Archives for category: 2019

One month into the new year and we hadn’t held an event yet — it was time. But it’s still cold out! So we asked ourselves, what sort of fun could we get up to indoors?

New York’s warmest, most inclusive, most accepting piano bar called to us. The Duplex is an icon, having opened in 1951 and moved to its current space on Christopher Street in 1989. Generations of pianists, singers, comedians, drag queens, and future Broadway stars have performed there, or at least dropped by for a drink. The place isn’t huge, but what it lacks in grandeur it more than makes up for in bonhomie. (Ooh, aren’t we French all of a sudden? Perhaps the Duplex’s lovely French doors, with nice open views onto the street, inspired us.)

Could we enjoy an evening of song and good company there topless? Of course we could, they told us. Why not? And so we shed the winter blahs along with our topcoats and sweaters and scarves and blouses and bras; and having heaped all that in a pile in the corner, we got down to the serious business of nibbling meringues and fruit tarts from a patisserie down the block while the wait staff brought us brilliant libations and belted out the greatest hits of Barbra Streisand, Lady Gaga, Amy Winehouse, Elton John, Billy Joel, Lennon and McCartney, Boublil and Schonberg, and some Disney princesses if those Disney princesses had been a lot hornier than the movies would have you believe.

We even stepped up to the mic and belted out a song or two ourselves: “Valerie” by the Zutons, “Popular” from Wicked. Was the point to dethrone Kristin Chenoweth as the perfect Glinda? It was not. But if we didn’t bring her soaring soprano, we more than made up for it with brio. (And now, suddenly…we’re Italian. What can we say, we contain multitudes.)

We didn’t get any reading done at the bar, of course, but we brought a bunch of pulp fiction to share and carry home, courtesy of our friends at Hard Case Crime: a new Mike Hammer comic book, a delicious Donald Westlake novel about monks on Park Avenue, a pre-release copy of Joyce Carol Oates’ tale of a serial killer in 1960s Hollywood. Good to have reading material for these cold winter nights.

But some cold winter nights you just need to go out and get your groove on.

And it’s hard to imagine a better place to do that than the Duplex. Welcoming, tolerant, queer-friendly, generous with both the tunes and the beverages, and (unlike, say, Tumblr or Facebook) utterly unfazed by the sight of a female-presenting nipple or two. (Or two dozen.)

Will we be back when those French doors open up in the summer to let the balmy West Village air in? Oh, yes. With a song in our heart and no clothing above it.

In our last post we shared photos from friends in Australia — where it’s currently summer and a nude beach provides relief from both the heat and the need to wear clothes — and Florida, where we wrote that the climate is colder both in terms of the weather and the attitude toward women’s body freedom. (Yes, yes, we know: some parts of Florida are open-minded. But not all, and not the one our friend’s from.)

We subsequently heard from people in other parts of the world that offer women similarly few options. In Serbia, for instance, we’re told that there are only one or two beaches where toplessness is allowed. Aside from that, the taboo against women going shirtless is strong enough that even breastfeeding mothers get nasty looks if they don’t hide themselves somewhere out of view. Of course, that’s true in many parts of the U.S. as well. Not New York, though. We’re grateful to live somewhere where only the temperature prevents us from reading our books out in open air.

An ocean away in Venezuela, political protests recently have sometimes involved public nudity, but if you simply want to be topless and not have tear gas lobbed at you, good luck. Some of our correspondents were nervous even about showing their faces on our site, but they shared these at-home images in solidarity.

NYC, meanwhile, has finally broken out of the polar vortex cold snap that had us all huddling in quilted parkas and under comforters. Yesterday was a balmy 40 degrees! The thaw is coming.

May it come soon to other parts of the nation, and other parts of the world.

This time of year, we often hear from friends in other parts of the world and sometimes we envy them their warm weather. For instance, our favorite Aussies sent this photo from their most recent beach trip:

You can’t see much of the sea and sky (and even less of the sand), but you do get the sense that the temperature there is well north of freezing. Which is more than we can say of New York City.

Closer to home, we corresponded with a friend in Florida — but where she lives in Florida it’s both warmer and colder than here in NYC. How’s that possible? Well, the literal climate is warmer, but the climate for women exercising their equal rights is colder, meaning that if our friend wants to read without a shirt on, she’s got to do it in the privacy of her own home.

In Florida! Land of warmth and sun! Millions of men walk around in the Florida sun with no clothing on above the waist. Why in the world should it be forbidden for the women of Florida to do the same thing? (ETA: #NotALLFlorida, as some of our readers have pointed out. You can go topless on Miami Beach; South Beach is famous for it. And of course Haulover Beach is fully nude. But try it in some other counties and you’re in for a chillier reception.)

Now there’s nothing wrong with reading in your own home, or being naked at home — those are both wonderful things to do, and believe us, we’re doing plenty of both these days.

But that shouldn’t be any woman’s only option. Not when men can do it on any beach, in any marina, the deck of their yacht, the cockpit of their kayak, the seat of their bicycle, etc., etc., etc.

Here’s to more options for women — and to warmer weather returning to NYC, where there are more options.

Maybe when it does our friend will pack her shades and her read and come for a visit.