Archives for category: nude

In Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, the va-va-voomish Jessica Rabbit, chesty cartoon vixen, famously says, “I’m not bad — I’m just drawn that way.” It may seem an unlikely rallying cry for a feminist group like ours. And yet. What woman has not felt, at one time or another, that the body she finds herself in through no act of her own does more to determine how people see, evaluate and treat her than anything she might do or say or think or believe or accomplish?

One of our goals since founding this group 8+ years ago has been to take back control over how our bodies are presented and how they’re seen. One of the ways we do this is by taking our shirts off when we feel like it, and insisting that there doesn’t have to be anything sexual about it — a bare chest is just a bare chest, whether it’s a woman’s or a man’s. Another way we do it from time to time is by taking pencil in hand and producing our own images of ourselves and each other. Why should men be the ones to decide how women’s bodies get depicted? Like Ms. Rabbit says, we’re not bad — why should we even have to be drawn that way?

All of which is by way of explaining how we found ourselves, a few weeks back, taking over a theater-district rehearsal studio, stocking it with pencils, erasers, sketchpads and Baked By Melissa mini-cupcakes (yeah, it’s a thing, all right? Georgia O’Keeffe would totally have done it if they’d existed back then) and spending several hours on each of two evenings transforming our bodies into art.

Here you see photos from the first for those two evenings. We had a really nice turnout — about two dozen people — and though there was some nervousness to start, by the end of the session pretty much everyone had taken a turn drawing and getting drawn.

It’s an interesting feeling, having a dozen people staring closely, minutely at every inch of your body in order to recreate it on the page. And just as interesting to stare closely, minutely at someone else’s body and direct your hand to reproduce every line, every curve.

The female body is a wonder. Every one different, every one unique. The male body, too — we had two XY-chromosomed pals along for the ride and got to draw some male anatomy as well. And not for one instant was any of it sexual. Not having clothing on is just that — not having clothing on. Our bodies are just these extended forked things, with joints and skin and stuff. Pass the cupcakes!

We had some trained artists, some novices. Also some experienced figure models and some newcomers. The more ambitious poses were mostly offered by the newcomers. (It’s experience that teaches you not to offer a pose holding an apple core in your mouth for ten minutes.)

Fun was had.

Then, before long — before long enough — it was over. We packed our supplies away, said our reluctant farewells, and headed out into the world again, where the billboards and taxi-top ads of Times Square offered Photoshopped images of cinched waists and made-up faces and cantilevered cleavage. We were back in the land of Jessica Rabbit once more.

But not for long! A second night of figure drawing was on its way, our pencils ready to come out again. As they say: watch this space.

When it’s cold out, we look for warm things to do indoors. And there are few warmer than visiting a spa where the sauna runs 188 degrees.

Oh, there are other things to do at this particular spa we like to visit in Manhattan’s Koreatown — there are soaking tubs (two warm, one cold; one with lemons floating in it)

…and there’s a steam room with a special rainforest shower right outside it

…and across from the lockers there’s a low-temperature relaxation room where the only heating element is in the floor and you can rest for as long as you like without breaking a sweat (well, at least one caused by the room’s temperature)

But the sauna, built in the shape of an igloo, partly out of jade, is the spa’s centerpiece and legendary attraction, and it gets so intensely hot that naked really is the only way to enjoy it properly.

Of course, naked is how we like doing most things.

We had massages too, and a Secret Santa-style book exchange–

And a variety of delicious snacks to nibble on–

But the main attraction was the heat — that and the friends to share it with.

Would you like to share some warmth with us? Either indoors while winter’s on or outdoors as soon as the weather permits. If you’re an open-minded, body-positive woman who aches to escape the constraints of a) excessive clothing and b) convention, email us at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com or DM us on Insta or Twitter, and we’ll get you naked with us in no time.

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…

There are so many things we treasure about our get-togethers: the physical pleasure of being bare under the sun on a warm day; the confidence that comes from taking ownership of your body and being proud rather than ashamed of it, strong rather than timid; the knowledge that we’re taking a stand for freedom and equal rights and educating both women and men about what equality means and why it matters. But it’s also just really nice to meet other open-minded, non-judgmental women with whom we can really let our hair down, talk openly, and be ourselves.

What does it mean to be ourselves? It means reading what we want, without having to explain or apologize for our choices.

It means wearing what we want — and as little or as much as we want, for any reason or no reason at all.

It means making our bodies look the way we like — whether that means hair the color of a tropical sunset or a moonlit sky or ink placed wherever the mood strikes us.

It means eating what we like, whether that’s healthy or unhealthy, vegan or omnivore, knowing that our friends may not share our every appetite but will respect our choices.

It also means knowing our choices will be respected in other areas of self expression and personal pleasure.

