Archives for category: art

IMG_6273This past Saturday, five dozen people took all their clothes off in Washington Square Park. Some of our members were among them.

IMG_6041IMG_6147IMG_6135IMG_6055IMG_4250Not only did no one call the cops on this display of naked bodies, but the cops were already there and fully supportive — they were present to make sure everything went smoothly and that none of the naked people were harassed or bothered. And none of us were.

IMG_6131Now, here’s an interesting fact: one day later, if any of us had tried to undress to the exact same extent in the exact same place, we would have gotten stopped, and maybe arrested, by those exact same cops. Does that make any sense to you?

Yes, Saturday was a special day: the 5th annual “New York Bodypainting Day” festival. For five years, artist Andy Golub has brought together fellow artists from all over the country and all over the world to paint nude models on one afternoon in the summer. And yes, there is an exception in the public indecency laws for nudity that occurs in the course of making or exhibiting art. That’s why no one got arrested on Saturday.

But what’s the logic? How can it possibly be the case that sixty fully naked women and men standing in a group is an inoffensive sight one day, but the following day even just one fully naked woman or man — perhaps lying among a bunch of sunbathers such as this group that watched us for hours on Saturday — is offensive enough to be deemed illegal?

IMG_6268The prude who says a breast, a vulva, a penis is always and automatically shameful may be wrong (in our humble opinion), but at least the prude is consistent. The person who says vulvas and penises are fine on Saturday but forbidden every other day is either the strangest Sabbath observer ever or else just a hypocrite.

IMG_6308But — as long as the hypocrites are making the rules, we’ll take such opportunities for freedom as we’re granted. One day each year when we can shed the last little vestiges of our clothes out in the park is better than none.

IMG_6312IMG_6190IMG_6292And this one was better than most. The weather was absolutely perfect (not a hint of rain in the sky), the crowd was supportive (not a complaint heard, at least by our ears), there were a pianist and a xylophonist nearby for musical accompaniment (randomly), and we even were graced with a street fair right outside the park, for when our thirst required fresh-squeezed lemonade to quench it (Andy kindly supplied some snacks as well, including unintentionally appropriate ones).

IMG_6253The art that emerged from this inspiring environment was suitably inspired. Meant to reflect this year’s theme, “Movement,” we saw everything from the literal, with moving flora and fauna–

IMG_6250IMG_6263IMG_6241IMG_6338…to the metaphorical, such as a bit of cubism (which began, remember, as an attempt to show movement on a static canvas — how great to see it attempted on a rippling moving canvas!)

IMG_4240…or the sort of movement that results in social change:

IMG_4258Speaking of which, we’re a bit of a movement ourselves, aren’t we? Sparking social change, making people think differently about what they’ve always assumed. Seeking freedom.

IMG_6326On Saturday we were free. In a way we rarely have the opportunity to be. Could Monday morning be just as free someday?

Yes. Someday. We firmly believe that. With or without paint, with or without clothes, bodies should be free.

IMG_6052IMG_6143IMG_6181If you’d like to join our little movement, drop us a note: toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com. With your help, we’ve got some brick walls we’d like to bust through together.

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IMG_4834Five years ago, a painter named Andy Golub had a brilliant brainstorm. He’d been painting works of art on the bodies of individual models for some time, and had won some legal battles establishing that he had the right to do so outdoors in New York City. (It’s legal for women to be topless outdoors in New York anywhere a man can; full nudity is generally not legal in public for anyone of any gender. But there’s an exception — women and men can both be naked in public places as part of an artistic exhibition or a play. And being painted as a human canvas is certainly an artistic exhibition.)

IMG_4923So here’s the brilliant brainstorm he had: what if, instead of one painter painting one model in a public place, he brought together fifty painters and fifty models — models of all ages, sizes, races, and genders, painters from all over the country and all over the world? Suddenly, the artist and model would no longer be outnumbered by a confused and judgmental crowd — in one place, for a time, naked would be the norm. Art would be the norm.

