IMG_0637We’ve been lucky for most of the summer — the weather has been beautiful. But every coin comes up tails eventually, and this past week our visit to our favorite rooftop sundeck got called on account of rain.

IMG_0693Oh, we had a couple of gorgeous hours before the clouds rolled in. Eating strawberries,

IMG_0573reading David Sedaris and tales of surprisingly principled hitmen,

IMG_0651IMG_0623showering off in the sun.

IMG_0635But then darkness loomed, and the next several hours ranged from drizzle to torrent and back again. We huddled close under a giant beach umbrella

IMG_0674IMG_0679until stir-craziness set in and we decided to just let ourselves get wet.

IMG_0710Nothing wrong with a little cooling down on a summer day. But the key word there is “little,” and we eventually threw in the towel. (Threw on the towel? Whatever.)

IMG_0641IMG_0646Point is, we had fun. For a while. But eventually tapas down the block won out over continued exposure to the elements.

We’ll be back, though. You know it. And if you’d like to be with us when that happens? Just send email to toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com. We welcome inquiries from all body-positive women in the NY area. (Especially waterproof ones.)

Like Uncle Sam used to say:

We want you.

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IMG_0552So, after an afternoon of sunning and TRX’ing in a park near the Hudson River, and waving at people in those double-decker tourist buses as they passed, iPhones raised and clicking away–

IMG_0287–we decided it was time for some more ambulatory pleasures and walked a block north to the High Line.

The High Line is a set of long-abandoned railway tracks that used to bring meat to the meatpacking district on Manhattan’s far west side. Left in disuse and disrepair for decades, they got revived a few years ago as an elevated urban park, and in that new role they draw crowds from every  part of town. The design is rambling and serene, artistic and intriguing, and we’ve gone from time to time as a group, but not recently.

IMG_2473It was early evening, and only a few of us remained, but we had a lovely walk. We checked out some of the artwork that dots the High Line, which ranges from ultra-realistic sculpture…

IMG_0473…to photography (and no, nude sunbathing is not permitted, this is just a photo an artist took at a nude beach and installed here, perhaps in an attempt to confuse).

IMG_0507There is also plenty of interesting downtown architecture to enjoy and to photograph, or to photograph yourself in front of.

IMG_0522IMG_0518IMG_0512And when we descended again, to the streets of Manhattan,

IMG_0548it was just in time to capture the sunset.

IMG_0560Walking the sidewalks once more, we got the usual mix of reactions: Why aren’t you wearing a shirt? on the one hand, Free the nipple! on the other. But none of it unfriendly, and some of it wildly enthusiastic. (Check out the woman on the right, arms upraised. She was shouting “Yes! Yes!” gleefully as she passed.)

IMG_0554-bAll in all, a lovely reminder of what makes NYC both wonderful and unique. There’s room for a little bit of nature among all the concrete and steel–

IMG_0463–and on a hot summer day you can take a stroll without your shirt on, no matter what you’ve got under your clothes.

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IMG_0352Most of our trips to the park are characterized by an extreme lack of physical exercise. Oh, we have some fit people in the group — some very fit people, in fact. Our pole dancing adventure revealed that. But fitness isn’t what we do when we get together.

But when we saw Tim here, working out with a TRX rig in the park we’d chosen as the site for our latest exercise in courageous sloth…

IMG_0416…we had to give it a try ourselves.

IMG_0372IMG_0380Speaking of sloth (or Sloth, I guess, with the all Jesuitical implications that capital letter confers), we also shared the park with artist Alana Jade Ramnarine, who was working on one of her Seven Deadly Sins pieces, which have been cropping up around lower Manhattan. This one was Sloth.

IMG_0175IMG_0291IMG_0319Now, how being dead counts as being slothful, I don’t know — it seems like adding insult to injury to call the poor woman a sinner on top of everything else she’s suffering in that picture. But maybe it’s the man who’s being called slothful. Since he’s just standing there and all. Didn’t protect her, isn’t avenging her. Maybe? Anyway, it’s a gorgeous piece of art, and an excellent book.

IMG_0210The rest of the afternoon passed in sun-dappled splendor.

IMG_0436IMG_0234IMG_0194There’s nothing quite like coming to a little green patch in the center of a towering metropolis and undressing to lounge about in the grass.

IMG_0252IMG_0269IMG_0292IMG_0394IMG_0391If you’ve never had the pleasure yourself…the exhilaration of taking off that layer and just enjoying, in the open air, being the woman you are underneath…well, the summer’s not over yet. Write to us at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com and we’ll give you the chance to experience it.

