There are so many things we treasure about our get-togethers: the physical pleasure of being bare under the sun on a warm day; the confidence that comes from taking ownership of your body and being proud rather than ashamed of it, strong rather than timid; the knowledge that we’re taking a stand for freedom and equal rights and educating both women and men about what equality means and why it matters. But it’s also just really nice to meet other open-minded, non-judgmental women with whom we can really let our hair down, talk openly, and be ourselves.

What does it mean to be ourselves? It means reading what we want, without having to explain or apologize for our choices.

It means wearing what we want — and as little or as much as we want, for any reason or no reason at all.

It means making our bodies look the way we like — whether that means hair the color of a tropical sunset or a moonlit sky or ink placed wherever the mood strikes us.

It means eating what we like, whether that’s healthy or unhealthy, vegan or omnivore, knowing that our friends may not share our every appetite but will respect our choices.

It also means knowing our choices will be respected in other areas of self expression and personal pleasure.

We strive to live by that most useful kindergarten maxim, “Don’t yuck someone else’s yum.” Even when someone else’s yum looks like it must be uncomfortable–

–or involves stealing our food.

As we approach the season of family-themed holidays — Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas — we want to say that this is our family, and we’re proud of every one of them.

Except maybe the squirrel.

We love our animal companions as much as our human friends. More, sometimes. But we don’t often bring them with us to our events. Once, a puppy named Charlie made an appearance, but that was years ago and he hasn’t shown his little canine head since.

But with fall rearing its head, we made a visit to Sheep Meadow in Central Park, and this time one of our members brought her cat with her. And said cat was a hit with one and all.

We were even joined by a male partner at one point, and he helped, uh… Oh, fuck it: he helped take care of our pussy. There. We have the sense of humor of a ninth grader. Are you happy now?

It’s not like our cat was the only new member making a debut. Even this late in the season, a number of first-timers made this their inaugural event, some of them going topless in a public place for the first time ever…

…some full-time nudists and proud of it.

Happily, Sheep Meadow is one of the most tranquil, beautiful, charming spots in the entire city and embodies the live-and-let-live attitude we both benefit from and encourage.

So what if five or ten women are enjoying the afternoon without shirts on? Nothing noteworthy about that. Now, if one of them has tattoos that reference deep-cut Disney fare like The Emperor’s New Groove and Hercules

We had more than our share of interesting, beautiful ink this time, come to think of it.

But even that didn’t draw stares in particular. And the lack of stares or comment helped make the afternoon deeply satisfying. As did the bonding among our little troupe. There’s something about being naked together that just turns strangers into family.

Improbably, with the summer just a memory, it’s still warm out. Probably not for much longer — it’s October this week, for heaven’s sake. But this Wednesday, the temperature is supposed to reach almost 90 degrees. So we’re planning to hold at least one more outdoor event, and as you can see, we welcome first-timers, no matter how late in the year. Would you like to join us? Just email toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com or message us on Insta (@topless_pulp) or Twitter (@ToplessPulp).

You’re welcome to bring your cat, your dog, your bird, your ferret, your chinchilla, your bearded dragon.

And if you don’t have one, just bring your pussy.

Fall is coming. As much as we might wish summer would last forever, next week it comes to an end. Yes, the temperatures are still poking up into the 70s most days, but pretty soon they’ll top out in the 60s, and then it’ll be 50s, and then we’ll all be wearing knit hats and the greenmarkets will be touting hot apple cider.

But we’re still hanging on to summer with both hands — we held an event in the park yesterday, and we think we can get in one last visit to our favorite rooftop sundeck, too.

Will it be as exceptionally well attended as this one was? Probably not. It’s easier to get people to come out and shed their clothes in August than September. But if anything can inspire us to strip down to the barest of bare essentials, it’s our little rooftop sanctuary.

What calls to us here? The relative privacy, for one thing. Though any guest of the hotel can use the roof, few ever do. And the easygoing, live-and-let-live atmosphere helps too. (The fellow in the foreground here wasn’t a member of our group, but he didn’t seem bothered to have two dozen naked women descend on him — or, as you can see, unduly excited by it.)

