Things are getting hot and heavy at this week’s upcoming readings and talks, with historical badass battles, fictional prostitutes, sexy sex-ed films, and a look at why America insists on measuring stuff the way it does. Gallons of fun, ahoy.
Saturday, August 9
Ladies of the Night reading with Maggie McNeill
Maggie McNeill’s biography reads like the worst nightmare of every English major’s mother and/or the wet dream of every horny undergraduate male: a BA in literature, then a Masters of Library and Information Science and a brief stint as a suburban librarian, before economic imperatives compelled her to find work as a stripper, then a call girl, then a madam. This decade-long sex work stint ends happily (mothers, cue a sigh of relief) in the fairy-tale manner. Madam marries favorite client, moves to ranch, and is able at long last to combine both of her interests: writing and prostitution.
McNeill now blogs prolifically at The Honest Courtesan (“Frank commentary of a retired call girl”)—about everything sex-work related. She’s also found the time to write short fiction, some of which is collected in her recently released first book, Ladies of the Night. McNeill’s stories are stylistically diverse, but each of the protagonists happens to be a prostitute. The author will be reading selections, and signing copies.
7pm, Bluestockings (172 Allen Street), FREE
Sunday, August 10
Southside Stories: Audio Walk Launch
As part of their expansive Living Los Sures project, which seeks to document the dynamic, heterogeneous neighborhood of South Williamsburg (otherwise known as “Los Sures”), UnionDocs have put together an audio walking tour of the neighborhood. The audio incorporates stories from the area’s recent history as a majority Latino community. Listening to these oral testimonies in situ, participants will be able to appreciate the juxtaposition between the historical legacy and the physical reality of transformation and gentrification—encouraging “a reinvigorated sense of discovery, wonder and responsibility in participants’ relationship with the city.”
The walking tour will be launching on Sunday afternoon, with a group walk followed by drinks with the storytellers at the Caribbean Club. Participants will need to bring headphones and an MP3 player/listening device, onto which they’ve downloaded the audio track from http://southsidewalk.com.
6pm, Meet as a group at the corner of Bedford Ave and N 7th St (in front of the Dunkin’ Donuts, 182 Bedford Ave), FREE and open to the public
Tuesday, August 12
SASS Badass Monarch Lecture Battle
If you’ve frequently pondered who was more badass, out of historical heavyweights the Regnant Irene of Byzantium; Charlemagne, Holy Roman Emperor; and Queen Elizabeth I of England, then you’re in luck. The Society for the Advancement of Social Studies (an organization whose acronym is SASS, and whose mantra is “All the history you knew but forgot and all the booze you need to forget it again”) is here to finally provide an answer.
The organisation runs a series of free monthly historical gatherings in collaboration with Brooklyn Brainery, and this month’s event will be dedicated to figuring out which of the aforementioned historical leaders was the most awesome. Mike O’Brien will be repping Irene, Carly Silver Charlemagne, and Jaime Carreiro old Queen Liz. And you will decide the outcome. Personally, we’re tempted to go just to see what they’re serving as themed-drink specials. What was the tipple of Byzantium? Find this out, and more, on Tuesday.
7:30pm (doors at 7pm), The Bedford (110 Bedford Ave, between 10th and 11th streets), FREE
Radical Sex Education Films: San Francisco’s Multi-Media Resource Center
In 1968, in the heady days of the sexual revolution, a San Franciscan youth group founded the National Sex Forum and ran it out of a United Methodist Church. The forum’s founding purpose was to educate the ignorant masses in the ways of human sexuality, using 16mm films to illustrate its point. Rather than reproduce the stuffy rationalism of sex education reels, the forum showed a cornucopia of footage: psychedelic sex-trips, erotic cartoons, feminist counter-cinema, works by young radicals and adventurous amateurs. Curator Herb Shellenberger will present selections from the forum’s provocative catalogue—in which each film was assigned a “suggested use.” These included, “Show this pretty potpourri of a couple making animated love to relax and desensitize the group,” and “to instill a more positive attitude toward female genitalia.”
7:30pm, Light Industry (155 Freeman Street), $7 at the door
John Marciano presents Whatever Happened to the Metric System
I am not the only foreigner to arrive in the U.S. and loudly bemoan the ridiculosity and irrationality of the bizarro measurement system Americans have enthusiastically retained long past the advent of real measuring systems (ie. metric ones that don’t require fairy dust to be rendered intelligible). John Marciano has caught onto this prejudice, and in response produced Whatever Happened to the Metric System: How America Kept its Feet. The witty historical tome examines the origins of measurement systems, the circumstances that produced the metric system in post-Revolution France, and America’s unbending fidelity to the United States Customary System ever since. Marciano, a children’s book author and illustrator (and, awesomely, the grandson of the creator of classic kid character Madeline), renders a tale that could be mind-bendingly boring into an entertaining read full of intriguing characters—which the Wall Street Journal called “an indispensable guide for understanding our world’s centuries-long process of inching toward standardization.” Marciano will be reading from his work.
7pm, WORD Bookstore (126 Franklin St), FREE, Facebook RSVP here
Thursday, August 14
Ron Galella + Anthony Haden Guest
Paparazzo Ron Galella made a name for himself in the 1960s and 80s, photographing the stars of New York City’s celebrity-studded universe. Celebrated and censured in equal measure, the controversial photographer was once legally advised to quit harassing Marlon Brando. Galella now visits Strand for the release of his latest book: New York. Including unpublished pictures from the photographer’s archives, the monograph focuses on the metropolis that formed the background for much of his most striking work. Galella will be joined by writer, art critic and New York City socialite Anthony Haden-Guest for a talk about his legacy.
7pm-8pm, Strand Books (828 Broadway), Buy the book or a $20 Strand gift card in order to attend