IMG_5567In midtown Manhattan there’s a townhouse dating back to 1875 that’s home to the Society of Illustrators, an organization honoring some of the finest artwork created in the past century. Walk the halls and you’ll see original art by painters such as Norman Rockwell and Robert McGinnis — even a giant portrait of Olivia by Ian Falconer. And if you’d walked to their fourth-floor library one day this past week, you’d have seen us there too, practicing our figure drawing, and our figure modeling, under the guidance of award-winning painter Gregory Manchess.

IMG_5384IMG_5410It was an extraordinary experience, first just absorbing the atmosphere and history of this unique institution and then getting to watch one of the best illustrators in the world create breathtaking portraits of us in seconds, working with nothing more than some newsprint, charcoal and pencils.

IMG_5915IMG_6078IMG_6056IMG_6068IMG_6089Our own work with the same tools was a tiny bit less polished!

IMG_5534But Greg gave us tips and insight and advice and inspiration, and we went home raring to crack out the pencils again and get back to the drawing board.

IMG_5429IMG_5404IMG_5322Kudos to the Society for having us. Interestingly, down on the third floor while we were on the fourth, another nude sketch event, held weekly and open to the public for a $20 ticket price, was going on, and that room was packed to the rafters. Aside from the two models, it looked like nearly everyone in that room was male, while of course in our room nearly everyone was female (and no tickets were being sold). We make no comment on the why or wherefore, we simply present this interesting fact for whatever it’s worth.

IMG_5737-SweaterIMG_5237Kudos also to the Society’s charming Hungarian bartender, who kept the evening well lubricated with wine and spirits, and to Baked by Melissa and Sprinkles Cupcakes for supplying mini- and maxi-sized treats, respectively. Nothing loosens the drawing hand and concentrates the attention quite like the combination of red velvet and rosé.

IMG_5550Of course we also had books on hand — what is a book club, or a library, without them?

IMG_5815But most of the time our hands were empty, or next to it.

IMG_5781Would you like to join us the next time we cook up a once-in-a-lifetime experience like this one? If you’re a body-positive woman in the vicinity of New York City, we’d love to hear from you. Email us at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com and maybe someday soon you’ll have the chance to get naked with a skeleton too. 🙂

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IMG_5057…no, not the prison. We may be getting a bit stir-crazy, cooped up indoors while we wait out the cold weather, but not crazy enough to actually go to stir. (Not a place for a topless adventure, that.)

IMG_4718Sing Sing on Avenue A in New York is the city’s diviest karaoke bar, and we mean that as a compliment. You can keep your chromed-up, K-pop suffused, midtown glitzerias — we’ll take a grotty basement with a gold disco ball, thank you very much. Couches that look like Sid and Nancy shot up on them. Cinderblock walls, thickly painted and never cleaned. A place where even the shadows cast shadows.

IMG_4647Into this veritable Mos Eisley we brought a group of 20 eager chanteuses, including two ringers with serious singing credentials; a sackful of baked goods courtesy of Dominique Ansel and Frederic Vaucamps; enough alcohol to drown the butterflies in anyone’s stomach; and an eclectic pick list that ranged from Biggie Smalls to Peggy Lee, from My Funny Valentine to My Chemical Romance, from ABBA to zig-a-zig-ah. 

IMG_4598And did we get topless? Did we ever. Shed sweaters to Sondheim, bras to Believe, winterwear to Wayne Newton. Sing Sing’s VIP Room, initially frosty, warmed up as we sang our hearts out, with dancing to match. We’d say it was hands-down our most energetic event ever, but “hands down” is a singularly inapt description of how most of us spent the night.

IMG_5097IMG_5108IMG_5089Of course, if you think going bare-chested in public is intimidating, try singing in front of a roomful of strangers — even a warm and welcoming group like ours. But by the end of the night even the first-timers in the room were singing full-throatedly, and the last buttons, clasps and ties were coming undone.

IMG_5130IMG_5138The room was dark enough that our few attempts at capturing the fun on video didn’t really work — unless you think of them as bootleg tapes, made on the sly, at some underground concert. In that case, they work fine, and we’re glad to share a few snippets with you:

All in all, this was a perfect way to warm up a cold winter night. But perfection comes in many forms, and we’ve got other fun events coming up that’ll take the chill off too. If you’re fighting the winter blues and would like to join us next time, let us know — all body-positive women are welcome, and an email to toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com is all it takes to get an invitation.

