IMG_6067For the fourth year in a row, we celebrated the end of summer (which, okay, technically hasn’t come yet…but it sure feels like it has) by visiting the rooftop pool at the Dream Hotel.

IMG_5547They set aside one of their freshly redesigned cabanas for us, and we filled it with food and beverages courtesy of the hotel’s kitchen and bar — chips and guac and tuna tartare and a burger that mysteriously came with shrimp on it as a topping; and champagne, plenty of champagne.

IMG_5331IMG_5766IMG_5235We brought other things with us as well, such as one of our Doobs, those little 3D-printed statues of ourselves we had made earlier in the year…

IMG_5142…as well as numerous books, ranging from our habitual pulp fiction, both in English and in Portuguese

IMG_5667–to non-fiction such as Laura Kipnis’ latest

IMG_5737…and something called Ethical Porn for Dicks, which somehow inspired a puppy pile.

IMG_6287When we weren’t ingesting intoxicants in physical or literary form, we swam in the pool, which was a bit chilly but still very, very satisfying.

IMG_6132IMG_5598IMG_5649IMG_6096We took photos of each other and shared them with everyone in our life who might enjoy them.

IMG_6139IMG_6024IMG_5797(Leis helpfully supplied by one member helped keep some selfies Instagram- and Facebook-friendly. Though sometimes it didn’t really work.)

IMG_5951And we even converted a spectator to our cause — she saw us having a great time and eventually came over and joined in.

IMG_5911She wasn’t our only first timer either: another new friend who’s been emailing with us since July finally managed to make it to one of our events, and we’re so glad she did. She told us she had a great time, and that she has two sisters she hopes to bring in the future. We’re thrilled. The more the merrier, to coin a phrase.

IMG_5149IMG_5923Speaking of which: If you’d like to join us for some outdoor topless adventures, it’s not too late. We still have events in September each year, sometimes even October. (One year, even December!) And once outdoor toplessness is no longer feasible, we’ll continue to meet over the colder months, only we’ll do it indoors, where maybe the sun won’t shine, but we nevertheless find ways to entertain ourselves.

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If you’re interested, please drop us a note at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com. We’re happy to answer any questions you have.

IMG_5653In the meantime, we’ll leave you with a few more glimpses of our day in the sun. Just think: this could be you next time.

It’s the stuff that dreams are made of.

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MVI_3633Sorting through all our photos from the summer, remembering the good times we’ve had, we came across a brief video we shot when we were on Riis Beach but somehow forgot to include when we posted our report about that trip.

It’s just a few seconds long — not even the length of a Vine! — but we thought we’d share it anyway.

The summer may be fading, but in memory we’ll be dancing forever.

IMG_4327The third part of our day in the sun — exploring lower Manhattan with Chelsea Covington, blogger supreme  and hero of the Maryland equal-rights case — didn’t actually involve much sun. Or it did at the start, but less and less as time wore on. Because having begun the afternoon in a downtown park…

IMG_3987IMG_3822fAnd continued it with a walk through the esplanades and alleyways of the city’s southern tip…

IMG_4181IMG_4135IMG_4112…we eventually washed up on the pilings of the Brooklyn Bridge and found ourselves welcomed indoors for dinner by the wonderful staff of the Cowgirl Seahorse restaurant.

IMG_4195Had the restaurant ever hosted a dozen topless diners before? Not likely. But they didn’t bat an eyelash when we contacted them in advance and asked if it would be okay for us to end our day there. In fact, they enthusiastically invited us. And god bless them, they didn’t bat an eyelash when they saw us either, neither the female nor the male waitstaff, and impressively, not the other customers either! No one asked what we were doing or why we were doing it, no one gawked or took photos, no one looked disgusted or appalled (or, what might have been worse, turned on). Everyone just went on smiling and chatting and eating like it was the most normal thing in the world to dine shirtless on a hot summer day.

IMG_4200IMG_4264We dived into the restaurant’s neo-Southern menu…

IMG_4203…trying their shrimp and grits, their catch of the day, their bacon-wrapped scallops, their Paul Bunyan-sized salads.

IMG_4527IMG_4461IMG_3014Each dish tastier than the last, although the hot sauce was merciless and Robert Shaw kept staring down at us from the wall.

