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Lip Service Turns 8, Becomes a Badass Literary Force and Publishes a Book

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"Maria and I didn't start out an interfaith couple. We became one 15 years into our marriage. Up until then, my wife was a lapsed Catholic and I was a bad Jew. We shared a New Age spirituality and read mystical books to each other as we carpooled to work. We had children and raised them with a schmear of Judaism and a sprinkle of Catholicism.

We weren't interfaith but we were inter-ethnic: Jewish and Cuban, nitro and glycerin. We fell in love the way only opposites fall in love: recklessly, foolishly, and completely.

The truth is I fell in love with Cuban girls a long time ago, when they infiltrated Shenandoah Junior High School. To me they all looked like Gina Lollobrigida, with large breasts, pouty lips, and big, sexy eyes." -- "Nitro & Glycerin" by Doug Shear

So opens Shear's story about romance, faith, partnership and ultimately of political betrayal in Badass, Lip Service: True Stories, the Double Album, an omnibus collection of some of Lip Service's best stories in its first eight years of operation.

See also: We Got Lip Service in Traffic Last Night

Lip Service recently celebrated its eighth year anniversary at the Miracle Theater, its long-running quarterly home. Lip Service, co-founded by Andrea Askowitz and Esther Martinez-Kenniff has been a marquee event in South Florida's literary community.

Like all things simple and benign, the events are innocuous enough -- eight people, eight stories, eight minutes each. All stories told are true stories. What sets this apart and gives it the severity of the moment, and makes it feel like that temporal millisecond of true literature when the spark of the academic and the streetwise finally meet, is the wave of emotion of the intimacies shared.

After eight years and with each event a sold-out success, it must've been a tall order for Askowitz and Martinez-Kenniff to select the most representative of Lip Service. So they did what all good folks in a celebratory mood do: they let themselves cheat. The duo doubled their magic number eight and provids a "double album" styled collection that is true in intention with a physical flip once the A-side concludes.

The stories included here are a veritable who's who of South Florida letters, like M.J. Fievre, Brenda Mezick, and Daniel Jones. These tales, sad and often inadvertently funny, deal with a range of topics like bullying, Santeria, death, illness and mental health, religion, and sexuality with insightful, unmasking and humanizing anecdotes. Like it says on their website, "Lip Service lets you become a voyeur. It's like listening to someone reading his or her diary. Lip Service is a mix of theater and literature."

This reading will feature the co-founders alongside Aaron Curtis' tale of vanity and redemption through karmic lifecycles, Maureen Fura's youthful emotional roulette, Nick Garnett's badassery involving pugilism, a Fiat and a fabulous gay man named "Lippy Lopez," and Sarah Klein's father's revolving door of interchangeable obsessions blissfully unaware of how they affect those around him.

The book features short author bios and quick interviews with each of the 16 authors and is available for purchase here from Lominy Books.

Some stories are meant to be read alone and some read aloud. Lip Service has been blurring that line for eight years now so they clearly know what they are doing. These stories are meant to be heard and felt and at eight minutes a pop, you'll be left wanting more -- hopefully that will create a roughly 1,200-word long missive you can submit for consideration in the Lip Service cycle here.

Lip Service presents Badass at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, November 19, at the Swamp, 300 NE Second Ave., Miami, (Southeast corner of NE Third Street and Second Avenue). Call 305-237-3258 or visit miamibookfair.com.

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