Best Literary Striptease

Naked Girls Reading

At its best, burlesque is a chance for women of all shapes and sizes to toy with sexuality with a mix of humor and smarts. In D.C., that combination can usually be found at a performance of Naked Girls Reading. Originated by Chicago-based burlesque performer Michelle L’Amour, the concept winks at two things that continue to freak people out all over the world: female nudity and female literacy. Last November, Naked Girls Reading staged an ode to fairytales at the DC Arts Center in Adams Morgan, in which local performers like Cherokee Rose, Roma Mafia, and Cherie Sweetbottom stripped down and read passages from material like Wicked and The Princess Bride, a lesbian erotica telling of Cinderella, and even a naughty rendition of Chicken Little (with a character named Cocky Locky, it’s almost too easy to sauce that one up). But not everyone’s on board with Naked Girls Reading’s concept: Before its scheduled Valentine’s Day performance at H Street bar Little Miss Whiskey’s, bar management canceled the show for fear of violating its license. Apparently, D.C. code doesn’t make a very sophisticated distinction between performance art and stripping.