Hunks and junk at ‘Naked Boys Reading’, London’s nude literary salon

“We actually had an email come through last week,” drawled the drag queen, who was sporting an enormous blonde curly wig and a full beard, “asking if we really had naked boys reading.” There was laughter. “Of course we fucking don’t!” she shouted into the (well dressed, immaculately groomed) crowd. And thank goodness for that, because it hadn’t even occurred to me that we may have stumbled across London’s most well-advertised child pornography ring (though at a fiver a ticket, a very good value one).

Dr. Sharon Husbands, compere extraordinaire.

Dr. Sharon Husbands, compere extraordinaire.

We were in the basement of the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch for Naked Boys Reading, a bi-monthly literary salon where various texts are read aloud by naked boys men. Jay and I had seen it online and decided it sounded too bizarre not to be a good laugh, so we rallied some fellow fans of the male form to check it out. I also had my friend Maxine over for the weekend from Qatar, where she currently lives planning infrastructure and (I’d like to think) organising some sort of slave revolt. Given the Qataris’ innate disdain for anything even remotely jolly, including (but not limited to) alcohol, pork products and hanky-panky of any kind, Maxine’s requests for trips home are invariably the same: sex, drink and bacon rolls. And if not actual sex, then, well, eye-level peen is apparently good enough.

Naked Boys Reading review

We weren’t entirely sure what to expect when we sat down with Jay, his boyfriend Craig and a scandalously priced bottle of prosecco (£42!) It turned out that Naked Boys Reading is, well, exactly that. The first chap, who emerged from the wings as naked as the day he was born, read from Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire, which although entertaining was somewhat dry considering that the audience was treated to a unobstructed view of cock and balls for the duration. We exchanged looks: this wasn’t the smut we were here for; could it be that we’d stumbled on an actual literary salon, presented possibly by real-life nudists? The chap on stage certainly looked very comfortable with what for most people would be the stuff of nightmares, turning this way and that for the photographer crouched by the side of the stage, junk jiggling gently like a big pink hairy blancmange.

Naked Boys Reading review

The theme that night was ‘gardens’. The second man, who continued to air his rippling muscles in the bar afterwards with only the addition of a pair of rugby socks, read from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, a personal favourite of mine that may very well never be the same again. The third man read – most excellently, we thought – a excerpt from a wonderfully pretentious text which, when read in the right tone, proved to be highly euphemistic. There was a lot of talk of hedge-pruning and finger sandwiches, and the audience were in stitches. The fourth reader was an older gentleman with a lovely Edinburgh brogue that would probably have had me weak at the knees if he hadn’t been using it to read aloud the most sexually explicit piece of homoerotic text any of us had ever seen or heard.

If nothing else, it was… educational.

Naked Boys Reading review

Interestingly, they all had beards and/or moustaches, but I suppose that’s what you get when you start a naked literary club in Shoreditch. As the evening progressed, the man in the socks was joined at the bar by his naked colleagues, who mingled with the audience unashamedly, chatting away and idly fingering their balls. (Max and I, being the proud owners of nice, neat genitalia we rarely have the urge to twiddle in public, were mildly horrified. Nothing puts you off your outrageously overpriced bubbles like watching someone absentmindedly fondle their own foreskin – or, indeed, anyone else’s.) I suppose it was quite nice to see people so comfortable with their bodies, and it was certainly something different. I mean, I couldn’t do it. It takes some proper bollocks.

Naked Boys Reading takes place bi-monthly all over town. Tickets are usually around £5 in advance (£7 on the door), though performances are free at their Saturday brunch events (with pants). More information on their Facebook page.

Photography is forbidden, so these tasteful photos have been lifted from the NBR FB page. 

Naked Boys Reading review

 

Author: Emily Gibson

Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in Islington and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.