We like having an outdoor spot where we can relax in peace–

–with some cool water and a stack of books.

Where we can eat a simple meal–

Draw a little, paint a bit–

Catch up with whatever’s happening on the internet–

Share with our neighbors–

Be neighborly in other ways–

And just bask in the sun–

–all without worrying that the sight of our bodies might alarm or offend anyone.

Remember that interview Shailene Woodley gave at the height of her Divergent fame, where she talked about the salutary effects of sunlight on body parts too often kept under wraps? “I like to give my vagina a little Vitamin D,” she was quoted as saying. “When the sun finally comes out, spread your legs and get some sunshine.” We feel the same way.

Only with warm days in waning supply, it’s less when the sun finally comes out and more before the sun goes away.

What will we do over the winter? Oh, we always find fun things to do indoors. We sing karaoke, we visit the spa, we do yoga.

Or we brave the snow and ice for some Polar Bear Club-style outdoor fun:

But there’s nothing quite like the freedom and the unstinting, luxurious abandon of getting naked together on a summer afternoon in a cozy spot where you know you’ll feel comfortable and loved and accepted.

“Prelapsarian” is one of our favorite obscure words. It means “before the fall,” but less in the calendrical sense than the biblical one. It refers to the time in Eden, when we were naked and innocent. Well. Far be it for us to preach, but we believe you can make your own Eden, even in the heart of busy, noisy, not-so-innocent New York City.

We’ve made ours.

And if you’d like to join us there for our last visit of 2019, let us know. (Email: toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com. Insta: @topless_pulp.)

We think Mother Sol has one more dose of Vitamin D left in her.

Yesterday our little group turned 25.

Years? No. We started meeting in August 2011, which makes us a bit over 8 years old. By that accounting we’re not even in our teens, never mind our 20s.

But there’s another way to measure our growth, and that’s how many people we’ve reached, and how many times we’ve reached them. And by that metric, around noon yesterday, New York time, we turned 25: this blog we created 8 years ago has now been seen 25 million times.

25 million!

It’s a number you can’t even properly hold in your head. If you grew up in a small town or a small city (or even a small country!), you didn’t have 25 million people to call your neighbors. Even if you’re a New York native, it’s more than the number of your fellow New Yorkers. 25 million gumballs outweigh the Statue of Liberty. 25 million subway cars would stretch from here to the moon.

And yet that’s the number of times people have come to this site and seen one of our photos or read our words, discovered what freedom looks like and sounds like, what a woman exercising her equal rights is like.

For our first event all those years and views ago, we went shirtless in Central Park, so we were very pleased to be able to commemorate this milestone with a report about a return visit. Not to Sheep Meadow this time, but to a quiet lawn on the east side, where passers-by stroll and strollers pass by,

where four-legged companions are welcome,

and two-legged companions too.

Where you can discover the sense of style you share with a total stranger–

Where you can partake of art in all its forms, whether that’s painting–

Or photography–

Or reading–

Or writing–

Or drumming and dancing–

Or the gustatory arts,

Or the simple art of the snooze.

And you can partake of any of these artful activities with or without a top on,

Solo or in a group,

Regardless of what body parts you happen to have been born with or acquired at puberty.

It is a wonderful thing to live in a city like ours, at a time like this, to have our autonomy and equality respected. But we’re conscious of the fact that our experience is still very nearly unique in the United States and in too many other parts of the world. Yes, you can go topless or even fully nude on select beaches throughout Europe and the Caribbean, and that’s a wonderful thing. But how many places offer true equality?

We relish the thought that some of the 25 million times we’ve been seen it’s been by women in those other parts of the world, where freedom isn’t as widespread — yet. Only one view once came from St. Bart’s, where a bared breast wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow, but 6 came from Vatican City — and hundreds of thousands came from Russia and China, tens of thousands more from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and the rest of the Middle East. We like to know that we’re providing a model of free expression and female liberation to places that lack it.

And even in our own back yard, we like to know we’re opening eyes and minds.

Of course, winter is on the horizon, so for this year our balmy days of sunbathing in Central Park are numbered. But even that doesn’t feel so terrible when the number we’ve reached is such a triumphant one.

