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IMG_5038After all the media coverage our production of The Tempest received — newspaper after newspaper, website after website — we didn’t think it could get any better. But we were wrong.

Salon just ran a gorgeous, thoughtful video piece about us, filmed by Janet Upadhye and Peter Cooper, titled This NSFW nude production of “The Tempest” is the most brave and beautiful thing you will see today. In it, you can see some really stunning footage from the performance along with interviews with two of the actors in the show as well as one of the show’s directors.

IMG_4862Not to be outdone, NBC News ran a video story of their own — Female Cast Performs Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ in Central Park — in the Nude, filmed by Jennifer Weiss  — featuring interviews with audience members, and with another of our actors.

IMG_4809The combination of these two pieces really goes a long way toward illuminating our motives for putting on this play and demonstrating that we were able to get our message across. It is honestly one of the most gratifying experiences any of us have ever had, and the fact that it has now reached not just hundreds of people in the park but millions around the world makes us so very proud.

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IMG_4013Well! That was an adventure.

It’s not every day that we’re the #1 trending topic on Facebook.

Or written about by the Daily News, the Associated Press, three British newspapers (the Independent, the Guardian, the Daily Mail), New York NewsdayMetro New York, and countless websites (among others, Huffington PostSalon, and Jezebel). Oh, and did we mention NBC News?

5004IMG_3800What caused that storm of attention? Simple. On two beautiful days last week — rain threatened for a while, but what we wound up getting was sun — our merry band put on a show in Central Park. The show was William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, a story of sorcery and conspiracy and romance on a tropical island, and we performed it with an all female cast of 13, fully nude.

IMG_3862“Fully nude?” you ask. “I know it’s legal for women to go topless anywhere in New York a man can, but I didn’t think it was legal for either women or men to go fully nude in public?” Well, under most circumstances that’s so. But there’s an exception to the laws against what’s called “public exposure,” and one of them is if you are performing in an artistic performance. Such as a play. Such as The Tempest by William Shakespeare.

And so we did just that. With eight outstanding actors, three brilliant dancers, and two gifted musicians, we took over the natural stage at Summit Rock (the highest point in Central Park) and for an audience of more than 200 people each time we performed the play. It was marvelous. Yes, we had to compete with sirens and helicopters to be heard at some points. But that’s what it means to perform outdoors in the middle of New York City. And yes, one or two people gawked or made needless, uncomfortable comments — but only one or two. (Far worse was the asshole from the New York Post who blustered around with a pair of giant cameras and ignored repeated requests not to disrupt the show. But fortunately there was only one of him as well.)

IMG_3892The hundreds of other New Yorkers and tourists who joined us on our adventure sat rapt and appreciative, and the end of each performance was greeted by a tempest of thunderous applause. Nothing could have made us happier. Not only did we put on a terrific play, but we proved a point: that the human body is a thing of beauty, not of shame. Not fearful, not dangerous, not troubling. The presence of a dozen naked women on a lawn in Central Park did not cause the sky to fall or the moral fabric of the city to be rent asunder. On the contrary, it probably went a small way toward teaching people that nudity is not inherently very noteworthy at all. What we do with our bodies can be good or bad, praiseworthy or the opposite. But our bodies themselves are just bodies, and deserve nothing but simple respect.

Which is what we received. What a wonderful, wonderful beginning to this glorious summer of 2016! We only wish more of you could have come (though the space was filled to overflowing). And we remind you all: whether you’re  a woman or a man, you don’t have to be performing Shakespeare to enjoy a summer day in the park naked from the waist up. Men know this — women too often do not.

IMG_4247And if you are a bold, body-positive woman — or if you’re unsure, maybe even nervous, but you’d like to be one — you can join us and try it in our company. Send us email at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com and tell us a little about yourself. We’re always happy to expand our ranks. You don’t need to be an actress, a dancer or a musician. You just need to have a body, and a desire to be free.

We have our own magical island. It’s called Manhattan. And we would love for you to join us there, as naked as the law allows.

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Tempest-ImageWe’ve got a special event to tell you about.

On May 19 and 20, we’re going to be celebrating the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death by performing our own version of his final play, The Tempest, in Central Park, with an all-female cast of 13 actors, dancers, and musicians. It’s a stripped-down production in two senses: we’ve abridged the script for a shorter running time, and in the rich tradition of live performances that celebrate body freedom and free expression, our performance will use nudity to dramatize the conflict between the visitors to Prospero’s island and its inhabitants.