We strive to live by that most useful kindergarten maxim, “Don’t yuck someone else’s yum.” Even when someone else’s yum looks like it must be uncomfortable–

–or involves stealing our food.

As we approach the season of family-themed holidays — Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas — we want to say that this is our family, and we’re proud of every one of them.

Except maybe the squirrel.

Fall is coming. As much as we might wish summer would last forever, next week it comes to an end. Yes, the temperatures are still poking up into the 70s most days, but pretty soon they’ll top out in the 60s, and then it’ll be 50s, and then we’ll all be wearing knit hats and the greenmarkets will be touting hot apple cider.

But we’re still hanging on to summer with both hands — we held an event in the park yesterday, and we think we can get in one last visit to our favorite rooftop sundeck, too.

Will it be as exceptionally well attended as this one was? Probably not. It’s easier to get people to come out and shed their clothes in August than September. But if anything can inspire us to strip down to the barest of bare essentials, it’s our little rooftop sanctuary.

What calls to us here? The relative privacy, for one thing. Though any guest of the hotel can use the roof, few ever do. And the easygoing, live-and-let-live atmosphere helps too. (The fellow in the foreground here wasn’t a member of our group, but he didn’t seem bothered to have two dozen naked women descend on him — or, as you can see, unduly excited by it.)

We like having an outdoor spot where we can relax in peace–

–with some cool water and a stack of books.

Where we can eat a simple meal–

Draw a little, paint a bit–

Catch up with whatever’s happening on the internet–

Share with our neighbors–

Be neighborly in other ways–

And just bask in the sun–

–all without worrying that the sight of our bodies might alarm or offend anyone.

Remember that interview Shailene Woodley gave at the height of her Divergent fame, where she talked about the salutary effects of sunlight on body parts too often kept under wraps? “I like to give my vagina a little Vitamin D,” she was quoted as saying. “When the sun finally comes out, spread your legs and get some sunshine.” We feel the same way.

Only with warm days in waning supply, it’s less when the sun finally comes out and more before the sun goes away.

What will we do over the winter? Oh, we always find fun things to do indoors. We sing karaoke, we visit the spa, we do yoga.

Or we brave the snow and ice for some Polar Bear Club-style outdoor fun:

But there’s nothing quite like the freedom and the unstinting, luxurious abandon of getting naked together on a summer afternoon in a cozy spot where you know you’ll feel comfortable and loved and accepted.

“Prelapsarian” is one of our favorite obscure words. It means “before the fall,” but less in the calendrical sense than the biblical one. It refers to the time in Eden, when we were naked and innocent. Well. Far be it for us to preach, but we believe you can make your own Eden, even in the heart of busy, noisy, not-so-innocent New York City.

We’ve made ours.

And if you’d like to join us there for our last visit of 2019, let us know. (Email: toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com. Insta: @topless.pulp.)

We think Mother Sol has one more dose of Vitamin D left in her.

What do you love — really love?

Being surrounded by people who care about you, people you find interesting and stimulating and kind, people who offer support without judgment and friendship without hesitation? We love that too.

We love being in the sun — it’s a small thing, we know that, we don’t mean to suggest it’s the linchpin of a happy life, but we do love it, and we don’t apologize for it. We love how it feels warming our skin in the summer and we’ll miss it when the winter takes it away.

We love fresh fruit, bursting with ripeness in our mouths. We love the practically intoxicating concentration of flavor in a perfect strawberry, a sun-warmed grape, a summer plum.

We love nibbling a delicate little cookie.

We love a cool drink on a hot day, a swallow of spring water that’s been kept in the shade, a mouthful of wine straight from the bottle.

We love our books, all books, everything made of paper and bound between covers stiff or soft — books with stories in them, books that argue and elucidate and explore ideas, and books, too, with nothing on their pages at all until we put something there. Perhaps our very own image.

We love our bodies. Yes, our bodies. Even though some days we don’t love them, we mostly do, or are learning to. It’s a lifetime project, but we like to think we’re rapid learners, and we’re on our way.

How’s this for a tautology: we love how our bodies feel when they feel the way we love.

We love the way we can push them to search and seek and ask what’s on the other side of that wall?

We love that we can draw on them and pierce them and make them ours.

Or not decorate them. That’s good too.

We love being naked. Not just topless, all the way naked, nothing between us and the air, the sun, the world, each other.

We love our freedom. To do as we wish and be who we are without fear or shame.

We love the company of other women.

And we are lucky, so very lucky, to live lives where we can sometimes, even if only for an exquisite afternoon, be surrounded by all the things we love.

You know what else we’d love?

We’d love to share it with you.

And if you get in touch with us — toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com, @topless.pulp on Insta, @toplesspulp on Twitter — we will.