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IMG_0665Did we mention we love to read?

We do. We’re not the sort of book club where everyone reads the same book at the same time and comes prepared to discuss Chapter 27 — but we are a book club, and we all come prepared with whatever book we’re reading at a given time.

IMG_2835For some of us that means schoolwork — a study guide to the MCAT, for instance.

IMG_0661For others, it might be a graphic novel like Peepland by Christa Faust and Gary Phillips, all about New York in the seedy, pre-Giuliani days of live sex shows in Times Square.

IMG_0561IMG_0651IMG_0681Or SoHo Sins, an art-world whodunit by Richard Vine about an art collector who confesses to murdering his wife (but did he really?), which got a bunch of angry 1-star reviews on Amazon.com because of a Lolita-ish subplot (“Avoid this pedophile-friendly trash!”) but is actually really, really good.

IMG_0628The point is, we love to read, and don’t draw a line between respectable reading and scandalous, between high and low. Or between what we ought to read and what we read as a guilty pleasure. All reading is good.

IMG_0564Similarly, all reading is good whether you do it fully clothed or half naked — and if anyone is scandalized by that, well, that’s just too bad. Sometimes the world is better for having a little scandal in it.

IMG_2851cSpeaking of high and low, all reading is also good whether you do it lying flat on the grass by Manhattan’s waterside–

IMG_0675IMG_0569–or up on the elevated park (once a railroad for deliveries to the meat-packing district) called the High Line. Though admittedly we did more walking than reading up there.

IMG_0791IMG_0798Not to mention on our way to and from.

IMG_0699IMG_0712IMG_0727Hats off (and shirts!) in particular to our two first-timers, who joined us proudly and had their first day of outdoor topless pulp fiction appreciation. We have a feeling they’ll be back. 🙂

IMG_0776If you’d like to join them sometime — if you’re a body-positive woman and either bold enough to do this enthusiastically or curious enough to maybe try it a little timidly — we’d love to hear from you. Email us at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com.

Everyone needs a little more reading time — and a little less bra time.

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IMG_2904A new non-profit arts organization called Human Connection Arts wants to bring fully nude outdoor body-painting events to four cities this year: New York, Berlin, Amsterdam and San Francisco. But they need your help! They have a Kickstarter attempting to raise the money needed to fund the events, and with only 42 hours to go, they’re still $1,400 short of the goal. And if they don’t reach their goal, they get no money at all! [ETA: They made it!! Whew. Nakedness, art and free expression to ensue as planned!]

IMG_2894IMG_2902To build awareness, the HCA team brought four nude models to the streets of Greenwich Village today for an impromptu painting session that brought traffic to a halt and left hundreds of passers-by smiling.

IMG_2887Lots of people had questions, but only a few expressed anything less than delight and support.

Of course, this was in Greenwich Village — some neighborhoods might be less supportive. But it was a joy to see so many people face to face with public nudity and pleased to see it.

IMG_2868IMG_2872If you’re in New York and would like to see it live, the New York event will take place from 12 noon to 4pm on Saturday, July 22, in Washington Square Park. (Be there or be, um, Washington Square. No, wait, that doesn’t work.)

IMG_2890But whether you can come in person or not, if you like what this group stands for and the work they’re doing, please consider helping out. It’s not our event or our organization, but we do like what they’re doing and we support them. We hope you will too.

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IMG_0232Over the past seven summers, hundreds of women have joined us at our events all over New York City, some coming just one time, others returning time and time again. We love seeing both — our regulars and our first-timers. Part of what makes our group special is that both are greeted with the same warmth and welcomed like family. Maybe it’s something about being naked together. It’s hard to hold someone at arm’s length when your arms (and other parts!) are bare.

IMG_0323Would you like to come to one of our events? If you’re a body-positive woman in the New York area, we’d love to hear from you. Just send email to toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com, and we’ll answer any questions you have and very gladly invite you to our next event.

IMG_0266IMG_0312This past week we said farewell to one of our regulars, who just got a very impressive job at an impressive institution in another state. She’ll still show up at our events from time to time, she promises — she’s still on the East Coast! — but not as often as when she lived here, naturally, and we’ll miss her. On the other hand, we also welcomed several newcomers to our ranks this week. Perhaps one or more of them will become regulars in the fullness of time.

