IMG_4779Sunbathing in the great outdoors is all well and good, but there comes a time when you’d really like a dip in cool water to relieve the golden toasting the sun has given you. When that time comes, if you’re not by the fountain in Washington Square Park, your options are limited. Yes, there are some public pools, and someday we’ll try one. But this past week we went to our favorite private pool, on the roof of the Dream Downtown hotel. Unlike every other hotel with an outdoor pool we’ve reached out to, the Dream isn’t scared by the prospect of bare-chested women joining in with all the bare-chested men lounging by their pool. On the contrary, they’re a topless-friendly pool all the time. Consequently, when the time comes for our annual pool adventure, that’s where we head, books in tow.

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A dozen of us took over one of their cabanas, relaxed on their lounge chairs (with real sand underneath, for that Authentic Beach Feel), toasted each other with champagne, and read Lawrence Block (The Girl With the Deep Blue Eyes), Karl Ove Knausgaard (My Struggle), and Megan Abbott (The Fever).

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We also indulged in a little live broadcasting via Periscope, teaching a few thousand observers about gender equality in New York…

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…and just for fun, also a little touristy photography, shooting up through the cutouts in the pool bottom, as seen from the hotel lobby:

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“What is this?” some hotel guests asked. “Why are you topless?” The same reason you are, we explained — if we were talking to a man. Or, when we were talking to curious women: You know you can too, right?

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And a few of them took our contact info. Will they join us at a future event? We hope so. The summer isn’t over yet. Before the cold sets in (and if last year is any indication, it could be a long one), why not take an afternoon to lounge topless in the sun?

Or in the water. It’s all up to you.

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IMG_4408As longtime visitors to our site know, we’re not shy. We’ve taken, oh, about six thousand photographs of our events and posted scads them on this very site, which has in turn been viewed some 15,700,189 times by women and men all over the world. And we’ve been written about by many news outlets — probably hundreds, especially if you count that Greek newspaper that one time. But: until today we have never once appeared on video for any of them. You’ve never heard any of us speak.

That’s about to change, since we were kindly and sympathetically approached by a reporter for Salon.com, asking if she could be our first. And we do like first times, and trying new things, and breaking new boundaries. So once she convinced us that she understood what we were all about and that her approach would be consistent with the site’s tradition of fair coverage and female-positive views, we agreed to let her come out with us, first to Washington Square Park and then to a spot a little farther uptown, on the banks of the Hudson River.

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Both afternoons were lovely, and so was her company. So much so that we’ve invited her back to be a member in good standing. We’ll see if she joins us sometime, sans videocamera (and sans vetements). But for now we’re excited to see how the piece she’s working on comes out. Who knows? It may even be up on their site by the time you read this. We’ll add a link once it is. (EDITED TO ADD: Here it is — http://goo.gl/Tz9ZHP.)

In the meantime, enjoy these behind-the-scenes shots, from our very own salon. (Of the literary variety, naturally. Not that there’s anything wrong with beauty salons, hair salons, etc. But we suspect that’s not the meaning that gave Salon.com its name. Who really knows, though? We’ll have to ask Janet about keratin treatments sometime.)

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IMG_4018Our experience getting painted for New York Bodypainting Day sparked an artistic impulse in our collective breast, so for our latest trip to Central Park we chose a secluded meadow and invited four of our favorite artists to accompany us and sketch us as we lay about in the (almost) altogether.

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(Next time we might go all the way — full nudity is apparently legal in New York as long as it’s part of an artistic performance or exhibition, and being drawn or painted would seem to qualify. But this time only one of us was brave enough to go full monty in the grass.)

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We had our favorite new books on hand (yet another member came bearing a copy of Dune!), along with miniature danishes and chocolate kuglof from Andre’s on the upper east side. The sun was high and merciless, the grass sere underfoot, the boulders craggy wonders — and yet we felt less like we were in an apocalyptic milieu worthy of a George Miller movie (we’re looking at you, Happy Feet 2!) than like, I don’t know, Brooke Shields in The Blue Lagoon, minus only the body of water. Which is to say, paradisiacal (if a bit hot).

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A handful of people stumbled upon us as the afternoon wore on — several dog lovers giving their canine companions their daily exercise; a family of four who made no eye contact, just walked on through; two cute boys in college sweatshirts, ditto. And then there were the three oldish teens(?), who darted in with super-soakers in hand, sprayed us lustily, cackled, and ran away. We were torn between feeling incensed (and concerned for our not-precisely-waterproof cellphones, not to mention our printed-on-actual-paper books) and feeling refreshed by the brief cooling down. Still, next time, ask first, okay, boys…?

There was also this raccoon:

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The art, meanwhile, was all quick sketchwork — but lovely sketchwork with exactly the free, lively, impromptu quality a gathering of nearly naked people in the woods calls for.

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Next time: some extended poses. Who knows? Maybe we can even get easels and oils out there and make a proper Dejeuner Sur L’Herbe of it.

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IMG_3641We love our long-time members, they’re the backbone of our group. Plus they’re our dear friends and we miss them when we don’t see them for too long. But we also love meeting new people! Especially people who love to read, like us, and whom we can introduce to some of the lurid reading material our club is known for.

