It is extraordinary, when you think about it, that there should be any private spots at all in a city of 8 million people. Even factoring in those who’ve fled the city because of the pandemic, and the tourists who didn’t come this summer, you’re still talking about millions of people tightly packed together in a space a lot smaller than London or Rome. The island of Manhattan is smaller still, and anyone on the island who craves a bit of greenery is likely to head to Central Park. So you’d expect every path and hill and lawn in the park to be packed. And yet — the quieter spots in the park are quiet indeed, the secluded spots secluded indeed, and a group of friends seeking privacy in the park can generally find some.

We found some on one of the last weekends before Labor Day (which is the unofficial end of summer, since after Labor Day in New York the temperatures drop pretty sharply). There’s a clearing near the north end of the park that can only be reached either by a winding dirt path on one side or a steep grassy slope on the other, and because of those two obstacles, very few people find their way there — probably a lot of people don’t even know it exists.

The grass gets tall here — park staff don’t come by to cut it often, maybe because it’s hard to ride a mower in there.

There are patches of rocks that get warm in the sun–

–and a couple of boulders that look precariously balanced but have been balancing that way since before our grandparents were born.

There are trees for shade, and local wildlife to share it with.

Not to mention less wild life: one of the rare strangers who did wander by while we were there was this woman with her dog, and she apologized profusely for letting her dog off the leash, which apparently is some sort of violation of park rules unless you do it before 9am.

But we told her we didn’t mind at all.

And by the way, speaking of violation of park rules, while being topless is clearly legal anywhere in New York, for women as much as men, being fully nude generally isn’t allowed for either women or men, unless it’s in the context of creating or exhibiting art. Now, we think creating these photographs we share with you is an example of creating art, but who knows if park officials would concur?

But it’s like the old maxim: if a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, did it make a sound? Only for “tree” read “vagina,” and…well…you get the idea. Nobody who saw us was bothered by the sight. Barely anyone saw at all. And can you really argue that anyone on earth was harmed by a handful of people enjoying the sun without a bit of fabric covering maybe 1% of their body? Because a thong’s clearly allowed. Topless is allowed. A g-string with a triangle the size of an ATM card is allowed. It’s bizarre to make so much of so little.

That said, for most of the time most of us were just topless, and doing the sorts of things we usually do — reading,

Sharing snacks,

Chatting with friends,

Comparing vibrant hair colors,

And catching grapes in our mouths when pitched through the air. (What? What did you think was going on? From that far away??)

Members in attendance included first timers (“No one’s ever seen me naked except my husband!” one told us) and old friends…

…and first timers brought by old friends.

We love that some women who started as first timers just a month or two ago are now on their fourth or fifth event with us. We hope they’ll be members for years to come.

And speaking of years to come…we’re not sure how much we’ll be able to meet in the fall and winter this year. Normally, around this time of year we’d switch from outdoor events to indoor and find spas and restaurants and karaoke bars to visit in the altogether. But with Covid still uncured and the risk much higher indoors than out, we’re kind of in a holding pattern, trying to figure out what we can safely do.

It doesn’t mean we’ll do nothing — for sure we’ll find some safe way to have fun. But we almost certainly won’t do as much, and that added a bittersweet cast to this (almost!) last sunny day.

Of course, once in a while we get lucky and late September has a warm afternoon or two. Sometimes even October! If you like what you see here and would like to be a part of it, please email us: toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com. It’s not too late. But it’s getting later. Carpe diem, as they say.

After our last rooftop event, where only three people came, we weren’t sure what to expect the next time we put out an invitation. But we guess the timing gods were smiling on us, because the weather was just perfect and lots of people were longing to get naked.

Now, a word or two about health matters: there’s obviously still a pandemic on, and we all want to be careful about our health and the health of people around us. Some people who came kept masks on the whole time, or most of the time.

Some stayed on the screened-off north side of the roof where there was more than 6 feet of separation between each lounge chair and the next.

