Last night Housing Works and Spin Magazine joined hands to welcome former Dresden Doll Amanda Palmer and best-selling fantasy author Neil Gaiman to the stage. Starting with a long line and ending with a room filled to the brim with fans, VIPs, Spin editors, and Moby (Yes, Moby!), the event began with excited, uproarious applause. From my little corner in the back, I gleefully waited for Palmer and Gaiman to take the stage.
Gaiman, (writer of novels like American Gods, Neverwhere, Coraline, and the Sandman comics) Palmer (theater-pop singer and former Dresden Dolls vocalist) met many months ago, and decided to collaborate on a project. The thing to keep in mind about Palmer is that in addition to being a theatrical performer, she also has a thing for peeling off her clothes and being naked. Thus, Who Killed Amanda Palmer — a combination of naked Amanda photographs and text by Gaiman —was born.
Last night’s performance was more like a variety show. Gaiman opened by reading a short passage from Who Killed Amanda Palmer. Palmer sang “Astronaut,” a track off of her recently released solo album. Gaiman took the stage to read a lengthier passage involving living statues. Palmer told the audience about her stint as a living statue in Boston’s Harvard Square. Then she strummed the ukulele and sang a song about the house she grew up in. Gaiman told a story about a little girl named Amanda who drops rubies from her mouth.
It was as personal as you could hope to get, with the pair inviting audience participation to a large extent. At one point, they decided to auction off their copy of Who Killed Amanda Palmer. Bidding began at $50, but with Palmer chanting “Naked Amanda! Naked Amanda!”, quickly hit around (cringe) $1300 — an entire month’s rent for the majority of us in the back.
In another segment, Housing Works had Gaiman and Palmer face each other and ask questions from Post-It notes that audience members stuck in a shoebox prior to the show. One of the questions brazenly inquired if the two were dating, to which Neil shyly replied (while looking at Amanda), “The two of us have been dating for quite a few months.” Cue exuberant cheers and applause. The new couple was also eager to tell stories about their adventures and creative stunts. One recent collaboration involved the two artists in a bath, one naked and the other in a borrowed drunk’s suit. Guess which one of them had been naked?
In fact, one of the Post-Its tried to get to the bottom of Palmer’s proclivity for nudity. “Why do you like to be naked so much?” it asked. “I dunno,” replied Amanda, with a cheeky grin. “Naked is fun!”