IMG_4198The rest of the decor was charming in the extreme, right down to the cutely labeled conveniences.

IMG_4381We sadly didn’t get a photo of the little plastic mermaids perched on the edges of the beer glasses. Those were cute too. (Though they weren’t topless! #FreeTheMermaidNipple) But we did get photos that we hope convey just how casual, natural, and wonderful the night was.

IMG_4222IMG_4199IMG_4277Finally, when weariness caught up with us…

IMG_4543…we bid the place adieu and hit the sidewalk to wait for Lyfts or find the nearest train station. The no-longer-sun-baked air was bracing. If anything could’ve told us our adventure had come to an end, that was it.

IMG_4544IMG_4547But what an adventure it had been! Hours of relaxation, a meal with friends, and no problems at all due to our chests being uncovered. It’s a model for how things should be: live and let live.

Which calls to mind a Cole Porter lyric, and maybe that’s as good a last word to end on as any:

Live and let live, be and let be
Hear and let hear, see and let see
Sing and let sing, dance and let dance
You like Offenbach, I do not —
So what, so what, so what?

Read and let read, write and let write
Love and let love, bite and let bite
Live and let live, and remember this line: 
Your business is your business
And my business is mine.

Live and let live, be and let be
Hear and let hear, see and let see
Drink and let drink, eat and let eat
You like bouillabaisse, I do not —
So what, so what, so what?

Talk and let talk, quip and let quip
Dress and let dress, strip and let strip
Live and let live, and remember this line: 
Your business is your business
And my business is mine.

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IMG_4155In our last post, we described how we met up with Chelsea Covington for an afternoon and evening of topless fun, first in a park downtown, then strolling the streets and waterfront of lower Manhattan, and finally sitting down for dinner in a restaurant near the Brooklyn Bridge that didn’t object to serving a dozen topless patrons.

IMG_4163(Chelsea, as we mentioned, is not just one of our members but also the woman at the center of the much-talked-about legal case in Maryland regarding women’s rights to go topless on the beach there. If you want to read more about her activities, check out her blog, BreastsAreHealthy.)

IMG_4139Anyway, after spending an hour or two in Rockefeller Park we were ready for some exercise, so we strolled along the Battery Park Esplanade, past docked boats and various museums and monuments…

IMG_4150IMG_4117…not least of all the Statue of Liberty. (She’s back there, we swear!)

IMG_4175fWhen time got tight, we exited the Esplanade to cut across town and get to the restaurant a little faster. Our revised path took us past the Stock Exchange and Bowling Green and onto Beaver Street, a source of inevitable amusement for one and all.

IMG_4100IMG_4183IMG_4187As the riverside breeze buffeted us, we walked through what used to be the Fulton Fish Market and is now a collection of restaurants with outdoor seating, eliciting cheers and chants and fist pumps, some from supportive, enthusiastic women and some from, well, enthusiastic men. We’d like to think some of them might have been supportive as well.

IMG_4189IMG_4190Finally, at the end of Front Street, with the bridge for a backdrop, we came to the wonderfully named and female-founded Cowgirl Seahorse, a little Southern restaurant known for delicious seafood, plentiful drinks, and drag brunches on the weekends. And we’ll show you how dinner went in our next post. But for now we’re happy to commemorate what was our longest topless walk ever, a mile and then some, all bare from the waist up.

IMG_4191Did some people we passed behave less than ideally? Yes. We got surreptitiously filmed by some, one man even choosing to trail along after us for two blocks but then denying he was doing it when we called him on it. A few men shouted less than respectful things. But overall the atmosphere was warm and welcoming. We were greeted by far more smiles than frowns, and no one tried to stop us.

And then dinner! There’s nothing quite like tucking into hearty fare with good friends and the bare minimum of clothing. But that’s a matter for another post.

For now, we’ll leave you with a glance at the sun descending over the water — just one of the many wonderful sights we took in without having to feel the slightest concern about not having our chests covered. Really, there’s nothing better than that. Not just the actual sensation of the sun on our bodies, but the lack of concern. This is what freedom feels like. To misquote Seinfeld from a different (but not entirely inappropriate) context: It’s real, and it’s spectacular.

