Archives for category: nude

Last year was, to say the least, strange. Difficult. Exhausting. But looking back on it, we managed to find some normalcy in it, some structure, some routine. We began 2020, one day after New Year’s Day, with a figure-drawing session, one of our favorite indoor activities when it’s too cold to meet outside. And one day before New Year’s Eve, we ended the year the same way: we got out our pencils and sketchpads and erasers, got out of our clothes, and spent several hours learning to recreate each other on paper.

Oh, there were differences this time around: rather than a windowless studio in a midtown high-rise we met in a well-ventilated ground-floor hotel suite with access to an outdoor courtyard–

–and we left the doors and windows open as much as we could stand, to let plenty of air in. (Those of us who needed to escape the cold could do so in the warmth of a jacuzzi tub.)

We kept our headcount down to ten or fewer at all times (people arrived and left at staggered times), and anyone who wanted the extra protection kept a mask on.

Did these precautions work? They seem to have — weeks later, no one who went to the event has gotten sick.

What we did get was the salubrious experience, too little enjoyed these days, of human contact. Not necessarily physical contact, though there was a little of that too–

–but the simple opportunity to see friends and share thoughts and laugh together and be together.

We took turns posing and sketching.

We pulled books off the walls and read them aloud to each other.

We tried out dramatic poses, some of which we couldn’t hold for more than a few seconds without falling over.

We each drew to the best of our ability, whether that meant stick figures–

–or professional-caliber art.

We took photos of each other drawing.

And most of all we simply basked in the company of like-minded souls, and the comfort of being naked with people who understand that the human body is a healthy thing to have and to see and to draw, without any of it being scandalous or sexual or to be shunned.

Will we do it again? Surely, though the temperatures have dropped further since, and it’s one thing to have the doors open in 30-degree weather, something else entirely when the wind chill makes it feel like zero. As long as Covid is with us, we’re being cautious, and that means waiting for warmer weather to return (and more vaccinations!) before venturing beyond small events with small pods of close contacts. But small events are better than none at all. We hope you also are finding ways to be with people, even if it’s fewer and rarer and more constrained than in normal times.

And we hope you’re finding time to be naked too. Pick up a pencil sometime. Even if your only model is the one facing you in the mirror, take some time to draw.

We all have art inside us if only we take the time to set it free.

It was the morning of November 7, 11am or so, when the banging on pots and pans began. Those of us who were outdoors looked around to see where it was coming from. Was it a demonstration? A march? But no — no one was in the street, not yet. The sound was coming from all around. From overhead. From open windows. From doorways. And then we realized: the election had finally been called. Biden had won. Trump was out.

We got on our phones to confirm it, to text everyone we knew.

It was a real “Ding dong, the witch is dead” moment. The outpouring of emotion was astonishing — thousands of people flooded the streets of New York, making noise, pumping their fists in the air, weeping tears of joy, tears of relief. Cheering. Laughing.

By chance, by purest coincidence, we’d planned a rooftop gathering for that day, and we had champagne on hand to make mimosas. But the orange juice mostly got overlooked. It was a moment of sweet celebration, of popping corks and toasting each other–

–and maybe getting toasted in other ways as well.

Mother Nature cooperated, giving us a November day like none of us could remember, warm and bright and serene.

It was the perfect temperature, the perfect weather, the perfect moment for getting naked with friends.

It’s a terrible thing to spend four years under a government you not only distrust but trust to do the worst possible thing in every situation. A government run by a malignant, incompetent, brutish, evil man and a coterie of cronies trying to outdo each other in slavish toadying and greedy, self-serving exploitation of their power. It takes a terrible psychic toll, an emotional toll. And knowing that would finally end…it felt like a stone being rolled from our chests. Like we could breathe again.

Will things be perfect now? Of course not. Far from it. It will take years to recover from the damage Trump did. And we’re not out of the woods yet in terms of the pandemic, or the damage it has done — that it’s still doing. And no one’s pretending Biden’s Mr. Perfect himself.

But he’s not Trump.

And for that alone we were so, so, so thankful. And we remain so as Thanksgiving is about to dawn, 2+ weeks later.

