Years ago I worked a lot as an arts journalist doing features and reviews on all sorts of arts events in Northern Ireland. What I really enjoyed most though was doing interviews and I had always nurtured the idea, for some strange reason, of doing the interviews in a Jacuzzi.
At the time, which was before the digital revolution, I was trying to get my head around how I could arrange to do the interviews in the local hotel swimming pool area, which also had a jacuzzi, getting permission …never mind convincing the interviewee. My main worry however was getting the recording gear, cameras etc. damaged with all the water and humidity.
Sadly, the newspaper I wrote for, Daily Ireland, closed down but the idea never really went away. I then moved more into broadcasting and have been presenting and producing the Weekly Arts Show on Drive 105, a community radio station in Derry, ever since. It really is a labour of love.
In this two hour show, which always goes out live every Wednesday morning, I showcase the arts locally, nationally and internationally. Radio is a great way of connecting people and letting them know about what’s going on close to home but also much further afield. I also think arts and politics are very connected and sometimes I do special features on issues of interest and importance, but with an arts focus. This could mean doing a feature on the Ukraine or Palestine, but with poets, film makers and maybe a geopolitical expert.
Before I moved into journalism I spent many years working in Spain and noticed that a lot of the Spanish and Italian programmes that I saw had very scantily clad female presenters, while the men were practically wearing three piece suits.
I decided to bring Ric Mullen on my show as a regular monthly commentator on world affairs, in many cases to offer an alternative analysis of some of the big stories that were being covered in the mainstream media that many people didn’t understand. And to be honest, the naked idea, that is having The Naked Politics Show, kind of started by accident.
But I was delighted with the result and the feedback was great, so we decided to run with it. I kind of liked the idea of it being like a reverse Italian quiz show, where I was fully clothed, but the man was naked. Think we were pretty much pre the whole #Metoo era.
Because it was a radio show, obviously no one could actually see Ric naked, they only heard his voice, though I do always ask him to tell us what he is wearing.
When I was asked to do something for this year’s Festival of Politics in Belfast, and having already spoken to Ric about it, I thought it might be fun to do The Naked Politics Show live for the first time in front of an audience.
I had also toyed with the idea of running a conspiracy-themed night somewhere at some time with fellow Derry creative David Dryden, so thought maybe the two events would go really well together.
And I found a brilliant Anti-Pop band in Derry called The Barbiturates and again thought they would fit this theme very well, so I have put together a three part event for this year’s Festival of Ideas and Politics called The Great Big Naked Conspiracy Night.
It’s on Saturday 30th March from 8pm to close at the oldest bar in Belfast, McHugh’s. Luckily they didn’t have any objections to nudity. Tickets and further information are available here.
Eileen Walsh is an award-winning broadcaster, journalist, writer and film maker based in Derry, where she presents and produces the Weekly Arts Show on Drive 105. A self-confessed news and politics junkie, she managed to convince Ric to appear on her radio show every month, to discuss politics and current affairs in the nude. Him, not her. It was slightly more difficult getting him to agree to do the show in his nip for the first time in front of a live audience. Eileen also runs a social enterprise in Derry called Together in Pieces Interactive, which aims to stimulate social change and eradicate sectarianism through the exploration of graffiti, street art and hip hop culture. Details here.
Ric Mullen was born in Canada. In University he began writing for several magazines (two of which were edited by Naomi Klein.) He met a charming deutsche Frau on a back-packing holiday in Ireland and soon found himself living in Berlin. It was there that he learned all about the importance of being denuded: that is, wearing a birthday suit is not such a big deal. The Naked Politics Show began by accident and we’ll tell you all about that on 30th March 2019.