IMG_0369IMG_0370IMG_0372IMG_0290IMG_0143We were also delighted to be rejoined by two former regulars who’ve been missing from our events for a very long time.

IMG_0465IMG_0422We met at one of our favorite spots, a rooftop sundeck in Chelsea that thoughtfully permits not just toplessness but full nudity.

IMG_0260IMG_0344IMG_0160An inflatable pool gave us a respite from the unremitting sun–

IMG_0392IMG_0362IMG_0363–and Prosecco (with or without OJ) gave us a respite from unremitting thirst.

IMG_0444IMG_0136Not too much reading went on this time, but a few books did get cracked —

IMG_0256–as well as three new comics from Hard Case CrimeNormandy GoldPeepland, and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

IMG_0276Doughnuts from Doughnut Plant, fruit from the finest local orchards, sunscreen from the finest aluminum cans…we had everything we needed for a splendid afternoon, and a splendid afternoon is what we had.

IMG_0415…and now you can be part of our next one.

It’s okay if you’re nervous, We were too, the first time. It’s okay if you’re shy. It’s okay if you think your breasts are a funny shape, or one is larger than the other, or you wish they were bigger, or smaller, or whatever. It’s okay if you’ve never been naked with strangers before. It really is. You’re curious or you wouldn’t be reading this. You’re tempted. And it won’t be summer forever.

Sending email takes 3 seconds. Treat yourself. Listen to Oscar Wilde: The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.

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IMG_9937To celebrate the 4th of July, we took a trip to Madison Square Park, named after one of the architects of American liberty, President James Madison. Give him partial credit for the Constitution and even more so the Bill of Rights — though the man also owned slaves, so there you go. Feet of clay. In any event, there we were, on the very spot where, in 1876, the right arm and torch of the Statue of Liberty stood on display as money was raised to fund the rest of the statue’s construction. An early Kickstarter project, if you will. And it got us thinking about liberty and independence.

IMG_9979It’s easy to define “liberty” as freedom and leave it at that. But how often do one-word definitions suffice to illuminate complex and important concepts? Liberty is indeed freedom, but more specifically it’s the freedom to do as one pleases — to pursue happiness in one’s own way, without undue restriction. Now, reasonable people can disagree about what restrictions might be due or undue, but the general principle of liberty is to err on the side of presuming that restrictions are undue until proven otherwise.

Prove to me that the sight of my breasts is harmful when the sight of a man’s is not, and then you can restrict me from taking my shirt off. Otherwise — allow me my liberty, and my pursuit of happiness.

IMG_9744IMG_9947IMG_0062Now, independence. Clearly, the opposite of dependence — so not relying on someone else’s support, or requiring someone else’s permission, or subject to someone else’s control. An independent woman makes her own decisions based on her own best judgments. She won’t always be right — who is? — but she’s free to choose her own path. She doesn’t wait to be told what to do or refrain from doing as she wishes just because someone else might not look glowingly on her choices. She is not dependent on the opinion of others. She is independent, and at liberty.

We are independent and at liberty.

IMG_0042So when we sit down in the park, under the sun, and take our shirts off in accordance with the laws of New York but in violation of some folks’ sense of decorum or propriety, it is with an acute appreciation of our freedom. We know most women don’t have the same freedom we do. And even those that do — our fellow New Yorkers — are often unaware of it, or cowed into not exercising it.

IMG_0032Our job, as we see it, is to exercise our liberty without hesitation or pause, and to educate our fellow citizens about theirs.

IMG_9810No girl should grow up believing her body is anything to be ashamed of, or something that ought to be hidden when her male cousins and siblings and friends are free to bare theirs gleefully, innocently and without criticism.

IMG_9712Knowing it, believing it, and living it — that’s freedom. That’s liberty.

IMG_9722Happy Independence Day, everyone.

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IMG_9610Every Monday night during the summer, HBO shows a free classic movie outdoors on the big screen in Bryant Park. We decided to stop by last week, when they were showing On the Town, the Frank Sinatra/Gene Kelly/Leonard Bernstein musical from 1949. Okay, the movie’s a bit sexist. (What movie from 1949 isn’t?) But that music! And Gene Kelly! Plus it was one of our members’ birthday, or close enough to warrant a celebration.

