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Lewd laureates • Brooklyn Paper

Lewd laureates

Bookish looks: Poet Stephanie Berger is organizing the Poetry Brothel in DUMBO, where literary enthusiasts can enjoy a night of burlesque, music — and private readings.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

What does $5 get you in a DUMBO cathouse — a poem job.

A coterie of sultry poets are inviting lonely hearts with a sense of irony to their Feb. 9 Valentine’s Day Massacre, an artsy, counter-culture bash where scribes will don bawdy attire in imitation of 19th Century women of the night in order to provide a poetic service.

“We’re poetry whores,” said poet and artistic director Stephanie Berger. “We love it, we’ll do anything for poetry.”

To achieve the illicit illusion, the poetic prostitutes are transforming DUMBO’s Forgotten Works Studio into a brothel, complete with back rooms where, for a meagre fee, patrons can take advantage of the women’s particular set of skills — reading poetry, of course.

“We’re basically creating a turn-of-the-century-esque brothel environment,” said Berger.

“In the back of the house, instead of having prostitutes who have sex with you, they’ll read you poetry one-on-one for money.”

The licentious laureates conceived of the novel, red-light bordello setting after sitting through more than one dry, academic night of balladry, and decided this would be way more fun, sexy, and profitable.

“Me and some poet friends of mine thought that the poetery scene was divisive,” said Berger.

“There were these really fun poetry readings that were slammy, but academic poetry readings were boring, so why not put it in a sexy environment that’s more intimate.”

Also, poets need to get paid, too, she said.

Intimate poetry sessions aside, the Valentine’s Day Massacre will entertain with “bloody” burlesque and aerial performances, live music courtesy of the darkly poetic Shayfer James, and, naturally, multifarious liquors and beers.

“It’s an art party. It’s a combination of poetry and burlesque,” said Berger. “It shall be brutal.”

The Poetry Brothel’s St. Valentine’s Day Massacre at Forgotten Works Studio [46 Bridge St. between Plymouth and Water streets in Dumbo, (646) 298–8008, www.forgottenworksstudio.com]. Feb. 9, 8 pm. $10.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.

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