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IMG_3955fIt is of course legal for women to go topless in New York anywhere a man can, and it has been for the past 25 years. That’s true in any of the city’s parks, where men habitually relax topless in the grass or stroll shirtless on the paths…

IMG_3851…and it is also true on the streets of the city, such as the waterfront esplanades at the lower tip of Manhattan. It’s not automatically true in private establishments such as restaurants (which are free to impose a “no shoes, no shirts, no service” policy as long as it’s applied impartially), but any private establishment can permit toplessness if it wishes.

With that in mind, we thought we’d commemorate the winding down of summer with a day in which we did all three: began at midday in a downtown park, then took a long afternoon stroll along the waterside and through the streets of lower Manhattan, and finally sat down in the evening for a group dinner at a friendly establishment that didn’t mind our dining sans chemises.

IMG_4028Joining us for this very special event was our old friend Chelsea Covington, a tireless and passionate advocate for equal rights in general and topfreedom in particular.

IMG_3916Chelsea is the brave soul at the center of the legal case you may have seen in the news regarding women’s rights to go topless on the beach in Maryland. You can find out more on her blog, BreastsAreHealthy, and we very much encourage you to do so. If we haven’t already, she’ll inspire you to take that first step toward topfreedom yourself.

IMG_3938We began our adventure with Chelsea in Rockefeller Park, down at the far west end of Warren Street, with the Hudson River at our backs. At first, when there were only two of us there and he saw us taking off our tops, a park worker came up to us and erroneously claimed that we had to put our shirts back on; we told him he should consult with the police if he didn’t want to take our word for it that the law was on our side. He left.

IMG_4063Later, when there were more of us and we’d spent some time taking pictures of one another, a different park worker approached to ask if we were “doing a photo shoot.” We had the right to be topless, he acknowledged, but photo shoots require permits. We explained that we weren’t “doing a photo shoot,” we were just a group of friends, we had a visitor from out of town whom we don’t see nearly often enough, and of course we wanted to take pictures together, just like anyone else might. Was that a problem?

Well, no — he’d just gotten some complaints from a nearby group with children, and knowing that he couldn’t legally hassle us for being topless was trying desperately to come up with some other pretext for hassling us. But we know our rights and stood up to him, and eventually he left too. (At least this time no actual police showed up.)

In between those encounters, and on either side of them, we had a lovely time in the park — discussed books and politics,

IMG_3859Enjoyed the breezes off the water,

IMG_3932fAnd ate strawberries together with an avian pal.

IMG_3825fIMG_3914cIMG_4024Then the clock chimed four, and with just an hour until our dinner reservation, we began our walk. About which, more anon.

IMG_4084IMG_4095In the meantime, we’ll say this: getting hassled by park personnel is not fun — but it’s one hell of a lot better than being arrested and fined $1,000, which is what can happen to you in Ocean City, MD, if you’re a woman who exposes a nipple on the beach (but not if you’re a man). In New York, we have the law on our side and are merely exercising our rights. Chelsea is out there fighting for them. Our hats — and our tops — are off to her.

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IMG_2872cThe law in New York says that women have the same right as men do to go bare-chested in public places. Not some women — all women.

IMG_2737Accordingly, we invite all women to join us at our events, regardless of race, age, shape, size, sexuality, religion, or any other attribute. If you’re female,  we welcome you. And you have the same rights as any male.

IMG_2791But not every female feels like she has the same rights, or the same freedom to exercise those rights. So we sometimes take extra pains to encourage those who might feel unsure if the law applies to them, too.

IMG_2751cTo give one example: we’ve been contacted repeatedly over the years by students — still in school or on summer break — who’ve written things like, “I love and support what your group does, and someday I hope to be able to take part in it.” And when we ask, What’s stopping you? they answer, “I can’t yet…can I?”