Some who went maskless and hung out closer than 6 feet were from the same household, so that’s not an issue (or not more of an issue than it is the other 20+ hours of the day they’re together).

And of course the event didn’t get truly full until a couple of hours in — before that people were well spread out. And being outdoors reduces the risk of transmission pretty dramatically. But having said all that, at the event’s busiest, some people were probably sitting closer than they should have been. Happily, it’s been more than 2 weeks, and no one got sick. So, whew.

The flip side of the greater number of people who were there is the enormous sense of community and warmth and kindness and simple human contact that everyone felt. It meant so much to a group of people who have been starved of all of the above for months.

Just seeing the variety of women (and one or two supportive male partners, but mostly women) was inspiring. Every age, every ethnicity, every body type.

We had people who’d been naked at Burning Man 6 years running and people who’d never felt the sun on their breasts before. And because the rooftop is private, it’s a totally safe space to discover what it feels like to be naked outdoors and to get comfortable with your body.

Just for the fun of it, one of our members printed up a stack of glossy cards featuring 50 different photos of us, and on the back of each, information about the group and women’s legal right to go topless in New York. We passed them around, so that we’ve got something to hand out the next time we meet someone who’s not aware of the law.

We also got some reading done — we are a book club, after all.

And some snacking–

And some personal photography–

We listened to music–

–and we listened to each other.

We also just made friends, and did so across boundaries. Two members discovered they went to the same school but had never spoken there. Members decades apart in age bonded over similar tastes in reading. People worlds apart in experience hung out and were just humans together.

It was truly a blissful afternoon, free not just from the constraints of clothing but from judgment and shame and self-doubt and self-hatred. In a word, it was happy. We were happy. And at a time of great national (and global) stress, simple happiness is — you’ll pardon the expression — nothing to sneeze at.

Our very last event before the pandemic arrived, back at the start of March, was in Washington Square Park. We were all innocent then. There were thousands of people in the park, all clustered close, no one taking precautions. Precautions against what?

But returning to Washington Square for the first time since the lockdown was a very different experience. We kept our group to half a dozen people and the space around us was emptier, too. And if you look closely you might spot something different about what we were wearing.

It feels strange to bare your breasts but cover your mouth — a peculiar inversion of the ordinary. Caution tinged with fear. We all want to stay healthy, and to keep our friends and families healthy, and to keep total strangers healthy too.

And yet…the ice has started to thaw in the arctic summer of 2020. New York, once the disease’s epicenter, has gotten infection rates to a level low enough that, especially outdoors, your odds of contracting Covid are pretty remote. And the fact is, you do sometimes have to eat; you sometimes have to drink. So after a time, with a hint of the embarrassment other people might feel about exposing their nipples, we slid our masks down. They were never far away, and maybe they weren’t off for so very long, but they did come off.

And the results were joyous.

It was delicious to see other people, to be outside our apartments, to breathe fresh air.

Of course, as our tree-lined surroundings might suggest, we’re not out of the woods yet. But we’re hopeful. And after so many months of grim statistics and isolation? A little taste of hope feels awfully good.

It’s funny how different the same place can feel depending on how many people are there. The boulder at Riverside Park was a happening spot when we showed up with a dozen people in tow, but a week earlier, on a day when the weather forecast ominously promised rain, only two people came and it was the difference between a symphony and a solo, or maybe a novel and a short story.

The same is true of our favorite rooftop sundeck. We came on short notice one day a few weeks back during a brief lull in a ferocious heat wave, and the three people who made the trek up five flights of stairs had all the chairs and all the couches and all the snacks and all the shade to themselves. It was a chance for a first-timer and a long-timer to really talk, something that’s less likely to happen with ten or twenty other people around.

We did get to evaluate an outfit specially designed to show off your underboob–

–and better yet, got to take said outfit off:

And later got to turn a picnic blanket into a Lord of the Rings-style traveling cloak–

But outside of those moments the space felt quiet, spare, serene, It was a nice change — but definitely a change. There was silence. There was room.

