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img_9721What’s that old saw, for public speakers with stage fright or actors with butterflies in the stomach — picture everyone in the audience naked? Or is it “in their underwear”? Well, either way, we got to make a cast of three wonderful actors more comfortable the night after Valentine’s Day when we showed up for the 8pm performance of Kristin Heckler’s new play, EXPOSED, at the Sonnet Theater in Times Square.

img_9635img_9630The play is the story of the so-called “Duke porn star,” Belle Knox, who turned to porn to pay her college tuition and was then called upon to defend the choice after being outed by a classmate. She became world-famous in the process, and though she never wanted to be one, she became a powerful spokesperson for feminism, for body freedom and sexual liberty, and for the simple premise that there’s nothing shameful about a woman choosing to make use of her body as she wishes. What could be a better fit for our group? And what could be a better play to attend…well, exposed?

So that’s what we did, arriving a half hour beforehand for some wine and Schmackary’s

img_9607img_9535then watching the mesmerizing performances, and then engaging the cast and the writer/director for a thorough Q&A.

img_9687img_9675Did we just show up and strip down? No — they not only knew we were coming, they invited us. Kristin has been a supporter of ours for ages and saw the possibilities even before we did. And we have to say we’ve never been made to feel more welcome. The theater was warm (thank goodness!) and the reception even warmer. The actors — Sarah Raimondi as Belle (here renamed “Ariel,” continuing the Disney theme); Pauline Sherrow as all the other female characters, from college roommate to porn co-stars; and Jacob-Sebastian Phillips as all the males, from dad to director to derogatory Duke dudebros — were all fully committed not only to their roles (as you have to be in a show that opens with the main character masturbating on a table) but also to the premise of the play, and of our group: that women are entitled to freedom and to respect, and to be sexual beings, and that possessing a vagina isn’t justification for abuse.

It is a harrowing show — some scenes are hard to get through — but also a powerful one, and ultimately a redemptive one. And there’s something wonderful about a night at the theater where the big nude scene isn’t one that happens on stage.

img_9534img_9517img_9661We may not be the perfect audience for every show, but for one that’s about asserting your independence, defending your right to liberty, and overcoming a sexual scandal? Yes, for that we’re the perfect audience.

We’re looking at you, Hamilton.

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img_9025Two weeks ago, it snowed in New York City. A beautiful blanket of white. Then, this past week, it rained torrentially — a beautiful blanket of wet. Neither, alas, the ideal climate for outdoor topless book-reading (or outdoor topless much of anything else). What does our noble band do on days like these?

We meet indoors. And what do we do indoors? Well, a bunch of different sorts of things, but one of our favorites is to work on our strength and serenity, since both of those are a) in short supply and b) much needed in the world today. So on the eve of the big protest marches in D.C. and New York (and every other place on the face of the planet), a dozen of us went to learn yoga and Pilates from Willow, the instructor/owner of New York’s Naked in Motion.

img_9042img_9107img_8940And what a wonderful evening it was! Talk about an inspiring leader — Willow was the model of a welcoming, knowledgable, warm and thoughtful instructor,

img_8928helping us through stretches and poses and exercises

img_8829img_8842img_9076that many of us thought we wouldn’t be able to pull off. Were we sore after? Sure — but only in the best way. (And she brought strawberries and Oreos to soothe the hurt.)

img_8968img_9026This wasn’t a special naked session just for us, by the way — as the name suggests, Naked in Motion is all about the naked. (And about the motion, of course. But that you can get at any yoga class.) There are weekly co-ed nude sessions and monthly women-and-trans-only classes for anyone more comfortable in a single-sex environment. Boundaries are respected (and politely but firmly enforced), to ensure a positive experience for all. If you’d like to try it yourself sometime, or just for more information, you can write to Willow at info@nakedinmotion.com.

And if you’re a body-positive woman in the New York area and would like to join us for one of our events (can’t promise it’ll be yoga — but it’ll be something cool), drop us a note: toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com.

Either way: get naked. And savor both stillness and motion.

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IMG_4647We rarely stump for individual books, but there’s a speculative fiction anthology in the works called PROBLEM DAUGHTERS that we’re very excited about, not only because it promises to collect fiction and poetry from female authors writing on the theme of intersectional feminism, and not just because the title is so great, but because one of the book’s editors, Nicolette Barischoff, is a member of our group!

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IMG_9168You’ve seen Nicci at any number of our events; even though she lives in California, she makes her way to NYC as often as she can. And this latest project of hers promises to bring her east several more times this year. So: yay. Plus we’ll all have good reading material to dive into as soon as advance copies get printed.

IMG_9626But before any of that can happen, the project (which is up on IndieGoGo) could use a bit more funding — not a ton, but some, and if you’re inclined to help out, we know Nicci would be thrilled. You can find more info at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/problem-daughters-fantasy-feminism#/. Check it out soon — the campaign ends Valentine’s Day.nicci-4nicci-5

img_6757There are no bigger fans of the Yuletide season than we — individually. Bright sparkly decorations on normally drab buildings, music everywhere, candy-striped leggings and floppy velvet hats…what’s not to love?

