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After we posted our report last week about the first of our two recent figure-drawing sessions, a follower of our blog sent us this image of an outdoor mural in Christchurch, New Zealand. It was painted by a man (on the side of a strip club, no less!) and it’s a bit on the Jessica Rabbit end of the spectrum; but all the same, it’s kind of a nice piece of art. And we certainly approve of the message that women can take brush (or pencil, or charcoal) in hand and make art out of the naked female body.

We just prefer to do it ourselves.

Why did we split our figure drawing event into two sessions? Not enough room for 40+ people at one session, for one thing. And not everyone could make it on the same day. Plus, it’s fun to see each other again so soon!

We had a few return attendees from the first session–

–but mostly it was new faces. Some new to our events, some new to figure drawing, some new to both.

We changed things up a bit this time. The treats from Baked By Melissa were macarons, for instance.

We had a different photographer on duty.

And at least one person experimented with applying pencil to paper in an entirely different fashion.

But other things stayed the same. We took turns posing for each other.

There was one male in the mix.

And lots of fun was had.

Between poses, we threw in some bits of massage, to help keep muscles from locking up.

But the heart of the matter was as it always is: sitting and drawing.

Want to join us the next time we sit down to draw each other? Pretty soon it’s going to be warm out — so maybe the next time we’ll be sitting on the rocks in Central Park instead of on stools indoors. But either way we’ll be in a state of nature — and celebrating how nature shaped us.

You can do it. Just email toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com and the rest will come naturally.

In Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, the va-va-voomish Jessica Rabbit, chesty cartoon vixen, famously says, “I’m not bad — I’m just drawn that way.” It may seem an unlikely rallying cry for a feminist group like ours. And yet. What woman has not felt, at one time or another, that the body she finds herself in through no act of her own does more to determine how people see, evaluate and treat her than anything she might do or say or think or believe or accomplish?

One of our goals since founding this group 8+ years ago has been to take back control over how our bodies are presented and how they’re seen. One of the ways we do this is by taking our shirts off when we feel like it, and insisting that there doesn’t have to be anything sexual about it — a bare chest is just a bare chest, whether it’s a woman’s or a man’s. Another way we do it from time to time is by taking pencil in hand and producing our own images of ourselves and each other. Why should men be the ones to decide how women’s bodies get depicted? Like Ms. Rabbit says, we’re not bad — why should we even have to be drawn that way?

All of which is by way of explaining how we found ourselves, a few weeks back, taking over a theater-district rehearsal studio, stocking it with pencils, erasers, sketchpads and Baked By Melissa mini-cupcakes (yeah, it’s a thing, all right? Georgia O’Keeffe would totally have done it if they’d existed back then) and spending several hours on each of two evenings transforming our bodies into art.

Here you see photos from the first for those two evenings. We had a really nice turnout — about two dozen people — and though there was some nervousness to start, by the end of the session pretty much everyone had taken a turn drawing and getting drawn.

It’s an interesting feeling, having a dozen people staring closely, minutely at every inch of your body in order to recreate it on the page. And just as interesting to stare closely, minutely at someone else’s body and direct your hand to reproduce every line, every curve.

The female body is a wonder. Every one different, every one unique. The male body, too — we had two XY-chromosomed pals along for the ride and got to draw some male anatomy as well. And not for one instant was any of it sexual. Not having clothing on is just that — not having clothing on. Our bodies are just these extended forked things, with joints and skin and stuff. Pass the cupcakes!

We had some trained artists, some novices. Also some experienced figure models and some newcomers. The more ambitious poses were mostly offered by the newcomers. (It’s experience that teaches you not to offer a pose holding an apple core in your mouth for ten minutes.)

Fun was had.

Then, before long — before long enough — it was over. We packed our supplies away, said our reluctant farewells, and headed out into the world again, where the billboards and taxi-top ads of Times Square offered Photoshopped images of cinched waists and made-up faces and cantilevered cleavage. We were back in the land of Jessica Rabbit once more.

But not for long! A second night of figure drawing was on its way, our pencils ready to come out again. As they say: watch this space.

When it’s cold out, we look for warm things to do indoors. And there are few warmer than visiting a spa where the sauna runs 188 degrees.

Oh, there are other things to do at this particular spa we like to visit in Manhattan’s Koreatown — there are soaking tubs (two warm, one cold; one with lemons floating in it)

…and there’s a steam room with a special rainforest shower right outside it

…and across from the lockers there’s a low-temperature relaxation room where the only heating element is in the floor and you can rest for as long as you like without breaking a sweat (well, at least one caused by the room’s temperature)

But the sauna, built in the shape of an igloo, partly out of jade, is the spa’s centerpiece and legendary attraction, and it gets so intensely hot that naked really is the only way to enjoy it properly.

