IMG_6828As promised, here we are on the grass in Washington Square Park before our recent adventure at Ayza Wine Bar; it was gorgeous and glorious. And we have more gatherings like it planned! Not just for later in August, either. We plan to keep meeting in September and beyond, as long as the weather holds up. Last year we were out on Halloween, and the year before that we even met once in December, it was so warm out.

If you’re a body-positive, book-loving New York woman who’d enjoy hanging out with other such, drop us an email at toplesspulpfiction[AT]gmail[DOT]com and we’ll get you onto our super-secret invite list. Don’t let the season pass you by without feeling the sun and the breeze on your bare breasts! It’s your right and your privilege, and you’ll kick yourself when down-parka weather returns…

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OCTPFAS_080814-8299Last time we went to Bryant Park, it looked like it might rain. Pour, in fact. And when we thought we might get rained out, we quickly called around to some restaurants in the area to see if any of them would be willing to take in a wet and bedraggled topless book club for lunch. A decent enough fallback, we thought.

Well, in the end it didn’t rain, and if you scroll down far enough you can see how much fun we had outdoors in the park that day. (Even the arrival of a Fox News reporter wasn’t enough to ruin the afternoon.) But one of the restaurants that enthusiastically said they’d have welcomed us was Ayza Wine Bar.

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Well, not being ones to pass up a good thing, we kept in touch, and this past week we took them up on it, gathering first in nearby Washington Square Park (photos from that part of the day to follow) and then walking the six blocks south to Ayza’s downtown location.

And it was spectacular. Better than we could ever have expected. First of all, the staff was all welcoming and friendly and supportive and warm, and totally game to accommodate what had to be, for them, a rather unusual event. Second of all (though it hardly deserves to come anywhere but first on any list of good things), the food was absolutely delicious — spicy glazed chicken “lollipops,” savory dumplings, pizza spiked with black truffle, artichoke…and then the desserts started emerging, including chocolate truffles hand-delivered by charming waiters and chocolate fondue with all the trimmings.

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Third of all (and it hardly deserves to come third), we had the benefits of a private setting (such as the freedom to get fully naked if we wanted, and a couple of us did) while the giant plate-glass windows enabled us to see the sun, and the world going by on the street outside. Could people see us too? Judging by the occasional startled facial expressions, some of them did, though when we sent ambassadors outside to try looking in, we mostly saw reflections. You had to be angled just right to get an eyeful. But some passers-by happened to look at the right moment, and the variety of reactions (confusion, delight, more confusion, stern tugging away of boyfriends by the sleeve) was fun to behold.

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To give just one example, this older woman came to the door to find out what was going on. “We’re the Outdoor Co-Ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society,” our emissary explained. “Well, I certainly appreciate it,” the visitor said with a big smile.

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The afternoon doubled as a birthday celebration for one of our two photographers, and one of the waiters (who got into the spirit of things by going shirtless himself) delivered some fireworks to her table.

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Did we get any reading in? Not a ton. But we did have several anthologies on hand from Rachel Kramer Bussel, and the editor herself there, joining in on the fun. Copies of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Hard Case Crime books also made an appearance.

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But this time was really about the food and the company and the venue and hoping not to cause any traffic accidents as drivers spied something like 20 women (and a guy or two) in rather less clothing than you normally see in a restaurant.

Happily, we can report there were no six-car pileups.

And Ayza was tremendous. We’re going to return for sure, maybe when it’s freezing out. Imagine people passing by outside in down parkas, when snow is coming down, and glancing in the windows and seeing this…

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IMG950323Our friend Cheyenne took a European journey for several weeks this summer — yachting in Sardinia, and so forth — but has finally returned to New York City. And like all things she does, she’s done it in style.

Welcome home, girl. We’ll so glad to have you back.

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2013-f1One of our regulars moved to Los Angeles last year; we still miss her every time we meet.

When she left, she took with her a roll of film she shot on our favorite rooftop sundeck, and with one thing and another, she never got around to developing the film. Until last week, that is. And she shared the photos with us, a tender and artistic look back at a summer of the past. We share them with you. A reminder, if you will, that the present summer will be a summer of the past not too long from now; that every day is yesterday soon than you might wish.

We’ve got plenty to look forward to, including a singularly exciting adventure coming up this Friday.

But for once, let’s look back.

