Archives for category: 2019

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.

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.

Every so often we’re contacted by someone who wants us to take a look at something she or he has done. It might be a writer who would like us to read her book or an artist or photographer who’d like us to pose for pictures or, in one memorable case, a member of the Queens Economic Development Corporation eager to have us grace his borough rather than spending all our summer afternoons in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Generally, we politely say thank you but no. But once in a while something special catches our eye.

This summer, we heard from Deb, one of a trio of charming Canadian ladies who’ve spent the past 25 years doing various body-casting projects and more recently have created a cast-at-home kit you can use yourself to make permanent casts of…your nipples.

The kit is called Areola Art, and they sent us one to try out. It uses the same stuff dentists use to take impressions, and after mixing up a batch in a little plastic cup (feeling every inch a Girl Scout — the kit even comes with little wooden tongue depressors for stirring!), you bend forward, aim, and plop your boob down in the goop.

Yes, it’s cold. And squishy. And feels funny as it hardens. But not bad. And peeling it off is kinda fun. Then you mix up a batch of stone, fill the mold, let it harden, pull off the mold, and — voila!

The next step is to use the included set of paints and brush to add color and transform your little stone nipples into proper works of art. We didn’t take it quite that far — we were trying this out at a Very Special Indoor Event, and by the time our nipples had hardened, some other stuff was calling us away from the kitchen that we found rather hard to resist. (What was it? That’s a subject for another post.) But here are some examples of what other Areola Art customers have done with their nipples:

Would we recommend Areola Art? Absolutely. It’s a fun group activity at a party (if your parties are anything like ours), and the end results are kind of cool. Who wouldn’t want to see her nipples made permanent in stone? Look on my nips, ye mighty, and despair!

Our male friends might be interested as well. (You might just need a bigger kit.)

Cynthia Plaster Caster poses for a portrait at the Michael Mauney Studio in Chicago, IL, January 1969.

A year ago, a singer and activist know as “Ton Dou” (an abbreviation of his real name, Tony Douglas) held the first of what he called his Ultimate Freedom Concerts — events held in public places (in this case, Times Square in the middle of New York City) where people of goodwill could demonstrate that being naked doesn’t need to be sexual or offensive in any way. For six or seven hours, a group of partially or fully nude people congregated in this high-traffic spot, in full view of locals and tourists, vendors and costumed characters, and peacefully sang, spoke, practiced yoga, painted one another, and explained to the baffled masses on the other side of the protective fencing what it was all about.

This year he did it again, and it went more or less as before: baffled masses on one side, naked people on the other, some mutual understanding gingerly arrived at between the two.

Was there any difference? Well, last year’s profound gender imbalance — two dozen naked men, one naked woman — was slightly less profound: there were maybe one dozen men and four or five women. It’s a step in the right direction.

And the interactions with spectators were less confrontational. Last year the group was met with some antagonism, especially from people stumbling on the event unawares after exiting the annual Brazil Day festivities a block away, coincidentally scheduled for the same day. It was again Brazil Day this year, but somehow celebrants from that event seemed more tolerant or curious than hostile. Maybe the slightly better gender balance had something to do with that. Stumbling across a pen of naked men in Times Square is somehow different from stumbling across a mix of naked men and women. And maybe it also helped that some of the Brazilians this year seem to have embraced at least partial nudity:

Participants were still in a pen, though. The group meets with the city’s blessing and under the protection of the New York Police Department, but that same police department mandates metal fencing between the event and the public, and the result is an inescapable suggestion of animals in a zoo. Then, too, the male participants are a motley bunch that include some sincere idealists, some grizzled veterans of the nudist scene, some starved-for-human-contact sorts who might otherwise be tossing tetrahedral dice (not that there’s anything wrong with that…), and some hardened exhibitionists (not literally hardened, thankfully — but it’s clear enough what they’re there for). The message is a good and healthy message — but the participants attempting to convey the message aren’t all equally good ambassadors for the cause.

But: one step at a time. Last year’s event was a bit shaky; this year’s was definitely better; next year’s should be better still. And we do wholeheartedly endorse the goal: to make nudity more acceptable, more understood, less a cause for shame or embarrassment or anger. We feel fortunate to live in a city where an event like this can happen, not just once but annually, and with no motive other than to make the world a better, freer place.

Over the years, our group has been the subject of lots of media coverage — the New York Times came out with us to Prospect Park once to shoot a terrific video story; Salon did so twice, once reporting on our ordinary activities and once about our all-female, all-nude production of Shakespeare in Central Park (though the actual videos seem to have gone missing); NBC News has a video still up about our Tempest; and 60 Second Docs ran a minute-long tribute to our events and their raison d’etre.

To this august company you can now add our friends at Naked News. Naked News is a Canadian outfit that began years ago just by reporting everyday news events but having the anchors and reporters doing so be unclothed. But over the years they’ve expanded their coverage to include stories that are about social nudity and the body-freedom movement. (Yes, we know a lot of their subscribers are probably male and are watching out of a motive that has less to do with liberation and equal rights than Ooh, boobies! But even the ‘ooh, boobies’ crowd can learn something about freedom and equality if they’re exposed to the message often enough and persuasively enough.)

Anyway: we’ve known Naked News for years and years now, but somehow never managed to get together with them in the flesh (ha ha), until NN news anchor and all-around fabulous human being Laura Desiree told us she was going to be in NYC for other reasons anyway, and could we finally do this thing?

And our answer was yes. Yes, we could finally do this thing. And we did. You can see the result here.

To shoot a pair of live interviews, we met on our favorite rooftop sundeck, where we could be fully naked if we wanted rather than only topless. (Also, we could count on it being quiet, which is handy when you’re recording audio.) Two of our eloquent members came out to talk about our history and goals, offer testimonials about what it feels like to go shirtless in public, and explain why the freedom to do so matters.

While we were there, we even got some reading done, thanks to a selection of delicious pulp goodness from our friends at Hard Case Crime. (Yes, we have a lot of friends. Life is better that way.)

And Laura filled us in about some of her upcoming projects, including a clothes-free cruise up the Danube. The woman travels a lot! Though she once called New York her home, she’s here only rarely these days.

But she promised to join us again the next time she’s back — not for another news story, just for the pleasure of being naked with other smart, interesting, like-minded women. And if that idea appeals to you too…well, you’re welcome to join us as well. Just email toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com or DM us on Insta or Twitter. We’re getting naked all winter long (though mostly indoors!). And when the summer comes — well, just you wait.

Our tour at summer’s end of the city’s parks, celebrating our warmer-than-normal September and October, culminated on an October day when it hit 90 degrees. Yes, you read that right: 90. So we decided to make that day a twofer and also pay a last visit for the season to our favorite rooftop sundeck.

What’s the difference between meeting in Union Square Park and meeting on the roof? In the park it’s legal for women to go topless — but on the roof we can dispense with clothing altogether.

Not everyone does, of course — everyone does whatever she wants. But it’s nice to have the option.

We can also be ourselves, let our hair down in ways we probably wouldn’t in a public place.

But most of what we do on the roof is the same as in the park: we chat–

We laugh–

We read–

We play with our food–

Even this late in the season, we got to welcome several first-timers who finally got around to coming to an event.

Along with some old friends.

What’s next for us? Well, as the weather has finally turned colder, our next 6 months or so are likely to be spent mostly meeting indoors. But you never know — there have been warm days in November some years. It could happen again. And if not, our indoor events are a lot of fun too! If you have any appetite for the sorts of things we do and would like the chance to try them for yourself, get in touch: our email is toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com or you can DM us on Insta or Twitter. And don’t forget — another summer is only 6 months away…