Then, a few weeks later, there was another event. And this time the place was hopping.

Same location; totally different place.

If you decide to come out with us sometime, you can let us know which sort of event you prefer. Smaller, quieter, more private, or bigger, livelier, more effervescent.

We promise: we’ll find the event that’s right for you.

Even a city as densely packed as New York has some secluded spots where a girl can get some sun in privacy, or close to it. A few clearings in the northern reaches of Central Park, for instance, are remote enough that we’ve enjoyed them Emperor’s New Clothes-style. (What, you don’t see our bathing suits? But they’re woven of the finest transparent silk!)

But perhaps our favorite secluded spot is this enormous boulder in Riverside Park, on the far West Side, overlooking the Hudson.

It’s tucked away among the trees without any signage to point you to it, and even if you stumble onto the narrow dirt path that takes you there, you can’t see anyone lying on top of the rock if you’re standing on the ground. And who would go to the trouble of climbing to the top of an enormous boulder?

Well, we would. Because once you do, you discover one of Manhattan’s truly wonderful and remote oases. Yes, you sometimes spot broken glass littering the surface, or other sketchy bits of refuse; every Eden has its serpents. But if you want to relax unobserved and unmolested it offers a sprawling, craggy, rugged sanctuary, which also happens to be perfectly suited to our current situation, since it’s easy for people to distribute themselves 6 feet apart along the massive rock.

It’s a particularly nice spot to bring first-timers since while you’re up there you’re not visible to random passers-by who might stare or take issue. Not that we get much of either anymore — New Yorkers seem to have gotten used to the idea that women can go topless the same as men can — but just in case. And we did have several first-timers this time around.

We also had old friends there, some of whom we hadn’t seen in an awfully long time.

Two of the new members in attendance were celebrating birthdays, and we were delighted to celebrate with them. (Randomly, they happened to be the oldest and youngest members there.) A few of our number were preparing to head off to their first year of college. One had recently moved to New York from overseas. One had spent the summer leading BLM protests. Several were starting new jobs or looking for them. In other words, our usual diverse range of backgrounds.

But what all these women had in common (along with the couple of trusted men who tagged along supportively and respectfully) was this: a conviction that equal rights isn’t an empty phrase, and that feminism isn’t an empty promise; that strong, smart, confident, independent women can do anything their male peers can, and need to be free to; that the human body, and specifically the female body, is nothing to hide or to be ashamed of; and that sometimes, on a warm summer afternoon, there’s just nothing better than the touch of sunlight on your bare chest. Half the population shouldn’t be denied this simple pleasure.

And so we partook of it, along with other simple pleasures, like snacking on ripe summer fruit, enjoying a cold beverage —

— or reading a good book.

It was a blissful and empowering afternoon. We’re thrilled that so many of our members showed up for it. The crisis of the past five months isn’t over yet — but at least in New York it feels like life is cautiously returning.

Which brings us to this invitation: if you’ve never tried going topless outdoors but you’re curious about it, we hope you’ll drop us a note. You can email us at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com, or find us on Insta or Twitter. One way or another, reach out. Because all women deserve to share this experience. And the summer isn’t quite over yet.

Each year for the past seven, painter and activist Andy Golub has organized New York Bodypainting Day, where dozens of models and artists from all over the world gather in a public place and create art together, using the human body as their canvas.

This year, we were sure the event would get cancelled — everything else had been. The Olympics, movies, Broadway, school. But when July 25 came around, god bless him, Andy was out on the street in Times Square. With a smaller group, it’s true, but there all the same, everyone wearing masks (sometimes two!) even when they wore nothing else at all.

This year’s theme was “freedom” and it was expressed in ways both explicit and implict. Images included raised fists, floating balloons and, naturally, birds.

