Summer has, at last and alas, come to an end — but that has never stopped us before and won’t stop us this year. There may yet be a warm day or two in October and November (one year we even met in the park in December!), and if not, we’ll find indoor spots to enjoy while waiting for the Spring. In the meantime, though, a colder, damper season has replaced sun-streaked days.
Before it settled in in earnest, on the last 90-degree day of the year (technically one of the first days of autumn), we enjoyed a valedictory visit to our favorite rooftop sundeck, where we devoured French pastries, California strawberries, and Caribbean rum.
The event was also a debut of sorts, since we had not one, not two, but half a dozen first-timers in attendance — people who’d not only never come to one of our events before but who, in some cases, had never gone nude outdoors before, or in front of strangers. We asked if any of them would like to share their experience with you, and two of them took us up on it:
To be completely and openly honest (wrote the first), I was slightly terrified of attending my first time with the Topless Pulp Fiction crew. When I would scroll through the blog I felt excited and for lack of a better word, empowered, by their message and ideas that directly coincided with my own. Packing a towel and book before coming, I felt this same wave of excitement. But the minutes walking from the train, leading up to meeting the group, was a moment of panic.
Meeting new people is always abstractly scary in some way, but meeting new people with the known fact that the group celebrates, de-sexualizes, and normalizes women’s bodies; well that’s a whole new level of scary.
But somewhere between slipping off my shoes and feeling the last proper summer warmth in my feet, I opened up.
That isn’t to say I immediately shed my clothes, but the walls I put up in normal conversation, just didn’t show up. I’ve never felt like I knew a group of people so well, with barely even knowing their names.
I think what makes the experience special and emotionally rewarding is that suddenly all the physical barriers society has created and rudely placed upon us, have been stripped away. I was no longer making small talk about my job, I was having a critical discussion about my industry with someone who I had known for 5 minutes. I felt a strong emotional connection to women (and men, shockingly) who didn’t come to ogle my body, but to make friends and truly indulge in the human experience.
I really thought this Mercury Retrograde was going to fuck with me, but it directed me right into the hands of new friends, new experiences, and brought an action to my politics. Well played, Topless Pulp Fiction.
And here’s what the second had to say, in a piece she titled “Eden”:
I was naked in the middle of New York City. Outside on a rooftop, with a crowd of people I’d never met, there I was with my bare butt in a soft chair, eating a chocolate chip cookie and drinking a bottle of water. And everyone around me, including my husband, was similarly naked.
No, it was not some weird dream. It was real. And weirder still, to some at least, might be the fact that I identify as a Modern Orthodox Jew. Yes – it was a Friday, and my husband and I stayed for about an hour before heading home so we could make it on time to prepare for Shabbas (the Jewish Sabbath).
To many, this makes no sense – I’m a contradiction! Isn’t my religion incompatible with such an activity? Shouldn’t my body be only for the eyes of my husband? If I’m so religious, then where’s my modesty?
Modesty. What does it mean?
When nakedness is discussed in Genesis in the Bible, it is associated with shame. Adam and Eve had just eaten the apple, realized they were naked, and felt ashamed.
Shame. What does it mean?
Modesty, to me, means having something to be proud of, something beautiful, yet not bragging about it or showing it off. Shame, to me, means having something to be guilty of, something ugly, and therefore hiding it.
I am a contradiction because the body is a contradiction.
So what is the body? Should we be proud of it? Ashamed of it? And should we hide it either way?
To me, the body is nothing to be ashamed of, and I chose to come to our naked rooftop gathering because it is my way of spitting out a piece of the apple – a way of seeing what it might have been like in the beginning in Eden.
I agree that the body is beautiful, because God created it. Like any gift of God, it can be misused and lusted after. So to protect it from such misuse and lust, we hide it. But it is only misused and lusted after when it is seen as a solely sexual object.
There is a fear of who we might become if we were let loose from law: William Golding, author of Lord of the Flies, comes to mind. Civilization equals protection; it is how we save us from ourselves. The moment we return to our natural state, we risk turning into “beasts” that have no control over ourselves. No, we must hide from our nakedness, under masks that disguise our true nature – beasts temporarily restrained by the cage of civilization, who would no sooner come out of our clothes than we would jump on the next naked member of our species we see.
But at our rooftop event, I was surrounded by people who, I feel very sure, recognize that the body is more than a sexual object. And as we recognize that the body is more than sexual, we recognize that humans are more than we can imagine.
It may not be warm outdoors anymore — at least not in the narrow sense captured by thermometers. But in the ways that count, there’s no shortage of warmth to be had. We want to thank our newest members for so powerfully demonstrating that.
Won’t you join us too? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, tell us a little about yourself, and perhaps together we’ll discover what naked pleasures we can unlock while the rest of the world is jack o’lanterning, turkeying, caroling, and hibernating.