Naked Boys Reading is the perfect intimate live event: a nude literary salon featuring in-the-buff readings by local beefcakes, bears, twinks, otters, butch femmes, sissy sluts, boys next door with an exhibitionist streak and lovers of naturism with a well-endowed library. Produced by R. Justin Hunt (hostess Dr Sharon Husbands) & Alexander Karotsch (resident DJ The Duchess of Pork), audience continue to outstrip venue capacity, now also including out of London touring activity, but first originating at the terrifyingly ‘intimate’ basement space Vogue Fabrics, Dalston, now resident at the ACE Hotel, Shoreditch – with further cities and venues on their in-demand calendar.
Having paid a couple of visits to the London event and been impressed by the peculiar, sexual edge tempered by a genuinely bookish salon – where the novelty of nudity quickly wears off once you realise that pink sausage-y thing isn’t actually doing anything, requiring the audience to pay unusually attentive focus to the quality of the live delivery instead – it struck me that NBR was an ideal accompaniment to Maurice Vellekoop’s exhibition… exploring a similar interplay of joyful, body-positivity and celebration of the queer body politic.
It isn’t as simple as the best body or the most buff/exotically tattooed winning some sort of audience vote, when instead it is the warmest, most authentic effort at communicating the message of the printed word that has attendees swooning and wistfully contemplating wedding stationery.
And so, appearing in support of the exhibition by Canadian artist and queer erotic illustrator Maurice Vellekoop, I was fortunate to be able to curate the fist ever Manchester iteration, as Naked Boys Reading secured visas to pass beyond the gates of Nu-London to explore the meaning and allure of TRUE NORTH. The line “The True North strong and free” from the Canadian national anthem is based on poet Lord Alfred Tennyson’s description of Canada, but in this context the word true also means loyal to crown and master (HRH Mistress Victoria). TRUE NORTH explored fealty to self and others, magnetic forces, isolation and the erratic compass of the human heart.
Readers: Peter Jacobs, Simon Liddiard, James Fry, Gareth Cutter, Paul Forster.
Texts: My Winnipeg (Guy Maddin), Atlas of Remote Islands (Judith Schalansky), You Beat People Up For A Living, Don’t You, Mummy? (Roy Turner), Dear Sugar: Tiny Beautiful Things (Cheryl Strayed), A Comet In Moominland (Tove Jansson).