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Four performers stand on a stage together
Photograph: By Rob Starobin / Courtesy of Bare Book Club | Bare Book Club performers take the stage.

Bare Book Club is staging live readings in the buff this week in Brooklyn

“A group of beautiful performers who love to read…naked. That’s it.”

Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Written by
Rossilynne Skena Culgan
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New York City’s Bare Book Club sums up its mission pretty clearly: “A group of beautiful performers who love to read…naked. That’s it.”

But there’s a lot more beneath the surface to this fun event, which is hosting its latest show this Thursday, August 25 at The City Reliquary in Brooklyn. This nude literary salon celebrates the written word, the queer community and the human body. 

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“Bare Book Club is kind of a way of demystifying the nude body but also giving a different form of entertainment for it in a non-sexualized way but can be still attractive or exciting or it can just be fun,” the event’s host Anja Keister told Time Out. “Four minutes into the reading, you kind of forget that the person is naked, and you just become engrossed in what they’re reading.”

This week, four women and non-binary performers will bare it all while presenting readings on the theme of “Blockbusters.” For example, Mx Macabre will read selections from Jaws, while Regal Mortis will read from the book version of Face/Off. Cochina Divina will do a slash fiction reading, and Anja Keister will share a timeline of the research behind whether or not Jack could have fit on the raft in Titanic.

Four minutes into the reading, you kind of forget that the person is naked, and you just become engrossed in what they’re reading.

Bare Book Club all started about a decade ago in Chicago when a burlesque performer named Michelle L’amour was reading naked. When her husband walked into the room, he was wowed by how sexy he thought it was, and the idea for Bare Book Club was born. Now there are Bare Book Club chapters in cities around the world from Seattle to New York and Cape Town to Warsaw. Anja Keister reopened the New York City branch last October. 

“It’s a great way to support female and non-binary performers who often don’t get a chance to be heard. I typically try to cast my shows very queer, so it’s also a great way to support an alternative kind of art within the queer community,” Anja Keister said. “I cast a nice body diversity as well, too. I can’t represent every body, but you’re going to see bodies that are like yours and bodies that are not like yours. And that I think is a very important thing that it’s people unashamed of their bodies.”

While the crowd tends to be diverse in gender, she points out that the event makes for an ideal girls night because it’s “a great way of seeing someone bare themselves completely nude, without judgment, without it having to be sexualized, and just becoming more comfortable with the body.”

“If you want to have a cool New York story to tell your non-New York friends,” this is the event for you, Anja Keister promises. 

Get your tickets here

There’s still time to gather your crew and head to the event. Tickets are on sale now for $22—or $28 if you want to spring for front-row seats. 

The show is presented at The City Reliquary, a Williamsburg museum collecting New York City ephemera. During intermission, you can tour the museum. Don’t miss its Wonder Women exhibition

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