Great literature stripped bare: Naked Girls Reading

Have you ever attended a book reading and wondered to yourself whether it might be better if Philip Roth or A.S. Byatt were naked? No? Well, what if they were beautiful burlesque dancers? Ah…

Enter Naked Girls Reading. This self-explanatorily named group performs public readings of everything from bedtime stories to poetry to traditional classics entirely in the buff. These, uh, literary expositions began in Chicago but quickly caught on in a number of major cities across the country. Friday night saw the very first show by the New York City chapter, with the appropriate theme of “banned books.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, Harper Lee, Ray Bradbury, and Joseph Heller are only some of the big-name authors whose works were performed on a lushly adorned stage by sparsely adorned lectors. Appropriately racy selections included Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure and Lady Chatterley’s Lover, but most of the performance was a tongue-in-cheek look at the absurdity of censorship, including a genuinely hilarious reading of the Comics Code of 1954 that states that “nudity in any form is prohibited, as is indecent or undue exposure” and “females shall be drawn realistically without exaggeration of any physical qualities.”

Michelle L’amour, the creator of Naked Girls Reading and a former contestant on America’s Got Talent, says the idea went through a number of permutations before she decided it needed to be done as a live “salon-style” reading. “I realized that there’s something important and beautiful in reading aloud, naked or not, that you really don’t get from just reading by yourself,” she says.

But she quickly found that public oration made her feel exposed in an entirely new way: “It’s so, so nerve-racking. Not being naked, but reading in front of everyone. It’s a totally different kind of exhibitionism.”

The group’s next New York gig will be in December, with a dramatic interpretation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and while it’s easily one of the most frequently adapted stories of all time, I can almost guarantee that you’ve yet to see it done like this. And to make sure that everyone’s happy, Jonny Porkpie, Friday night’s organizer, says he is hoping to put together a “Naked Guys Reading” event sometime in the near future. For some reason, though, I don’t think it will be held at Barnes & Noble.

Comments (14 total) Add your comment
  • Julie E.

    Give me a break.

  • Pslightly Psycho

    I just splooged all over my keyboard.

  • jen

    This is hilarious. Love it.

  • Katja

    While I hate having books read to me (I’d much rather read them myself because it’s faster and readers often don’t read with the same inflections and character voicing that happens inside my head, obviously), this is kind of a cute idea, in a weird way. But I think my opinion has a lot to do with the respect I have for Michelle L’amour. I looked up some of her other performances after seeing her on AGT and being impressed with her creativity in choreography and prop use, not to mention the balls she had doing burlesque on a show that’s often about “look how cute that little singing kid is”. She’s VERY good at what she does…although I don’t know if she’s a good reader or not. Definitely a very lovely and enjoyable dancer, and I don’t mean that in a sexual way either.

  • Stephanie

    Way to go Michelle!

  • Joe C.

    Another further example of the depths to which our society has fallen. Sad that this is “news”. I know of plenty of strip clubs down the street that at least call themselves what they are. When will morality come back up for air?

    • frankyvivid

      “news”? you do realize you’re commenting on entertainment weekly’s site right?

  • Blubik

    Last time I went to a strip club I wished I’d taken a good book to read!

  • Gavin Jones

    How sad that some commenters seem afraid of women’s bodies AND their brains.

  • Betsy

    Love it!!!

  • khan

    fame to it is not goodhe net as it brings to every one so aviod such simplaton things on t

  • Sofia

    Well, a few points to remind everyone. Reading erotic books and children’s stories in front of a big audience does not make you smart. Nor does coming up with the idea of masking a strip club in a respectable middle class cloak by simply handing the ladies a book. I was all gung-ho about the idea when i first heard of it, until I realized it involved a troupe – performers. In other words, this is not something any woman can join, regardless of how smart she is. Which means these are women charging money for people (men) to watch them be naked. Strip club. Sorry, thats just the way it works. I think its sad we cant summon up men’s interest anymore without being naked. Put clothes on the girls and everyone’s gone, everyone.

    • Miss Mina

      To Sofia:

      I can’t speak for the other chapters of NGR, but the Boston chapter is open to any woman. We’re always looking for new readers. If you’re interested, drop us a line at

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