IMG_8835Twenty-five years ago, a New York court ruled that women have the same right as men do to go bare-chested in public places; ever since then, it has been legal for a woman to take her top off in any city park. Ten days ago, we continued our ongoing celebration of this milestone in equal rights, body freedom, and just plain common sense with a trip down to Nelson Rockefeller Park, barely a hop, skip and a swim away from the Statue of Liberty. A giant statue of a woman enshrining the principle of liberty! What could be more appropriate?

You’d think so. But apparently someone found the sight of our bare chests distressing — think of the children! — and called the police. And rather than just telling the complainer that there was nothing they could do since what we were doing was perfectly legal, the police came out to the park to talk to us. And not just one police officer, or two, or three, or four. Or five. Or six! Or, god help us, seven.

No, it took eight police officers, in full regalia, to investigate the menace posed by our uncovered nipples.

Eight! That’s enough cops to put down a riot, or to patrol eight neighborhoods that could benefit from an actual reduction in, you know. actual crime. But instead of doing what might colloquially be referred to as “their jobs,” these unmerry souls, bearing facial expressions better suited to a funeral than to a lovely summer’s day, came trundling over like the world’s grouchiest welcoming party.

We’ve gotten complaints, this is a public place, there are children around, we’re going to ask you courteously–

We appreciate the courtesy, we told them, but the answer is no. This a public place, as you say, and we have every right to do what we’re doing. And a right you can be pressured into not exercising is no right at all.

We also handed the officers a printout of the internal police memo from a few years back reminding all NYPD personnel that female toplessness is not a crime and that they are not to arrest any woman merely for baring her chest.

IMG_8848The result? Grudgingly, they acknowledged that we were right — and reluctantly, slowly they headed off.

IMG_8863It was a victory, no question about it. But why is it even necessary to have the battle?

From time to time people ask us, sometimes in an irritated tone, why we bother demonstrating for something we already have the legal right to do. What’s the point? You’ve already won! And that’s true. But at the same time, it’s not. It’s not nearly true enough, not yet. What it’ll take to make it true enough is more days out in the park like this one, a lot more, until finally no one casts a second glance in our direction.

The best victory is the one you don’t have to keep winning.

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IMG_6347A couple months back, we reported on our first encounter with a place called Doob, where you enter a futuristic white chamber, some mechanisms pop and whirr, and out comes a miniature, 3D-printed replica of you, a little like the last kid in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. (Unlike the Dahl story, though, the original you remains intact and unharmed. Whew!)

IMG_6337Well. We couldn’t Doob half a dozen of our members without several others clamoring to be Doobed too. So we returned to their downtown studio for a second round.

IMG_6291IMG_6326IMG_6371Three more poses to select, three more turns through the machinery, and then three more 6-week stretches for the printing to be done (it’s not instant, like the phrase “and out comes” might suggest), and presto, three more of us have mini-me’s to cuddle and show off.

IMG_6902IMG_6938IMG_8575Is it worth the money? Yeah, it kind of totally is, even though these things are expensive (like hundreds of dollars each, though the kind folks at Doob cut us a deal in recognition of the number of them we ordered). Just imagine having a little naked you on your bookshelf to astonish your friends and embarrass your parents!

IMG_6989Or you might find other uses for your Doob. Only limited by your imagination, as they say. 🙂

IMG_7004More outdoor fun to report on soon. (Much, much more!) But in the meantime, we and our little friends will be getting to know each other better in the comfort of our own homes.

 

IMG_8455Andy Golub, the visionary artist behind New York Bodypainting Day, has formed a new non-profit arts organization called Human Connection Arts, to spread the word that art and nudity can both be tools for human connection — and that the human body, in all its infinite variety, is deserving of respect and love.

IMG_8421The group’s first project, called “Body Notes,” took place last Friday in the middle of Times Square, with literally tens of thousands of workers and tourists, businesspeople and students, the young and the old, all present to witness and enjoy what we were doing. Who were “we”? About 200 models, women and men, including a number of members of our book club. And what were we doing? Getting completely naked and painting each other from head to toe, first with base coats of orange, blue and yellow, and then with heartfelt messages chosen by each model to express a point of view important to her or him.

IMG_8412IMG_8404RandAIt was a revelatory experience and a liberating one — to stand naked at the Crossroads of the World, with a sea of humanity around us, with police there to protect us, not to hassle us, and with the vast majority of the people in the crowd just honestly curious, and many of them enthusiastic.

IMG_8378So many people posed for photos with us! Or blushed at first and then asked how they could get involved. Or just nodded and took it all in. It was a profound moment of acceptance and tolerance and open-mindedness.

IMG_8384Every body type was represented, every age, every race, every gender.

IMG_8431IMG_8462IMG_8312And we all treated each other — and ourselves — with the kindness and respect we deserved.

IMG_8447Now, if you’d like to see how the event ended, you can Google “Body Notes” and see countless photos that ran in the media all over the world, of a mass of hundreds of painted models swarming the bleachers at the north end of Times Square and posing as a group for photos memorializing the event. Instead of repeating those, we thought we’d share some photos of how the event began, when we were all just works in progress, getting those first coats of paint on. The humanity of it inspired us — we hope it will inspire you too.

