toplesspulp-01About a year ago, we invited some artists to take photos from our blog for inspiration, and the results were a lot of fun. So with colder times upon us again and fewer opportunities to exercise our rights outdoors in the real world, we thought we’d turn some illustrators loose again, ranging from the pencil-wielding variety to the ultra-modern digital sort. Once again the results brought big smiles to our faces, and we’re happy to share some of our favorites here.

toplesspulp-03toplesspulp-028l7l4lpinaporsi-2-smallpinaporsi-1Does this mean there will be no more live events until it warms up again? Perish the thought. We have our annual holiday spa visit coming up, where two dozen of us will get to hang out in saunas and steam rooms and get massages and generally enjoy being naked without being cold. And we’ve got a naked dinner planned (we’re talking with some really great restaurants!) and some other cool stuff too — if you’re a body-positive woman in the New York area and curious about spending some naked time with us over the winter, please drop us a note: toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com.

But in the meantime? Enjoy our representations at the hands of these talented artists and remember that warmer times are coming.

3l

 

img_6230When we’re not performing Shakespeare naked ourselves, we enjoy watching other groups tackle the works of the bard — naked or clothed, we’re open-minded.

We especially enjoy a creative, original take on the material. Which made the invitation we received from the Drunk Shakespeare Society irresistible.

img_4393-s-creditThis merry band meets eight times a week in a tiny theater lined with 15,000 books (catnip for book-lovers like us) to perform their own version of one of Shakespeare’s masterpieces…enlivened by the addition of a) improv comedy, and b) one of the actors downing four shots before the performance begins.

img_6103img_6100img_4419-s-creditWe arrived early to get good seats, doffed our tops after our presence was announced to the audience (one of us may have gotten started early…)

img_6024and watched a fine performance of what those in the theater community like to call The Scottish Play — only this time with extra Scotch.

img_6157The male lead was the only one of the actors to join us in going topless, although his mortal enemy, Macduff, did get down to a sports bra. But all the actors did a smashing job (whether smashed or not) of bringing the play to life. The vile concoction the three witches brewed was an alcoholic one, of course, and a waggling sex toy made a brief appearance — but brief appearances were also made by serious performances, startling the audience with moments of emotional depth among all the hilarity. (Okay, not too many. But there were some!)

img_6136After the show we took some photos with the cast,

img_6222-sand with the lucky couple chosen as the king and queen for the evening.

img_6201Then took ourselves off to Shake Shack for some post-theater French fries and shroom burgers. Not topless there, alas — one step at a time.

Today, Shakespeare; tomorrow, the world.

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img_5206The last two days were chilly, windy; the days before were those things and rainy, too. But Tuesday? Tuesday, improbably, the temperature got up to 80 degrees, and the sun shone down like a memory.

img_5213Carpe diem, they say — and carpe we did, with both hands. Only a few of us made it out to Central Park at lunchtime, but those who could did, and enjoyed cupcakes from Magnolia,

img_5276advance copies of Gregory Mcdonald’s SNATCH, the glorious colors of the changing foliage, and a live saxophone soundtrack courtesy of one of Central Park’s itinerant troubadours. (We’d call him a wand’ring minstrel, but he was playing Rodgers and Hart, not Gilbert and Sullivan.)

img_5179img_5268What more could we ask for? Well, a few months of this weather rather than a few hours. But that would be greedy. We’ll take what we can get. And when the spring comes, we’ll be glad to get more.

In the meantime, don’t think the cold weather means our merry band will stop meeting! We’ll just shift to indoor venues and more creative outlets for our topfree impulses. As always, if you’re a body-positive woman in the NYC area and would enjoy hanging with like-minded souls, please contact us, since we’d love to meet you. Write to us at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com. There may just be a spa day in your future…

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img_4831So there we were, in Central Park, reading our comic books. But was everyone doing that? No, of course not. Some of us were reading book books,

img_4869some were enjoying hot chocolate and baked goods,

img_4928some experimenting with a deck of tarot cards (yeah, tarot cards — wanna make something of it?), and some just basking in the unseasonably warm, sunny weather.

