Archives for category: media coverage

IMG_6346Last summer, we produced an all-female, all-nude staging of Shakespeare’s final play, The Tempest, outdoors in Central Park, and it was a huge success: hundreds of people came to see the play in person, and millions more — literally — read or heard about it in media coverage ranging from NBC News and Salon to every major newspaper in the U.K. (They love it when Americans experiment with Shakespeare, apparently.)

img_3506One recurring theme in the comment section of online coverage, however, went like this: “They could only do this because it was women — try it with naked men and they’d get arrested!” Well, we all know a challenge when we hear one. So our Tempest directors sat down to plan an all-nude, all-male production of Hamlet. 

IMG_6354That production was staged this summer, first in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and then, just this past week, in Central Park, at the foot of the beautifully appropriate King Jagiello statue. Again hundreds of people came, and — lo and behold, no arrests. Just a marvelous production of a great play.

IMG_6343Audience members ranged from 6 to 66, roughly speaking, and at neither end was offense taken, though the youngest viewers seem to have found the iambic pentameter somewhat hard to follow.

IMG_6326Will there be another production next summer, and if so, with what genders performing? Still to be decided. We like to come up with different things to do each year. But we’re thrilled to have helped establish a new tradition: nude Shakespeare in the park. Enjoyed by all, of harm to none, bringing a fresh view to 400-year-old plays and a glimpse of freedom to the public spaces of New York City. The sight of a bared breast doesn’t cause society’s foundations to crack, nor does the sight of a vulva, nor of a penis.

IMG_6325The beauty of the world, Shakespeare wrote, the paragon of animals…in form and moving, how express and admirable; in action, how like an angel, in apprehension, how like a god! And: There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.

We are animals all — and angels all. Our naked bodies are no more than we were born with, the common currency of all humanity, and to hate another’s is to hate yourself.

Or as a playwright once put it, we hold the mirror up to nature. What you see in it is yours to grapple with.

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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_7358Over several months last year, the tireless and wonderful Deborah Acosta — crack reporter for the New York Times — met with us, interviewed us, interviewed other people about us, and generally dug into the story of gender equality, attempts to regulate female bodies, and the Freeing of the Nipple. The result is today’s wonderful video essay on the topic, which you can see here.

We salute the Times for covering the story at all, and for doing so bravely: unlike most media outlets that have reported on us, they didn’t blur our breasts or edit around them or otherwise censor us. They simply presented us as we are. Hats off to them — and shirts too. 🙂

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_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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IMG_7270Most of the time we confine ourselves to Manhattan — more a matter of laziness than principle, really, and even the laziness doesn’t make much sense when you consider how many of us live in Brooklyn. Perhaps it’s the centrality that attracts us. In any event: we generally meet in Manhattan. But with summer winding down, and with one of our number having access to a lovely rooftop sundeck in an Outer Borough, we decided to peregrinate to the other side of the river. And look what we found when we got there:

IMG_7082Just a little reminder of what we stand for. Individual liberty — and huddled masses yearning to breathe free. If only she wore her robe draped just a little more loosely, hers could. And why not? She is French, after all.

IMG_7131IMG_7229IMG_7215We were joined on our afternoon adventure by a reporter from the New York Times, who wanted to learn more about our group and why we do what we do; you may see a report from them sometime over the coming weeks. (Here we are striking a pose for her camera. Because why not. We’re proud of what we do.)

IMG_7363We were also joined by some bagels and black-and-white cookies from Barney Greengrass, some bubbly intoxicants from Ms. Liberty’s homeland, and books by two Kings (Stephen and Lily).

IMG_7304Later in the afternoon we wandered over to Prospect Park, where someone with no knowledge of the law called 911 on us, causing the police to roll up, see that we weren’t doing anything illegal, and roll on. But that’s a subject for another post. For now, let’s remember the happier parts of the day — when Liberty was in sight, and no one was trying to dismantle her.

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IMG_4408As longtime visitors to our site know, we’re not shy. We’ve taken, oh, about six thousand photographs of our events and posted scads them on this very site, which has in turn been viewed some 15,700,189 times by women and men all over the world. And we’ve been written about by many news outlets — probably hundreds, especially if you count that Greek newspaper that one time. But: until today we have never once appeared on video for any of them. You’ve never heard any of us speak.

That’s about to change, since we were kindly and sympathetically approached by a reporter for Salon.com, asking if she could be our first. And we do like first times, and trying new things, and breaking new boundaries. So once she convinced us that she understood what we were all about and that her approach would be consistent with the site’s tradition of fair coverage and female-positive views, we agreed to let her come out with us, first to Washington Square Park and then to a spot a little farther uptown, on the banks of the Hudson River.

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Both afternoons were lovely, and so was her company. So much so that we’ve invited her back to be a member in good standing. We’ll see if she joins us sometime, sans videocamera (and sans vetements). But for now we’re excited to see how the piece she’s working on comes out. Who knows? It may even be up on their site by the time you read this. We’ll add a link once it is. (EDITED TO ADD: Here it is — http://goo.gl/Tz9ZHP.)

In the meantime, enjoy these behind-the-scenes shots, from our very own salon. (Of the literary variety, naturally. Not that there’s anything wrong with beauty salons, hair salons, etc. But we suspect that’s not the meaning that gave Salon.com its name. Who really knows, though? We’ll have to ask Janet about keratin treatments sometime.)

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