IMG_8324IMG_8329IMG_8363IMG_8416IMG_8290IMG_8337IMG_8323IMG_8335IMG_8388If you are inspired, take a look at Human Connection Arts and their upcoming events. Or, of course, drop us a note at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com and join us at one of our get-togethers. There are many, many opportunities to exercise your freedom and be part of something wonderful. Don’t let them pass you by.

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IMG_7376We are America.

IMG_7213We are gay and we are straight. We are black and white and red all over. We are thick and thin, students and teachers, teenagers and old souls.

IMG_7445IMG_7324We are hungry and we are full.

IMG_7338IMG_7429We are in love and we are solitaires.

IMG_7237IMG_7326IMG_7323We are readers of books. Of Maya Angelou and Walter Mosley and Chester Himes. Of Donald Westlake, Erle Stanley Gardner, and Max Allan Collins. We are lovers of the written word, the spoken word, the freedom to speak and to write and to read any words we choose.

IMG_7208IMG_7383IMG_7404We are lovers of the human body, of our bodies, of the freedom to inhabit our bodies without shame or prejudice.

IMG_7228We are proud.

IMG_7276IMG_7293We are world travelers, we are New Yorkers.

IMG_7198We are rain and sun.

IMG_7187We are are ink on the unwritten page.

We are tomorrow.

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IMG_6774Continuing our celebration of the 25th anniversary of the court decision legalizing female toplessness in New York, we visited the famous boulder in Riverside Park where Edgar Allan Poe used to sit and write, back before it looked out over the West Side Highway. Where better to get rid of our constricting tops and enjoy some reading…

IMG_6764…some delicious fruit…

IMG_6866IMG_6870..some yoga…

IMG_6797…and a push-up challenge?

IMG_6756The weather has turned rainy ever since, so we’re glad we got outside while the getting was good.

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Our next event is planned for Friday, June 2nd — want to join us? If you’re a body-positive woman in the New York area, we’d love to meet you. Just email us at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com. Liberation awaits.

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IMG_6741Twenty-five years ago this summer — in July 1992 — a New York court ruling established that women can’t be punished for going bare-chested in public places if men weren’t punished for doing the same thing.

This landmark ruling changed lives. Not just the lives of the particular women involved in that particular court case, although it certainly did that. But the lives of all the women of New York, including women who weren’t even born yet. Maybe especially ones who weren’t born yet.

IMG_6452Some of our members are in college today. Some are still in high school. And they’ve never known a time when, as women, they had to hide their bodies while their brothers and male cousins were free to walk unashamed in the sun. They’ve known from birth that it is their right — their equal right — to inhabit the body they were born into and to display it or cover it as they choose.

IMG_6616IMG_6625IMG_6648Of course, not every woman does know this, even in New York; and not every woman who knows it has been brave enough to try it, even if she would dearly like to (especially on a day when the temperature inches up into the 90s and boob sweat is a thing). And some of those brave enough to try it have had to deal with stares and catcalls and unwelcome approaches from men if they’ve tried it by themselves rather than in a group of like-minded friends.

This is why we exist: to provide ourselves and other women an opportunity to exercise our rights, free from interference, safe, relaxed, and happy. That’s what we did yesterday, on Central Park’s East Green, and it’s what we’ll be doing all summer long. If you’re a body-positive woman in the New York area, we hope you’ll join us. All it takes is an email to toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com, and we’ll find an event we can get you to.

Some are more private, some more public; some more active, some more relaxed. Some are fully nude, if we’re somewhere where we have the luxury of doing that. We’ll find the right one for you.

IMG_6466In the meantime,  enjoy this glimpse of the first really hot day of the Summer of 2017 — 25 years on from the momentous and eventful Summer of 1992. We had books (Girl on a Train! Turn on the Heat!)…

IMG_6639We had delicacies (strawberries! kombucha!)…

IMG_6475IMG_6674We had junk food (America Runs on Dunkin’!).

IMG_6576IMG_6602IMG_6684What we had mostly was a great time.

IMG_6525IMG_6444IMG_6420Bare your breasts. Breathe deep. Be free.

It’s your right.

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IMG_0053It’s May already — but the cool weather we’ve been having all spring is stubbornly persisting. Every so often, the sun breaks through, but it’s just for an hour or two at a time. So what do we do? Grab that hour or two when it comes, even if it means only two or three of us can make it.

This time, we met at the southeast entrance to Central Park, where an art installation is currently up: a set of old-fashioned sofas and tufted chairs, only made of stone rather than fabric.

IMG_0048IMG_0014Not incredibly comfortable to sit on, especially when the sun (briefly) is blazing hot, but we took a few pictures there before moving on to the grassy side of a hill just inside the park.

And what was our reading material this time? The manga Ghost In the Shell and a vintage 1972 issue of Playboy. (We spent quite a while puzzling over some of the cartoons. Some of them we literally couldn’t even figure out well enough to be offended by. People thought the strangest things were funny back in 1972.)

Not to mention what men’s unmentionables looked like in 1972.

IMG_0100We also had a guest member in attendance: an aloe plant one of our members rescued from disposal on a downtown sidewalk. We named him Fred.

And then the clouds came back and we departed. But oh what a wonderful taste of summer it was while it lasted!

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IMG_2535ccRain is projected for the next ten days or so, but looking ahead, the second half of May promises to be wonderful. If you’re an adventurous (or just curious) body-positive woman in the New York area and would like to join us for one of our outings, please get in touch! You can email us at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com, and we’ll get you out in the sun with us. We promise: if we can do it, you can too.