With the advent of late-July weather (aka “heat”), we have more women contacting us and saying they’re sick to death of walking through the park in two layers (Bra? Check! Tank top? Check!) when all the men around them are waving their nipples and pecs in the open air. And we’re always glad to welcome them. This past Monday, we met up on the lawn right behind Columbus Circle and welcomed several first timers to our not-so-secret society. (Quick aside: if you’re curious and might like to join us sometime, just write to us: toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com.)

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Books on hand this time included not one but two tattered copies of Dune (brought separately by two different people — we predict a love connection!)…

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…a new science-fiction anthology featuring a story by one of our members…

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…and two new Hard Case Crime releases, So Nude, So Dead and The Girl With the Deep Blue Eyes.

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Interactions with folks around us were mostly pleasant and all colorful: the shy youngster who demonstrated his parkour moves for us on an uncomplaining tree; the “Hater Hobo” and his entourage of drummer and horn-tootler, who tried to recruit us to demonstrate against Donald Trump; and the skeptical sounding British lady who seemed uncomprehending when we explained to her that women in New York have all the same legal rights to go bare-chested as men. By the time the afternoon ended, we had also accumulated a loose ring of men around us, but mostly at a respectful distance and not doing anything too bothersome.

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When the heat finally kicked our asses, we headed down the block to Grom for ice cream, sorbet and air conditioning.

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Next up: a weekend gathering somewhere far, far away (no, not Tatooine, though just think of the sunbathing you could enjoy with two suns!). And then perhaps a TV appearance…? We’ll see. We’ll post more info when we know more.

In the meantime, hope you’re all keeping cool…and well-read…and as naked as you can go without getting arrested.

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IMG_3475sSome events are huge, some are tiny. The NYC Bodypainting Day festival we reported on yesterday was in the former category — 100 models fully nude in the streets, getting painted before marching to the U.N. But a few days before that we took to the streets of Alphabet City with a few of our stalwart members for our first ever visit to Tompkins Square Park and a project to give away free works of art to random passers-by.

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Everyone who passed was offered a felt heart (that is, a heart made of felt — though hopefully they felt the gesture as well) and the chance to take any of the dozen or so works of art hung up on the fence surrounding the park. Some responded with suspicion, some with confusion — but plenty stopped and chatted and a lucky few left with new art for their homes or their friends.

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The project, called Hate Street (for reasons you can find if you click through and explore) was the brainchild of two of our members, who also regaled spectators with handstands and music.

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And if that wasn’t enough, there was the park right next door, and there were books — and with those things and a felt heart, what more could a girl need?

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NYBPD2-31Last year was the first NYC Bodypainting Day, an event where dozens of models met up with dozens of artists, flown in from all over the country and all over the world, to paint on human canvases in public. It was such a success that this year it more than doubled in size, with over 100 models of all shapes and sizes, genders, races, colors, ages, physical abilities, and other attributes all getting naked together on a beautiful East Side street a few blocks from the United Nations, to get painted head-to-toe under the sun.

Needless to say, we were happy to be part of the fun, with several of our members (and a few long-time friends of the family) contributing their bodies to the general celebration.

And what an absolute joy it was! Even with hundreds of onlookers and a police presence (protective of us, but still), nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of the participants, and a more cordial, well-behaved, kind and good-natured bunch you couldn’t imagine. And despite more than a hundred bared sets of genitalia exposed to the eyes of all passers-by, the city didn’t crumble, God didn’t smite us (it didn’t even rain, the way it had been threatening to!), and life only became a little freer, a little happier, and a little richer.

One step at a time. But this was a big one.

(P.S. Our thanks to all the wonderful photographers who covered the event and posted their pictures of us online for the world to see. We normally shoot all our own photos, but this time around none of us had any place to carry a camera! We got a few cellphone shots of our own, but for good quality images we’re dependent on the many talented and generous non-painter artists who made the day so special.)

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IMG_2710Who was it that decided the 5th of July would be “Read Naked Day“? The geniuses behind the Naked Girls Reading performances, it seems, and god bless them for it, even if segregating just one three-hundred-sixth-fifth of the calendar for naked reading feels pretty parsimonious to us. Still, better one day than no days, and if that’s what it takes to get Muggles to try wizarding for the first time…

So: we joined in the celebration. How? Well, late, for one thing. We were a day late for Read Naked Day and two for Independence Day, but we had books and an American flag and no clothes, so fuck it. It was a celebration. And lest you think it was merely a double holiday, yesterday was also the birthday of one of our long-time members, making it three, three, three holidays in one.

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We hit our favorite rooftop sundeck, got as naked as naked can get, and read the diaries of Frida Khalo, the instructive Playing the Whore, the equally instructive(?) annotated Lolita, the brilliant new fantasy Uprooted, the just-out-in-bookstores So Nude, So Dead, and the coming-in-September The Girl With the Deep Blue Eyes. All excellent reads for a balmy summer day.

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We also had a variety of intoxicants on hand, not least the presence of so many beautiful friends and so little fabric separating us from them.

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So we basically spent the whole afternoon high — on life, on sun and summer, on words and ideas, on the sheer physical pleasure of inhabiting our bodies. And okay, on vodka and proseco.

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None of us wanted to put our clothes back on, and some of us lingered well into the evening. But gravity eventually pulled us back to earth again, as gravity will. (Damn you Isaac Newton! Couldn’t that apple have held on just a bit longer?)

But we’ll always have our memories. And thanks to Monsieur Daguerre and his marvelous invention, you now have them as well.

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