The impossibly warm days of November 2020 have now passed and we’re headed into what looks to be a conventionally cold December. But we remember what it was like on that beautiful day. What it felt like, sharing that moment with friends. We’ll probably remember it for the rest of our lives.

And if December is conventional, so what? Maybe the next four years will be conventional too. There are worse things. We are unconventional people in some ways, but sometimes? A little peace and quiet and time to recover is exactly what you need.

What a difference three weeks make.

At the end of October, we went online and used our platforms, such as they are, to urge everyone we know to vote — and to vote for Joe and Kamala, because god knows the monstrosity in the White House had to go.

We didn’t know if it was a hopeless shout into the void or one that had a chance in hell of success, but we put out the call, and then we got together in our rooftop sanctuary for some sweet oblivion: a chance to get naked with friends on an unseasonably warm afternoon a week before Halloween and ten days before the election. We brought donuts, and we brought a “Box O’ Joe” or two — it seemed appropriate.

(The boxes contained hot chocolate, not coffee. When we go for comfort, it’s classic childhood comfort we go for. But, under the circumstances, that “Joe” on the side of them was a little comfort too.)

Did it work? Did it ever. We not only got a warm day, for a brief time it was even a sunny warm day. Never have we needed the kiss of warm sun on our skin like we did that afternoon.

And the warmth of the sun was as nothing to the warmth of unconditional love and fellow-feeling from our fellow bookclub members, all banding together for solace and reassurance, commiseration and distraction.

We were outdoors, where Covid transmission isn’t quite as acute a risk, though realistically a bit more social distance or masking would’ve been wise. (Happily, in the three weeks since, no one got sick.) And because we were on a private rooftop, everyone was free to undress as much as she wished (or he, in the case of our few token boys).

Some reading happened, which is good — your book club license surely gets pulled if no one at an event cracks a book!

But more of the time was spent being kind to ourselves and to each other, whether that meant a bit of indulgence of one sort–

–or another.

There was fashion to be tried on–

–and to be taken off.

We had first-timers (we always do)–

–and recent first-timers–

–and long-timers.

And most of all we had a few hours of peace, desperately snatched from the tumult of pre-election 2020.

Now here we are, three weeks later, in post-election 2020, and what a difference. For all that the piece of shit behind the Resolute Desk may be refusing to admit he’s lost, the fact remains that he has, and we’re all breathing a little easier.

The day the race was called, we returned to the rooftop, only this time we didn’t bring a Box O’ Joe. We brought something more celebratory. Which, under the circumstances, seemed appropriate.

You’ll see more from that day’s celebrations soon. But for now we choose to remember with gratitude the brief shining moment of relief Mother Nature handed us when we needed it so badly.

And the people we shared it with. Even amid world-changing events — maybe especially among them — what matters most is finding that small group of people you really feel are family.

People who share your worries and your hopes, your woes and wishes — and with whom, when things are looking dark, you band together, cross your fingers, and buy a box o’ Joe.

Okay, okay — pandemic, yeah, we know. But it was still summer, and we still did things.

And being who we are, we did them topless every chance we got.

Mostly we did them right here in Manhattan…

…or near enough to be a short bike or car ride away, but we did them, and we posted about them on Instagram and other social media, and we thought we’d share them here too, as a sort of memory book of the lighter side of the Corona Summer of 2020.

There weren’t any flights to the Caribbean or Europe — or even to other states, sometimes — but we still made it to the beach.

We even had our first ever mother-child check-in from the beach!

Of course, the beaches weren’t always open, so sometimes we only made it to a pool–

Or to the forest, or the woods, or the nearest river or stream —

or the nearest cornfield —

or our own back yard —

–or the roof.

In urban areas, we sometimes took 90-degree weather as an excuse to go topless in the street.

And with outdoor dining on the menu, we sometimes dined outdoors without tops too. (Which in at least one case led a passing pedestrian to stop and tell us how pleased she was to see us exercising this freedom and how she wished she’d had it when she was our age.)

We did other things too — like get tattoos and piercings once parlors reopened.

And create art, whether on canvas–

— or in the air.

We had fun. But through it all we remembered summers past, when no one had heard of “social distancing” and masks were only for doctors and trick-or-treaters. We were reminded by looking over photos like these from last summer’s visit to Coney Island, which only surfaced this summer (they were taken with an old-fashioned film camera, and the photographer didn’t get around to developing them until now).

