Reading belies the complexity of the social, political, and intellectual phenomena that surround it.  It is perhaps for this reason that I chose to read “Goodnight, Moon,” the children’s literary classic by Margaret Wise Brown, as my first selection.  This is such a popular bedtime story and I think that the understated, lulling quality of the text and simple, archetypal nature of the story and scenery lend themselves perfectly to the whirling imaginations of children drifting off to sleep.

Similarly, I feel that the beautiful simplicity of a naked body offers the perfect canvas onto and from which we spin and share our stories.  So often in burlesque our nakedness (or progress theretoward) takes the foreground of our performance.  At Naked Girls Reading, our nudity is a constant from the beginning, allowing it to be less of an object of desire and more of a backdrop for new things (like our storytelling) to happen.

My second selection was an excerpt from Christina Rossetti’s poem “Goblin Market.”  Rossetti has been a heroine of mine for years.  She was a Victorian author who worked with and among “fallen women” in shelters and homes.  She was respected and included artist amongst the PreRaphaelite Brotherhood, an primarily male artist’s collective to which her brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, belonged.  She is featured as a model in many of their most famous paintings.

The story behind “Goblin Market” is one of sisterly sacrifice and love in order to save one another from the influence of (sexual) economy.  In the selection that I shared the other night, one sister seeks to save her afflicted sibling by braving the torment of the goblin merchants, relying on her personal strength of will and the purity of her love for her “fallen” sister to save her from ruin.  The passionate, ahem, embrace, her shares with her sister upon her return home reminds us of the healing, uplifting powers of sisterly love and its ability to help us reclaim our personal agency.

So it is with my (naked) sisters on stage and our rapt audience that I brim with pride at our shared power.  Nakedness, so often a state of vulnerability, has proved a shared and celebrated way of being.  I know it and feel it.  The Naked Girls know it and feel it.  Seattle knows it and feels it.  We’re all still hungry.

xxo, Jesse Belle-Jones

“The Modern Sexual Intellectual”

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~ by ngrseattle on February 10, 2010.

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