But the visuals on display also included the simple fact of uncovered human bodies, and there’s no symbol of freedom more potent than that.

As a women’s group, we’re not generally advocates for men’s right to expose themselves, in part because that sort of exposure is so often wielded in an aggressive or hostile way. But there is no automatic reason that a man’s body should be a forbidden sight and no reason it should be an object of shame. A penis can be beautiful too.

As can vulvas, of course.

We applaud the women and men of Human Connection Arts, the nonprofit organization behind the event, for sharing their bodies without shame or fear.

(Yes, a few people deferred the moment of nudity to the last possible instant and covered up with paint as quickly as possible. But that’s okay too. Bravery takes many forms.)

And we thank Human Connection Arts for letting us participate! A chance to be naked in Times Square? We wouldn’t miss it for anything.

Of course, Times Square being Times Square, we weren’t alone. At one point a religious group marched through, protesting sin and attempting to save souls; at roughly the same time, a random neighborhood denizen, seeing our nudity, decided he wanted to share his own. Both incidents were a tiny bit stressful in the moment, but you know what? We love that we live in a city big enough to contain them both.

After the painting was done, the group took a walk down Fifth Avenue, past the main branch of the New York Public Library and on to the Empire State Building.

The crowd of spectators amused, enthralled or inspired by the procession may have been smaller than usual — and it’s for the best that it was — but the message was the same: we all have a right to be free, and artistic freedom is among the very highest forms.

Of course, it does lead one to wonder why a person going naked in Times Square on July 25th was free to do so, while a person doing the exact same thing at the exact same time in, say, Central Park (or even Bryant Park, just a few blocks away) would get arrested for indecent exposure. Or why the same person, unclothed to the same extent, standing on the same exact spot, would get arrested for it on July 24 or 26. Why is this sight wholesome and harmless one day and banned the next? Why must freedom be doled out with an eyedropper rather than erupting like, um, let’s say lava from a volcano?

But if drops of freedom are what we can get, we’ll take it for now. Remember: Enough drops, over enough time, can break down walls.

How many years have we been coming to this rooftop sanctuary? Seven or eight at least. But it has never felt like so much of a sanctuary as it does this year. In 2020, any place where you can be outdoors — lower risk of viral transmission! — and can be naked and free feels like heaven. So when we had the chance to visit again this month, we grabbed it with both hands.

Of course before we got to the roof and got naked there were a whole bunch of stairs to climb…

…and clothes (and masks) to get out of.

Not to mention some rinsing off and cooling down.

But there were also new outfits to try on, not all of which would be suitable for a stroll through the streets.

Face it, though: naked is best of all.

The sun was so intense that day that we searched out what tiny bits of shade we could find.

Or else proudly stood in the sun like the patriotic souls we are.

We kept the group small, deliberately — damn you, Covid-19! — but our ranks included old friends and new.

And if you would like to join us next time, we would welcome you. There is no feeling like taking everything off in the middle of New York City, and there are few places in the city where you can. We know where these lovely secret spots are! And if you’re an open-minded, body-positive woman, we’d love to share them with you. Just email toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com. We’ll get you naked with us in no time.

It’s beautiful out in NYC these days — maybe a touch too hot (yesterday was something like 95 degrees), but very, very beautiful, with the sky a gorgeous shade of blue and home to fluffy white clouds. The trees are a green so vibrant you’d think they’d been sweetened in Photoshop. If you asked a painter in darkest Finland or coldest Siberia to imagine summer, they’d paint it like this.

And amid all this unnatural beauty and thermometer-busting heat, what could possibly feel better than stripping off as much clothing as you possibly can? Best of all would be to get naked — let’s be honest, as the temperature approaches 100 degrees, any clothes at all are too much to be wearing. A g-string might as well be a down parka. But we’re good citizens and prefer not to violate the law (mostly!), so when we go out to a public park we limit ourselves to the same degree of dishabille as men are allowed: something on from the waist down, nothing at all from the bellybutton up. (Unless it’s a mask, because, you know.)