img_4876img_4948img_5004Is it different enjoying the afternoon topless in a city park in the fall, as compared to the summer? A little. You’re apt to be the only person around who doesn’t have a shirt on, never mind no top on at all; in the summer, there are sunbathers galore. But no passers-by stared or gave us a hard time. One fellow stopped by and offered to share some hash with us (we politely declined, both his hash and his company), but that was it for awkward encounters. Do the occasional chilly breezes make the outdoors less inviting? Not at all. I don’t think any of us would trade a beautiful 75-degree day with changing foliage as a backdrop for the sweaty 95-degree days of August.

img_4788But there is a subtle melancholy that pervades any autumn gathering — the knowledge that days like this are in short supply and a long, cold winter is coming. You value each golden ray that much more when you know it’s going to be a while before you get the chance again. Just thinking of all the new friends we made this summer, and the freedom we enjoyed, some of us for the first time ever — it’s gratifying, and so hard to let go of!

img_4914img_4880Well, the spring will come again, and so will we. But if you’re a body-positive woman in the NYC area and would like to hang with us even while it’s cold out, we have some indoor events planned for the colder months and would welcome the chance to meet you at one of those. Just email us at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com.

And in the meantime?

This Wednesday it’s supposed to hit 80 degrees. Yes, 80 degrees on October 19. Just saying.

We’ll be there.

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img_5053Last week was ComicCon in New York, and more than 100,000 people (supposedly — we didn’t count them) descended on the Javits Center, many of them dressed as Harley Quinn or Wonder Woman or Rey from The Force Awakens. (I guess there were boys there, too.) More power to them all, we say. But we prefer wearing less rather than more, and convention center rules prohibit what New York City law permits in public places, so we picked up our comics — in this case, the first two titles from the brand new Hard Case Crime comics line, PEEPLAND and TRIGGERMAN — and took them out to Central Park for a little outdoor reading time.

img_4794Yes, it’s October. So what? It was sunny and warm(ish) and pretty much a perfect day to have your shirt off in the park. So that’s how we enjoyed the tale of a peepshow worker in 1980s Times Square getting involved in murder (by Christa Faust and Gary Phillips), and the tale of a convict sprung from prison in the 1930s to track down debtors for the Mob (by film director Walter Hill). Cool stuff. On an unseasonably warm day.

img_4745img_4786img_5072Will there be another one like it before the winter shuts us in for good? (Or at least for the season.) We’ll keep watching the weather forecast.

If you’d like to join us, drop us a note: toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com. All body-positive women are welcome, whether it’s comic books, plain old prose, or just brisk fall weather that gets you excited…

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img_4541Summer has, at last and alas, come to an end — but that has never stopped us before and won’t stop us this year. There may yet be a warm day or two in October and November (one year we even met in the park in December!), and if not, we’ll find indoor spots to enjoy while waiting for the Spring. In the meantime, though, a colder, damper season has replaced sun-streaked days.

img_4338Before it settled in in earnest, on the last 90-degree day of the year (technically one of the first days of autumn), we enjoyed a valedictory visit to our favorite rooftop sundeck, where we devoured French pastries, California strawberries, and Caribbean rum.

img_4322The event was also a debut of sorts, since we had not one, not two, but half a dozen first-timers in attendance — people who’d not only never come to one of our events before but who, in some cases, had never gone nude outdoors before, or in front of strangers. We asked if any of them would like to share their experience with you, and two of them took us up on it:

To be completely and openly honest (wrote the first), I was slightly terrified of attending my first time with the Topless Pulp Fiction crew. When I would scroll through the blog I felt excited and for lack of a better word, empowered, by their message and ideas that directly coincided with my own. Packing a towel and book before coming, I felt this same wave of excitement. But the minutes walking from the train, leading up to meeting the group, was a moment of panic.

Meeting new people is always abstractly scary in some way, but meeting new people with the known fact that the group celebrates, de-sexualizes, and normalizes women’s bodies; well that’s a whole new level of scary.

But somewhere between slipping off my shoes and feeling the last proper summer warmth in my feet, I opened up.

That isn’t to say I immediately shed my clothes, but the walls I put up in normal conversation, just didn’t show up. I’ve never felt like I knew a group of people so well, with barely even knowing their names.

