Archives for category: bodypainting

IMG_8455Andy Golub, the visionary artist behind New York Bodypainting Day, has formed a new non-profit arts organization called Human Connection Arts, to spread the word that art and nudity can both be tools for human connection — and that the human body, in all its infinite variety, is deserving of respect and love.

IMG_8421The group’s first project, called “Body Notes,” took place last Friday in the middle of Times Square, with literally tens of thousands of workers and tourists, businesspeople and students, the young and the old, all present to witness and enjoy what we were doing. Who were “we”? About 200 models, women and men, including a number of members of our book club. And what were we doing? Getting completely naked and painting each other from head to toe, first with base coats of orange, blue and yellow, and then with heartfelt messages chosen by each model to express a point of view important to her or him.

IMG_8412IMG_8404RandAIt was a revelatory experience and a liberating one — to stand naked at the Crossroads of the World, with a sea of humanity around us, with police there to protect us, not to hassle us, and with the vast majority of the people in the crowd just honestly curious, and many of them enthusiastic.

IMG_8378So many people posed for photos with us! Or blushed at first and then asked how they could get involved. Or just nodded and took it all in. It was a profound moment of acceptance and tolerance and open-mindedness.

IMG_8384Every body type was represented, every age, every race, every gender.

IMG_8431IMG_8462IMG_8312And we all treated each other — and ourselves — with the kindness and respect we deserved.

IMG_8447Now, if you’d like to see how the event ended, you can Google “Body Notes” and see countless photos that ran in the media all over the world, of a mass of hundreds of painted models swarming the bleachers at the north end of Times Square and posing as a group for photos memorializing the event. Instead of repeating those, we thought we’d share some photos of how the event began, when we were all just works in progress, getting those first coats of paint on. The humanity of it inspired us — we hope it will inspire you too.

IMG_8324IMG_8329IMG_8363IMG_8416IMG_8290IMG_8337IMG_8323IMG_8335IMG_8388If you are inspired, take a look at Human Connection Arts and their upcoming events. Or, of course, drop us a note at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com and join us at one of our get-togethers. There are many, many opportunities to exercise your freedom and be part of something wonderful. Don’t let them pass you by.

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img_3376For the last three nights, our all-female, fully nude production of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest has played to sold-out houses in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. (Well, tickets are free, so maybe “sold out” isn’t precisely the right phrase. But packed houses. Standing room only. Let’s call it that.)

img_3138Tonight — Saturday, September 10, 2016 — is your last chance to see the show. If you’re in New York and at all curious, we encourage you to come.

img_3156The show is different in Brooklyn than it was in Central Park in May. The performance space is less isolated, so random pedestrians walking by are more likely to stumble across a mystifying and magical scene. The bulk of the audience is watching from an elevated pagoda, and the lawn before it is flat, reversing the earlier dynamics (in Central Park, most audience members sat on the ground and the stage had a variety of vertical levels). And two new actresses, one new dancer and a new pair of musicians have  joined the cast, appearing in new costumes and new body paint.

img_2933But the script is the same — the same timeless fable of exile and liberation, of vengeance melting into forgiveness, told in some of the most beautiful verse ever crafted. And once again we celebrate the female body in all its variety and wondrous versatility. Our cast displays tenderness, rage, horror. wonder, despair, elation — the full range of human experience, giving the lie to the premise that a naked women conveys only one thing: sexuality.

img_3210Come join us tonight and see Prospero and Miranda, a sorcerer and his daughter–

img_2970Ariel, spirit queen of the magic isle–

img_2995Ferdinand, boy prince, thought orphaned–

img_3164Alsonso, King of Naples, and his loyal retainer, the good lord Gonzalo–

img_3421Sebastian and Antonio, conniving conspirators–

img_3370img_2952And the other spirits in attendance–

img_2909See love blossom,

img_3070img_3089and ripen

img_3257img_3268See perfidy punished

img_3228and virtue rewarded

img_3452See magic abjured

img_3343and captivity…prolonged?

img_3052See it all, before it vanishes into air — into thin air…

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IMG_4581This past May, we put on an all-female, fully nude production of Shakespeare’s final play, The Tempest, outdoors in Central Park. It was a huge success, attracting not only an audience of hundreds to the park but also coverage all over the world, from NBC News here in New York (and the New York Post, and the Daily News, and New York Newsday, and many more) to four of the five major newspapers in the UK (Daily MailIndependentGuardian, and Times), and from Jezebel and Salon online to The Huffington Post and The American Spectator. We were covered in Oregon. We were covered in India. We were one of the “photos of the week” chosen by The Atlantic. For an hour or two, we were one of the top 3 trending topics on Facebook.