And what a treat it is to share this adventure in intentional immodesty with other open-minded women! A dozen of us met on the grass and shared sunscreen and snacks (hurrah for the donut peach! so delectable!)

Reading material and art supplies–

Advice on reinvention through the adoption of the brightest of colors —

And even a bit of first aid.

In attendance were native New Yorkers and recent transplants, fresh high school grads and members three times their age, a professional photographer and an aspiring neuroscientist. In other words, our usual diverse mix, but all bound by a common set of convictions: that women have all the same rights as men, that the female body is nothing to be ashamed or afraid of, and that nothing beats the feeling of being bare-chested under the summer sun.

We even enjoyed the satisfaction of inspiring a neighboring couple to go full equal rights: when they came out on the grass, only the boy had his nipples bare but after seeing us she proudly did it too.

Would you like to join us next time? If you’re an open-minded woman and want to share this little taste of freedom, email us at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com. Yes, there’s a pandemic on and we all have to be careful — and we promise we are. No one wants to get sick. But there’s a way to be careful and enjoy the simple pleasures of summer too. And there’s no simpler, purer pleasure than the kiss of sunlight on parts the world unfairly banishes to the shadows.

For a group that’s all about public activities, we’re fairly private. We don’t do interviews much, we don’t generally accept invitations to go on podcasts. People don’t seek us out. We like to think we’ve had some influence on social norms around toplessness, but we’re not “influencers” in the Instagram sense. People rarely send us swag and ask us to promote it. And we like it that way.

Which made it all the more unusual that in the past few weeks we got approached by two total strangers asking if we’d tell the world about their cool thing.

One was a fellow in Berlin who wrote to say he’d spent the past three years creating an app called NATURISM that “lists nudist beaches, resorts, hotels and spas in 68 countries.” Would our members and readers of our blog be interested?

Well, not all our members consider themselves naturists; enjoying an afternoon in the park without a shirt on doesn’t necessarily mean going clothes-less all or most of the time. But many of us do like nude beaches, and though this isn’t the time to travel the world, eventually it will be again (one hopes). So, sure, why not, we downloaded his app and took a look.

It’s a handsome-looking app, but a little underpopulated. You can learn that there’s a beach near Berlin called “Badestelle Krumme Lanke,” where we guess you can swim naked, but aside from the name and “Category: Beach” there’s almost no information, no photos, no reviews. The place gets a rating of 3 stars (out of 5) for “Nature,” 2 for “People,” and just 1 for “Cleanliness.” Okay. And…? There’s a map so you can find it, and in the corner of the screen it shows the temperature in Fahrenheit and Celsius. That’s about it. Same for Belgium’s “Thermen Dilbeek” hotel, same for “Gunnison Beach” in New Jersey. Only Gunnison gets just 1 star for everything. Is that fair? Maybe it’s no Krumme Lanke, but the people have always seemed nice to us. Who’s assigning these stars anyway?

We know it’s hard to get a new service like this off the ground; probably TripAdvisor also looked empty before anyone was using it. But will people ever fill this thing up? Who knows. For now it’s a nicely built edifice with no one inside. A quick Google search will probably find you lists of all the same beaches, resorts, hotels and spas. We’re not saying you shouldn’t download the app — we did, after all — but don’t expect too much.


The second inquiry we got was from a very nice woman from a marketing company (Siege Media, “a team of clever creatives, sharp marketers and savvy SEOs”) hired by the mattress company Casper. “With summer finally here,” she wrote, “I thought your audience would enjoy this visual on the benefits of sleeping naked.”

Well, we do like to sleep naked sometimes, especially when it’s 90 degrees and the AC isn’t working, so…sure, why not, we figured we’d take a look at what Casper had to say about it. You can see their “5 Health Benefits of Sleeping Naked” below. Presumably they hope you’ll take all the money you save by not buying nightgowns and PJs and spend it on buying a nice new mattress. But hats off to them for not actually suggesting as much. This is subtle marketing indeed. Or maybe it’s just clever, sharp and savvy.

