Archives for category: 2015

IMG_7304And so we come to the end of another year, our fifth, and what a year it was. They all are, of course. It’s such a joy to spend time each year with friends, with women we respect, admire, and love (and, yes, the occasional carefully selected man — we love you, too!). What a privilege it is to live in a city that, whatever its flaws, acknowledges that its female citizens have the same rights its male citizens do. And what a simple, sensual pleasure it is to feel the summer sun on our skin — all our skin.

Below you’ll see a selection of the photos we took at our events this past year that you clicked on the most. We’ve divided them into public and private — first our forays into the wider world of New York’s parks and plazas, and then our visits to private rooftops, pools and such. We hope they bring back memories for you that are at least a fraction as wonderful as the memories they conjure for us. And we hope you’ll join us again in the new year, as our adventures continue. (You can always reach us by email at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com, and if you’re an open-minded, book-loving, adventurous — or adventure-curious — woman, we hope you will.)

Remember: be brave, be bold, be free. It’s your right.

And have a very happy, healthy new year.

TEN OUT IN PUBLIC…

IMG_9454IMG_4483IMG_7462IMG_1157IMG_9950IMG_9784IMG_4394IMG_3727IMG_39741510_STUK_TOPLESSSOCIETY_0129…AND TEN MORE IN PRIVATE.

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IMG_9497Normally we hit the spa in December because it’s too cold to get naked anywhere else — when it’s freezing outside, you need that hit of heat from the sauna and steam room just to prove you’re still human under your icy carapace. But this year it was 70 degrees in New York on Christmas Eve.

We met at the spa anyway.

Because, tradition. And really there’s no wrong time for a spa visit with friends.

IMG_9461IMG_9465IMG_9490You’ll notice the photos this time are somewhat grainier than usual. Low light conditions combined with steam and such are our excuse. Probably we were also lazy about the camera settings. But we thought you might enjoy joining us anyway. And it gives us an excuse to wish you a Merry Christmas if that’s what you celebrate or an early Happy New Year if it’s not.

Hope you got everything you were hoping for or dreaming about.

We did, at least for one evening. 🙂

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1510_STUK_TOPLESSSOCIETY_0129This past weekend, the Sunday Times of London ran an article about us in their Style section. It was the work of reporter Rosie Kinchen, who joined us for our pre-Halloween get-together in the East Village, and featured images captured by the brilliant Sally Montana. Who else would have thought of asking us to re-enact The Last Supper?

1510_STUK_TOPLESSSOCIETY_0254The Times only managed to find room for two of Sally’s photos, but we’re very happy to share a few more here. (Along with a copy of the article itself at the very bottom, since you can’t read it online unless you’re a Times subscriber.)

1510_STUK_TOPLESSSOCIETY_01841510_STUK_TOPLESSSOCIETY_01391510_STUK_TOPLESSSOCIETY_03351510_STUK_TOPLESSSOCIETY_04671510_STUK_TOPLESSSOCIETY_0486We’re so pleased that our message has begun to spread internationally! Maybe it’ll even reach people in some part of the world where it’s warm enough now to take advantage of the freedom to go shirtless outdoors (which it currently isn’t in New York City). In the meantime, we’re wearing our best cable-knit sweaters and enjoying warm beverages and snuggling with friends and loved ones and, of course, many good books.

And waiting for the spring.

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IMG_8771When a mild Halloween is followed by an even milder November, there’s nothing for it but to break out the old beach towels again and go back to the park. Yes, it gets late earlier these days, like (the late) Yogi Berra used to say. But while those fine golden hours last, it’s lovely to spend them surrounded by the crisp autumn air, meeting friends old and new.

Our reporter friend from the New York Times came out again, shooting some more video for her story, which we’re hoping will see the light of day while there’s still enough daylight to see it by. Two first-timers from St. Louis also came, together with a bunch of our regulars, and we all enjoyed doughnuts and hot chocolate and a discussion of unreliable narrators and the feel of the breeze against our skin.

IMG_8743IMG_8733IMG_8852We were probably more conspicuous than at the height of summer, if only because we were the only ones sitting out on the lawn, but no one bothered us, and the handful of passers-by our reporter friend spoke with all seemed at worst indifferent to and at best supportive of what we were doing.

IMG_8870To be fair, there were other things going on nearby to capture the attention of people in the mood to be shocked — the performance artist Matthew Silver and his crew were leaping about wildly in their underwear just outside the park, while a few yards away someone had outfitted a batch of taxidermied rats with roller skates and remote controls and was scooting them around underfoot. (Yes, one of them had a slice of pizza gripped in its claws.) What’s a half dozen women calmly discussing books without their shirts on compared to that?

But as our St. Louis friends reminded us, this is nothing to take for granted. Where they’re from, doing what we did would be illegal  — six women who did it recently got arrested for it, they told us. It’s something to remember, and something for us, living in New York, to be thankful for. The simple act of sitting shirtless in a park on a beautiful fall day should not be a crime, either for women or for men, and where we live it isn’t one. It’s really not too much to ask that women everywhere have the same right.

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IMG_8478Most of the time, New York is cold enough on Halloween that only a madwoman would go outside shirtless. But once in a very long while it’s milder, making a variety of costume options feasible that otherwise might not be: topless flapper, for instance, or topless princess, or topless Carmen Sandiego. Several of us explored these and other forms of sartorial self-expression at the intersection of Stanton and Allen Streets, where the city has helpfully set out some benches in the middle of traffic…

IMG_8494c…before heading down the block to the Slipper Club, burlesque emporium extraordinaire, for an evening of merriment.