Of course, naked is how we like doing most things.

We had massages too, and a Secret Santa-style book exchange–

And a variety of delicious snacks to nibble on–

But the main attraction was the heat — that and the friends to share it with.

Would you like to share some warmth with us? Either indoors while winter’s on or outdoors as soon as the weather permits. If you’re an open-minded, body-positive woman who aches to escape the constraints of a) excessive clothing and b) convention, email us at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com or DM us on Insta or Twitter, and we’ll get you naked with us in no time.

It’s hard to believe, but the start of 2019 was 52 weeks ago. And now here we are, at the start of 2020. Such a momentous year, for better or worse. And such a memorable one, numerologically speaking. (Haven’t seen its like since 1919. And we won’t again for a century and change.)

Whatever 2020 might hold (and we’re praying it ends happily), we figured this was a good time to take a last look back at 2019. And this time around we thought we’d do the year-in-review thing slightly differently than in past years. Used to be we’d just pick out the photos we posted during the year that visitors showed the most interest in by clicking on them. But this time we thought we’d pick out our 52 favorites, one for each week of the year, and share them with you in chronological order.

And we hope that, if you’re an open-minded and body-positive woman who lives in or will be visiting the New York area, you might be inspired to be part of our next 52 weeks. Email us (toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com) or message us on Insta or Twitter, and we’ll find events to welcome you to.

With open arms, we promise. And bare ones, too.

Last July, we created our first Instagram account and worked hard to build up an audience there. When we’d gotten up to something like 3,000 followers, Insta deleted our account, claiming we’d violated their community guidelines, presumably by posting photos that included nudity (even though we tried hard to censor everything they insist on censoring).

So we started over again with a new Insta account and built that one up to something like 1,400 followers, and we were even more careful about censoring our photos. And last night? Last night Insta deleted that account too.

It’s really galling, when plenty of Insta accounts feature at least as much nudity as ours does, and they’re not getting deleted. There seems to be something about our account — which seeks to educate women about their legal rights, rather than just display women’s bodies for male viewers’ pleasure — that gets Insta all hot under the collar.

Well, we’re trying again. Our new Insta is @topless.pulp, and we ask that if you care about what we do, or enjoy seeing our posts, or are a body-positive woman and would like to come to one of our events sometime, you please follow us there.

We’ll keep fighting the fight, and we thank you for joining us in it.

So it’s nearly 2020. And how are we going into the new decade? Loudly.

You’re not really surprised, are you? No one has ever mistaken us for shrinking violets. We speak our minds, we raise our voices when change is needed in the world, and when it comes to leisure-time activities, it’s true that sometimes we like to just lie in the sun and read, but other times? Other times we like to make some noise.

That is how we found ourselves for the second year in a row taking over the largest room at Alphabet City’s best dive karaoke bar, Sing Sing on Avenue A.

What makes it a dive bar? Well, we love the hell out of it, but it’s not exactly for clean freaks. It’s a dark, grotty space, with the karaoke rooms located down a steep staircase in a dungeon-like basement. The walls are scarred and pockmarked, as if from all the decibels that have battered them, and no one wants to think about all the spills the floors have soaked up.

And yet — it’s a wonderful place. Warm when it’s cold out, and we’re not just talking temperature. (Though, yeah, we’re talking temperature too.)

This is the sort of place that, when we call up and say we want to bring two dozen topless women to belt “Macarthur Park” and “Me and Bobby McGee” and “Disco Inferno” and “Jump (For My Love),” they don’t ask any questions. They just take our drink orders and leave us to it.

Did we only sing old stuff off our parents’ vinyl? No way. But by the time we got to timelier fare, no one was keeping track of the tracks anymore. There was Gaga, there was Outkast. Some raps were rapped. But sometimes you just can’t beat “Sweet Dreams” by Eurythmics. We all wish we were Annie Lennox sometimes. I mean, come on.

What else went down? Well, halfway through the night the $1 pizza joint down the block delivered a stack of pies. There may have been some fancier food hiding somewhere in the room too. Port wine potato chips and such.

Selfies also got taken, solo and group.

But mostly it was a night for singing, for total abandon, for letting it all hang out with dear friends and showing the night and the winter and the dying year and expiring decade who’s boss.

It felt really, really good.

Cathartic in that wonderful way only pouring everything you’ve got into a mic can.

And why does being topless make karaoke better? Damned if we know. But being topless makes everything better. And we’re not so sure bottomless isn’t better still.

