Foxx Von Tempt wows the audience with her dance routine.
In the candlelit Back Room Bar of the Lower East Side, the Poetry Brothel takes you to back to the Prohibition era, promising to entertain you with their unique poetry experience. The Madame, Stephanie Berger of the Poetry Society of New York, curates a carefully selected and scantily dressed evening of poetry, dancing, and spirits–echoing the atmosphere of Parisian brothels or New Orleans burlesque. Performers of the evening call themselves “poetry whores,” taking the stage to entice the audience with charming verse in the hopes of taking a “john” to the back room for a private reading. The theme for this month’s event was Chez Christiane, a 1920s Parisian brothel known for catering to the “special passions” of its wealthy patrons.
In an ambiance where absinthe is the suggested liquor, poets read their provocative verses and period music by the Hot Club of Flatbush help to ease the soft conversation throughout the room. The Madame could be spotted from any corner of the room in her peacock outfit, and the poets led their johns in and out of the back room intermittently for intimate readings.
The Poetry Brothel welcomed Bronx-bred poet Rowan Ricardo Phillips as a special guest, who read from his book The Ground. He crooned to the audience, “Love the place that welcomed you,” a fitting suggestion to the enthused audience who snapped and applauded tastefully to each performance. Other highlights of the evening included burlesque routines by Foxx Von Tempt and Poppy Tart. In addition to hearing poetry, the resident seer can tell you your future or you can have your portrait painted like real French bourgeoisie.
The interior of the Back Room Bar is filled with authentic Prohibition era memorabilia.
Stephanie Berger and Nicholas Adamski are the visionaries that started the Brothel in 2007 aiming to forge intimacy within the poetry community. The Poetry Brothel remedied the monotony of one format academic and slam poetry readings by renewing the sensuality of eras past by offering one-on-one recitations. Though they have been entertaining with their shows for the past several years, they both hope to continue growing the Poetry Brothel into something much larger–wishing to spread it around the world for future events in Paris or the Middle East.
Here are some more photos from our visit, including a few by our friend Robert James Ramirez who photographed the whole event:
Learn more about The Poetry Brothel by visiting their Facebook page for updates. The next opportunity to join in the fun of this event will be coming in February! Check out our previous coverage of the venue, Back Room Bar which dates back to Prohibition. Get in touch with the author @uptownvoice.