IMG_4943And so Bodypainting Day was born. This year is the 5th anniversary, and anyone interested in attending can find the group in Washington Square Park starting around noon on Saturday, July 14. In anticipation of the big day, and maybe to get his painting arm limbered up, Andy met with us this week on our favorite rooftop sundeck and tested out some wonderful new designs.

It’s fun to be a human canvas, and even more fun to watch the process as your friends get turned into living works of art.

IMG_4461IMG_4515IMG_4734IMG_4504IMG_4585IMG_4608IMG_4682IMG_4711IMG_4533IMG_4643IMG_4683IMG_4741IMG_4856And lest you think bodypainting is just for girls…

IMG_4496IMG_4629IMG_4716IMG_4749IMG_4782Turnabout being fair play, at the end one of the painters got painted:

IMG_4887And we even had a spectator or two who remained pristine.

IMG_4656Look like fun? It was. If you’re thinking you might like to try this someday — with or without the paint — we welcome all curious and body-positive women to join us. Just send email to toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com and tell us a little about yourself. You’ll be under the sun — and who knows, maybe under the brush too — in no time.

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18-02-10-Polar Bear-484A couple of times each year, the non-profit organization Human Connection Arts puts on a big public event that celebrates free expression through nudity. New York’s annual Bodypainting Day in July is the biggest, but there are others peppered throughout the calendar. Last October, for instance, the group fielded a topless float in the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade, which seemed pretty bold at the time since October isn’t the most common month for outdoor toplessness.

But it pales in comparison to February. Which was when the group gathered most recently, on a frosty, somewhat rainy Saturday afternoon, with the temperature hovering not too far above freezing, applying bodypaint indoors at a studio near Times Square–

18-02-10-Polar Bear-12518-02-10-Polar Bear-11818-02-10-Polar Bear-225–girding themselves for the arctic winds they might face–

18-02-10-Polar Bear-14618-02-10-Polar Bear-254–and then bravely heading out into the cold to march to the Crossroads of the World, greet astonished tourists,

18-02-10-Polar Bear-32118-02-10-Polar Bear-35518-02-10-Polar Bear-373hobnob with costumed characters,

18-02-10-Polar Bear-522and take photos at the iconic bleachers near the TKTS booth.

18-02-10-Polar Bear-50918-02-10-Polar Bear-496One of our members gamely took part (see if you can spot her in these terrific photos by Daniel Vialet of Leinadmedia), together with some two dozen other participants of all ages, genders, sizes, and shapes. It was an exciting and liberating event, and we’re delighted to have played a small part in it.

18-02-10-Polar Bear-446If you’re inspired by what you see but need a little more mercury in the thermometer before you’d feel comfortable going outdoors in nothing but paint, remember that July isn’t that far off.

Or just paint yourself in the colors of the sun and think warm thoughts…

18-02-10-Polar Bear-264…or do it with a bunch of friends and huddle close. 🙂

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IMG_5567In midtown Manhattan there’s a townhouse dating back to 1875 that’s home to the Society of Illustrators, an organization honoring some of the finest artwork created in the past century. Walk the halls and you’ll see original art by painters such as Norman Rockwell and Robert McGinnis — even a giant portrait of Olivia by Ian Falconer. And if you’d walked to their fourth-floor library one day this past week, you’d have seen us there too, practicing our figure drawing, and our figure modeling, under the guidance of award-winning painter Gregory Manchess.

IMG_5384IMG_5410It was an extraordinary experience, first just absorbing the atmosphere and history of this unique institution and then getting to watch one of the best illustrators in the world create breathtaking portraits of us in seconds, working with nothing more than some newsprint, charcoal and pencils.

IMG_5915IMG_6078IMG_6056IMG_6068IMG_6089Our own work with the same tools was a tiny bit less polished!

IMG_5534But Greg gave us tips and insight and advice and inspiration, and we went home raring to crack out the pencils again and get back to the drawing board.