This year we spent more time indoors, more time in masks, more time alone.

But we also found ways to get out under the sun, ways to get together with the people we love, and ways to enjoy breaths of fresh air.

Even in hard times, life finds a way. And we are so grateful to have found not just one but so many ways to make even this difficult year a source of naked joy.

It is extraordinary, when you think about it, that there should be any private spots at all in a city of 8 million people. Even factoring in those who’ve fled the city because of the pandemic, and the tourists who didn’t come this summer, you’re still talking about millions of people tightly packed together in a space a lot smaller than London or Rome. The island of Manhattan is smaller still, and anyone on the island who craves a bit of greenery is likely to head to Central Park. So you’d expect every path and hill and lawn in the park to be packed. And yet — the quieter spots in the park are quiet indeed, the secluded spots secluded indeed, and a group of friends seeking privacy in the park can generally find some.

We found some on one of the last weekends before Labor Day (which is the unofficial end of summer, since after Labor Day in New York the temperatures drop pretty sharply). There’s a clearing near the north end of the park that can only be reached either by a winding dirt path on one side or a steep grassy slope on the other, and because of those two obstacles, very few people find their way there — probably a lot of people don’t even know it exists.

The grass gets tall here — park staff don’t come by to cut it often, maybe because it’s hard to ride a mower in there.

There are patches of rocks that get warm in the sun–

–and a couple of boulders that look precariously balanced but have been balancing that way since before our grandparents were born.

There are trees for shade, and local wildlife to share it with.

Not to mention less wild life: one of the rare strangers who did wander by while we were there was this woman with her dog, and she apologized profusely for letting her dog off the leash, which apparently is some sort of violation of park rules unless you do it before 9am.

But we told her we didn’t mind at all.

And by the way, speaking of violation of park rules, while being topless is clearly legal anywhere in New York, for women as much as men, being fully nude generally isn’t allowed for either women or men, unless it’s in the context of creating or exhibiting art. Now, we think creating these photographs we share with you is an example of creating art, but who knows if park officials would concur?

But it’s like the old maxim: if a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, did it make a sound? Only for “tree” read “vagina,” and…well…you get the idea. Nobody who saw us was bothered by the sight. Barely anyone saw at all. And can you really argue that anyone on earth was harmed by a handful of people enjoying the sun without a bit of fabric covering maybe 1% of their body? Because a thong’s clearly allowed. Topless is allowed. A g-string with a triangle the size of an ATM card is allowed. It’s bizarre to make so much of so little.

That said, for most of the time most of us were just topless, and doing the sorts of things we usually do — reading,

Sharing snacks,

Chatting with friends,

Comparing vibrant hair colors,

And catching grapes in our mouths when pitched through the air. (What? What did you think was going on? From that far away??)

Members in attendance included first timers (“No one’s ever seen me naked except my husband!” one told us) and old friends…

…and first timers brought by old friends.

We love that some women who started as first timers just a month or two ago are now on their fourth or fifth event with us. We hope they’ll be members for years to come.

And speaking of years to come…we’re not sure how much we’ll be able to meet in the fall and winter this year. Normally, around this time of year we’d switch from outdoor events to indoor and find spas and restaurants and karaoke bars to visit in the altogether. But with Covid still uncured and the risk much higher indoors than out, we’re kind of in a holding pattern, trying to figure out what we can safely do.

It doesn’t mean we’ll do nothing — for sure we’ll find some safe way to have fun. But we almost certainly won’t do as much, and that added a bittersweet cast to this (almost!) last sunny day.

Of course, once in a while we get lucky and late September has a warm afternoon or two. Sometimes even October! If you like what you see here and would like to be a part of it, please email us: It’s not too late. But it’s getting later. Carpe diem, as they say.

After our last rooftop event, where only three people came, we weren’t sure what to expect the next time we put out an invitation. But we guess the timing gods were smiling on us, because the weather was just perfect and lots of people were longing to get naked.

Now, a word or two about health matters: there’s obviously still a pandemic on, and we all want to be careful about our health and the health of people around us. Some people who came kept masks on the whole time, or most of the time.

