Archives for category: park

IMG_9878A week ago, we were told that the mini-documentary about us that was filmed back in June by the folks at 60-Second Docs wouldn’t actually air until November — the day after Thanksgiving, to be specific. Well, our holidays came early: we got word that the documentary is actually going live online today!

You can watch it here.

IMG_9870We’re pleased with how it came out, and we’re hopeful that it might inspire women not just in New York but all over world, either to take advantage of their equal rights if the law is already egalitarian where they live (as it is here in New York) or else to mobilize to change the law, if it unfairly prohibits female toplessness but allows men to bare their chests.

IMG_9802If you are here in New York, you don’t have to wait for next summer to go topless outdoors — it was in the 80s last week and is supposed to be in the high 70s again this week. Just email us at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com and we’ll let you know when we’re holding our next event.

For example: We took advantage of the recent warm weather by visiting the northern end of Central Park, where we climbed rocks–

IMG_8466IMG_8492Arm-wrestled–

IMG_8330fIMG_8339fRelaxed in the shade of a parasol–

IMG_8215fIMG_8189fIMG_8130fAnd napped in the sun.

IMG_8232Wouldn’t you enjoy celebrating this rare temperate October bare-breasted in nature along with us?

IMG_8158Come — before it’s winter and we’re all wearing down parkas. Toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com.

Because every woman deserves to feel the sun on her nipples.

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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. ūüôā

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

 

IMG_7805Back in June, we visited Madison Square Park together with a videographer from an outfit called 60-Second Docs, an organization that makes minute-long documentaries about people and groups they find interesting.

IMG_9878They found us interesting, apparently, and shot a bunch of footage of us hanging out and talking about what we do.

IMG_0011You’d think a minute-long documentary wouldn’t take very long to cut together, but…with one thing and another, it has, and they’re now telling us it’ll finally run on November 24. That’s right — the day after Thanksgiving. Well, it’s something to look forward to, anyway. Even if, at that time of year, no one who sees it and gets inspired is likely to rush outside shirtless. Unless we have a much warmer November than we’re used to.

120312-dBut it’ll come when it comes. In the meantime, getting word of the release date for the video inspired us to take another visit to Madison Square Park ourselves while it’s still warm enough to do so.

IMG_7701Flowers were still in full bloom, along with art projects such as this set of signs expounding on the subject of love.

IMG_7615IMG_7603(Interestingly a park ranger came over to us and we thought, “Oh, here we go again,” but he only wanted to know who put the signs in the ground. We told him we had no idea — they weren’t ours. So he called it in: unauthorized art activity on park grounds! But topless women on the grass? No problem.)

IMG_7675We brought our favorite mini-eclairs and other pastries from the eponymous Eclair bakery. (How’s that for an SAT word? Eponymous. Scrabble champs, we.)

IMG_7654We also brought books, such as this one and this one and this one.

IMG_7683What else did we bring? A keen awareness that the summer’s gone, its last remnants fleeting. We won’t have too many more park days this year, not with October muscling its way into the room tomorrow.

IMG_7780So we drank deep of September and toasted her imminent passing. We received a visit from a squirrel who industriously buried a nut under the wheel of one member’s chair and then hightailed it away. You don’t get ¬†more autumnal than that.

IMG_7713IMG_7715We also received visits from two parents of breastfeeding children, who looked on the profusion of nipples like an autumn cornucopia. (Or an all-you-can-eat buffet?)

IMG_7733IMG_7761And we spent some time brainstorming intriguing indoor activities for when the cold weather comes. We came up with some good ones, too! But you’ll just have to wait and see to find out what they were.

Or…

If you’re a curious, brave, body-positive woman and would like to find out before the fact rather than after — if you’d like to take part in the fun — you can. Just drop us a note at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com. The warm weather may be almost gone, but the fun will go on.

IMG_7817IMG_7821IMG_7828Even the day after Thanksgiving.

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IMG_7059Back in May — four months ago now — one of our favorite websites, Jezebel, came to an event we held in Central Park, to film a video piece about our group and the 25th anniversary of the legal decision that established that women in New York have the same right to go topless in public places that men do.

