Live Nude Elf: The Sexperiments of Reverend Jen
Reverend Jen Miller—artist, troll museum proprietor, elf-ear wearer, and reverend in the Universal Life Church—reprints and adapts the essays she wrote during her two-year stint as the writer for Nerve.com’s "I Did it for Science" column in Live Nude Elf: The Sexperiments of Reverend Jen. As the name suggests, the essays feature Miller performing experiments related to sex on herself and her friends. Experiments include becoming a “dude for a day,” attending fellatio school, watching a Sex and the City marathon, experiencing female ejaculation, babysitting (babies being the outcome of sex), and holding a sex toy Olympics.
While it is hardly difficult to find stories about women being acted on sexually in any medium, Miller is very much an active agent in her experiments and is in control even when it means surrendering control. She does things that make her uncomfortable, but continues only when they—sometimes unexpectedly—give her sexual or mental pleasure. I appreciated the way Miller broke the “rules” when confronted with something she did not want to do, such as stripping for an apathetic audience in a seedy strip club.
Miller’s essays are still available on Nerve, but what makes the book different is the way she weaves an autobiography through Live Nude Elf. On Nerve, the column is set up like an academic science experiment, with an introduction, list of materials, discussion of method, and conclusions. In the book, essays are supplemented with introductions that relate to the other things that were happening in Miller’s life while each “sexperiment” was occurring. In addition, Live Nude Elf includes chapters that deal exclusively with “experiments” of a more personal kind: Miller’s adolescence, relationships, sacrifice, and heartbreak. What was an amusing, interesting, sometimes uncomfortable, and occasionally thought-provoking column on Nerve has become a book that is all of those things, but also had an emotional impact on me that I had not anticipated. Live Nude Elf made me laugh, made me read some passages aloud, made me a little bit melancholy, and kept me engaged throughout.