If you’re thinking about it, finger hovering over the Send button…just do it.

Don’t keep us in suspense.🙂

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IMG_9444So — before we headed through Central Park to join the annual NYC Underwear Run, we met up by the boat pond, just to relax on the grass and carry out a suitable pre-run ritual. (Otherwise known as nibbling sea salt lemon ginger cookies and reading Chinua Achebe.)

IMG_9359IMG_9663IMG_9602No major developments to report this time. It’s one of the nicest and most serene spots in Central Park, and we found we were left alone not only when enjoying the late afternoon breezes under the branches of the lawn’s great oaks (are they really oaks? we’re city girls, we don’t know from trees)

IMG_9438IMG_9439IMG_9679…but also when strolling by the pond, past unfazed fellow recreation-seekers.

IMG_9624IMG_9637IMG_9639Our reading  material included (as usual) a mix of the high and the low — the advance copies we got from Hard Case Crime of Max Allan Collins’ latest, Quarry In the Black, got a workout,

IMG_9651IMG_9737as did Stephen King and Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

IMG_9821IMG_9799And The Mating Mind got passed around a bit.

IMG_9529IMG_9510IMG_9556As we always like to see, our numbers included a mix of old-timers and first-timers.

IMG_9779IMG_9758IMG_9796If you are a curious first-timer in the making — an NY-loving, body-positive woman who knows it’s legal for women to go topless outdoors but maybe is still working up the nerve to try it for herself — we remind you that we’ve still got  a month of summer left (well, almost two months, technically; but a month of balmy August days), and we invite you to reach out to us. An email to toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com will get you in on the fun. The winter will be here all too soon, and with it the need to fold up the beach towels and get dressed again.

IMG_9871IMG_9867IMG_9847IMG_9851Before we enter the season of gloves and hot chocolate, before the leaves turn red and gold, while the mercury is still straining to escape its narrow glass channel…won’t you join us?

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IMG_0069There’s an event each year called the NYC Underwear Run; it’s a 1.7-mile footrace held in Central Park the Friday before the annual Triathlon wipes out all the city’s serious runners. Are we serious runners? Bite your tongue. But two of our members decided that a casual 1.7-mile jog in their underwear would be a pleasant way to spend a summer evening, and the rest of us came along to cheer them on.

IMG_0015First, we had to get to the starting line, which called for a topless walk through the park — not 1.7 miles, but a decent warm-up for the race.

IMG_9979IMG_9961IMG_9973(And a decent cool-down too, thanks to some judiciously purchased Snow Cones.)

IMG_0013IMG_0094Along the way, we got some curious looks, like this one from a man who asked “Why don’t you have shirts on?”

IMG_0009To which we answered “Why do you have a shirt on?” And explained, for the umpteenth time, the law in New York, equal rights, gender equality, etc., etc., etc.

Eventually we got to Cherry Hill and checked our runners in.

IMG_0032Interestingly, although everyone in the 500-person race was in their underwear — that’s the whole point of the event, isn’t it? — an official came over to us to say women aren’t allowed to run the race topless. That didn’t seem right to us; women have the legal right to go topless anywhere in the park that men can, and there were men all around with nothing on but tighty-whities. A discussion ensued on the finer points of the law. We would eventually have prevailed — we were right — but in the end our two runners did put sports bras on, not because they were told to, just because, well, running. Comfort. You know how it is.

But the rest of us stayed topless and enjoyed the event from the spectator area that way, and plenty of other people seemed to enjoy it as well. We posed for photos with runners,

IMG_0092and with one of New York’s OG topless celebs:

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IMG_0086And then retired to a nearby hillside to enjoy twilight in the grass. A bottle of wine might have circulated among us. (If that weren’t against park rules, we mean. It might have, but we’re quite sure it didn’t.) And then out we went to the subway, heads held high.

IMG_0027Oh, wait, we’re telling this story backwards — before heading to the race we spent a couple of hours hanging out near the miniature boat pond! But that’s a story for another post…

 

IMG_9153How many times over the past six summers have people suggested that we take a trip to a beach? Many. But we never did it, mostly because the nearest beach is an hour away from midtown, and the nearest nude beach is even farther, and we are sometimes very, very lazy. Why spend an hour on the Q train when you can just go to Central Park…?

The ocean, that’s why.

IMG_8826The ocean, the sand, the boardwalk…all the things that make Coney Island Coney Island. Let’s not forget the junk food. The rides and games, too.