25 million!

We thank you all for your part in helping us achieve what we’ve achieved. And we hope if you’re a woman — whether near or far, nervous or bold — you’ll stand up and be counted along with us someday. That you’ll take that wonderful first step toward freedom.

And if you’d like to do it with us rather than alone, we’d love to welcome you to the fold. Getting started is simple: just email toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com or find us and message us at @topless_pulp on Instagram or @ToplessPulp on Twitter.

All it takes is one message, one moment of being brave. That’s how we’ve gotten here, one brave moment at a time.

Times 25 million.

What do you love — really love?

Being surrounded by people who care about you, people you find interesting and stimulating and kind, people who offer support without judgment and friendship without hesitation? We love that too.

We love being in the sun — it’s a small thing, we know that, we don’t mean to suggest it’s the linchpin of a happy life, but we do love it, and we don’t apologize for it. We love how it feels warming our skin in the summer and we’ll miss it when the winter takes it away.

We love fresh fruit, bursting with ripeness in our mouths. We love the practically intoxicating concentration of flavor in a perfect strawberry, a sun-warmed grape, a summer plum.

We love nibbling a delicate little cookie.

We love a cool drink on a hot day, a swallow of spring water that’s been kept in the shade, a mouthful of wine straight from the bottle.

We love our books, all books, everything made of paper and bound between covers stiff or soft — books with stories in them, books that argue and elucidate and explore ideas, and books, too, with nothing on their pages at all until we put something there. Perhaps our very own image.

We love our bodies. Yes, our bodies. Even though some days we don’t love them, we mostly do, or are learning to. It’s a lifetime project, but we like to think we’re rapid learners, and we’re on our way.

How’s this for a tautology: we love how our bodies feel when they feel the way we love.

We love the way we can push them to search and seek and ask what’s on the other side of that wall?

We love that we can draw on them and pierce them and make them ours.

Or not decorate them. That’s good too.

We love being naked. Not just topless, all the way naked, nothing between us and the air, the sun, the world, each other.

We love our freedom. To do as we wish and be who we are without fear or shame.

We love the company of other women.

And we are lucky, so very lucky, to live lives where we can sometimes, even if only for an exquisite afternoon, be surrounded by all the things we love.

You know what else we’d love?

We’d love to share it with you.

And if you get in touch with us — toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com, @topless_pulp on Insta, @toplesspulp on Twitter — we will.

The last time we visited Coney Island — three summers ago — we saw no one else going topless. Correction: no other women going topless. And the reception we got, while not unfriendly, was a bit…uncertain. We got looks, for sure. People didn’t know what to make of us, and didn’t seem entirely at ease with us doing what we were doing.

What a difference three years makes! While the beach still wasn’t filled with topless women the way a beach in Europe might be, we were not the only ones there by any means, and several others followed our lead when they saw us doing it.

In fact, shortly after we got there, a total stranger walked up to our group, asked if she could sit with us, remarked that she hated having to wear a top and promptly took hers off. Then she pulled a copy of Sappho from her bag and read us one of her favorite fragments. Thus are new friends made.

And we got no particular looks, from women or from men, even when we went onto the boardwalk to score a corn dog and a Pepsi. (Indeed, we saw another topless woman calmly eating her own unhealthy but delicious lunch at a nearby picnic table.)

How was it walking down to the water? Unremarkable — which is maybe the most remarkable thing of all. No double-takes, no second glances. At one point one of the beach’s lifeguards blew a whistle, but when our members went over to ask why, she just wanted to let them know that some stranger seemed to be taking photos of them. (“That’s not a stranger,” they reassured her. “We’re all together. We’re part of a group.”)

When we weren’t swimming we spent our time relaxing on the sand, in sight of the giant Ferris wheel and the parachute drop and the century-old Cyclone rollercoaster.

We were reminded that Coney Island and nudity are old friends — even setting aside the burlesque dancers and sideshow performers, back in the days before WWII there were baths with nude sunbathing on the roof (separate sections for women and men, though bold voyeurs going up in the parachute drop could apparently catch a glimpse of both).