I think what makes the experience special and emotionally rewarding is that suddenly all the physical barriers society has created and rudely placed upon us, have been stripped away. I was no longer making small talk about my job, I was having a critical discussion about my industry with someone who I had known for 5 minutes. I felt a strong emotional connection to women (and men, shockingly) who didn’t come to ogle my body, but to make friends and truly indulge in the human experience. 

I really thought this Mercury Retrograde was going to fuck with me, but it directed me right into the hands of new friends, new experiences, and brought an action to my politics. Well played, Topless Pulp Fiction.

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And here’s what the second had to say, in a piece she titled “Eden”:

I was naked in the middle of New York City. Outside on a rooftop, with a crowd of people I’d never met, there I was with my bare butt in a soft chair, eating a chocolate chip cookie and drinking a bottle of water. And everyone around me, including my husband, was similarly naked.

No, it was not some weird dream. It was real. And weirder still, to some at least, might be the fact that I identify as a Modern Orthodox Jew. Yes – it was a Friday, and my husband and I stayed for about an hour before heading home so we could make it on time to prepare for Shabbas (the Jewish Sabbath).

To many, this makes no sense – I’m a contradiction! Isn’t my religion incompatible with such an activity? Shouldn’t my body be only for the eyes of my husband? If I’m so religious, then where’s my modesty?

Modesty. What does it mean?

When nakedness is discussed in Genesis in the Bible, it is associated with shame. Adam and Eve had just eaten the apple, realized they were naked, and felt ashamed.

Shame. What does it mean?

Modesty, to me, means having something to be proud of, something beautiful, yet not bragging about it or showing it off. Shame, to me, means having something to be guilty of, something ugly, and therefore hiding it.

I am a contradiction because the body is a contradiction.

So what is the body? Should we be proud of it? Ashamed of it? And should we hide it either way?

To me, the body is nothing to be ashamed of, and I chose to come to our naked rooftop gathering because it is my way of spitting out a piece of the apple – a way of seeing what it might have been like in the beginning in Eden.

I agree that the body is beautiful, because God created it. Like any gift of God, it can be misused and lusted after. So to protect it from such misuse and lust, we hide it. But it is only misused and lusted after when it is seen as a solely sexual object.

There is a fear of who we might become if we were let loose from law: William Golding, author of Lord of the Flies, comes to mind. Civilization equals protection; it is how we save us from ourselves. The moment we return to our natural state, we risk turning into “beasts” that have no control over ourselves. No, we must hide from our nakedness, under masks that disguise our true nature – beasts temporarily restrained by the cage of civilization, who would no sooner come out of our clothes than we would jump on the next naked member of our species we see.  

But at our rooftop event, I was surrounded by people who, I feel very sure, recognize that the body is more than a sexual object. And as we recognize that the body is more than sexual, we recognize that humans are more than we can imagine.

img_4329It may not be warm outdoors anymore — at least not in the narrow sense captured by thermometers. But in the ways that count, there’s no shortage of warmth to be had. We want to thank our newest members for so powerfully demonstrating that.

img_4512Won’t you join us too? Email us at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com, tell us a little about yourself, and perhaps together we’ll  discover what naked pleasures we can unlock while the rest of the world is jack o’lanterning, turkeying, caroling, and hibernating.

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img_3587Well, it’s true: we do want to change the world. Just like John Lennon wrote.

We want people to see women’s bodies the same way they see men’s: neutrally, as objects in the world, objects of beauty some of the time, objects of simple utility other times, in either event deserving of respect and fair treatment. The way we set out to achieve this is by going out in the world and using our bodies in a wide variety of ways, and doing it unclothed to the same extent men have been doing for ages, and hoping that repeated exposure to the sight will cure people of whatever concerns or anxiety or fear or prejudices they might have.