Some stayed on the screened-off north side of the roof where there was more than 6 feet of separation between each lounge chair and the next.

Some who went maskless and hung out closer than 6 feet were from the same household, so that’s not an issue (or not more of an issue than it is the other 20+ hours of the day they’re together).

And of course the event didn’t get truly full until a couple of hours in — before that people were well spread out. And being outdoors reduces the risk of transmission pretty dramatically. But having said all that, at the event’s busiest, some people were probably sitting closer than they should have been. Happily, it’s been more than 2 weeks, and no one got sick. So, whew.

The flip side of the greater number of people who were there is the enormous sense of community and warmth and kindness and simple human contact that everyone felt. It meant so much to a group of people who have been starved of all of the above for months.

Just seeing the variety of women (and one or two supportive male partners, but mostly women) was inspiring. Every age, every ethnicity, every body type.

We had people who’d been naked at Burning Man 6 years running and people who’d never felt the sun on their breasts before. And because the rooftop is private, it’s a totally safe space to discover what it feels like to be naked outdoors and to get comfortable with your body.

Just for the fun of it, one of our members printed up a stack of glossy cards featuring 50 different photos of us, and on the back of each, information about the group and women’s legal right to go topless in New York. We passed them around, so that we’ve got something to hand out the next time we meet someone who’s not aware of the law.

We also got some reading done — we are a book club, after all.

And some snacking–

And some personal photography–

We listened to music–

–and we listened to each other.

We also just made friends, and did so across boundaries. Two members discovered they went to the same school but had never spoken there. Members decades apart in age bonded over similar tastes in reading. People worlds apart in experience hung out and were just humans together.

It was truly a blissful afternoon, free not just from the constraints of clothing but from judgment and shame and self-doubt and self-hatred. In a word, it was happy. We were happy. And at a time of great national (and global) stress, simple happiness is — you’ll pardon the expression — nothing to sneeze at.

It’s funny how different the same place can feel depending on how many people are there. The boulder at Riverside Park was a happening spot when we showed up with a dozen people in tow, but a week earlier, on a day when the weather forecast ominously promised rain, only two people came and it was the difference between a symphony and a solo, or maybe a novel and a short story.

The same is true of our favorite rooftop sundeck. We came on short notice one day a few weeks back during a brief lull in a ferocious heat wave, and the three people who made the trek up five flights of stairs had all the chairs and all the couches and all the snacks and all the shade to themselves. It was a chance for a first-timer and a long-timer to really talk, something that’s less likely to happen with ten or twenty other people around.

We did get to evaluate an outfit specially designed to show off your underboob–

–and better yet, got to take said outfit off:

And later got to turn a picnic blanket into a Lord of the Rings-style traveling cloak–

But outside of those moments the space felt quiet, spare, serene, It was a nice change — but definitely a change. There was silence. There was room.

Then, a few weeks later, there was another event. And this time the place was hopping.

Same location; totally different place.

If you decide to come out with us sometime, you can let us know which sort of event you prefer. Smaller, quieter, more private, or bigger, livelier, more effervescent.

We promise: we’ll find the event that’s right for you.

Each year for the past seven, painter and activist Andy Golub has organized New York Bodypainting Day, where dozens of models and artists from all over the world gather in a public place and create art together, using the human body as their canvas.

This year, we were sure the event would get cancelled — everything else had been. The Olympics, movies, Broadway, school. But when July 25 came around, god bless him, Andy was out on the street in Times Square. With a smaller group, it’s true, but there all the same, everyone wearing masks (sometimes two!) even when they wore nothing else at all.

This year’s theme was “freedom” and it was expressed in ways both explicit and implict. Images included raised fists, floating balloons and, naturally, birds.

But the visuals on display also included the simple fact of uncovered human bodies, and there’s no symbol of freedom more potent than that.

As a women’s group, we’re not generally advocates for men’s right to expose themselves, in part because that sort of exposure is so often wielded in an aggressive or hostile way. But there is no automatic reason that a man’s body should be a forbidden sight and no reason it should be an object of shame. A penis can be beautiful too.

As can vulvas, of course.

We applaud the women and men of Human Connection Arts, the nonprofit organization behind the event, for sharing their bodies without shame or fear.

