By Kris Parfitt
– The Capitol Hill Times –
The debut of the Lit Crawl Seattle was more of a Lit Sprint, but that didn’t deter the deluge of attendees who raced in the rain for parking and leapt over puddles between venues to crowd into bars, basements, sex shops and LGBT libraries to hear Seattle’s best, worst and most mediocre writers share their stories.
Lit Crawl’s birth occurred over beers in 1999 in the dark recesses of the Edinburgh Castle Pub on Geary in San Francisco. Originally named Litstock, the little buggar was more aptly named LitQuake to honor the geological and iconic turbulence that one only experiences after good sex, good stories and living near a fault line.
The Litquake headquarters in San Francisco is packed with boxes bursting with books and alcohol. “The books lure the kids, the alcohol lures the adults,” teased Jack Boulware, co-founder – along with Jane Ganahl – of LitQuake at a 2009 interview facilitated by LitQuake committee member Peter McLeod.
The true inspiration for LitQuake was the absence of fun, edgy, flavorful book readings in San Francisco. “I’d go and meet people who were writing ad- copy for websites,” lamented Boulware. “That’s a soul sucking occupation.” The book readings that Boulware and Ganahl were aware of tended to be dry and boring, far from what these two had in mind.
“When we first thought of what we wanted, we came up with ‘Literature with a taste for the wild side,’” Ganahl recalled. “We wanted a literary lover’s idea of a good time. This was for the readers not the industry.”
While random, it was a huge hit. When it started in 1999, it included over 20 published authors, 300 attendees and several TV crews. Now over 13 years later, it has gone national and there are plans for international literary events modeled after LitQuake.
2012 found Seattle’s downtown, First Hill and Capitol Hill literally crawled over Thursday night. After starting with a happy hour downtown at the Brazelton, then the evening was divided into three phases and an after party at Richard Hugo House. Each phase was 45 minutes long with a 15-minute recess for attendees to jaunt through the rain to the next stop.
Seattle Magazine arts and culture editor Brangien Davis moderated a discussion with four female authors in a Phase One reading at Town Hall. Over 100 people attended, laughing and listening as Jennifer Worick, Jane Ganahl, Litsa Dremousis and Diane Mapes read from their books and shared stories about the trials of breast cancer, MS and sex with epileptic men dressed as dogs.
The second phase took place along the west end of the Pike/Pine corridor and the Capitol Hill Times took in two readings at different venues. The Bent Writing Institute, the only Queer Writing Institute in the nation and which aims to use writing as a vehicle for social change, laughter, and all-around glittery goodness, held at beat poetry reading at the Michael C. Weidemann LGBT Library at Gay City.
At Toys in Babeland, burlesque dancer Lily Divine performed an ode to her favorite book, a story about unrequited romance with a glittery dildo that wouldn’t vibrate. With Phil Collin’s “Against All Odds” as her melody, Mz Divine seduced, shimmied and pouted despite dead batteries.
The final phase found CHT at the Barca Lounge enjoying readings from the notorious raunchy authors known as the Seattle7Writers. To be in this elite club one must be published and rewarded with spotted owl trophies, New York Times best selling status and Pulitzer prizes. Their theme was seven writers reading seven paragraphs from page seven, chapter seven or any other seven-themed moments from their books.
“Racing in the Rain” author Garth Stein read about a dog witnessing a stuffed zebra sexually assault other stuffed animals, “because zebras have 7 subspecies.” Katherine Malmo challenged the audience to drink each time she read the word “seven,” which was enough to get a nice buzz going. And Sean Beaudoin mocked the crowd with his seven reasons for living monologue. Readings by Jennie Shortridge, Laurie Frankel, Kevin O’Brien and David Boling rounded out this fine evening of literature.