Won’t you join us sometime…?

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IMG_4004We read in the paper where it reached -100 degrees in New Hampshire the other day. Negative one hundred degrees. By comparison, New York City is in the midst of a tropical heat wave at positive 8.

But outdoor toplessness is off the menu for now.

What does that leave? Finding interesting hidden spaces in this mysterious city of ours, and one of our members tipped us off to a doozy: an underground cocktail bar that is literally underground. You enter it through a fake bookcase in the entry hall in a Brooklyn bistro called Chez Moi.

IMG_3787IMG_3796Descend a twisty staircase past a suit of armor and you emerge in a cozy, colorful room appointed with a Steinway piano, a full bar, luxuriously upholstered furniture, a red and gold color scheme, and art on the walls depicting classic courtesans. You have entered Le Boudoir.

IMG_4082We called in advance, of course. Could we enter Le Boudoir wearing no more than ladies generally wear in a boudoir? The owner kindly said we could. So off came the down coats, the gloves, the scarves, the knit hats, the heavy sweaters–

IMG_3989–and what was left was little indeed.

IMG_3836Though in at least one case some gloves went back on.

IMG_3860-FIMG_3942The rest of the evening was a marvelous combination of drinking (exceptional craft cocktails courtesy of Ms. Franky, the evening’s inspired bartender)…

IMG_3881IMG_3900,..dining (smoked salmon, charcuterie, creme brulee, chocolate mousse….

IMG_4497IMG_4504IMG_4482…books (new comics from Hard Case Crime, crosswords from the New York Times)…

IMG_4533IMG_4032-F…and more drinking. (It’s a cocktail bar. When in Rome.)

IMG_4449One of our members is moving to Florida, so it was both a sad and a fond farewell for her, though she’ll surely come back to visit, and who knows, maybe we’ll arrange a road trip to visit her. (She says she’ll be near a nudist resort down there.)

IMG_4379Nor was that the only revelation of the evening. Did we know that one of our members is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do? We did not. Now we’re readier than ever to kick ass and take names should it ever prove necessary.

IMG_4106This is us being surprised:

IMG_4325IMG_4166But no ass kicking was required this night. While winds howled aboveground, we retired to the secretest spot of our subterranean lair, a cave carved out of the rock of a century-old subway tunnel…

IMG_4130IMG_4475IMG_4402…and plotted world domination. Well, something like world domination, All those cocktails make it a bit hazy. But there was plotting done for sure, and many hugs,

IMG_4492…before we reluctantly bundled up and made our way return-from-Narnia-like back out through the bookcase and into the mundane world.

Where now it’s 8 degrees and we’re wearing clothes.

Can we go back to Narnia, please?

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And so we come to the end of another year — another wonderful, awful year. Awful in so many dimensions: geopolitical, economic, ecological, human rights, basic civility. And yet. And yet, we spent the year with friends and loved ones, and we exercised our freedoms together, and we treated others and were treated ourselves with respect. In this milestone year when we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the court decision establishing that women in New York have the same right as men to go topless, we went topless enthusiastically and without incident, all over this great city of ours. It was fun, it was refreshing, it was healthy, and it was legal.

And you — you came to our blog from virtually every country on the face of the globe and you witnessed our liberty and shared in our adventures. What follows is a distillation of the year’s events, based on which of our photos you clicked on most. These were our most popular images of the year — and some of our favorites too.

We hope you’ll enjoy revisiting these memories, and maybe next spring, when it warms up again, will join us to make new ones.

Without further ado, the top ten images from our out-and-about-in-the-city’s-parks adventures:

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And the top ten from our visits to our favorite rooftop sanctuaries…

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And for good measure, a few from other events around NYC:

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IMG_3444fAround this time each year, a little pop-up village of craftspeople and artisans and vendors appears in Columbus Circle to help New Yorkers with their holiday shopping. This year, the usual festive atmosphere was enlivened by the addition of a layer of snow on top of the candy-cane stripes and statuary, and one of our braver members decided to venture out in that snow with only a fur hat and a pair of gloves to keep her warm from the waist up.