(Yes, a few people deferred the moment of nudity to the last possible instant and covered up with paint as quickly as possible. But that’s okay too. Bravery takes many forms.)

And we thank Human Connection Arts for letting us participate! A chance to be naked in Times Square? We wouldn’t miss it for anything.

Of course, Times Square being Times Square, we weren’t alone. At one point a religious group marched through, protesting sin and attempting to save souls; at roughly the same time, a random neighborhood denizen, seeing our nudity, decided he wanted to share his own. Both incidents were a tiny bit stressful in the moment, but you know what? We love that we live in a city big enough to contain them both.

After the painting was done, the group took a walk down Fifth Avenue, past the main branch of the New York Public Library and on to the Empire State Building.

The crowd of spectators amused, enthralled or inspired by the procession may have been smaller than usual — and it’s for the best that it was — but the message was the same: we all have a right to be free, and artistic freedom is among the very highest forms.

Of course, it does lead one to wonder why a person going naked in Times Square on July 25th was free to do so, while a person doing the exact same thing at the exact same time in, say, Central Park (or even Bryant Park, just a few blocks away) would get arrested for indecent exposure. Or why the same person, unclothed to the same extent, standing on the same exact spot, would get arrested for it on July 24 or 26. Why is this sight wholesome and harmless one day and banned the next? Why must freedom be doled out with an eyedropper rather than erupting like, um, let’s say lava from a volcano?

But if drops of freedom are what we can get, we’ll take it for now. Remember: Enough drops, over enough time, can break down walls.

How many years have we been coming to this rooftop sanctuary? Seven or eight at least. But it has never felt like so much of a sanctuary as it does this year. In 2020, any place where you can be outdoors — lower risk of viral transmission! — and can be naked and free feels like heaven. So when we had the chance to visit again this month, we grabbed it with both hands.

Of course before we got to the roof and got naked there were a whole bunch of stairs to climb…

…and clothes (and masks) to get out of.

Not to mention some rinsing off and cooling down.

But there were also new outfits to try on, not all of which would be suitable for a stroll through the streets.

Face it, though: naked is best of all.

The sun was so intense that day that we searched out what tiny bits of shade we could find.

Or else proudly stood in the sun like the patriotic souls we are.

We kept the group small, deliberately — damn you, Covid-19! — but our ranks included old friends and new.

And if you would like to join us next time, we would welcome you. There is no feeling like taking everything off in the middle of New York City, and there are few places in the city where you can. We know where these lovely secret spots are! And if you’re an open-minded, body-positive woman, we’d love to share them with you. Just email We’ll get you naked with us in no time.

We formed this group a decade ago to fight the injustice of being treated differently because of an accident of birth — specifically, being born female in a world constructed by and for men. But as we’re constantly, cruelly, and painfully being reminded, gender is not the only axis along which injustice and inequality are dealt out. Race is another, and the events of recent months have been shocking, horrifying, heartbreaking. They have also been galvanizing, with thousands — tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands — rising up to say, “We will tolerate no more.”

We want to express our solidarity with the goals of the Black Lives Matter movement, and with anyone anywhere who fights for the right to live their life free from oppression, from violence, from cruelty, from fear.

(Our own encounters with the police have been few and in the end have all worked out okay — but that doesn’t change the gut-wrenching fear when you see armed men walking toward you with looks of impatience and intolerance on their faces, especially given the very real danger that you might one day encounter the “bad” cop who doesn’t know or disregards the law in his zeal to punish you for something that is no crime.)

As a group of readers, one small way we feel we can contribute is by directing people toward books that might help open eyes and minds and educate all of us about the issues surrounding race and racism in America. With that in mind, we are glad to share two recommended reading lists of books on these topics: one from The Book Table and one from Refinery29.

While we’re at it, another bookstore you should know about is Elizabeth’s in Akron. Not only do they offer a wide selection of relevant books, a portion of every sale goes to the Loveland Foundation to support their mission of making mental healthcare accessible for black women and girls.

Educating ourselves is only one small step — but it’s an important one, and we hope you’ll join us in taking it.

We look forward to the day when no person will be denied their innate human dignity or their fundamental equal rights because of the color of their skin or the conformation of their anatomy. The fight will not be easy or short — it already hasn’t been. But it is worth fighting.