IMG_5429IMG_5404IMG_5322Kudos to the Society for having us. Interestingly, down on the third floor while we were on the fourth, another nude sketch event, held weekly and open to the public for a $20 ticket price, was going on, and that room was packed to the rafters. Aside from the two models, it looked like nearly everyone in that room was male, while of course in our room nearly everyone was female (and no tickets were being sold). We make no comment on the why or wherefore, we simply present this interesting fact for whatever it’s worth.

IMG_5737-SweaterIMG_5237Kudos also to the Society’s charming Hungarian bartender, who kept the evening well lubricated with wine and spirits, and to Baked by Melissa and Sprinkles Cupcakes for supplying mini- and maxi-sized treats, respectively. Nothing loosens the drawing hand and concentrates the attention quite like the combination of red velvet and rosé.

IMG_5550Of course we also had books on hand — what is a book club, or a library, without them?

IMG_5815But most of the time our hands were empty, or next to it.

IMG_5781Would you like to join us the next time we cook up a once-in-a-lifetime experience like this one? If you’re a body-positive woman in the vicinity of New York City, we’d love to hear from you. Email us at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com and maybe someday soon you’ll have the chance to get naked with a skeleton too. 🙂

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IMG_5057…no, not the prison. We may be getting a bit stir-crazy, cooped up indoors while we wait out the cold weather, but not crazy enough to actually go to stir. (Not a place for a topless adventure, that.)

IMG_4718Sing Sing on Avenue A in New York is the city’s diviest karaoke bar, and we mean that as a compliment. You can keep your chromed-up, K-pop suffused, midtown glitzerias — we’ll take a grotty basement with a gold disco ball, thank you very much. Couches that look like Sid and Nancy shot up on them. Cinderblock walls, thickly painted and never cleaned. A place where even the shadows cast shadows.

IMG_4647Into this veritable Mos Eisley we brought a group of 20 eager chanteuses, including two ringers with serious singing credentials; a sackful of baked goods courtesy of Dominique Ansel and Frederic Vaucamps; enough alcohol to drown the butterflies in anyone’s stomach; and an eclectic pick list that ranged from Biggie Smalls to Peggy Lee, from My Funny Valentine to My Chemical Romance, from ABBA to zig-a-zig-ah. 

IMG_4598And did we get topless? Did we ever. Shed sweaters to Sondheim, bras to Believe, winterwear to Wayne Newton. Sing Sing’s VIP Room, initially frosty, warmed up as we sang our hearts out, with dancing to match. We’d say it was hands-down our most energetic event ever, but “hands down” is a singularly inapt description of how most of us spent the night.

IMG_5097IMG_5108IMG_5089Of course, if you think going bare-chested in public is intimidating, try singing in front of a roomful of strangers — even a warm and welcoming group like ours. But by the end of the night even the first-timers in the room were singing full-throatedly, and the last buttons, clasps and ties were coming undone.

IMG_5130IMG_5138The room was dark enough that our few attempts at capturing the fun on video didn’t really work — unless you think of them as bootleg tapes, made on the sly, at some underground concert. In that case, they work fine, and we’re glad to share a few snippets with you:

All in all, this was a perfect way to warm up a cold winter night. But perfection comes in many forms, and we’ve got other fun events coming up that’ll take the chill off too. If you’re fighting the winter blues and would like to join us next time, let us know — all body-positive women are welcome, and an email to toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com is all it takes to get an invitation.

Won’t you join us sometime…?

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IMG_2994What to do when it’s cold outside? How about an interactive theater event where eight of us gather in one member’s apartment to play the roles of suspects in a murder mystery? Yes, please.

Thanks to the ingenious and creative folks at 8Players, we had the pleasure of being immersed in a poisonous 1950s film-noir-come-to-life, complete with a (make-believe) dead body and eight, um, players, each with a hidden past rife with secrets and motives for doing dirt to the deceased.

