Review By: Matt Norman
Image Credit: Barefaced Stories Facebook
Funny Story, Actually
It was an icy night in late May, and pedestrians hustled along William St with collars pulled high and their chins tucked into their chests. On the corner, a meagre crowd were gathered tightly around the bar at the Brass Monkey as if to keep warm. The guy at the Seven Eleven was wearing a scarf inside, presumably to ward off the chill that swept in whenever the automatic doors admitted another customer. We nodded knowingly to one another as I passed him, my own scarf double looped and covering half my face – two strangers sharing a universal signal for ‘Fuck, it’s cold’.
These stories had better be good.
I ducked into The Bird down the street and immediately felt a little warmer, though it might just have been the welcome sight of a cosy bar and a fridge full of alcohol waiting for me. There was no-one at the door just yet, but I was running early. I ordered a cider and sat down to check my emails while I waited for my friend to arrive. I was there for Barefaced Stories: the brainchild of Perth legends Andrea Gibbs and Kerry O’Sullivan, Barefaced is a live storytelling gig where performers have 6 minutes to spin the crowd a great yarn. The catch? It has to be entirely true. In the past, I’ve heard everything from a young doctor performing his first pelvic examination (with his patient’s boyfriend in the room) to a middle-aged woman braving perilous traffic and gale force winds on a scooter to make it to the grand opening of Perth’s first Krispy Kreme store. Tonight was going to be the ‘How Embarrassment’ edition: a collection of the most cringeworthy tales of shame Perth had to offer. I was keen as mustard.
I’d checked my emails, messages and Snapchats and scrolled through my newsfeed for a while when I realised my friend still hadn’t arrived. I wrote her a text, but paused before I pressed send – I should give her another 10 minutes or so. I hadn’t checked Instagram for a while. It wasn’t until that ten minutes was up that I realised the bar was still mostly empty, and there was still no-one on the door.
I checked the time. 8:04pm. Things should definitely be getting started by now.
I checked the Faceboook event, and looked back at my phone. It was Monday the 25th.
I was a day early.
I had a long, lonely bus ride home to reflect on the irony.
It was another icy night in late May. The very next night, in fact. A similar crowd was gathered around the bar at the Brass Monkey, and the same guy was wearing the same scarf inside the Seven Eleven. This time he looked at me half-quizzically, as if trying to remember where he’d seen me before. I smiled under my scarf as I wandered down to The Bird again.
This time someone ticked off my name at the door, and the place was already filling up with punters keen to hear about other people’s shameful pasts. There’s something very intimate and comforting about listening to people’s most embarrassing stories. You get to experience that feeling of instant trust that comes with sharing secrets with strangers, but you also get a heartening feeling that other people are at least as stupid and/or unlucky as you sometimes. This combination makes for a certain kind of warm and welcoming vibe in the room that seems to be peculiar to Barefaced. As it happened, my friend flaked, but it didn’t matter – I grabbed a pint and was welcomed onto a spare bench seat by a couple of strangers, one of whom turned out to be on the bill for the night.
As the stories got underway, I heard tales of drunken misadventures, condom catastrophes (not the kind you’re thinking of) and raunchy Enjo parties. There was a little bit of sex and a whole lot of bodily functions. Andrea herself got things started as the host by reading a few entries from her teenage diary – kicking the night off, as she said, with “a bit of innocent high school fingering”. One contestant told us about the time his bladder gave out in a crowded movie theatre – “God knows what happens in the last two minutes of Spiderman 2”. Another recounted a night at a busy club shortly after a trip to Bali, when he soiled his pants in a toilet cubicle, washed them in the cistern, put them back on and walked out. The stories were as varied as they were hilarious, each more embarrassing than the last. A good portion of the audience must have left with sore bellies from laughing by the end of the night.
The next Barefaced Stories will be held at The Bird on 30th June, and the theme is ‘Seduction’. I highly recommend getting down there – just make sure you rock up on the right night.