20151030_173933What sort of merriment? Well, to start with, it was the largest gathering of our members we’ve ever had, with several dozen of us in attendance. Costumes were welcome (as was the lack of costumes — we’re nothing if not open-minded). We welcomed cyborgs…

IMG_8548…and monsters…

IMG_8508IMG_8519…droogs that would’ve made Anthony Burgess proud…

IMG_8671c…and various other characters, familiar or invented.

IMG_8515IMG_8514(What is this last costume? So glad you asked. It’s a blue-footed booby, of course.)

The Pinchbottom burlesque troupe put on a special stage performance just for us, featuring numbers inspired by Shelley, Coleridge, and Dante, with pulp novelist Jonny Porkpie on hand as Master of Ceremonies and Reader of Excerpts From the Referenced Literary Works.

IMG_8644IMG_8654Afterwards, there was a bit of a bar crawl involving Bulgarian hookahs, Belgian ale and silent televisions playing World Series game three for the Mets fans among us. Photos are few from the indoor portions of the evening, and in-focus ones fewer still. But you can get some sense of what we got up to below.

(And here’s an extra treat for those of you in the UK: a reporter from the one of the biggest newspapers in London flew in just for the event, and an article about us is supposedly forthcoming. Who knows? Maybe it’ll inspire a revolution across the ocean…)

IMG_8558IMG_8525IMG_8573IMG_8559IMG_8659IMG_8660Happy Halloween, all.

IMG_8287Ever dream you went to a Broadway show, only to discover, when you got there and took your coat off, that you weren’t dressed underneath?

We got to live out this dream the other night…

IMG_8119IMG_8135…courtesy of a friend of ours who also happens to be the writer and director of a show currently knocking ’em dead on the Great White Way, Cynthia von Buhler.

Countess von Buhler is the brilliant and beautiful painter, sculptress, author, and theatrical impresario responsible for restaging the “Midnight Frolic” of master showman Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. A century ago, Ziegfeld bucked social norms by presenting late-night entertainments on the Great White Way filled with half-dressed showgirls and other scandal-worthy elements (such as racially integrated casts, featuring performers like Josephine Baker).

IMG_8253IMG_8255IMG_8258IMG_8259IMG_8273That’s all on the positive side of the ledger. He also bedded any number of his leading ladies and chorus girls, several of whom later came to untimely ends, such as Olive Thomas, dead of mercury bichloride poisoning while on her honeymoon in Paris. Was it murder, suicide, an accident…? Who can really say?

Well, Cynthia can. In her latest interactive theatrical extravaganza, she both recreates Ziegfeld’s most risqué show and takes the audience to the Paris hotel room where Olive Thomas met her terrible fate. The death is staged three ways — once as accident, once as suicide, once as murder — while out front Eddie Cantor and Fanny Brice and Josephine Baker whip the crowd into a frenzy. There are singers and dancers, and aerialists suspended from a giant chandelier…

IMG_8232IMG_8192IMG_8209Drinks flow freely, dinner is served, and what exactly is that white powder the flower seller keeps urging you to sniff…?

And for one very special performance, there were also a dozen topless women in the audience, joining in the fun.

IMG_8136IMG_8389cIMG_8451IMG_8423IMG_8252We got to rub elbows with all the performers, see the show from the best seats in the house, crack open a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, and take part in a demonstration where one of our number was placed in a coffin and transformed into a revolting corpse. (We got her back, safe and sound, before the night ended.)

Actually, come to think of it, the night never did end, not really — after the show, we accompanied cast members to an all-night spa for massages, steam, soaks, and scrubs, and before we called it quits, PM had given way to AM. Just like it says in “Lullaby of Broadway”: When a Broadway baby says good night / It’s early in the morning…

We left the camera in the locker room while at the spa — what happens in Koreatown stays in Koreatown — and even at the theater the low-light conditions and constant motion proved a challenge for documenting our adventure. But here are some glimpses of the fun we had.

You’re just going to have to imagine the rest.

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IMG_7462After our rooftop adventure (chronicled previously), we headed down with our new friend from the New York Times to the streets of Brooklyn and the grassy lawns of Prospect Park.

IMG_7374IMG_7372IMG_7387At first, no one seemed to take notice of us — so much so that our reporter friend commented on it, amazed that the presence of half a dozen women relaxing topless in a public space attracted not a single stare or rude comment. But like most things that seem too good to be true, it was: after perhaps half an hour, a police car cruised slowly to a stop alongside us and the officers inside sheepishly indicated they’d received several calls to 911 complaining of our presence. Because, you know. Breasts. Clearly they require armed men in uniform to subdue.

IMG_7414IMG_7419What were we doing to deserve the attention of the police? Sitting; reading; talking; eating chocolate. All while failing to conceal our nipples. While on the next lawn over, mind you, this was going on:

IMG_7473Yes, a bare chest! But a bare male chest. No one called 911 about him. But two or more people thought it was a good use of the city’s emergency system to report us.  It’s heartbreaking, in a way. That in 2015…in Brooklyn, New York, of all places…anyone could be so afraid of women’s bodies that they’d think calling the police is the proper response.

Fortunately, these particular policemen were well trained, acknowledged that what we were doing was perfectly legal, and wearily rolled on. We bear them no ill will — they have to investigate complaints. But the people who called them…for them we have nothing but pity. Well, pity and scorn. But pity sounds so much more polite.

Ah, well. We didn’t let it ruin our afternoon. And perhaps it gave a keener edge to the interviews we gave the Times, which you should be able to see on their site in another week or two. It’s easy to forget sometimes that a lot of people not only don’t know that it’s legal for women to go topless in New York but don’t think it should be.

Unfortunately, this seems to include the mayor. And he really, really, really should know better.

But mayors come and go.

Breasts are forever.

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