So, we guess, sleep naked? You can even do so while visiting the Thermen Dilbeek. Maybe they have Casper mattresses in the rooms there. It’s called synergy, people.


5 Health Benefits of Sleeping Naked

We all know that living life au naturel is the way to go, but did you know that sleeping naked can improve your health? From female reproductive health to boosted self-esteem, we dive into the top benefits of sleeping in the nude. 

  1. You’ll Sleep Better

If you’re someone who gets super hot in their sleep, sleeping naked can lower your body temperature and help you fall asleep faster.

  1. Higher Self-Esteem

A study by the Journal of Happiness Studies found that people who spent more time naked were more likely to have a positive body image and higher self-esteem. Going to bed naked can boost your confidence so you wake up ready to take on the day. 

  1. Better Female Reproductive Health

Wearing tight-fitting underwear to bed can increase your chances of getting a yeast infection. If you are prone to yeast infections, going commando to bed can decrease your chances of getting them.

  1. Supports Male Fertility 

Believe it or not, the type of underwear men wear can have a large impact on their sperm count. According to this study, tight-fitting underwear can increase the temperature in that area and damage sperm. Sleeping in the nude is recommended for sperm count and fertility. 

  1. Boosts Intimacy 

It’s no secret that skin-on-skin contact can be a huge turn-on for adults. If you are looking to spice up your love life, consider sleeping in the nude. One study even found that skin-on-skin contact can increase the release of oxytocin. A hormone that is also known as the “love hormone” or “cuddle hormone.”

* You’ve got to love a marketing piece that links to an academic publication titled “Influence of genital heat stress on semen quality in humans.” That’s how you sell mattresses, ladies. Or, you know, blowtorches.

Between March and May, we didn’t once meet as a group. Not indoors, not outdoors. We quarantined, like the rest of the world.

And we still are. But very cautiously, with care to stay safe and healthy, we’ve gently begun poking our heads outside and gathering again — in very small groups, seated at least 6 feet apart, only outdoors (where virus transmission rates appear to be vastly lower), and with masks on hand…but gathering again, finally, to sit in the sun and talk to other human beings through a medium other than Zoom or Facetime.

Half a dozen of us met, on separate towels except where two were from the same household and could safely have closer contact.

We chose one of the quietest lawns we know, in the northern reaches of Central Park — the part of the park where the street numbers reach triple digits and the tourists (are there still any in New York?) never go.

All the same, we were happened upon by various solitary walkers and small family groups; one even picnicked within sight of us (though a Covid-appropriate distance away). And we’re pleased to say that our toplessness excited exactly zero interest or comment.

We thought our cautious removal of our masks might call down more opprobrium these days than our baring our breasts — but neither did. Kudos to our fellow New Yorkers for forbearance, tolerance, patience. The classic NYC live-and-let-live attitude is even more to everyone’s credit now when infractions genuinely can be a matter of life and death. We owe it to each other to safeguard each other’s wellbeing — no breathing on your fellow citizens! But the sight of our breasts does not have any infectious quality, unless it might infect someone with a taste for freedom, for equal rights, for physical comfort. And those are the sort of viral qualities you don’t want to obstruct.

Two weeks have passed since this day in the park, and we can report that everyone is still healthy (ink notwithstanding!).

And so we’re planning our next couple of events. If you’d like to join us, please email toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com. Space is limited, obviously, but we welcome all women to get in touch, and if you want to join us sometime — to come out with a towel and a book and just, for once in so many difficult months, relax — we’ll find a way.

In the meantime, we hope you’ll take advantage of any opportunities you might have for solo adventures — on your roof, on the fire escape, in the yard, in the park. Stay safe and stay smart, but we hope you do find your way out and uncover.