IMG_3381IMG_3376fIMG_3324fIMG_3306fConsider it a tribute to the resilience of the human body and a precursor to our annual topless snowball fight, which we’ll hold in 2018 when snowfall permits. If you’d like to take part in that — or maybe in one of our warmer indoor events! — send us email: toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com.

In the meantime, we wish you all a very merry, happy, safe, healthy and free holiday season.

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IMG_2994What to do when it’s cold outside? How about an interactive theater event where eight of us gather in one member’s apartment to play the roles of suspects in a murder mystery? Yes, please.

Thanks to the ingenious and creative folks at 8Players, we had the pleasure of being immersed in a poisonous 1950s film-noir-come-to-life, complete with a (make-believe) dead body and eight, um, players, each with a hidden past rife with secrets and motives for doing dirt to the deceased.

IMG_3099cIMG_3061We were provided with costume suggestions by the director (yes, yes, we know; costume suggestions for a bunch of people who prefer being naked, that was never going to last for long) and told to meet downstairs at 6:53pm. A handy bar on the ground floor supplied liquid courage, and then a masked man led us upstairs, single-file–

IMG_2926IMG_2934–enjoined us not to speak to one another, and firmly escorted us into the darkened apartment, where we were given our starting positions for the drama to come.

IMG_2949IMG_2958IMG_2965Stirring music set the mood, as did dramatic use of shadow and candlelight. We were each given a card to read, supplying some tantalizing bits of information about the nefarious people we were playing, and then–

And then we were set loose to interrogate and accuse one another, in character, for two hours. Who’d seen what? Who knew whom? How many of us were secretly sleeping with each other? And just what happened to the handsome woodsman’s missing axe…?

IMG_2999Fast-forward to Act III: we’re standing shoulder-to-shoulder, our costumes strewn in pieces on the floor, and the story is approaching its feverish climax. What seemed to be a crime yarn  ghost-written jointly by Agatha Christie and Orson Welles turns out to have a touch of Rod Serling to it as well. Revelation piles on revelation, until, at last — the killer is revealed!

IMG_3003And then, before we quite know what is happening, the 8Players team silently exits the apartment, no sign of their presence remaining, leaving the eight of us to catch our breaths and giddily discuss what we’d just gone through. It was a treat, a chance to step out of not only our clothing but, for two hours, also our identities. Or, if you prefer, it was the best game of Clue ever, only with Miss Scarlet and Colonel Mustard wearing a bit less than the Brothers Parker ever imagined.

IMG_3096Which goes to show — pulp fiction needn’t be limited to the page, nor toplessness to the summer.

More indoor adventures to come.

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IMG_2873Each winter, when it’s too cold outdoors for going topless, we round up our gang and head to our favorite spa for an evening of fun in the sauna, steam room, and lemon-filled soaking tubs.

IMG_2895IMG_2894Usually we wait until December, but this year we couldn’t because the spa is about to undergo extensive renovations — so we had to get in before the wrecking ball came.

It was hardly a hardship. Warm as September and October were this year, November has been, as people used to say, as cold as a witch’s tit. (Why did they say this, we wonder. Would witches have abnormally cold tits? We count some practicing witches among our membership, and haven’t noticed any particular mammary hypothermia.) In any event, it’s been cold, and the warmth of the spa was welcome indeed.

IMG_2889As was the excellent company. Twenty-one of us showed up, ranging from old friends to first-timers, and in addition to the wonderful facilities, we all enjoyed fabulous massages at the hands of the spa’s crack therapists. (Afterwards, a dozen of us commandeered a quiet room and treated ourselves to fabulous follow-up massages at our own hands, about which we will discreetly say no more, except that the MLTEK Bullet plus Trojan H20 is one powerful combination.)

IMG_2903But for all the physical pleasures (and they were many), the greatest satisfaction was just getting to relax with a group of thoughtful, smart, interesting women, and not being self-conscious about our bodies or anything else. “Just humans being human,” as one member put it.

IMG_2868IMG_2904IMG_2913If you’d like to try just being human with us sometime, we’d love to hear from you. Our email is toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com and all women are welcome.

No reason to spend the winter shivering when warmth is close at hand.

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