Susan Yount, as Madam Black-eyed Susan of the Chicago Poetry Bordello, greets patrons at events, pimping out her poetry whores and encouraging guests to buy $5 tokens which can be redeemed for private readings.
The bordello is modeled off of brothels in Chicago in the Victorian era – specifically the city’s famous Everleigh Club. Unlike coffee shop poetry readings where everyone is drinking stimulants, this era had a more intimate, romantic and private setting for poetry, which is the feeling they’re trying to capture at bordello events, explained Yount.
“We’re not sexualizing poetry, necessarily, we’re romanticizing it,” Yount said. “We’re bringing it back to a period where it was more intimate and people were more involved, and [poetry was] less academic and stale.”