IMG_2623Of course they can — if (for instance) a high school senior or college freshman who happens to be male can take his shirt off to play frisbee in Central Park, the law says his classmate who happens to be female can do the same thing. Equal rights for all means equal rights for all. But while male students stride easily around Sheep Meadow with a confidence born of never having questioned their body’s suitability for public display (privilege, anyone?), female students hide and agonize and wish the world were different — or don’t even think to wish that, since they’ve been taught from childhood that their bodies must be covered. The more progressive among them might have a vague sense that at some point it becomes okay for them to take their shirts off too…but when, exactly, they don’t know. When they turn 18? When they turn 20? 21? When they graduate from college? When they’re no longer living under their parents’ roof…?

Our answer: when you want to. And no time like the present.

IMG_2733c2So a few weeks ago we held a special event. We invited two dozen students from schools all around the city to join us for a picnic near the Great Hill in Central Park.  They were joined by a few members of our group who aren’t too far removed from that age group themselves, to help introduce all the first-timers to what we do. It was perfect picnic weather and everyone came prepared to relax and enjoy some time outdoors.

IMG_2440IMG_2459IMG_2671There were books to read–

IMG_2742IMG_2538There were snacks to eat.

IMG_2695-rIMG_2726We all introduced ourselves, and discovered just how much we had in common. (This despite the group randomly being one of the most diverse we’ve ever assembled.)

IMG_2857IMG_2883IMG_2663IMG_2889And we did all of this bare from the waist up. Not one passer-by complained or gave us a hard time or did anything to make us uncomfortable. In that regard, it was no different from most of the other events we’ve held in parks around town over the past seven summers. But what made it different was that almost everyone there was bare-chested in public for the first time — and that many of the participants, if you’d asked them a few weeks earlier, would probably have said they weren’t even sure they were allowed to do it. This was liberation in a very literal sense.

IMG_2534cIMG_2539After the event, we asked everyone who took part if they wanted to share any thoughts about what the experience was like. Here are some examples of what people said:

The event was amazing. To me going topless outside in a public place felt wonderful. I’ve never felt more at peace with myself. It was so relaxing to be in a judgment-free zone where everyone can be comfortable with their bodies and not feel ashamed….I love the fact that it’s legal for a female to walk around topless just like men. It sucks that not as many girls are aware that it is legal and most girls are “embarrassed” about their bodies. Overall girls should be able to do the same things boys do, like being topless without caring what people think/say. 

IMG_2842It was my first time going completely shirtless today and at first i was really nervous but i wanted to do this because girls should have the right to. So many people making a big deal about it. It seems like the norm is to sexualize everything that’s natural. I would love to do this again because it made me feel confident. 

IMG_2720It was definitely a fun and new experience for me! Overall I was surprised by how normal it all felt. I just hung out with my friends in the park like I always do and I enjoyed the freedom of it. I do think it’s important for women to know their rights on this issue especially considering how hot and humid it can get in New York, and how ultimately it is really not a big deal.

IMG_2796I was so pleasantly surprised at how natural it felt to be in a park, topless. Being surrounded by so many other beautiful smiling women helped ease the initial shock of showing up alone to a topless picnic in the park. I’ve gone topless on beaches in parts of Europe, but never in the United States so it felt good to apply the NY law to reality and take my top off! I very much look forward to doing it again!

IMG_2562The girls were very sweet and I really liked the event. Although girls in general can be very competitive and judgmental, these women were very accepting towards each other’s different body types and were able to have great conversations regardless of them meeting a few hours ago! Everyone was so comfortable and open amongst each other. They were topless for non-sexual reasons which made it empowering and I think more women should try it. 

IMG_2876It was so nice being able to let loose with my fellow ladies; definitely took me out of my comfort zone for a little bit, but still a great time! 

IMG_2646I was initially really nervous about this event. I wasn’t sure how comfortable I’d feel being topless or if the experience would be awkward or not. When I arrived, however, I felt welcomed by the group and soon I didn’t feel awkward at all. Everyone was very kind and the good conversation quickly took my mind off of the fact that I was topless. By the end of the first half hour, I felt quite comfortable and I was no longer self conscious. I honestly believe that every woman should experience being topless at least once, to dispel any concern or apprehension about it. This event marked my first time going topless, but I very well may do it again in the future. 

IMG_2868Listen to what they’re saying: It felt natural, normal, non-judgmental. It made me feel confident. How can anyone hear these women’s voices and not recognize that this is an unambiguously good thing, a healthy thing, a healing thing?

