Archives for category: theater

IMG_4013Well! That was an adventure.

It’s not every day that we’re the #1 trending topic on Facebook.

Or written about by the Daily News, the Associated Press, three British newspapers (the Independent, the Guardian, the Daily Mail), New York NewsdayMetro New York, and countless websites (among others, Huffington PostSalon, and Jezebel). Oh, and did we mention NBC News?

5004IMG_3800What caused that storm of attention? Simple. On two beautiful days last week — rain threatened for a while, but what we wound up getting was sun — our merry band put on a show in Central Park. The show was William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, a story of sorcery and conspiracy and romance on a tropical island, and we performed it with an all female cast of 13, fully nude.

IMG_3862“Fully nude?” you ask. “I know it’s legal for women to go topless anywhere in New York a man can, but I didn’t think it was legal for either women or men to go fully nude in public?” Well, under most circumstances that’s so. But there’s an exception to the laws against what’s called “public exposure,” and one of them is if you are performing in an artistic performance. Such as a play. Such as The Tempest by William Shakespeare.

And so we did just that. With eight outstanding actors, three brilliant dancers, and two gifted musicians, we took over the natural stage at Summit Rock (the highest point in Central Park) and for an audience of more than 200 people each time we performed the play. It was marvelous. Yes, we had to compete with sirens and helicopters to be heard at some points. But that’s what it means to perform outdoors in the middle of New York City. And yes, one or two people gawked or made needless, uncomfortable comments — but only one or two. (Far worse was the asshole from the New York Post who blustered around with a pair of giant cameras and ignored repeated requests not to disrupt the show. But fortunately there was only one of him as well.)

IMG_3892The hundreds of other New Yorkers and tourists who joined us on our adventure sat rapt and appreciative, and the end of each performance was greeted by a tempest of thunderous applause. Nothing could have made us happier. Not only did we put on a terrific play, but we proved a point: that the human body is a thing of beauty, not of shame. Not fearful, not dangerous, not troubling. The presence of a dozen naked women on a lawn in Central Park did not cause the sky to fall or the moral fabric of the city to be rent asunder. On the contrary, it probably went a small way toward teaching people that nudity is not inherently very noteworthy at all. What we do with our bodies can be good or bad, praiseworthy or the opposite. But our bodies themselves are just bodies, and deserve nothing but simple respect.

Which is what we received. What a wonderful, wonderful beginning to this glorious summer of 2016! We only wish more of you could have come (though the space was filled to overflowing). And we remind you all: whether you’re  a woman or a man, you don’t have to be performing Shakespeare to enjoy a summer day in the park naked from the waist up. Men know this — women too often do not.

IMG_4247And if you are a bold, body-positive woman — or if you’re unsure, maybe even nervous, but you’d like to be one — you can join us and try it in our company. Send us email at and tell us a little about yourself. We’re always happy to expand our ranks. You don’t need to be an actress, a dancer or a musician. You just need to have a body, and a desire to be free.

We have our own magical island. It’s called Manhattan. And we would love for you to join us there, as naked as the law allows.


Tempest-ImageWe’ve got a special event to tell you about.

On May 19 and 20, we’re going to be celebrating the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death by performing our own version of his final play, The Tempest, in Central Park, with an all-female cast of 13 actors, dancers, and musicians. It’s a stripped-down production in two senses: we’ve abridged the script for a shorter running time, and in the rich tradition of live performances that celebrate body freedom and free expression, our performance will use nudity to dramatize the conflict between the visitors to Prospero’s island and its inhabitants.

Like our bodies and our minds, admission is free. Two performances only. For more information, see

IMG_2487IMG_2830IMG_2735IMG_2620Tempest-logoTempest-dates[Logo courtesy of Sarah Sutliff]

1510_STUK_TOPLESSSOCIETY_0129This past weekend, the Sunday Times of London ran an article about us in their Style section. It was the work of reporter Rosie Kinchen, who joined us for our pre-Halloween get-together in the East Village, and featured images captured by the brilliant Sally Montana. Who else would have thought of asking us to re-enact The Last Supper?

1510_STUK_TOPLESSSOCIETY_0254The Times only managed to find room for two of Sally’s photos, but we’re very happy to share a few more here. (Along with a copy of the article itself at the very bottom, since you can’t read it online unless you’re a Times subscriber.)

1510_STUK_TOPLESSSOCIETY_01841510_STUK_TOPLESSSOCIETY_01391510_STUK_TOPLESSSOCIETY_03351510_STUK_TOPLESSSOCIETY_04671510_STUK_TOPLESSSOCIETY_0486We’re so pleased that our message has begun to spread internationally! Maybe it’ll even reach people in some part of the world where it’s warm enough now to take advantage of the freedom to go shirtless outdoors (which it currently isn’t in New York City). In the meantime, we’re wearing our best cable-knit sweaters and enjoying warm beverages and snuggling with friends and loved ones and, of course, many good books.

