Archives for category: police

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.



…asked the cop on a motorcycle after he noisily putt-putted up to us on the lawn behind the Columbus Circle fountain.

Yes, we said. It was true. We all had our bottoms on. Though not one of us was wearing a top.

“All right, then,” he replied and putt-putted off again.

This on the same day that marriage equality prevailed in the Supreme Court. Can you imagine how wide our smiles were?

Oh, and a random guy came over and asked, “Are you that pulp fiction appreciation society…?” And was totally cool and nice about it.

Really couldn’t have been a lovelier Friday afternoon in the park, with old friends and new. (We welcomed one from Brazil! And we do welcome her, gladly. But how sad and wrong it is that a Brazilian woman should have to come to New York if she wants to lie bare-breasted in the sun. In Brazil, she could get fined or arrested for it.)

Authors on hand? Ed McBain, Lawrence Block, Michel Foucault. Professions represented? Journalist, bartender, Ph.D. student, MBA entrepreneur, novelist. Among others. Snacks on hand: miniature eclairs, macarons. Euphoria achieved? Yes.


IMG_3283The temperature climbed into the upper 60s today, so we decided to brave the autumn weather (overcast and, briefly, raining) for a little walking tour of the Lincoln Center area. We started at the tables by the big reflecting pool and enjoyed a chat with the Village Voice‘s Anna Merlan, then headed over to the iconic fountain, where an uncomfortable-looking security guard told us the plaza is private property and neither women nor men are permitted to go shirtless there. Is that true? Who knows?  It may be private property, but we suspect a shirtless man or two has been allowed to pass through unmolested at the height of summer. But it was too nice a Halloween afternoon to spend time arguing.  Instead, we headed across Broadway to the little farmer’s market there, where we sipped hot apple cider and chatted with passers-by, who seemed more startled by our bare breasts than by the suppurating zombie wounds one of us was sporting or the wolf costume on another.  Of course, most people paid no attention to us at all.  We love you, New York! We love you, Halloween!


IMG_8491We’ve always known we were in the right, that women in New York have the legal right to bare their breasts anywhere a man can—but we’ve also always had the sneaking suspicion that not every police officer in the city knew that that was the law. Happily, as reported the other day in the New York Times (and elsewhere), the NYPD held 10 days of briefings for every cop in the city which seem to have boiled down to this: Don’t hassle women for being topless. They aren’t doing anything wrong.

So when the temperature hit 80 degrees yesterday and nine or ten of us decided shirtless was how we wanted to be and Central Park was where we felt like doing it, we were curious to see whether the lessons had sunk in.  We had our chance to find out when a cop car pulled over beside us and two of New York’s Finest came over for a chat.

“You aren’t doing anything wrong,” they volunteered.  Then they stood there a little awkwardly.  “Has anyone bothered you?” No, we said. No one has said anything, except for this one elderly woman who stopped by with her poodle, just to say how happy we were making her.

“Was the poodle topless?” asked one of the cops.

Yes, we said. The poodle was topless.

Okay, then. The cops headed back to the car and we all looked at each other with a mixture of relief and satisfaction and bafflement.IMG_8229

It was a surreal encounter. Do cops go up to people crossing at the light and say, “You’re not jaywalking, ma’am, no laws being broken here”?

But we can hardly complain about the encounter. People are learning. The world is changing. And if it hadn’t been for that cheering encounter, who knows, maybe we wouldn’t have been quite bold enough to stroll the entire width of the park proudly topless.


And to the one growly woman who muttered as she passed us, “There are children here!” we respectfully reply: Yes, there are. And maybe they’ll grow up healthier for it.