Heidi Bang Tidy

Girls on Tour: Naked Girls Reading at Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival and Beyond

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The London chapter of Naked Girls Reading, the literary salon where less is more, is going on tour this summer, starting with an appearance this Saturday at the Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival. The theme is ‘Yorkshire: God’s Own Country!’ and pays homage to the region and draws together the talents of Tricity Vogue, Rubyyy Jones, festival producer Heidi Bang Tidy, and show producer Glory Pearl.

Below, Glory Pearl inducts us into the mysteries and marvels of Naked Girls Reading.


If you haven’t been to a Naked Girl Reading event, the premise is simple; a panel of women read aloud a selection of texts linked by a common theme. And they do it naked. The rules of the chapter allow us to wear shoes, accessories, jewellery, make up but no clothes, and the themes range widely, from “Fairy Tales” to “Erotica”, and from ‘The Demon Drink” to “Phenomenal Woman” – any genre goes, fiction or non-fiction, and past readings have included classics such as The Iliad, Kerouac’s On the Road, poetry by Baudelaire, Joan Collins’ memoirs, and even Winnie The Pooh. The selection is eclectic, but I’m always keen to include at least one poem from independent poetry publisher, The Emma Press and at Hebden Bridge, I’ll be reading from their Slow Things collection.

Naked Girls Reading is special; a live, nude, literary salon, where beautiful women read beautiful words and a grown-up bedtime story that is intimate, playful and sincere. Its roots are in performance art, the conceit of the female nude as object in art, to be looked upon, assigned meaning, turned on its head by the simple act of choosing what to read and reading it aloud.

When we read our texts, (chosen by each reader and preceded by a short introduction where we explain our choice), our subjectivity cannot be ignored, just as our nudity, (no pasties or merkins here), cannot be hidden – we ask you to look, to listen, to open yourself as the stories unfold.

There is no doubt that Naked Girls Reading is provocative and transgressive, but it is also gentle, inviting the audience into the soft warmth of its bosom as it challenges preconceptions and steps lightly over the boundaries of what is expected of women. In that feminine softness, there is great power, and it is no surprise to me that the shows attract a very broad audience. I thought it was high time people outside of London got a chance to experience that.

As well as the Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival, you can catch us at the following places:

Brighton Fringe Festival

Theme: Phenomenal Woman!

Readers: Mysti Vine, Jeu Jeu La Foille, Glory Pearl

Venue: The Marlborough Theatre

When:10.30pm on Saturday 7th May

Tickets only £10 and available here:  http://www.marlboroughtheatre.org.uk/event/naked-girls-reading/

 

Guildford Fringe Festival

Readers: Luna Rosa, Lena Mae, Glory Pearl

Venue: The Keep Pub

When: 8pm on Friday 8th July

Tickets only £10 and available online at http://www.guildfordfringefestival.com/sessions/naked-girl-reading/

 

Edinburgh Fringe Festival

14 & 21 August at a secret location (email us at nakedgirlsreadingldn@gmail.com for more  details)

More information on all thinks Naked Girls London related can be found on their website.


The Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival Is Back!

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The Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival 2015 opens its doors next Thursday for four packed days of shows, workshops and more. We look into what this shining jewel of the UK burlesque scene has to offer.

Fans of the art of burlesque may remember the frankly and rather hilariously misinformed Hebden Burlesque Festival brouhaha of 2013. In a nutshell, an elected official who apparently didn’t know the first thing about burlesque decided to deny the festival the opportunity to take place in a council-managed building, saying that she considered that the art form “arouses strong feelings, and many people feel it is demeaning to women, and raises issues of gender equality”. Which is odd, considering that this just isn’t true and, moreover, Hebden Bridge has a reputation for being really rather liberal, at least when it comes to women.

Heidi Bang Tidy, who co-produces the festival with fellow performer Lady Wildflower, insisted at the time that burlesque was a “legal and legitimate art form” and that “we object to being told that the people of Hebden Bridge are not capable of deciding for themselves whether they wish to purchase a ticket for a burlesque show and that our show is not an ‘appropriate’ use of a public building”.

Unperturbed by all that, this year Tidy and Wildflower return with the UK’s most “inappropriate” festival, or for the grown-ups among us, Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival, and the line-up is blinding. Rosie Lugusi, Khandie Khisses, Vicky Butterfly, Andromeda Circus, The Boy With Tape On His Face, Lili La Scala and Tricity Vogue will all be there, along with the renowned “Anti-Art School” Dr Sketchy’s. The festival, which runs from Thursday 30th April – Sunday 3rd May 2015, looks set to be a long weekend of fun, frolicking, fabulousness and potentially a glittery middle finger to those locals of a more sensitive disposition.

Boy with Tape
The Boy With Tape on His Face.

 

The festival features a plethora of live shows spread over four venues in two towns, Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge. The party is kicked off next Thursday by a charity fundraiser and Burlesque Bazaar hosted by The Voice’s Kiki Deville. Rosie Lugosi helms the Late Night Cabaret the next evening and Heidi Bang Tidy reveals the stars of tomorrow at the Legend In The Making Newcomers Competition. The winner of that contest joins an all-star cast at the following day’s Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival Gala featuring Vicky Butterfly, Russell Bruner, The Boy With Tape on His Face and Violet Blaze.

There will also be plenty to do during the day with twelve different workshops providing an education in a number of areas. Attendees can learn to bump’n’grind with Khandie Khisses, get lessons on the art of the fan-dance or dive into “Burlesque for Beginners” classes. And then there’s the whip cracking workshops, vintage hair tutorials, aerial taster sessions and lessons on how to play a ukelele with Tricity Vogue, who is also bringing her swing band along to perform at the festival.

All in all, the weekend will be packed with scintillating burlesque acts, amazing circus performances and engaging workshops. Get there and show the town just why burlesque is something worth celebrating for everyone.

For information and to book tickets check out the Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival website.