IMG_8532So…we finally went. We went with our books, our sunscreen.

IMG_9075We went with our dogs.

IMG_8633We went with our wheelchair.

IMG_8949We went with our kids. (Yes, a few of us have kids!)

IMG_8725And what a happy, warm, delicious afternoon it was.

IMG_9148We spent most of the time on the sand, basking in a way that the grass of Central Park just doesn’t permit. Then some time cooling off in the ocean. Then back to the sand. The water. The sand.

IMG_9116IMG_9200IMG_9249IMG_9213IMG_9109Did we mention the junk food? At one point we made a hot dog run, giving up on Nathan’s because of the ridiculous lines there, but greatly enjoying the alternative fare at the stand known as Paul’s Daughter. (Mango slushie? Eh. Hand-cut French fries? Yes, please!)

IMG_9044What sort of reception did we get? No complaints, no visits from the police — unless you count this NYPD helicopter that hovered low over the shore. (We waved. It seemed to satisfy them.)

IMG_9086One dour-looking fellow appeared to be so fascinated by the sight of us that he hung around for several hours, staring at us creepily. But we didn’t let him bother us.

IMG_8990A number of women came by to congratulate us, thank us, or say they didn’t know it was legal to go topless — that always feels good, when we get the chance to educate people about their rights. One woman even took our info and swore she’d join up and come to future events. Who knows? Maybe she will.

And speaking of new members, we had one come out with us this time who is a terrifically talented manga artist, and she spent much of the afternoon sketching the rest of us.

IMG_8955IMG_8692IMG_8590She gave us permission to share the results:

Coney-Island-Beach-Jul-11-fullSo what’s next? Will we eventually get up the get-up-and-go to go all the way to Gunnison as a group? (Gunnison is the region’s only official nude beach, as far as we know.)

Maybe. We’ll see. But in the meantime we’re glad we finally got at least a taste of sun and sand. Even if only one of us was brave enough (briefly!) to go all the way…

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IMG_7888When we go up to our favorite rooftop sundeck, we usually have it to ourselves. But technically it is the roof of a hotel, albeit a small boutique hotel, and any hotel guest is welcome to use it. So once in a while we’ve been joined by hotel guests, who generally share our taste for naked sunbathing (it’s a clothing optional roofdeck whether we’re there or not) and who pay us as little attention as we pay them.

IMG_7646This last time, though, we met a fellow named Matthew, a real estate professional by trade, who turned out randomly to be a fan of ours. He’d been reading our blog for years (hi, Matthew! you’re probably reading this!) and even had an unfinished message to us in his outbox, half written. Small world, is all we can say.

IMG_8073While normally we are leery of random men who express interest in our group and hang around one of our events, Matthew was perfectly nice and handled the situation exactly as we might have hoped — no goggling and adulation, and in fact not even much attention paid after the first few minutes of “No way, you’re them?” To be all beatnik about it, he was a cool cat.

He even introduced us to the pleasures of sunning under the influence of coconut oil, an all-natural substance with, he assured us, an inherent SPF of something like 4 and a pleasant smell and sensation as you rub it in. Several of us gave it a try, including the one male member we had with us this time, and we were amused to observe that the whole “pleasant sensation as you rub it in” aspect seemed to particularly appeal to him and Matthew. It’s ok. There’s a kind of separate upper section to the deck and we left the boys alone up there to enjoy their coconut oil.

IMG_8098IMG_8055Meanwhile, the rest of us had a blast with the aid of a variety of other intoxicants, including ridiculously yummy popcorn,

IMG_7625fruit,

IMG_7960IMG_7973hose play (is that a thing?),

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IMG_7904cGabriel Garcia Marquez,

IMG_8074IMG_8082Hard Case Crime,

IMG_8025IMG_7886inexplicably hilarious coffee-table artbooks,

IMG_7774IMG_8090and napping,

IMG_8065and napping,

IMG_7870and napping.

IMG_7694It was about as perfect an afternoon as you could wish for, with none of the rain that had been forecast (that’s a recurring theme so far this summer: ominous weather forecasts that don’t come true) and the joy of hanging with good friends and good books and loads of salubrious nakedness.

IMG_7938IMG_8047IMG_7681Oh, and an inflatable pool filled with very, very cold water.

IMG_8010IMG_7989IMG_7982We talked and ate and slept and dreamt and read until the sun began sinking in the west. Could we call it paradise? Why not. Everything seems paradisiacal with enough sunshine on it.

And enough coconut oil.

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