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Virginity and the City

Elna Baker is a 27-year-old Mormon living in New York whose stand-up comedy landed her a book deal.

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My mother tells this story: When I was 6, I’d just started school and didn’t necessarily enjoy it, so I asked my mom what the word for being done with school was. “Graduate,” she replied. And my follow-up question was, “When do we graduate from church?” I was disappointed to find out the word for graduating from church was “death.” So I was always questioning my faith to a certain extent. Humor helped me cope. I was chubby, and I remember I told this funny story to my classmates, and then they all wanted to be my friend. I had no concept that this was something you could ever make a living off of, it was just this thing that I did. Then I went to Tisch—my parents were terrified—and I had a mentor who took an interest in me and encouraged me to tell my stories at the Moth. I consider myself a writer who happens to be Mormon, though on dates, I tend to introduce that fact as if it were an STD. ‘I should let you know … I’m Mormon. No, I really do want things to move forward here, but I have the Mormon.’ ”

Baker’s memoir, The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance, is out October 15.

As told to Alexis Swerdloff.

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