But despite all that attention, not everyone who wanted to see the show was able to.

Well — now’s your chance. Our Tempest is coming back, this time to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, for four nights only: September 7-10, at 5:30pm each day. You can find information about the show and directions to the location in the park here.

IMG_3732IMG_4750IMG_4856The cast and creative team is mostly the same, though we have a new Miranda and Gonzalo joining us, and a new painter doing the body art for our supernatural characters.

IMG_4814IMG_4936We’ve already started to get attention — CBS News ran this story last night, and local Brooklyn publications have been all over it.

IMG_5027If you’re in the New York area on the dates in question, we hope you’ll join us in Prospect Park for some open-air Shakespeare and to celebrate the freedoms we enjoy as New Yorkers. And needless to say, if you do come, you’re welcome to watch the show topless yourself. 🙂

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IMG_0928While most days you’d get arrested if you walked fully nude down the sidewalk at 47th Street and Second Avenue in New York City — topless is fine, for all genders; bottomless is not, for any — there is an exception.

Bodypainting Day.

Once a year, for the past three, Andy Golub has organized a mass bodypainting festival, gathering a hundred models of all sizes, shapes, ages, races, and genders to pose fully nude in the street and act as human canvases for dozens of talented artists flown in from all over the country and all over the world.

IMG_0948This year it threatened to rain — but despite all the gloomy forecasts, not a drop was felt, and the proceedings came off without a hitch. Several members of our august bookclub were there (even though it was still July, hee hee):

IMG_0955IMG_0952IMG_0938IMG_0932IMG_0887IMG_0899…enjoying the privilege of getting naked with countless strangers:

IMG_0926IMG_0914IMG_0954…all of us filled with boundless energy (you need it, to stand stock still in one place for four hours while an artist turns your body pink and gold) and utterly devoid of self-consciousness or reproach. This was a place of acceptance, of kindness, of generosity and fellow-feeling, all of which went splendidly with this year’s theme of “Inner Beauty.”

IMG_0873And the spirit of the day extended to the crowd that came to watch, which included the usual mix of the curious and the photographically inclined, but also just pedestrians who happened upon the event and stayed to watch, parents with toddlers in tow or on their shoulders, and senior citizens who asked with mischievous grins if they could pose for a picture with us. One little girl shielded her eyes as she walked past, until her mom told her it was okay to look. Another tugged mom over to watch Sailor Moon come to life.

IMG_0906IMG_0915Two high school girls (age, sheepishly confessed: 16) had finagled press passes and were in seventh heaven interviewing the naked men. But it wasn’t necessary to be sheepish — everyone was happy to talk with them.

Which is really the point. We’re all just human beings; we all have bodies. There is nothing shameful about them. A chin, an elbow, a breast, a penis. No one is harmed by seeing these things, with or without paint affixed. But if paint gives us an excuse to be naked one day a year — and yields such beautiful artistic results to boot — we’re beyond delighted to embrace it.

IMG_0980IMG_0984In fact, we were one of the sponsors of the event this year!

IMG_0871And if it continues (as we very much hope it does), we’ll be back again next summer, with bells on. And nothing else.

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IMG_5038After all the media coverage our production of The Tempest received — newspaper after newspaper, website after website — we didn’t think it could get any better. But we were wrong.

Salon just ran a gorgeous, thoughtful video piece about us, filmed by Janet Upadhye and Peter Cooper, titled This NSFW nude production of “The Tempest” is the most brave and beautiful thing you will see today. In it, you can see some really stunning footage from the performance along with interviews with two of the actors in the show as well as one of the show’s directors.