IMG_2556In our opinion, a topless field trip to Central Park should be part of the curriculum of every school in the city. This is how you raise well-adjusted, healthy girls and self-confident young women, ones who respect their own bodies and each others’.

But until the School Chancellor shares our point view (and we’re not holding our breath), we’re proud to do our part.

IMG_2551And so we say to the female students of New York (as we do to every other group of women in the city): the law does apply to you. Women’s rights are your rights. Be smart, be safe — but be confident too, and don’t let anyone tell you your body is one iota less prideworthy than your brothers’.

And if you need help taking the leap for the first time, we’re here for you. Just email us at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com. You’ll be out in nature in no time — and you’ll wonder what took you so long.

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IMG_3181Followers of this blog will have noticed that we don’t go to the beach a lot. That’s not because we don’t like beaches — we love them. But New York City makes it easy to go to the park and hard to go to the beach. Few of us have cars, for one thing, and getting to the beach is a lot easier with one.

But at least once each summer, we make a point of going. Last summer we braved the hour-long subway ride and the siren song of funnel cake vendors to go to Coney Island, and this past week we went to Riis Beach.

IMG_3103Now, Riis is famous, but few of us had ever been. It’s a right pain to get to — in the end, we wound up hiring a bus to take us there and back. And once you’re there, there’s not much in the way of amenities. A few food vendors on the boardwalk, some fenced-in fields, an abandoned nursing home building for atmosphere.

IMG_2938But…what an amazing beach it is!

IMG_3145Who knew that one hour out of Manhattan there’s a beach that’s as free and loose and casual as you’d find on the coast of Spain or a Greek island or either Riviera (French or Maya)? The sand was packed the day we went — one of the nicest weekend days all summer — but everywhere people were relaxing and getting along, and at least on the eastern end where we set up our towels, as many women were topless as not.

IMG_3412IMG_3555IMG_3057How wonderful, for once, not to be the only ones! Not that we really mind when we are — it’s ok, as long as no one bothers us. But how wonderful to look around and see all sorts of women confidently baring their breasts, and no one thinking anything of it!

IMG_3294So we staked out a little patch of sand for ourselves and lost no time in stripping down to as little as we could get away with.

IMG_2919IMG_2949IMG_2988Not to be undone, one of the three boys we had with us this time decided to rock a gold-sequined C-string, which was the hit of the beach until he made the mistake of wearing it into the water. Hello, wave; goodbye, C-string.

IMG_9912The water was lovely. Choppy, yes, some giant waves, but cold and refreshing and we took many long swims…

IMG_3576IMG_3006…then walked the length of the beach after to dry off.

IMG_3411The beach does have a more “bohemian” (aka, gay) section and a slightly more conservative (aka, straight) section, and we probably got a few more looks when we strayed from one to the other. But just curiosity, not hostility. No catcalls, nothing to break the lovely mood of the day, even when we moved from the sand to the boardwalk.

IMG_3374Back at our towels, we got some reading done. (No, Invisible Man doesn’t count as pulp fiction — it wasn’t the H.G. Wells version! — and neither does The New Yorker, but cut us some slack. We like to read a variety…)

IMG_3500IMG_3227IMG_3219And for those who didn’t bring reading material? There was sun, sun sun.

IMG_3260IMG_3319IMG_3463IMG_3095Eventually 5pm arrived, and our bus with it. We took one last dip…

IMG_3037IMG_3519…then packed our things, bid a rueful adieu to the sand and sun, and motored back to Manhattan.

Would we do it again? Oh, in a heartbeat. It’s tempting to go every week! Yes, Gunnison lets you go fully nude, which would be an improvement; Riis has a history of being used nude, but that was in the 60s and 70s, and the world is more censorious about such things now. (Unless the ocean eats your swimsuit, people understand that!) But Riis more than makes up for it with the warmth of the crowd, the quality of the scenery, and the relative ease of access (Gunnison is in New Jersey, a 50% longer drive). And you really couldn’t ask for a better place to relax with friends.

IMG_3597Probably this was our only beach trip for this summer, but if you’d be excited about joining us for another, we can consider it — just send email to toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com and let us know.  August is beach weather too, after all.

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