But that establishment closed ages ago, and for decades after men won the right to go topless on the beach, women were denied the equal right to do the same thing. That changed as a matter of law 27 years ago…but it has taken longer to change people’s hearts and minds. Clearly that change is finally happening.

And it feels so good. It feels wonderful to be able to relax on a beach with no more on than all the men in sight are wearing — a bottom — and to not feel you’re disrupting the social fabric by doing so. To pull off your top without fear or shame.

And getting to do it with other fun, interesting, smart, well-read women is best of all.

Members in attendance this time included students and teachers, women in art and fashion and theater, a photographer, a neuroscientist, a sex worker. We came from all over America and all over the world — Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Sweden. We’re queer, we’re straight. We’re vegan, we’re carnivores. In other words, we’re everyone. And this Saturday afternoon, everyone was happily going topless.

Would you like to join us next time? We’re getting to the end of summer, so we may not have another beach trip in us this season, but we’ll keep holding outdoor events in the city as long as the weather holds up (in some years that’s even meant events in October and November!). And when it gets too cold out to do that, we find fun things to do naked indoors. 🙂 If you’re curious or intrigued…whether you know for sure you want to do it or are still a little nervous…we’d love to hear from you. Email toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com or find us on Insta at @Topless_Pulp. (On Twitter it’s @ToplessPulp without the underscore.) We’ll supply everything you need. Even the books!

And if you do find yourself on the beach in New York before the winter winds begin to blow, we hope you’ll try going topless too. Yes, it’s easier with a group of other women — but it’s fine doing it solo too. The law is the law. And for once, we’re the beneficiaries of it.

We usually save indoor events for colder weather — when it’s no longer feasible to gather in a park, the likes of a warm yoga studio, spa, karaoke joint, or restaurant presents an appealing alternative. But who needs indoor events in the summer?

On the other hand, when we were contacted recently by the good folks at Cowgirl Seahorse, who’d hosted us a few years prior and were inviting us to come back, we thought, Why not? We had a friend visiting from the West Coast, and a topless dinner with her sounded like just the thing.

So off we went. We took advantage of the season first by gathering in front of the restaurant before the sun went down and watching it descend.

Then we headed in. Cowgirl Seahorse is a happy little spot down by the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan side. They serve basic Tex-Mex fare in a lively, colorful and welcoming atmosphere. One interesting feature of the place is that it’s basically one large room, so when we come we’re not tucked away in some closed-off private space where no one can see us. We’ve got our own table, but it’s out in the open like everyone else’s.

Did anyone object? Far from it! We were greeted by a warm round of applause when we entered, and no one at all seemed put out by our presence. In fact, a few of our fellow diners stopped by our table to say how much they admired what we were doing, and some staffers even invited their kids to meet us.

The place is female-owned and -run and queer-friendly — live events include drag brunches and the like. While we were there, we watched the staff hot-glue flowers to a giant 1960s-style peace symbol. The spirit of acceptance is as pervasive as the spirits fueling the shark-themed drinks.

There was even a marriage proposal before the night was out, although we’re pretty sure it was the result of the overflowing good spirits of both varieties. 🙂

And when dinner was finished, the fact that we exited into a balmy summer night meant there was no need to put our tops back on while we hunted down some dessert.

Big Gay Ice Cream is just a few blocks away,

…and the plaza outside made a lovely spot for hanging out–

–for meeting new friends (the woman in the middle of this photo is a total stranger who ran over to us and enthusiastically took her top off when she saw us doing it)–

–and for an impromptu flute performance from our very own Pied Piper.

All in all, a filling and satisfying evening, not just because the food and bev were good (though they were), but because everywhere we went, we felt like we belonged. Like our self-confidence and lack of shame about our bodies were not misplaced.

And we relished the chance to pass a lesson about not being ashamed of your body along to the next generation. Hopefully those girls will grow up with a touch more self-confidence because of it. The world will be a better, freer place for it.

Would you like to exercise your equal rights by joining us the next time we plan a topless meal, or a moonlit topless stroll? (The summer isn’t finished yet!) Whether you’re all over it or just curious, we’d love to hear from you. Email toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com, or find us on Insta or Twitter at @ToplessPulp.