IMG_6608IMG_6612IMG_6553A few days later, they joined us a second time, to film some more footage, this time of one of our members stopping random strangers in Central Park and talking with them about toplessness and equal rights.

IMG_7103IMG_7111IMG_7126IMG_7120Our hope was to see the video run sometime around the anniversary, which was in July.

IMG_7183If you don’t remember ever seeing that video, it’s not your memory that’s at fault. June came and went; the anniversary came and went; August came and went; and now it’s mid-September, and still no video. It’s also not the fault of the excellent videographer who shot and edited the piece, Phoebe Bradford — but for some reason the piece just hasn’t run. Why? We don’t know.

IMG_6513Is it because they didn’t get any footage worth running? Probably not; as recently as August 9, Phoebe wrote, “Excited for the piece to come out!” The only explanation she mentioned for the continuing delay was some concern on the part of Jezebel’s lawyers about not having written releases from every single person they’d filmed. Of course, we wouldn’t have given the interviews in the first place if we didn’t want them used — it’s not like we didn’t know we had a camera pointed at us. (Plus, we were out in a public place! The middle of Central Park!) And we were never asked to sign releases when the¬†New York Times produced a video about us, or either of the times that¬†Salon¬†did. In principle we’d be willing to sign releases this time, but they didn’t ask us to back in May, and by now some of the people they filmed back in May are unreachable — they’re traveling, have gone back to school, have moved or changed email addresses, etc. Some we can contact, some we can’t. But everyone who stood up in front of a camera and spoke for sure intended for the interview to be used. Thinking otherwise is simply bizarre.

IMG_7090So we remain hopeful that Jezebel will eventually let you watch the piece Phoebe shot and edited, and that we gladly participated in. If they don’t want to run it themselves, we hope they’ll share the footage with us so that, if nothing else, we can run it here, on our own site. But until they do one or the other — and there’s no guarantee they’ll do either — we thought we’d at least finally show you some photos¬†we¬†took at these events, and give you a taste of the video that might have been.

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There were not only interviews with us and ones conducted by us, but also a game of topless frisbee!

IMG_7153IMG_7155IMG_7165Now, what sort of cold-hearted villain could possibly capture that on film and not release it…?

Lawyers. That’s who.

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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_4327The third part of our day in the sun — exploring lower Manhattan with Chelsea Covington, blogger supreme ¬†and hero of the Maryland equal-rights case¬†— didn’t actually involve much sun. Or it did at the start, but less and less as time wore on. Because having begun the afternoon in a downtown park…

IMG_3987IMG_3822fAnd continued it with a walk through the esplanades and alleyways of the city’s southern tip…

IMG_4181IMG_4135IMG_4112…we eventually washed up on the pilings of the Brooklyn Bridge and found ourselves welcomed indoors for dinner by the wonderful staff of the¬†Cowgirl Seahorse¬†restaurant.

IMG_4195Had the restaurant ever hosted a dozen topless diners before? Not likely. But they didn’t bat an eyelash when we contacted them in advance and asked if it would be okay for us to end our day there. In fact, they enthusiastically invited us. And god bless them, they didn’t bat an eyelash when they saw us either, neither the female nor the male waitstaff, and impressively, not the other customers either! No one asked what we were doing or why we were doing it, no one gawked or took photos, no one looked disgusted or appalled (or, what might have been worse, turned on). Everyone just went on smiling and chatting and eating like it was the most normal thing in the world to dine shirtless on a hot summer day.

IMG_4200IMG_4264We dived into the restaurant’s neo-Southern menu…

IMG_4203…trying their shrimp and grits, their catch of the day, their bacon-wrapped scallops, their Paul Bunyan-sized salads.

IMG_4527IMG_4461IMG_3014Each dish tastier than the last, although the hot sauce was merciless and Robert Shaw kept staring down at us from the wall.

IMG_4198The rest of the decor was charming in the extreme, right down to the cutely labeled conveniences.