Like our bodies and our minds, admission is free. Two performances only. For more information, see www.TheFreeTempest.com.

IMG_2487IMG_2830IMG_2735IMG_2620Tempest-logoTempest-dates[Logo courtesy of Sarah Sutliff]

IMG_1950What’s the next best thing to having Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling actually show up at one of our events? Our friends at Hard Case Crime are publishing a new novel based on the upcoming Crowe/Gosling detective comedy, The Nice Guys, and they were kind enough to let us steal an advance peek at the book at our last get-together.

IMG_1526IMG_1907We are happy to report that the book contains no shortage of toplessness, as all good pulp fiction should, and if the movie is half as funny as the book is, it’ll be a fine afternoon at the theater, or evening at home with Netflix a few months later. But we prefer to laugh in the great outdoors, under the sun, with as little clothing on as the law allows, and for those purposes the book version was just perfect.

IMG_1953IMG_1695Even one of our few boys got into the spirit of the thing. (He was in boxers originally, but one of us lent him a spare thong for the occasion. It was much too nice out for boxers. And now we have a photo we can tease him with for the rest of his life.)

IMG_1988For the record, we did get word back to the movie studio that if Russell and Ryan happened to be in town for the premiere of the movie they are welcome to come to one of our events in person.

We won’t even make them wear the thong.

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IMG_1969Eighty degrees. Who cares that the calendar says it’s still spring, not summer? It was eighty degrees this Monday, and sunny af (as the kids say), and we’ve got the incipient tans to prove it. All over. Well, almost. But almost. And, man oh man, did it feel good.

IMG_1538Is there a better feeling than that first time you peel your clothes off outdoors under the hot sun after a long, cold winter? You wouldn’t know it from looking at the smiles on our faces this Monday when we headed out to Washington Square Park.

IMG_1588IMG_1863IMG_1817More than a dozen of us showed up to share book recommendations (Tom Robbins, Elizabeth Kostova, Mary McCarthy, Tiffany ReiszCharles Ardai)…

IMG_1561IMG_1509IMG_1596…white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, cucumber water, and warm hugs for old friends. All of which are better enjoyed topless. But then, what isn’t?

IMG_1492Behind us, an impressive group of acroyoga practitioners practiced…

IMG_1442IMG_1579IMG_2035…while before us a bubble man did his thing:

IMG_1713IMG_1714IMG_1715And world-famous body painter Andy Golub recruited a few of us to aid in his chromatic pursuits.

IMG_1791IMG_1848IMG_2051But most of our time was spent simply luxuriating, and it was blissful.

IMG_1879Would you like to join us next time? If you’re a bold, body-positive woman in the New York area (or would like to think of yourself as one), send us a note at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com. We’d love to meet you, and to show you just how good it can feel to ditch that top.

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AAArt-3We number among our members people from all conceivable backgrounds and walks of life (check out our last post for some examples), but perhaps not surprisingly many of our members are involved with the arts: writers, sculptors, photographers, dancers, painters. And we’re always proud when one of our own achieves success in her chosen field.

Recently, one of our group’s co-founders, Ajax Axe, had a show of her sculpture in Colorado and the results were really terrific. We’re delighted to share a few photos of the artist with her handiwork. It’s been a while since she’s been through NYC, and it’ll be a while longer since she’s heading off for Kenya now — but we’re hopeful we’ll get to see her again soon.

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IMG_6787Since the summer of 2011, our book club has been meeting in parks and other public places around New York City to read, relax and enjoy the sun in the company of like-minded women. We’re students and teachers, artists and writers, doctors and lawyers, engineers and scientists, fitness professionals and fitness avoiders, vegans and carnivores, atheists and believers. We’re queer and we’re straight, poly and mono, from far away and native born, working and between jobs. We love books, we love our bodies (even if sometimes we hate them), we love feeling warm and free, we love each other’s company, and we’d love yours.

Right now it’s windy and rainy (April showers, and all that), but soon it’ll be summer, and if you’re going to be in New York in May, June, July, August, September…any of those…we’d be delighted for you to join us sometime.

How do you get invited to our events? Send email to us at toplesspulpfiction@gmail.com and tell us a little about yourself. It’s that simple.

Not sure? That’s okay. Ask any questions you like.

And maybe watch some of the short video clips below — just a few seconds each — to give you a little glimpse of our happy band in action (or inaction, as the case may be).

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