Chicago’s live lit scene is huge. There are more reading series than I can count, and just when I think I’ve got a good handle on what’s out there I learn about something new. If you’re anything like me and generally prefer to spend your evenings curled up on the couch with your trusty friend pizza, and make only the very occasional voyage out to an event, you probably find the thought of attending all these series completely overwhelming. Well, I’m going to do you a favor and narrow it down for you. In my opinion, if you can only go to one event in the next six months, you should go to Loose Chicks.
Loose Chicks is a small collective comprised of three artists and writers: Roberta Miles, Jillian Erickson, and Erin Lane. On the second Friday of each month they host an event featuring readings and monologues from local feminist women artists and writers. The intimate, no frills June 13th reading/performance was held in a cozy corner of Uncharted Books.
The evening kicked off with Melissa DuPrey, Goodman theater actress and formidable writer. She read a story about how she came to find herself, after a violent home robbery in Huston at gunpoint just weeks before her college graduation, back in Humboldt Park selling life insurance to her dad’s old friends, and ultimately healing from trauma and finding community through bomba music. DuPrey’s presence was gripping as she lead the audience from her hilarious trek through Humboldt in a hot, blue suit back to the gut-wrenching emotional climax of the story in Huston.
Author Gretchen Blickensderfer followed with a satirical apocalyptic news report from MSNBCFOX News. Her report included impersonations of Brit Hume, glasses barely clinging to the tip of her nose, and a spot-on Christiane Amanpour reporting live from Chicago (described in the piece as, “city of strange architecture,” “a city in Illinois,” and “deadly death capital of the world”). The apparent baselessness and absurdity of the dire report had the audience roaring.
Lisa Scott offered the audience a choice: a story that was solid and polished (“it’s funny, you’ll like it, I promise…”), or a story she was still working through, that was difficult for her to write. The audience, of course, chose the latter. She told the story of her commitment-phobic, emotionally manipulative ex-boyfriend, their rocky relationship, and their paths crossing again on Halloween (he, wearing a Chewbacca costume and dating a woman who looked like just like her… minus nineteen years). The risk paid off. She brought a vulnerability and humor to the story that made her feel as familiar as an old friend.
Next, Sam Sinkhorn delivered a stand up comedy routine about her bizarre childhood, collecting dead birds instead of Barbies, sexual encounters with Michelangelo from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (or Mike, because she was six and couldn’t pronounce Michelangelo), and the tragic, dramatic stories she makes up in her head about elderly people. She was as terrifying as she was funny—think Amy Sedaris if Amy Sedaris maybe killed some people once—but, she assured us, waving her hand and smiling, “Don’t freak out. The doors aren’t locked. I’m not a monster. Does this look like the face of a monster?”
The evening ended with a reading by the original Loose Chick, Roberta Miles, and her stories about lessons learned from ex-boyfriends (soup is not romantic and some guys just really don’t like sex), and living with mental illness (really, who doesn’t have mood swings?). In her reading, you could feel all of the humor, passion, honesty, strength, and empathy of not only her work, but also the series as a whole. It was the perfect end to a fantastic event from a series that should never be missed.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Loose Chicks takes place on the second Friday of every month. For more information about the series, visit http://www.theloosechicks.com/.