Pushing open a door along P.S.122’s upstairs corridor, you find yourself in a den with dim red lighting and Turkish floor pillows. A young mademoiselle serves mint tea and asks what you desire the courtesan to perform tonight. (You can order her services à la carte or request one of the special menus.) When it’s time for your one-on-one appointment, you enter the darkened inner chamber, seat yourself in a rocking chair, and slip into a blindfold. A moment later the courtesan—poet-performer Nicole Blackman—enters silently. She ties your hands lightly to the chair and whispers stories in your ear, illustrating them at key points with kisses, food, and even a lap dance for those over 21 requesting “The Château.” Touchy-feely though the encounter may be, the courtesan remains unseen, disappearing into the drapery after instructing you to “leave the blindfold where you found it.”
The Courtesan Tales combines Halloween-house ghoulish games with racier recollections of first kisses and amorous adventures, landing somewhere between exotica and erotica. Each story lasts approximately five minutes, with nearly a dozen to choose among. In the end, Blackman’s breathy recitations are more about hands-on performance dynamic than poetic innovation, stimulating everything but the mind.