Just Get Naked & Dance!

I’m not gonna lie: my stripper name would be Pinocchio (you do the math). Yet I’ve always regretted not living 20,000 years ago when, on any given summer solstice, we would all gather around some stonehenge, get naked, and dance in the name of fertility. Fortunately, there’s Us Inc. in Berlin AD 2013: a newly formed queer performance community group ready to “play with the performativity of gender and sexuality”— and that includes celebrating midsummer by hosting a night titled “Dancing Sex,” privately held this past Thursday, where participants got the chance to create their own lap dance.

Us Inc. founders Leen Horsford (L) and Amy Cade are due for a check-up. Photo: C. Phillips

We caught up with Us Inc's founders Leen Horsford and Amy Cade to figure out how they got here, what their goals are with this project, and the weirdest things they’ve seen so far on their stage.

Going Commando

Sitting outside Südblock, Kreuzberg’s queer hangout, on a balmy July afternoon, Amy Cade, a self-described “über-sexual woman, recounts her split from academia and into porn; how the porn eventually led to escort work; and how the long road finally brought her to Berlin, where she met Leen Horsford and began their odyssey.​

Horsford’s by far the quieter of the pair and, over Bionades, she jokes that you'd never wonder who was the country girl between the two of them (it's her). “I’ve never really questioned my gender and sexuality,” Horsford says. But sexual open-mindedness being important to her, she “wanted to do something that showed that diversity exists in everyone.”  Their goal is to open people up – to have everyone, in Cade’s words, just “get naked and dance.” 

If the pair had their druthers, Us Inc’s shows would be an orgiastic extravaganza, with “loads of different people of different genders, sexualities, races, body types, all enjoying a fun show that empowers everyone.”

Artist Mischa Badasyan doesn't shy away from exposure. Photo: Chris Phillips

Performance artist Mischa Badasyan, who has collaborated with Us Inc. and participated in their "Dancing Sex" night, shares with the collective an interest in extending questions of queer and alternative sexual identities beyond the performative; taking it from the art world and plopping it into the real. I met up with him as he prepared to strip down and model for a figure drawing class (forgot to ask him for his stripper name though). “To me, talking about a different life and different human beings in a school atmosphere is also being queer. It’s not just about showing off in the party, but talking about your sexuality in society," he tells me.

When asked what’s the craziest thing they’ve seen in their hosted events: “An unknown performance artist turned up during an intimate story evening, taking over and filming his own work with a painting of Madonna on his entire chest.” Then again, this other answer might be even more obvious: “Someone pooing an egg into a glass on stage.”

Want to lose the nude-shyness? Leen & Amy might have a tip (or two) for you. Photo: Chris Phillips

Though the two aren’t performing artists themselves (strictly speaking), Horsford has a personal drawing series in the works. When asked about it, she’s quick to offer me the chance to participate: “If you want, I can draw your genitals.” Um…Thank you Leen, but this Pinocchio has yet to loose his public nude-shyness. Okay, that one's a lie.  

Article by Christopher Shea