IMG_4381We sadly didn’t get a photo of the little plastic mermaids perched on the edges of the beer glasses. Those were cute too. (Though they weren’t topless! #FreeTheMermaidNipple) But we did get photos that we hope convey just how casual, natural, and wonderful the night was.

IMG_4222IMG_4199IMG_4277Finally, when weariness caught up with us…

IMG_4543…we bid the place adieu and hit the sidewalk to wait for Lyfts or find the nearest train station. The no-longer-sun-baked air was bracing. If anything could’ve told us our adventure had come to an end, that was it.

IMG_4544IMG_4547But what an adventure it had been! Hours of relaxation, a meal with friends, and no problems at all due to our chests being uncovered. It’s a model for how things should be: live and let live.

Which calls to mind a Cole Porter lyric, and maybe that’s as good a last word to end on as any:

Live and let live, be and let be
Hear and let hear, see and let see
Sing and let sing, dance and let dance
You like Offenbach, I do not —
So what, so what, so what?

Read and let read, write and let write
Love and let love, bite and let bite
Live and let live, and remember this line: 
Your business is your business
And my business is mine.

Live and let live, be and let be
Hear and let hear, see and let see
Drink and let drink, eat and let eat
You like bouillabaisse, I do not —
So what, so what, so what?

Talk and let talk, quip and let quip
Dress and let dress, strip and let strip
Live and let live, and remember this line: 
Your business is your business
And my business is mine.

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IMG_4155In our last post, we described how we met up with Chelsea Covington for an afternoon and evening of topless fun, first in a park downtown, then strolling the streets and waterfront of lower Manhattan, and finally sitting down for dinner in a restaurant near the Brooklyn Bridge that didn’t object to serving a dozen topless patrons.

IMG_4163(Chelsea, as we mentioned, is not just one of our members but also the woman at the center of the much-talked-about legal case in Maryland regarding women’s rights to go topless on the beach there. If you want to read more about her activities, check out her blog, BreastsAreHealthy.)

IMG_4139Anyway, after spending an hour or two in Rockefeller Park we were ready for some exercise, so we strolled along the Battery Park Esplanade, past docked boats and various museums and monuments…

IMG_4150IMG_4117…not least of all the Statue of Liberty. (She’s back there, we swear!)

IMG_4175fWhen time got tight, we exited the Esplanade to cut across town and get to the restaurant a little faster. Our revised path took us past the Stock Exchange and Bowling Green and onto Beaver Street, a source of inevitable amusement for one and all.

IMG_4100IMG_4183IMG_4187As the riverside breeze buffeted us, we walked through what used to be the Fulton Fish Market and is now a collection of restaurants with outdoor seating, eliciting cheers and chants and fist pumps, some from supportive, enthusiastic women and some from, well, enthusiastic men. We’d like to think some of them might have been supportive as well.

IMG_4189IMG_4190Finally, at the end of Front Street, with the bridge for a backdrop, we came to the wonderfully named and female-founded Cowgirl Seahorse, a little Southern restaurant known for delicious seafood, plentiful drinks, and drag brunches on the weekends. And we’ll show you how dinner went in our next post. But for now we’re happy to commemorate what was our longest topless walk ever, a mile and then some, all bare from the waist up.

IMG_4191Did some people we passed behave less than ideally? Yes. We got surreptitiously filmed by some, one man even choosing to trail along after us for two blocks but then denying he was doing it when we called him on it. A few men shouted less than respectful things. But overall the atmosphere was warm and welcoming. We were greeted by far more smiles than frowns, and no one tried to stop us.

And then dinner! There’s nothing quite like tucking into hearty fare with good friends and the bare minimum of clothing. But that’s a matter for another post.

For now, we’ll leave you with a glance at the sun descending over the water — just one of the many wonderful sights we took in without having to feel the slightest concern about not having our chests covered. Really, there’s nothing better than that. Not just the actual sensation of the sun on our bodies, but the lack of concern. This is what freedom feels like. To misquote Seinfeld¬†from a different (but not entirely inappropriate) context:¬†It’s real, and it’s spectacular.

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