I almost forgot to tell you about the Poetry Brothel.
Last Friday night, post couples, Light, Abundance and I went to the Oberon for an event called The Poetry Brothel. It appears to be a traveling show that acquires a handful of local poets for each performance.
We arrived at the oberon, a dapper gentleman was playing an accordion and singing in a style that I identify as ragtime, though it’s probably something else entirely. There’s a woman wandering the floor selling tokens,(i'll get back to that). There are also a handful of poets, in various costume, wandering the floor and flirting in that “I’m a performer” way. The slightly raised platform that usually has side tables is all curtained off, with signs tacked to the curtains saying Vacancy.
Eventually, the dapper gentleman puts down his accordion and begins to introduce the poets, each of whom perform a short piece, and explain exactly how the evening will work. (tokens = private reading, tokens can be purchased from madame or the woman roaming the floor). There’s a band (Hounds on an Island), a couple burlesque dancers (one of whom performed a piece to a song about a Country Boy that soothed all my fears about being mostly-straight. (The culminating move revealed that she had written “this pussy grabs back” on her stomach in what appeared to be lipstick). There was also a sketch artist on the floor, and what appeared to be a designated heckler named Tennessee Pink.
The individual readings were amazing and intimate in all sorts of weird ways. My favorite performer carried around a lunch box, that had a bunch of postcards in it, upon the back of which she'd written her poems. She spread the cards out, let you pick one, and would use the picture to read your fortune, and then read you the poem on the back. We sat, knees touching, in a teeny black curtained enclosure, and her breath ruffled my hair as she spoke. There was a woman who wore around her neck an knit infinity loop, with a rose quartz at the center point, and she looped one loop around my neck and the other stayed around hers and she read a long poem that I don't remember any of but that felt like pure connection. There was a woman wearing a priest's robe, and smudged eyeshadow who sounded a little bit like Nicole Blackman.
But, the absolute best part was that they were offering (jokingly, I’m pretty sure) something called the Bang, where for $100, they’d lay you down on the stage of the oberon and all the poets would simultaneously read poetry to/at you. And Light sprang for it. And so they summoned me up, laid me down, the madame put my head in her lap, they covered me with a american flag with a '76 (research tells me it might have been something called a Bennington flag), some scarfs and then this pure cacophony happened around me. It was disorienting, it was amazing, it was kind of like getting to be in my own personal resurrection scene. At some point, the performers convinced the entire room of people to start reciting poetry they remembered at me. I was part of this weird moment of art and noise which left me grinning for days.