IMG_3099cIMG_3061We were provided with costume suggestions by the director (yes, yes, we know; costume suggestions for a bunch of people who prefer being naked, that was never going to last for long) and told to meet downstairs at 6:53pm. A handy bar on the ground floor supplied liquid courage, and then a masked man led us upstairs, single-file–

IMG_2926IMG_2934–enjoined us not to speak to one another, and firmly escorted us into the darkened apartment, where we were given our starting positions for the drama to come.

IMG_2949IMG_2958IMG_2965Stirring music set the mood, as did dramatic use of shadow and candlelight. We were each given a card to read, supplying some tantalizing bits of information about the nefarious people we were playing, and then–

And then we were set loose to interrogate and accuse one another, in character, for two hours. Who’d seen what? Who knew whom? How many of us were secretly sleeping with each other? And just what happened to the handsome woodsman’s missing axe…?

IMG_2999Fast-forward to Act III: we’re standing shoulder-to-shoulder, our costumes strewn in pieces on the floor, and the story is approaching its feverish climax. What seemed to be a crime yarn  ghost-written jointly by Agatha Christie and Orson Welles turns out to have a touch of Rod Serling to it as well. Revelation piles on revelation, until, at last — the killer is revealed!

IMG_3003And then, before we quite know what is happening, the 8Players team silently exits the apartment, no sign of their presence remaining, leaving the eight of us to catch our breaths and giddily discuss what we’d just gone through. It was a treat, a chance to step out of not only our clothing but, for two hours, also our identities. Or, if you prefer, it was the best game of Clue ever, only with Miss Scarlet and Colonel Mustard wearing a bit less than the Brothers Parker ever imagined.

IMG_3096Which goes to show — pulp fiction needn’t be limited to the page, nor toplessness to the summer.

More indoor adventures to come.

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IMG_9106Are we better known for reading traditional words-on-paper books than comic books and graphic novels? Probably. But since our group’s founding we’ve always had some comics in the mix too, and our comics-loving members are passionate indeed on the subject. So it’s maybe a bit surprising that until now we’ve never taken the time to visit Comic Con.

UPG-Comic Con_10062017_Gary Jean-Juste1 (15)Except for one thing — in New York, Comic Con comes in October, and October is usually too cold for outdoor toplessness. But not this year! This year it was 83 degrees on the con’s opening day, so several of us made our way to the lawn nearest to the convention center to get into our best cosplay gear.

IMG_8541IMG_8695The convention center itself has rules against toplessness, and we didn’t especially feel like fighting them (even though we would’ve been in the right), but there’s certainly nothing to stop a half dozen women dressed as superheroes, unicorns, anime characters, or some unholy combination of all three from leaving their tops off to better enjoy the breeze off the Hudson River.

IMG_8817IMG_8791IMG_8961One of our cosplayers drew her inspiration from Dark Phoenix…

IMG_9025FFP-Comic Con_10062017_Gary Jean-Juste1 (5)SKB-Comic Con_10062017_Gary Jean-Juste1 (1)…while others drew theirs from realms unknown.

IMG_8655(There was a brief moment when one of us was almost going to go for a topless rendition of Joy from Pixar’s Inside Out, but that somehow felt wrong and modifications were made.)

IMG_8864There is something doubly liberating about being half naked and half costumed — it’s twice the chance to show you’re not afraid or ashamed of who you are.

IMG_8763Now we’re wondering whether it’ll be this warm, still, when Halloween rolls around?

Maybe. Maybe. We’re thinking about what we might do. And if you think you might enjoy being part of it…? Drop us a note: toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com. All women are welcome, whether you’re already comfortable topless in the great outdoors or you’re nervous about your first time.

Remember: you can always wear a mask. 🙂

IMG_9034BBM-Comic Con_10062017_Gary Jean-Juste2 (4)[NOTE: Special thanks to photographer Gary Jean-Juste for some of these terrific pictures!]