Call Them Ishmaels

Are you a fan of classic literature, especially one who grasps the latent sexual tension and eroticism in many age-old tales? Do you enjoy risque performances that try to push the envelope on what is suitable for a general audience? Do you like dressing up in nautical clothing?

If that sounds like you, then you may enjoy the chance to Get Dicked.

A local performance startup is making its debut in a rather scandalous way, using the backdrop of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick to put together a night of dancing, debauchery and performance art.

"We're testing the waters a little bit here," said Morrighan Clinco, one of the principals behind Get Dicked: A Book Club Burlesque, which is the debut production of the Art+Matter entertainment collective. "We're a brand-new project, one that really doesn't have much branding or identity yet. We're just trying to start by getting our name out there."

What better way than by using a book that pretty much everyone has read (or claims to) as source material for a nautically themed, 21-and-older, Mad Hatter's tea party-style event with whales and harpoons?

Book Club Burlesque is relatively new to Tucson (there was a single performance based on The Great Gatsby five years ago) but it has been popping up around the country since first appearing in New York City in 2008. The concept is simple: Take a well-known story and enhance the retelling of it with music, dancing and a burlesque show that brings out all the sexually charged nuances in a much-easier-to-interpret format.

Other events have been based on Lolita, Valley of the Dolls, The Scarlet Letter, The Collected Tales of the Brothers Grimm and Archie comic books.

Clinco, a lifelong Tucsonan who has been involved in the world of performance art and entertainment for many years, said she and about 40 collaborators have been working on Get Dicked. The hope, she said, was to find an accessible novel and present it in a way that's different from anything else readers might have experienced.

"We were like, it's time to do some sort of show," she said, noting that Moby-Dick is "rife with obsession, sexual tension, man versus nature and, of course, the big white dick."

One thing you can count on: This won't be a direct recitation of the 1851 novel. Clinco said attendees should leave any preconceived notions at the door of Maker House, which will be transformed into a seafaring party land for Get Dicked.

"How artists interpret the book is entirely up to them," she said. "It's not necessarily linear or plot-based."

Programming is scheduled from 8 p.m. to midnight and will feature interactive activities, including a costume contest. Attendees are encouraged to dress in nautical-themed or Moby-Dick-inspired attire. A dance floor will be made to look like a storm-ravaged sea.

And, yes, it probably will include a few forays into near-nudity. "It's a burlesque show; there's definitely going to be pasties," Clinco said.

While admission to the event ranges from $5 to $20 (pay what you can afford, Clinco said), the after-hours dance party will be open to anyone swinging by Maker House.

Clinco acknowledges that Get Dicked might be the sort of thing that the general public is wary of. But having been born and raised in Tucson, she believes there's an audience for this type of entertainment.

"In a city of a million people, we're only trying to get 400 in the door," she said.

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