But as a group — as a group we require warmer temperatures to do what we do, namely go out without layers on (without even one layer on, specifically). Which leaves us hunting for warmer climes. And in New York City that means a spa.

img_6788img_6781It means soaking in a hundred-degree tub with whole lemons floating in the water.

img_6748img_6824img_6821It means breathing deep of the herb-infused steam in a glass-walled steam room, and enjoying the radiant heat beneath the mats of a wood-paneled relaxation room.

img_6874img_6878It means holing up in an igloo made of jade and stone and letting it bake us like a stromboli.

img_6851It means spending an evening blissfully naked with two dozen friends, enjoying warmth of another sort, remembering that even in 2016 there is kindness and love and people to share them with.

img_6743img_6912img_6943img_6931cimg_6833And because a few of us couldn’t make it to that spa evening, it means a trip to a second spa a few days later, for a more intimate do-over.

img_1529img_1549img_1560img_1586img_1575We’re very relaxed now.

Hoping you’re the same.

 

img_3506And so, we take our bows.

What a year 2016 was, and not only in bad ways. Oh, there were plenty of bad ways, and 2017 promises to be worse, much worse. And 2018, 2019 and 2020. A lot of us are holding our breaths and preparing for the worst. But 2016 also had some beautiful moments, some triumphant moments, and we’re proud to have been part of them.

The first-ever all-female, all-nude Shakespeare-in-the-park performances, in not one but two parks: Central Park in Manhattan and Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Our topless bicycle tour, which took us across the Williamsburg Bridge to Wall Street, Chinatown and the Statue of Liberty. Standing up to the police on the Fourth of July. Our topless snowball fight, after the biggest blizzard to hit NYC in 100 years. And, in the summer, our liberating the beaches of Coney Island.

It was one hell of a year. And let’s not forget the more ordinary adventures: just going out to the park or up to the roof on a sunny day and doing without shame or hesitation what men do without shame or hesitation every day, simply taking off our shirts and enjoying the sun and the breeze on our skin.

We hope you’ll enjoy this (roughly chronological) remembrance of the past 12 months. And if you’re a body-positive woman in NYC, we hope you’ll join us in 2017. Just email us at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com and tell us a little about yourself. In times like this, we all need friends to read in the sun with.

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toplesspulp-01About a year ago, we invited some artists to take photos from our blog for inspiration, and the results were a lot of fun. So with colder times upon us again and fewer opportunities to exercise our rights outdoors in the real world, we thought we’d turn some illustrators loose again, ranging from the pencil-wielding variety to the ultra-modern digital sort. Once again the results brought big smiles to our faces, and we’re happy to share some of our favorites here.

toplesspulp-03toplesspulp-028l7l4lpinaporsi-2-smallpinaporsi-1Does this mean there will be no more live events until it warms up again? Perish the thought. We have our annual holiday spa visit coming up, where two dozen of us will get to hang out in saunas and steam rooms and get massages and generally enjoy being naked without being cold. And we’ve got a naked dinner planned (we’re talking with some really great restaurants!) and some other cool stuff too — if you’re a body-positive woman in the New York area and curious about spending some naked time with us over the winter, please drop us a note: toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com.

But in the meantime? Enjoy our representations at the hands of these talented artists and remember that warmer times are coming.

3l

 

img_6230When we’re not performing Shakespeare naked ourselves, we enjoy watching other groups tackle the works of the bard — naked or clothed, we’re open-minded.

We especially enjoy a creative, original take on the material. Which made the invitation we received from the Drunk Shakespeare Society irresistible.

img_4393-s-creditThis merry band meets eight times a week in a tiny theater lined with 15,000 books (catnip for book-lovers like us) to perform their own version of one of Shakespeare’s masterpieces…enlivened by the addition of a) improv comedy, and b) one of the actors downing four shots before the performance begins.

img_6103img_6100img_4419-s-creditWe arrived early to get good seats, doffed our tops after our presence was announced to the audience (one of us may have gotten started early…)

img_6024and watched a fine performance of what those in the theater community like to call The Scottish Play — only this time with extra Scotch.

img_6157The male lead was the only one of the actors to join us in going topless, although his mortal enemy, Macduff, did get down to a sports bra. But all the actors did a smashing job (whether smashed or not) of bringing the play to life. The vile concoction the three witches brewed was an alcoholic one, of course, and a waggling sex toy made a brief appearance — but brief appearances were also made by serious performances, startling the audience with moments of emotional depth among all the hilarity. (Okay, not too many. But there were some!)

img_6136After the show we took some photos with the cast,

img_6222-sand with the lucky couple chosen as the king and queen for the evening.

img_6201Then took ourselves off to Shake Shack for some post-theater French fries and shroom burgers. Not topless there, alas — one step at a time.

Today, Shakespeare; tomorrow, the world.

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