IMG_4862Not to be outdone, NBC News ran a video story of their own — Female Cast Performs Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ in Central Park — in the Nude, filmed by Jennifer Weiss  — featuring interviews with audience members, and with another of our actors.

IMG_4809The combination of these two pieces really goes a long way toward illuminating our motives for putting on this play and demonstrating that we were able to get our message across. It is honestly one of the most gratifying experiences any of us have ever had, and the fact that it has now reached not just hundreds of people in the park but millions around the world makes us so very proud.

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IMG_4013Well! That was an adventure.

It’s not every day that we’re the #1 trending topic on Facebook.

Or written about by the Daily News, the Associated Press, three British newspapers (the Independent, the Guardian, the Daily Mail), New York NewsdayMetro New York, and countless websites (among others, Huffington PostSalon, and Jezebel). Oh, and did we mention NBC News?

5004IMG_3800What caused that storm of attention? Simple. On two beautiful days last week — rain threatened for a while, but what we wound up getting was sun — our merry band put on a show in Central Park. The show was William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, a story of sorcery and conspiracy and romance on a tropical island, and we performed it with an all female cast of 13, fully nude.

IMG_3862“Fully nude?” you ask. “I know it’s legal for women to go topless anywhere in New York a man can, but I didn’t think it was legal for either women or men to go fully nude in public?” Well, under most circumstances that’s so. But there’s an exception to the laws against what’s called “public exposure,” and one of them is if you are performing in an artistic performance. Such as a play. Such as The Tempest by William Shakespeare.

And so we did just that. With eight outstanding actors, three brilliant dancers, and two gifted musicians, we took over the natural stage at Summit Rock (the highest point in Central Park) and for an audience of more than 200 people each time we performed the play. It was marvelous. Yes, we had to compete with sirens and helicopters to be heard at some points. But that’s what it means to perform outdoors in the middle of New York City. And yes, one or two people gawked or made needless, uncomfortable comments — but only one or two. (Far worse was the asshole from the New York Post who blustered around with a pair of giant cameras and ignored repeated requests not to disrupt the show. But fortunately there was only one of him as well.)

IMG_3892The hundreds of other New Yorkers and tourists who joined us on our adventure sat rapt and appreciative, and the end of each performance was greeted by a tempest of thunderous applause. Nothing could have made us happier. Not only did we put on a terrific play, but we proved a point: that the human body is a thing of beauty, not of shame. Not fearful, not dangerous, not troubling. The presence of a dozen naked women on a lawn in Central Park did not cause the sky to fall or the moral fabric of the city to be rent asunder. On the contrary, it probably went a small way toward teaching people that nudity is not inherently very noteworthy at all. What we do with our bodies can be good or bad, praiseworthy or the opposite. But our bodies themselves are just bodies, and deserve nothing but simple respect.

Which is what we received. What a wonderful, wonderful beginning to this glorious summer of 2016! We only wish more of you could have come (though the space was filled to overflowing). And we remind you all: whether you’re  a woman or a man, you don’t have to be performing Shakespeare to enjoy a summer day in the park naked from the waist up. Men know this — women too often do not.

IMG_4247And if you are a bold, body-positive woman — or if you’re unsure, maybe even nervous, but you’d like to be one — you can join us and try it in our company. Send us email at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com and tell us a little about yourself. We’re always happy to expand our ranks. You don’t need to be an actress, a dancer or a musician. You just need to have a body, and a desire to be free.

We have our own magical island. It’s called Manhattan. And we would love for you to join us there, as naked as the law allows.

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Tempest-ImageWe’ve got a special event to tell you about.

On May 19 and 20, we’re going to be celebrating the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death by performing our own version of his final play, The Tempest, in Central Park, with an all-female cast of 13 actors, dancers, and musicians. It’s a stripped-down production in two senses: we’ve abridged the script for a shorter running time, and in the rich tradition of live performances that celebrate body freedom and free expression, our performance will use nudity to dramatize the conflict between the visitors to Prospero’s island and its inhabitants.