So, what do you think, are you going to join us next time? We’ve got an acroyoga class planned, a couple of figure drawing sessions, a possible baking adventure, a dinner, a D&D night. (Yes, a D&D night. What, you think only boy nerds like that stuff?) And all that’s before the thaw comes in the spring, at which point it’s outdoor time again!

If you’re an open-minded, freedom-loving woman in the New York area, we’d love to hear from you. Email toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com or message us on Insta or Twitter.

And then come sing your heart out with us. It may not be Auld Lang Syne, but there’s no better way to ring in a new year.

As long-time readers of our blog know, our events are generally not sexual in any way. In fact, that’s sort of the point: we want to demonstrate that it’s no more sexual for a woman to relax with her shirt off on a warm day than it is for a man to do the same thing. You see men jogging bare-chested, or playing basketball, or tanning at the beach or reading in the park all summer long, and no one accuses them of being exhibitionists or doing something shameful or immoral. A man’s chest is just a chest, no more interesting or worthy of comment than his elbow or his ear. Our goal is for a woman’s chest to be treated the same way.

That said, many of us — most of us — do also enjoy sex. And sex is one thing (among many, many other things) that it’s fun to do naked. Is it surprising, then, that once in a while, especially when it gets chilly out and our events move indoors, we find ourselves enjoying our nudity sweetened with a touch of the erotic?

What has that meant in the past? Once we were joined by alums of Betty Dodson’s famous Bodysex instructional group, which has been helping women discover their bodies and achieve orgasm since the 1970s. They shared a practice they call “erotic recess,” which is basically group masturbation, and we have to say, it was pretty great. Another time, we took over a spa in midtown for an evening and lay around in the relaxation room telling a very satisfying, very dirty story that we all collaborated on — sort of a group fantasy, unfolded by everyone, and having learned our lesson from the Bodysex crew, we had vibrators on hand for anyone who wanted to indulge.

That event was so popular that we decided to hold another erotic storytelling event this past October, only bigger and better. Instead of just $15 CVS vibrators, we got these imported beauties:

And instead of a little spa room we took over the penthouse suite in a fancy hotel, complete with its own private terrace,

We stocked it with macarons and fresh berries and Writers’ Tears whiskey,

and we lit candles,

and then we turned down the lights and all sat around in a circle and started telling each other about our fantasies. Because we wanted to come up with a story that would excite everyone, you see. So we could do our storytelling again.

Well, that was the plan. But you know what Robbie Burns said about plans — that the best-laid ones gang aft a-gley, and if you’re wondering what ganging a-gley might be like, well, we used to wonder too. Not anymore. We have an idea what he meant now.

Not a single story got told that night. Not with words, anyway.

And at some point pretty early on, we put the camera down too. Some things are private. But we also believe it’s important and healthy to be open about topics like this, so let’s not draw a gauzy curtain over it and leave you wondering what happened. What happened was one of the most positive and pleasurable experiences any of us has had: ten people of good will and kindness and enthusiastic consent deciding to explore their own bodies and each other’s, with love and without judgment, shame, or embarrassment. But maybe that’s still too much of a gauzy curtain. What happened was, we had sex, in pairs and triads and quintuples and whatever you call a pile of nine people. For a few people there it may have been their first lesbian experience; for pretty much everyone it was their first orgy. And so different from the cliched sort of sex party you read about, or that some of us have gone to. Without men there, for one thing, no one felt the burden of the male gaze or the sense that we were performing for someone else’s pleasure rather than our own. (We did have one solitary male in the group, but that’s very different from a room full of men.) And in the manner of the very best all-female events, everyone was supportive and thoughtful and collaborative. No one yucked anyone else’s yum. Orgasms cascaded from body to body like St. Elmo’s fire. It was a beautiful demonstration of what the female body is capable of and how good people can be to each other if only they want to be.

After it ended, we were all a little giddy and breathless. We took a little break to get our heads together again.

And then we went out into the night, hugging our secret close to our chests. We’d done this wonderful thing. But who could we ever tell?

Well, now we’ve told you. And we hope you’re open-minded enough to see it for what it was: a little moment of magic that made us very happy. Nudity does not equal sex. But sex is nothing to be ashamed of either, and we’re not at all sorry to have had this experience. Every girl should have the chance to set her inhibitions aside for a night and just enjoy what her body can do.

We’ll return to our usual sorts of events soon enough. But we’ll never forget this one. And maybe, once or twice each year, we’ll do it again.

Freedom comes in many flavors. It’s good to taste them all.