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Fox on Sex: Naked Girls Reading

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The house lights go down and the stage lights go up. The announcer’s voice booms, “Welcome to Naked Girls Reading. You are in for a real treat tonight. And now, here are the girls. First, our guest reader tonight, Jenny Block.”

I slip off my black robe and walk out onto stage wearing nothing but a pair of fabulous stilettos and a choker of pale pink pearls. I smile at the audience and take a seat. I try to keep my chin up and my hands from shaking. I can’t believe I’m doing this. Am I really naked onstage in front of a room full of people?

I take a deep breath as the five other readers are introduced and for the next two hours we sit onstage in nothing but our accessorized birthday suits -- and we read. Some classics. Some of our own writing. Some naughty. Some romantic. And before I know it, it’s over.

Almost everyone I know has awakened from that classic nightmare, showing up naked at school or work or having to be naked in front of a room full of people. But this was no sleep-induced creation. This was the real deal. I had accepted the invite and there I was.

I was amazed to discover there even was such a group, Naked Girls Reading. Who would have thought? But it’s becoming a true phenomenon with groups performing in Chicago, Boston, Madison, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Los Angeles, London, and, right here in Dallas.

Naked Girls Reading is the brainchild of showgirl Michelle L’amour and Franky Vivid. The two had imagined such an event for years. But it wasn’t until 2008 that it became a reality and a near instant success.

The critics are many, of course. The event exploits women, they say. It’s simply a gimmick to get people interested in books, I’ve heard people argue. But, at least in my experience, the former could not have been further from the truth and, if the latter is a side effect, what’s wrong with promoting more reading?

When Diamond Jim, a burlesque show producer here in Dallas, asked me if I was interested in taking part, I balked at first. But once I got over the initial shock, I decided I should do it precisely because I was scared to do it. Besides, you know me ... I am always willing to jump in in the name of journalism.

Weeks later, I attended my first rehearsal. I was blown away by the intelligence and strength of the other women involved. “Love, Lust, and Libertines” was the theme, and we discussed all of the literature and authors who might be a good fit. These were no bimbos. These girls were, pardon the expression, the whole package. Gorgeous and smart and cool. Now I was really nervous.

But when the night finally came and the lights finally came up and I picked up my own book from the table in front of me and read, I felt like I was the king of the world. I was doing what many would say was impossible. And, you know what? It was fun and empowering, and, yes, very sexy.

Now, I’m not suggesting you go and sign up to read at the next event. (Although, who knows, you may like it…) I am, however, suggesting that you attend one if you have the chance. But, even better than that, this is one of those things you should try at home. No stage or lights required. All you need is your partner and a good book. Maybe something a bit lustful. Or maybe something perfectly benign.

It will give you a chance to be in your skin and your lover the chance to really look at you. You’ll be blown away at how powerful you’ll feel and how delighted your partner will be. I can think of few things hotter than conquering a lifelong fear.

I know that it may seem a little odd or even outrageous at first. But if I can do it for a crowd, I feel sure that you can do it in the privacy of your own bedroom. Think of it as adult story hour.

It could give a whole new meaning to once upon a time...

Jenny Block is a freelance writer based in Dallas. She is the author of "Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage." Her work appears in "One Big Happy Family," edited by Rebecca Walker and "It’s a Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters," edited by Andrea Buchanan. Visit her website at www.jennyonthepage.com or check out her blog at wwww.jennyonthepage.blogspot.com.