IMG_7868Quick, we thought…before it gets too cold out…to the park!

Believe it or not, in four summers we’d never previously met in Union Square Park. Why not? No idea. But we hadn’t, so that’s where we went, bringing books with us that ranged from Naomi Novik’s upcoming UPROOTED to Michael Lewis’s Wall Street expose, FLASH BOYS. (No, we didn’t mistake Lewis’ title for an imperative…)

IMG_7789IMG_7828IMG_7855Joining us was a journalist from France interested in writing about New York’s attitudes toward toplessness…

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She seemed entertained by the particular set of passers-by who stopped to say hello, ranging from a painter who’d previously happened upon us in Bryant Park to a fire alarm system technician on his lunch break to this fellow…

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…who announced that he’d just taken an Adderall, didn’t know whether we were a hallucination or not, and that he’d recently been named “the illest homeless man in New York City.” Hm.

He also called one of us “a genetic miracle.” Adderall makes you say the sweetest things.

The sun had a strong showing, almost making it feel like summer again. Its days are numbered and we know it, but while there’s life in it yet, we’ll soak up every ray.

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By afternoon’s end we were still full of pep and yearning, so after making like amazons…

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…and 1950s housewives…

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…we took a topless stroll out of the park, culminating in a stop at a Mr. Softee ice cream truck.

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Did that finally cool our fires? For a time. But there’s never enough Mr. Softee to quench us for long.

More! we call. More! And again: More!

More soon.

IMG_7913So, a dip in a rooftop pool is one of the great ways to cool down on a hot late-summer day…but it’s not the only way, as one of our members who works as a bartender downtown demonstrated with great proficiency the other day.

IMG_8005We brought the ingredients for margaritas, mojitos, mimosas and cosmos, while she brought the tools of the trade: shaker; strainer; muddler that could double as a fierce butt plug. Corks were popped, screwtops screwed, limes halved, jalapenos quartered, ice smashed against the wooden floor. Drinks were sampled and spilled, spills were licked up. Fresh mint leaves got muddled, and so, by god, did we.

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Did we get any reading done? We did, until the pages started to blur.

IMG_7981IMG_8018After that it was all conversation, some of it about the waning of the season and what we would do to keep the group together over the colder months to come. We have Ideas. Some big ones, some small ones, but no shortage of plans; now it’s just a matter of figuring out which and when and how and who.

But first we plan to drink summer to the lees, much the same as we drank our delicious selection of what Alex Trebek would call Potent Potables. In the altogether because, naked cocktails. Just as lovely as naked reading. And it’s another thing you can’t do in the middle of Central Park. Yet.

IMG_8060IMG_8033IMG_7986IMG_8008IMG_8066IMG_7916IMG_7954IMG_7917IMG_8079Oh — and just to wrap up the rooftop report, here are a few pics we’d planned to include last time but didn’t find room for. Say hello to two of our newest members and one of our oldest, back again after more than a year away. And two of our most steadfast, too, just because, well, we love them. :)

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IMG_7707We had a notion that some hotel in New York City — where after all it is legal for women to go topless anywhere a man can, and has been legal for more than 20 years — might be willing to let us use their rooftop swimming pool sometime, side by side with all their topless male guests. We offered to rent hotel rooms so we’d be guests too. But no: they were all terrified to allow bare-chested women on the same roof as bare-chested men.

“This group seems incredible – and very fun!” wrote a representative of the Empire Hotel. But: “Because this is a private space (with food and families) – we require our guests to wear tops. So I am not sure that we would be the best fit for you. Thank you for understanding.” Yes, of course we understand: food, after all. Our bare breasts (unlike men’s bare breasts) will tend to cause milk to sour and meat to spoil and other food to go bad in other mysterious ways. And families! Individual, separate men, women and children can bear exposure to female mammary tissue, but a family, no, a family will explode like popcorn on a hot stove if you wave a nipple in its direction. A woman’s nipple, that is. A man’s nipple, no problem. (True, he wrote “we require our guests to wear tops,” not distinguishing between women and men — but we have a feeling he meant they require this of their female guests. If they required it of their male guests as well it would be a rare swimming pool indeed.)

Jenny Morales of the Gansevoort Hotel wrote, “You’re more than welcome to join us as hotel guests and access the pool, however being that this is family friendly hotel, going topless would not be an option.” Oh, don’t we know it! We have tried and tried to train our breasts not to be so unfriendly to families, but they’re just incorrigible.

Nicolas Oliveira of the Hotel Americano wrote, “We are supporters when it comes to topless sunbathing and as you said, our Hotel does have international flavor. We choose to be neutral at our pool since at the end of the day we are a Hotel and we need to cater to Hotel Guests first. We do not believe that it will have a negative reaction when it comes to our Hotel Guests, but we also do not want to risk anything because we are a Hotel and our guests are our biggest supporters.” We are still trying to untangle that one. But it sounds like “We choose to be neutral at our pool” means “Please, please, please don’t come.”

Well, Nicolas and Jenny and Unnamed Representative — so be it. Your pools, your rules. But it’s a pity that none of you are willing to stand up to mindless conservatism, to fear and shame. Because what terrible thing are we really talking about here? A dozen happy women enjoying the sun with a little less rather than a little more fabric on. Relaxing, reading, tanning — nothing more, nothing worse. Unless you’re all secretly in the fabric industry and afraid your swimsuit concessions will plunge in value, we really can’t comprehend the danger we represent. Just take a look at these photos and tell us — would this really have hurt you so badly? So badly that you were willing to turn away hundreds of dollars in revenue — maybe hundreds per person — just to keep it from happening…?

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And to the enlightened folk at the Colonial Park Inn (where all these photos were taken, after we gave up on our search for a real pool we could use) we say: thank you. We always feel welcome with you. Your pool may be small, and it may be inflatable, and it may not allow us to swim laps or practice the back float, but at least we can ditch the swimsuits. Which is the best way to enjoy a pool.

And get this, you’re not only comfortable with breasts, you’re even okay with vaginas! And penises!

God bless you, Colonial House. God bless you.

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IMG_7436Who says summer is packed and on its way to the Departures gate? Not us, not after spending an afternoon under the 90-degree sun in Central Park this past Wednesday. It was like an outdoor sauna, and just what we needed as a prophylactic against the end-of-summer blues.

We hit two spots in the park that we’d never been to before (and isn’t it wonderful that after four summers Central Park still has spots we haven’t been to?): the luxurious, edenic East Green…

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…and the blessedly private “Dene,” a little grassy nook up a flight of stone steps from the main body of the park, tucked away between giant boulders. Thank you, Olmsted and Vaux!

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There were 15 of us in all, though people came and went as the afternoon wore on. Reading material ranged from Italo Calvino’s If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler to a Preacher graphic novel

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to an advance copy of Naomi Novik’s amazing amazing amazing new fantasy novel, Uprooted.

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We had two documentary filmmakers with us, and two screenwriters, and one person just back from the Cannes Film Festival…so it was sort of a Hollywood-themed event, accidentally. But other luminaries from other fields included a professional dogwalker and a food-stylist in training. We contain multitudes. :)

And there’s still more to come. As always, if you’re interested in participating and are a body-positive New York woman (or planning a visit to NYC from somewhere else), drop us a note at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com — we’d love to hear from you.

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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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