Archives for category: roof

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’re especially proud to say that some of our newer members who hadn’t gone topless on a U.S. beach before…

…made their topless-beach debut this year. “I just want you to know,” one member wrote to us, “that I’ve been so much more comfortable getting topless and it’s because of your page and going to the nude drawing event that inspired me, and seeing the things you post make it so much more normal. Thanks so much for being amazing!”

We also 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.

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.

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 toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com. 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.

Three months into quarantine — lockdown — shelter-at-home — whatever you call it — and we’re still not able to meet as a group. No one in NYC is. But somehow life is still going on. Yesterday was Memorial Day, and Central Park was full of families sharing a picnic blanket at least six feet away from the next family or walking the paths, masked. And people who love to be topless are finding ways to be topless, whether that means finding a quiet clearing in the park–

Or leaving the city for a wilder terrain–

Or getting rid of their shirt while driving–

Or on the roof–

Or the back porch–

Or an empty stretch of beach —

Or just in the privacy of their own home.

Meanwhile, some of our members embrace online challenges like reproducing famous works of art, or invent provocative new images of their own.

It passes the time. But we hope it’s not too much longer before the situation improves and we can meet with our friends again! Safely, carefully, but together rather than alone. June may not be the month for it, we realize. Nobody knows what month it’ll be. But it’ll be some month, and hopefully some month soon, while the temperature is warm enough to pull down our swimsuits and wear nothing but sunscreen.

It’ll come. We promise: we’ll be back.

Life in New York has changed — life everywhere has changed.

The rules have changed: no gatherings of more than 10 people; no “non-essential” gatherings of more than 2 people; no gatherings, period. No going outside for anything but buying food or medicine or to see a doctor or for a bit of daily exercise. No going within six feet of another human being.

But the people of New York haven’t changed, the people in our group haven’t changed, and the laws that state that women in New York have all the same freedoms as men haven’t changed — meaning that whatever limited freedom we are allowed, we can use it topless if we want. And we do want. Every little taste of freedom matters, even more so at a time like this.

So we asked our members to share selfies with us, showing how they’re spending their quarantine hours, whether that’s the limited time we’re allowed out or the endless hours we’re spending in — and whether they’re in New York or not. Our members are spread all over the world at this point, and for once this is an event everyone can take part in.

So where do we go when we need to feel the touch of sun and air on our skin? In the limited time we’re allowed, we go out to the park or the forest or the riverbank.

Or just the nearest grassy lawn, together with our canine companion and the most unsentimental book ever written.

We get topless on the deck outside our house, if there is one,

Or up on the roof,

Or out on the fire escape.

Or, if we must, we get our sun through our windows.

What, you thought we’d wear tops when we’re stuck at home? Whether it’s “remote learning” or “working from home,” the only thing we need to have on is our MacBook.

Or not even. We just get some traditional books, and a nice glass of something to go with them, and we’re good for hours.

It does make us appreciate the pleasures of reading even more than we already did.

And that’s just the first 10 people we heard from! We’d love to hear from you too. Show us how you’re spending your quarantine time, whether it’s sheltering at home or seizing the chance to be naked outdoors in some quiet, unpopulated spot.

Email us at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com or DM us on Insta.

We can’t be together — but you can join us all the same.

With social distancing being enforced all over the U.S. — nowhere more so than in New York City — group events aren’t possible, and even just walking on the street is complicated.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t go outside, or enjoy the newly mild spring weather — or get out of our clothes, for that matter. It just means we need to be a little more inventive, and a little more careful.

Rooftops have always been a New Yorker’s best friend when it comes to outdoor nudity, and they’re your friend now. Go up on the roof and you’re in your own little world — quiet, private, secluded. Take off as little or as much as you want. Get the Vitamin D your body craves. Fight the stir-crazy that gets to all of us when we’re stuck inside for too long.

And sure, why not, get a photo or two to remember it by. Just ask your friend with the camera to stand at least 6 feet away.

One day this will all just be a memory. Our rooftop events will look this again, we promise:

And when that time comes, we hope you’ll join us.

But until then? We hope you find some comfort, some freedom, and some naked time out under the sun, even if it has to be all by yourself.