Rauða Skáldahúsið, or The Poetry Brothel Reykjavik, is a fully bilingual poetry cabaret that transforms Iðnó into a living performance. A collaboration among Meg Matich, the production firm Huldufugl, and Jess LoMonaco, the event takes poetry outside classrooms and coffee houses and places it in the lush interiors of the bordello.
The Poetry Brothel Reykjavik offers poets, a full bar, live jazz, burlesque, body painters, magicians, acrobats, and tarot readers, with new themes, performances, and happenings at each event.
Based on fin-de-siecle bordellos in Paris, many of which functioned as safe havens for avant-garde artists, Rauða Skáldahúsið presents a rotating cast of poets, each operating within a carefully constructed character, who impart their work in public readings, spontaneous eruptions of poetry, and most distinctly, as purveyors of one-on-one poetry readings.
Our poets are accompanied by a rotating cast of burlesque dancers, magicians, body painters, sketch artists, and acrobats; our in-house band, The Keystone Swingers (under the direction of Páll Ármann), have been known to play by turns with the jazz-quintet Gleðikonurnar.
On April 25, the Poetry Brothel will host a small show in Gröndalshús in collaboration with UNESCO. The event will include private poetry readings and music.
Rauða Skáldahúsið’s illustrious cast of guest performers has included the burlesque stylings of María Callista, Ungfrú Hringaná, Gógó Starr, Miss Mokki, as well as Bibi Bioux (Brynhildur Björnsdóttir), Krissý Krummi (Kristrún Hrafns), Ginger Biscuit (Helga Skúladóttir Thoroddsen), and aerialist Lísa Lokk (Ástrós Steingrímsdóttir). Many of our performers work with other performance groups, like Dömur og Herra and Reykjavík Kabarett.
Gleðikonurnar play in turns with the Swingers. This experimental jazz quintet includes a banjolele and an accordion.
Other artists have been known to wander into our house – Johnny Wonder, a magician, peddles his wares and conjurer’s tricks. Violet Fire (Violet MUA), body painter, transforms our patrons into exquisite works of art. Snæugla, our resident witch (norn), reads fortunes for a fortune, and she’s worth every penny.
Josef Moody (Einar Valur Másson) captures souls, in Dorian Gray fashion no less, in portraits. He’s, incidentally, made everyone in the house eternally young with his sketches — albeit at a high cost.
“Takk fyrir að bjóða mér hér í Rauða skáldahúsið. Þetta er ágætis áminning um það af hverju ég fór út í skáldskap yfirleitt, það var til þess að vera í svona dásamlegum félagsskap, þar sem að allir straumar huga og hjarta og líkama fá að… fá að fljóta fram.” – Sjón
©Steinn Þorkelsson. Unauthorized reuse prohibited.
Please feel free to contact us in either Icelandic or English. We’re equally fluent in both.
If you’d like to join us as a poet, please write to Meg Matich.
Include a headshot, a bio of your character, and 3-5 poems.
If you’re a burlesque artist, variety performer, or musician,
and would like to join us for a show, please contact Nanna Gunnars.
Include any links to performance clips or press, as well as a description of the act.
We’re also highly responsive on Facebook.