And waiting for the spring.



IMG_8478Most of the time, New York is cold enough on Halloween that only a madwoman would go outside shirtless. But once in a very long while it’s milder, making a variety of costume options feasible that otherwise might not be: topless flapper, for instance, or topless princess, or topless Carmen Sandiego. Several of us explored these and other forms of sartorial self-expression at the intersection of Stanton and Allen Streets, where the city has helpfully set out some benches in the middle of traffic…

IMG_8494c…before heading down the block to the Slipper Club, burlesque emporium extraordinaire, for an evening of merriment.

20151030_173933What sort of merriment? Well, to start with, it was the largest gathering of our members we’ve ever had, with several dozen of us in attendance. Costumes were welcome (as was the lack of costumes — we’re nothing if not open-minded). We welcomed cyborgs…

IMG_8548…and monsters…

IMG_8508IMG_8519…droogs that would’ve made Anthony Burgess proud…

IMG_8671c…and various other characters, familiar or invented.

IMG_8515IMG_8514(What is this last costume? So glad you asked. It’s a blue-footed booby, of course.)

The Pinchbottom burlesque troupe put on a special stage performance just for us, featuring numbers inspired by Shelley, Coleridge, and Dante, with pulp novelist Jonny Porkpie on hand as Master of Ceremonies and Reader of Excerpts From the Referenced Literary Works.

IMG_8644IMG_8654Afterwards, there was a bit of a bar crawl involving Bulgarian hookahs, Belgian ale and silent televisions playing World Series game three for the Mets fans among us. Photos are few from the indoor portions of the evening, and in-focus ones fewer still. But you can get some sense of what we got up to below.

(And here’s an extra treat for those of you in the UK: a reporter from the one of the biggest newspapers in London flew in just for the event, and an article about us is supposedly forthcoming. Who knows? Maybe it’ll inspire a revolution across the ocean…)

IMG_8558IMG_8525IMG_8573IMG_8559IMG_8659IMG_8660Happy Halloween, all.

IMG_8287Ever dream you went to a Broadway show, only to discover, when you got there and took your coat off, that you weren’t dressed underneath?

We got to live out this dream the other night…

IMG_8119IMG_8135…courtesy of a friend of ours who also happens to be the writer and director of a show currently knocking ’em dead on the Great White Way, Cynthia von Buhler.

Countess von Buhler is the brilliant and beautiful painter, sculptress, author, and theatrical impresario responsible for restaging the “Midnight Frolic” of master showman Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. A century ago, Ziegfeld bucked social norms by presenting late-night entertainments on the Great White Way filled with half-dressed showgirls and other scandal-worthy elements (such as racially integrated casts, featuring performers like Josephine Baker).

IMG_8253IMG_8255IMG_8258IMG_8259IMG_8273That’s all on the positive side of the ledger. He also bedded any number of his leading ladies and chorus girls, several of whom later came to untimely ends, such as Olive Thomas, dead of mercury bichloride poisoning while on her honeymoon in Paris. Was it murder, suicide, an accident…? Who can really say?

Well, Cynthia can. In her latest interactive theatrical extravaganza, she both recreates Ziegfeld’s most risqué show and takes the audience to the Paris hotel room where Olive Thomas met her terrible fate. The death is staged three ways — once as accident, once as suicide, once as murder — while out front Eddie Cantor and Fanny Brice and Josephine Baker whip the crowd into a frenzy. There are singers and dancers, and aerialists suspended from a giant chandelier…

IMG_8232IMG_8192IMG_8209Drinks flow freely, dinner is served, and what exactly is that white powder the flower seller keeps urging you to sniff…?

And for one very special performance, there were also a dozen topless women in the audience, joining in the fun.

IMG_8136IMG_8389cIMG_8451IMG_8423IMG_8252We got to rub elbows with all the performers, see the show from the best seats in the house, crack open a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, and take part in a demonstration where one of our number was placed in a coffin and transformed into a revolting corpse. (We got her back, safe and sound, before the night ended.)

Actually, come to think of it, the night never did end, not really — after the show, we accompanied cast members to an all-night spa for massages, steam, soaks, and scrubs, and before we called it quits, PM had given way to AM. Just like it says in “Lullaby of Broadway”: When a Broadway baby says good night / It’s early in the morning…

We left the camera in the locker room while at the spa — what happens in Koreatown stays in Koreatown — and even at the theater the low-light conditions and constant motion proved a challenge for documenting our adventure. But here are some glimpses of the fun we had.

You’re just going to have to imagine the rest.