Like our bodies and our minds, admission is free. Two performances only. For more information, see www.TheFreeTempest.com.

IMG_2487IMG_2830IMG_2735IMG_2620Tempest-logoTempest-dates[Logo courtesy of Sarah Sutliff]

IMG_1950What’s the next best thing to having Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling actually show up at one of our events? Our friends at Hard Case Crime are publishing a new novel based on the upcoming Crowe/Gosling detective comedy, The Nice Guys, and they were kind enough to let us steal an advance peek at the book at our last get-together.

IMG_1526IMG_1907We are happy to report that the book contains no shortage of toplessness, as all good pulp fiction should, and if the movie is half as funny as the book is, it’ll be a fine afternoon at the theater, or evening at home with Netflix a few months later. But we prefer to laugh in the great outdoors, under the sun, with as little clothing on as the law allows, and for those purposes the book version was just perfect.

IMG_1953IMG_1695Even one of our few boys got into the spirit of the thing. (He was in boxers originally, but one of us lent him a spare thong for the occasion. It was much too nice out for boxers. And now we have a photo we can tease him with for the rest of his life.)

IMG_1988For the record, we did get word back to the movie studio that if Russell and Ryan happened to be in town for the premiere of the movie they are welcome to come to one of our events in person.

We won’t even make them wear the thong.

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IMG_1969Eighty degrees. Who cares that the calendar says it’s still spring, not summer? It was eighty degrees this Monday, and sunny af (as the kids say), and we’ve got the incipient tans to prove it. All over. Well, almost. But almost. And, man oh man, did it feel good.

IMG_1538Is there a better feeling than that first time you peel your clothes off outdoors under the hot sun after a long, cold winter? You wouldn’t know it from looking at the smiles on our faces this Monday when we headed out to Washington Square Park.

IMG_1588IMG_1863IMG_1817More than a dozen of us showed up to share book recommendations (Tom Robbins, Elizabeth Kostova, Mary McCarthy, Tiffany ReiszCharles Ardai)…

IMG_1561IMG_1509IMG_1596…white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, cucumber water, and warm hugs for old friends. All of which are better enjoyed topless. But then, what isn’t?

IMG_1492Behind us, an impressive group of acroyoga practitioners practiced…

IMG_1442IMG_1579IMG_2035…while before us a bubble man did his thing:

IMG_1713IMG_1714IMG_1715And world-famous body painter Andy Golub recruited a few of us to aid in his chromatic pursuits.

IMG_1791IMG_1848IMG_2051But most of our time was spent simply luxuriating, and it was blissful.

IMG_1879Would you like to join us next time? If you’re a bold, body-positive woman in the New York area (or would like to think of yourself as one), send us a note at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com. We’d love to meet you, and to show you just how good it can feel to ditch that top.

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NYBPD2-31Last year was the first NYC Bodypainting Day, an event where dozens of models met up with dozens of artists, flown in from all over the country and all over the world, to paint on human canvases in public. It was such a success that this year it more than doubled in size, with over 100 models of all shapes and sizes, genders, races, colors, ages, physical abilities, and other attributes all getting naked together on a beautiful East Side street a few blocks from the United Nations, to get painted head-to-toe under the sun.

Needless to say, we were happy to be part of the fun, with several of our members (and a few long-time friends of the family) contributing their bodies to the general celebration.

And what an absolute joy it was! Even with hundreds of onlookers and a police presence (protective of us, but still), nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of the participants, and a more cordial, well-behaved, kind and good-natured bunch you couldn’t imagine. And despite more than a hundred bared sets of genitalia exposed to the eyes of all passers-by, the city didn’t crumble, God didn’t smite us (it didn’t even rain, the way it had been threatening to!), and life only became a little freer, a little happier, and a little richer.

One step at a time. But this was a big one.

(P.S. Our thanks to all the wonderful photographers who covered the event and posted their pictures of us online for the world to see. We normally shoot all our own photos, but this time around none of us had any place to carry a camera! We got a few cellphone shots of our own, but for good quality images we’re dependent on the many talented and generous non-painter artists who made the day so special.)

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