So we picked up pastries and strawberries and some fizzy peach beverage in a fancy bottle and joined the sea of humanity waiting for the movie to begin.

IMG_9694We were the only ones topless in the crowd — but no one seemed to mind much that we were there, except for one angry lady who picked her way across the lawn from some distance away to tell us that “nudity should only be for the bedroom.” Fortunately, not only were we more than happy to ignore her but the very nice woman in front of us leaped to our defense, pointing out that we weren’t the ones sexualizing our bodies, she was, and that her remarks were more problematic than anything we were doing. It felt like a scene in a movie, to be honest. Like that bit in Spider-Man, maybe, where all the ordinary people stand up to help the embattled hero. Not that anyone else stood up to defend us — but certainly no one stood up to take the other woman’s side. And one dissenting voice in a crowd of well over a thousand people? Not bad. Not bad at all.

We’re thinking we might go again some other Monday night before the summer ends — would you like to join us? If you’re a body-positive woman in the New York area, send a note to toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com. We’ll save a seat for you on the lawn.

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IMG_9510Everyone knows (or should know by now) that it’s legal for women in New York to go topless anywhere a man can. Out on the beach, in the park, wherever. Sadly, though, outside of art exhibitions and theatrical performances, it’s not legal for either women or men to be fully nude in a public place. So where are you supposed to go when the heat approaches triple digits and you just need to get those last shreds of clothing off?

IMG_9384IMG_9416IMG_9436Native New Yorkers will tell you: the roof of your apartment building. But that only works as long as you don’t have overly nosy or censorious neighbors. Happily there’s an alternative, if you’re willing to rent a hotel room: the rooftop sundeck of our favorite boutique hotel in Chelsea, which is clothing optional 24/7, 365 days a year.

IMG_9209True, you’d only want to take your clothing off in New York maybe 10/7 and 120 days a year; but during those hours, on those days, this rooftop is a blessing. Private and serene, quiet and well appointed, you can bask in the sun or lounge under an umbrella…

IMG_9087IMG_8997…read a book or enjoy the scenery…

IMG_9402IMG_9371c…have a drink or a nap…

IMG_9351IMG_9375…or find novel uses for heart-shaped lemon cookies.

IMG_9045Other hotel guests turn up occasionally, but everyone’s tolerant and no one raises a fuss over a bared vulva or exposed penis. And mere bare breasts…? You’ve got to be kidding. That’s nothing at all.

IMG_9480rIMG_9022We’ve been coming here for years by now — at least six — and it’s become sort of a second home for us, a secret lair: our Batcave, if you will.

MK47382013-f62013-f30911-MK5And we’re glad to share our Batcave with you — photographically, as you see here, or in person if you’re a body-positive woman in the New York area (or visiting New York, that’s fine too!). Just drop us a note at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com and let us know you’re interested, or curious, or whatever.

If you’ve ever hesitated about taking your clothes off outdoors, this is the perfect way for you to dip a toe in the water. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being naked in the sun — and in our little private hideaway, you can do it without any worries at all.

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Yesterday we posted the story of how our most recent park visit, downtown in the vicinity of the Statue of Liberty (for maximum irony), briefly got interrupted by eight police officers hopeful they might persuade us not to do what we have every right to do (or maybe just eager for a good look). Now you can judge for yourself whether what they saw constituted an affront to decency and civility.

IMG_8605IMG_8814Happily the police decided it did not, or at least had to concede that they had no legal right to intrude. So off they slunk and we continued having the very relaxing, very pleasant afternoon we’d been having before they showed up.

IMG_8622Books read ranged from Sense and Sensibility to SoHo Sins, from Stephen King’s classic It to Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 to Megan Abbott and Alison Gaylin’s brand new comic book Normandy Gold

IMG_8771IMG_8798IMG_8778Oh, and the Sunday Times crossword puzzle!

IMG_8677IMG_8731Much fresh produce was consumed, and the grocery store stickers cheekily repurposed for social commentary.

IMG_8504Handstands were performed.

IMG_8746Also piggyback rides.

IMG_8923Naps were taken.

IMG_8902And police officers were educated.

IMG_8863All in all, a very good day.

IMG_8759And who knows? Maybe on her day off, one of the female officers in the group that accosted us might even try it for herself.

We extended the invitation.