Multi-talented writer, videographer and ART team member Joey Cruz creates as a form of therapy.
His stories, like the one featured in Issue 21, come from life experiences. They are stories of the love he hopes to find and the kind of person he wants to be with.
I hope my work gives people the confidence to take chances and create a more beautiful world by giving from the heart and being their true selves.
This story, Get Naked, was inspired by a cute couple I watched walk into the Mohawk many years ago.
Mia and her husband John descend the stairs to a dark basement space in New York’s SOHO district. The smell of rotten cardboard and sweat is overwhelming. They stop midway down, feeling the pulse of loud music, and ask each other if they should go home, but decide to carry on.
Tonight is their fifth anniversary, and while walking the street earlier, they noticed the sign announcing a performance art show through an unmarked door. So, after a dinner conversation about being more spontaneous, they decided to descend into the bowels of the city in search of a bit of adventure.
Mia and John now find themselves in the back of a dimly lit room facing a stage surrounded by weird people in weird spaces with strange faces. They wonder if they made a mistake. A band is playing. Some skinhead-looking lead just screamed out the final words of his performance. The room goes quiet. The lights dim and suddenly rise on a small stage directly behind Mia and John. The crowd does a 180. Everyone is now facing the back of the room.
“Hello, I’m Emily, but everyone calls me Em.” The girl with the microphone is gorgeous behind her heavy eyeliner and tattered clothes. A streak of her purple hair lies softly on the bridge of her pierced nose, covering one eye. Em is now silent as she scans the room, then her eyes lock on Mia’s.
Mia and John know their Hampton prep style makes them stand out in this group. Em steps off the stage, grabbing Mia’s hand, and says, “Get Naked!”
Mia is shocked. Is this happening? She looks around the room nervously. Everyone is looking at her. “Get Naked,” Em says again into the mic, squeezing Mia’s hand tight. “Get naked … get naked.” Em is building volume.
Em continues to chant and motions the crowd to join, which they do. Mia suddenly begins to feel the two margaritas she had at dinner change her fear into courage. Finally, she gives in to the rush. She takes her jacket off, letting it fall to the ground, and the crowd cheers. “Get Naked” is being chanted so loudly it reverberates throughout the room.
Mia flips off her shoes, making her several inches shorter. John grabs her arm in anger and says, “what are you doing? Let’s get out of here!” In one quick defiant move, Mia pulls her arm away and uses both her hands to throw open the snaps of her sheer shirt, letting it fall gently to the ground. Her bra is modestly revealing. The crowd becomes suddenly silent as they wait to see more. Finally, em looks her in the eyes and whispers, “get naked.”
Mia reaches back to undo her bra strap. John grabs and squeezes her hand again, but this time he says, “it’s ok.” His supportive glance tells Mia he is here for her, no matter the choice.
The audience waits in silent anticipation. Mia feels a rush of emotions and closes her eyes, forcing a tear down her cheek. She is scared, looking for courage, trying to be the cool kid she never was growing up. In the silence, with her eyes closed, Em squeezes Mia’s hand and whispers once again, “Get… Naked.” At this moment, Mia imagines herself in front of the crowd in a Victorian outfit, confidently belting out a monologue from The Tempest and baring her soul. “Get naked,” she hears herself say, “Get naked…Get naked.”
Mia opens her eyes and yells, “I am an actress. Well no… I have always wanted to be an actress!” John is perplexed. This is the first time he’s heard this. “I have never told anyone. I loved acting in high school and was good at it, but my parents… so I went to college for finance, met John, got married.” Seeing John’s expression, she says, “I mean, I’m happy we met. I have a good job, but I always think, “what if … what if.” Mia’s eyes well up with tears as John hugs her tight.
Em is still holding Mia’s hand as she says, “now that’s naked! In today’s society, we are more likely to take off all our clothes than to truly open up and be vulnerable. Revealing our true selves is terrifying. We must learn to love unconditionally, be kind to ourselves and not be afraid to open up. Express yourself, be human. It will set you free.”
The crowd stood in silence, the lights were dim, the night was over.
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