Most of the time this involves sitting in the park reading books — we are a book club, after all. But when Adam Benedetto of Loudest Yeller Bicycle Tours approached us to suggest a topless bicycle tour of literary and historical sites in downtown Manhattan, we jumped at the chance.

img_3619So, at 11am on a balmy Saturday morning, a dozen of us met up with Adam at his headquarters in Brooklyn, at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge.

img_3571img_3582Now, not all of us are what you would call expert riders of the two-wheeled contraptions we were being asked to climb aboard. But Adam reassured us that in all his years of running bicycle tours around the world, from here to Shanghai, he’s never had an accident. And sure enough, once we were all seated and pedaling and got the initial wobblies out of the way, breezing through the city streets turned out to be a joy — an absolute joy.

img_3679We headed first for the ferry dock to drop off supplies with Adam’s fiancee (she was leading another tour at the same time — not a topless one, sadly), then bicycled across the Williamsburg Bridge. And let me just say this: if you have never bicycled across a New York City bridge bare-chested on a warm summer day, well, you simply haven’t lived.

img_3607img_3645The next five hours — yes, five hours — sped by in a blur of exercise, education, conversation, and bare bodies. We rode along the Battery Park esplanade toward the Statue of Liberty, where one of our number was enlisted to recite poet and activist Emma Lazarus’ sonnet The New Colossus — not just the famous part, but the whole thing: “Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand/A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame/Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name/Mother of Exiles…” (Imagine it, if you will, read in a beautiful British accent, courtesy of one of our ex-pat members.)

img_3683From there it was on to Wall Street, purely for the ironic juxtaposition, and to discover that tourists find bare breasts absolutely astonishing, judging by the number who turned their cameras on us.

img_3694img_3701City Hall Park, where the mayor presides over New York’s affairs, was a short ride away, and Adam pointed out the site — now up for rent — where in the 19th century Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton published the women’s rights newspaper called The Revolution. (An appropriate theme for our group on any day, but doubly appropriate on a day of bicycling!)

img_3724After a stop at the African Burial Ground National Monument, we cycled past the giant, imposing courthouses where in past years women were sometimes brought before judges for doing no more than we were doing on that very spot, at that very moment.

img_3750On we went, to the crowded streets of Chinatown and Little Italy,

img_3755img_3773img_3835…where finally we stopped to pick up the makings of a picnic lunch. Disappointingly, Murray’s Cheese chased us out before we could buy anything there, citing some entirely nonexistent health code supposedly being violated by our bodies, but their next door neighbor — Faicco’s Italian Specialties — welcomed us warmly, sold us sandwiches and cookies and fancy imported sodas, and did it all with a smile.

img_3827Next stop: Washington Square Park, where we rested our well-worked-out calves and thighs and glutes while munching, kicking a ball around with some guys who were playing nearby, and chatting with a New York Post reporter, who looked like she was about two seconds away from taking her shirt off too…but never quite got there. Next time.🙂

img_3853img_3891img_3936img_3955img_3963After lunch we had all those new calories to work off, and we did it with a visit to a former women’s prison, the site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, the Stonewall Inn, and the former workplace of Anais Nin.

img_3988img_3994At this point it briefly rained, but you know what? Far from ruining the day, it felt refreshing and wonderful. Basically nothing could ruin the day for us. Even when one of us got a flat tire and we had to stop while Adam patched it, we found ourselves outside a downtown boxing gym, where this fellow entertained us by working his jumprope outside on the sidewalk.

img_4010Now, look at that chest. Just look at it. Isn’t that an object of beauty? Sexually attractive? It certainly is. And no one but no one told him to put a shirt on or asked what he was doing exposing himself where children might see. No one bothered him or whistled at him or booed or cheered or applauded. And that’s as it should be. All we ask is equal treatment for our bodies. It’s really not that much to ask.

img_4014From there, it was back to the bridge–

img_4055img_4069–and back to Brooklyn, where we returned our bikes and helmets and bid Adam a fond and grateful farewell.

img_4083He’s the best — well informed, a great guide, a feminist through and through, and a whiz on two wheels. If you’re in the mood to discover New York by bicycle, you should totally contact him: adam@loudestyeller.com.

And if you’re in the mood to discover the pleasure of being topless outdoors while it’s still warm enough to enjoy it, you should totally contact us: toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com.

It’s your body. Why not enjoy it?

It’s how we hold our revolution.

It’s how we change the world.

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