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Arts & Culture

The allure of Naked Boys Reading

Naked Boys Reading (image supplied)

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I caught up with R. Justin Hunt from Naked Boys Reading to talk literature, literacy, and liberation.

The next Naked Boys Reading event in London is focusing on the theme of Nakedness. It seems an obvious choice — have you been resisting the tautology or just waiting for the right time to unleash it?

We did an event in Brighton that focused on ‘nudes’ in art and literature, but this is the first time that we’ve taken on the them in London. In working with our Curator, Ernesto — lovingly referred to as the Naked Poet — it made sense to finally get to grips with our own nakedness. When better than in the summer heat to get really freakin’ naked?

How many naked boys will be reading about nakedness at the July event?

We usually have four to five readers at each of our regular event at Miranda Bar at Ace Hotel. You can expect at least four nudies reading.

How do you cast the men that appear in events such as these?

This year we’ve launched Naked Boys Reading: Auditions — the next event is on 12 August at the Yard.

We don’t ‘officially’ audition readers, as we feel it’s up to the reader to decide if they consider themselves a boy or not and if they want to get naked and read aloud.

Readers submit interest through our website and we invite them to read at events across the year. The auditions allow us to get more interested new readers in at once, and see if they enjoy the event as much as we do. If so, we invite them back. We aim to have one to two new readers at each regular event.

Is there a sexual, Clothed-Man-Naked-Man kind of power dynamic in an event where the audience is clothed but the performers are not?

There’s always a dynamic of power when someone gets up in front of others to perform in any way. Adding nudity to that draws attention to the fleshy realities that we often forget. It might heighten certain aspects that clothed performance doesn’t, but it also might obscure things as well. It’s certainly a good marketing hook.

Is there power in nakedness?

Nudity is still taboo. We’ve been kicked off Facebook recently, and had our events up against councils who give producing venues funding — certain corporate bodies still find live nudity to be inherently sexual.

While nudity may or may not be sexy, it changes the reception for the bodies in the audience who are witnessing the event. Male nudity is still highly shunned — a fear of the unclothed ‘male genital’ is still sacrosanct.

We aim to accept all male-identifying bodies who wish to unclothe texts.

What next for the NBR team?

We currently regularly have events in Ottawa, Toronto, and Berlin. We’ll also be also debuting in Glasgow and Folksetone in August 2018. If you want an NBR event in your town, get in touch with us!

In the months ahead, we’ll be doing some more ‘NBR Presents’ events that use some of the same tropes — nude bodies, text — but in different configurations and durations as we enter of seventh year of production. We’ll also be publishing our second anthology in Autumn 2018. Our first anthology is currently available — they make great holiday gifts!

Naked Boys Reading will be on in London on Thursday 26 July 2018

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Ones we ain’t done shared from our hotel sessions by @vanekphotography

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Haydn at the hotel sessions by @vanekphotography

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Haydn at @miranda_ldn by @vanekphotography

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Arts & Culture

Giving a voice to gay Arab men

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Samer Bo (image supplied)
Samer Bo (image supplied)

I caught up with author Samer Bo to talk about writing erotic gay fiction in Egypt.

What led you to start writing erotic gay fiction?

I was forgetting what was happening. I noticed that when someone asked me about what happened to me the previous week, I couldn’t remember the details.

I think forgetting was my defence-mechanism for all the pain and trouble.

So, I started by writing my diaries, which ended to be quite erotic sometimes. Then that moved to erotic fiction.

Where do you draw inspiration from for your stories?

Inspiration comes from my personal experiences and sometimes my friends’ experiences. Other times, I just meet a guy or watch a movie, and it inspires me to write a story.

Who are your target audience?

I write for myself before anyone else. I’d love all gay men to read and get aroused by my stories.

But I guess I do write for minorities — people who don’t usually get represented in media, porn, or erotic stories. I want people to see themselves represented in my novels.

What sort of feedback do you get from your readers?

I get a lot of positive feedback from people in the Middle East who finally find a voice speaking to them. Some see me as a role model — a type of Egyptian guy that they never see in the media.

Do your friends and family know that you write erotic gay fiction?

Only some close friends know. I’m not in touch with my family anyway. Samer is my real name, but I changed my last name to Bo.

Have you had any negative reactions to the gay erotic fiction that you write?

I only tell people about my writing if I know that they’re either gay or gay friendly. So I haven’t had negative reactions in that respect.

However, I have had multiple incidents of homophobia. I was arrested once.

Son of the President isn’t an erotic story, how did that story come to you?

That story is based on the real-life story of an older friend that I met a few years ago. I told him about my erotic stories, and he asked me to write an erotic story inspired by his experiences.

However, I felt that if I wrote it as erotica, it would take away from the essence of the story. So I left it as non-erotic story.

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What do you hope that people feel when reading your stories?

First of all, aroused from my erotic stories. Plus, I want people to feel represented.

Gay Arabs are not represented in any kind of media. We’re being suppressed and discriminated against. A lot of gay men in the Middle East feel that being gay is wrong, and that homosexuality is a sin.

This is my small way to help those men feel better about themselves.

What are some of your goals and ambitions for the remainder of 2018?

More stories, maybe some non-erotic ones. I’m also helping a friend of mine to change his non-erotic short story into a play.

Read the novels by Samer Bo

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