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20140729_162529Two of the international travelers in our group — one hailing from Australia, one commencing a research project in Saudi Arabia — are heading off next week. They’ll be back…New York has a siren song that calls its daughters home (especially ones who like to get naked in public and are spending an extended period in Saudi Arabia)…but not before this summer is a memory, so to celebrate their departure and see them off in style we gathered on our favorite rooftop sundeck and got naked in the fading rays of the late afternoon. Eight women and two men, a selection of scones and muffins, copies of Heidegger and Under the Dome, two classic film cameras and some cell phones for selfie-snapping…it was as fine an impromptu to-do as we’ve ever had, half Irish wake, half lazy cats lying contentedly in a patch of sun.

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Apologies to the two pairs of strangers who wandered onto the roof while we were there — an adorable couple of boys we peeked at through the shrubbery and then startled by saying hello; a mother and daughter who may not have been expecting the full-frontal view they got. But everyone was well behaved and took the sights in stride, confirming us in our suspicion that NYC is in some ways the most civilized spot in the world.

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Our thanks to the good souls at the Colonial House Inn for letting us indulge our inner nudists (and outer too, we suppose). Especially with a week of rain forecast and our numbers reduced by the departures, we are grateful for every moment in the sun.

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IMG_6493When we chose the location for this weekend’s get-together — the far west end of 55th Street, where a tree-shaded, grassy lawn slopes down to the edge of the Hudson River — we had no idea that we would be next door to the world’s largest convention of sneaker enthusiasts, “Sneaker Con.” But when we arrived, laden with books and towels and tasty things to eat, we found a line of people carrying cardboard shoeboxes and wearing the most striking footwear. What was at first a short queue soon snaked around the entire perimeter of the lawn, encircling us to the tune of at least two hundred eager souls — most of whom, for lack of anything better to do while waiting to be let in, seemed to be watching us and speculating on the question of who we were and why we had no shirts on.

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But — and this is why we love New York so — the speculation was good natured and polite, and aside from a very few nervous visits from inquisitive teenage boys, nominally asking us this or that but actually just angling for a close-up view, we were left to read in peace. (One of our number did comment at one point, “I think we’ve jump-started puberty for several people on line.” She wasn’t necessarily referring to the chronologically young, either.)

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Our attendees this time included two representatives of the Feminist Press, who came bearing gifts, samples of their line of female-authored pulp fiction, and a French journalist working on a magazine article about America’s top-freedom movement; all three cast inhibition aside and joined us in bare-breasted relaxation. Other attendees hailed from as far away as Australia, Israel, and Barcelona and as near as the Upper West Side. One of us had to leave halfway through for a dog-walking gig; one arrived late after a long evening bartending. We also had not one but two physicists and a brief discussion of molecular dynamics. Alongside our customary stash of pulp fiction (including, hot off the presses, a new paperback edition of Lawrence Block’s amazing A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES, basis for the forthcoming Liam Neeson movie), we read Sartre and BULLFINCH’S MYTHOLOGY. We ate chili-laced popcorn and coconut chips, fresh lychees and blueberries, petits fours from Maison Kayser, and some utterly delectable homemade tollhouse cookies. (One of our members brought her boyfriend, and her boyfriend brought the cookies. Good boyfriend.)

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At one point, one of us, demonstrating considerable dexterity and upper-body strength, clambered up the nearest tree and deposited herself in the crook of two branches and proceeded to read Truman Capote from her perch.

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At another point, we found ourselves discussing nipple piercings (one of us had just gotten hers done the day before).

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At yet another, we communed with the gaggle of geese that frequent the lawn.

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Was the afternoon perfect? Almost. It did drizzle at one point, and more substantial rain threatened. But we defied the threat and, improbably, the skies cleared. Neither we nor the geese were forced to fly, and our feathers remained blissfully unruffled.

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IMG_6715Today, thanks to Andy Golub, was New York City Bodypainting Day, a celebration of art and the  naked body. While normally only toplessness is legal on the streets of Manhattan, full nudity is legal if it’s in the service of an artistic production, and there’s no question that this gathering of a few dozen of the nation’s finest body painters was an artistic production. Working with a common color palette and a mandate to incorporate eyes into their designs, the painters attacked the problem with relish, producing human canvases that were imaginative and beautiful.

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And it was wonderful to see so many people boldly and proudly naked in the sun, on the street at the Columbus Circle entrance to Central Park. Spectators watched, remarkably politely, and the moral fabric of the city was not rent asunder despite the presence of dozens of bared penises, unclothed vaginas, and breasts of every shape, size, age and gender. (Not to mention the handling of same, in full view of onlookers of every shape, size, age and gender.)

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Which begs the question, of course, why it’s okay for people to see this once a year when paint is involved but the other 364 it’s grounds for arrest. But one step at a time.

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