“Topless New York” Begins Kickstarter Campaign

Posted on: May 24th, 2012 at 6:28 am by

Around this time last year we broke news of a random topless woman strolling north on the Bowery. She was stopped by the cops for her actions. Our post went global, hitting all corners of the internet, reviving awareness of a little-known state law forged in 1992 that allows women to go sans shirt anywhere men are permitted to do the same.

Like clockwork, a similar thing happened just last week. 29-year-old Moira Johnston bravely bared her breasts while walking through Union Square. First reported by EV Grieve, media outlets subsequently jumped on the story, some even getting an on-camera interview. Coincidence?

Photo Credit: Topless New York

Coinciding with all this topless talk of late, one enterprising dude is taking to Kickstarter to further the cause. Indeed, his “Topless New York” project aims to spread further awareness of the aforementioned law by running a gallery exhibit, and producing pinup calendars and coffee table books. Somewhere down the road, website visitors will eventually have the ability to order prints directly from the online portal.

In 1986, several women in Rochester, NY were arrested and convicted for picnicking topless in public.  They sued to challenge the law prohibiting women, but not men, from being topless in public – and in 1992, New York State’s highest court struck down that law as violating the state constitution’s equal protection clause.

Material for these endeavors was culled from a collection of “tasteful and artistic” topless photos shot over the last few years. It’s also worth noting that all subjects signed full model releases, and are on board with the exploitation.

NSFW video of Moira Johnston:

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  • All-Nudist.com

    Isn’t it ironic that while it’s legal for a woman to walk topless on the streets of New York, for a body-painting artist to paint nude women on the sidewalk in broad daylight, and for Young Naturists America to stage a strip poker game in a storefront window, that this publication cannot even show a photo of a topless woman as part of an article on the subject?

    What better demonstration of the hypocrisy of a society that deplores simple social nudism in a safe, family friendly setting yet celebrates and promotes wanton sexuality in everything from TV commercials to talk shows, soap operas to music videos, movies to advertising and, yes, even exploits the titillation value of the term ‘topless’ to attract attention to news articles?

    Social nudism, as both a recreational activity and a lifestyle celebrates freedom from our obsession with the human body as simply a sexual object and stresses the value of the person inhabiting that body instead. Believe it or not, nudists aren’t unaware of physical beauty or are by any means non-sexual beings, but rather have learned to separate sexuality from nudity in social situations.

    A pretty person is still pretty; it’s just not all that important. When you meet a nudist for the first time you are actually meeting the person, not the image formed by their attire. Women especially discover a freedom and self-esteem unknown to them prior to experiencing social nudism. Perhaps for the first time in their lives they find themselves accepted for who they are, not how they look!

    The efforts towards top-freedom for women are laudable and perhaps overdue, but millions around the world have already discovered even more freedom through nudism/naturism. We urge you to look into this fascinating lifestyle and see if it may be something you would like to try!

    Right now, you may not believe you could actually get naked around a bunch of other folks; fifteen minutes after you do you’ll wonder why you waited so long!

    ALL-NUDIST (http://All-Nudist.com)

    • Equality is a goal that all political stripes in the United States claim to seek. Of course it is not universally true, and Ms. Johnston makes that abundantly clear. Congratulations to her and any who join her. Moreover, All Nudist makes important points here regarding both acceptance and the difference between nudity and sexualization, such as is seen in children’s beauty pageants, and the fashion industry in general.

      • Topless New York

        Many thanks to El Imagenero and All Nudist for your comments, and especially to Bowery Boogie for spreading the word about this gender equality issue. If you believe that awareness of this issue is essential, and that we need to educate the public on this important equal right, I strongly encourage you to donate to the Kickstarter campaign linked above. I’m grateful for the support – thank you!

        Topless New York

  • Women’s right to go topfree in NY is not a state law per se, but a Court of Appeals ruling that overrides the law. However, police still go about wasting people’s time and taxpayers’ money arresting women for going topfree. So raising awareness is good and important, but I don’t know that this Kickstarter project is really going to do it. Nude and topfree women already exist in books and in calendars. People start to think much differently when they see breasts right in front of them on a woman casually walking down the sidewalk. The best thing is for people like Moira and other women to walk around topfree and take advantage of this right.
    @Ge7gDhGSKH:disqus yes it is pretty ironic! This guy is not doing much good stating that Kickstarter is a “family-friendly” website and that people would consider it “inappropriate” to post photos. Yeah and many people would also consider it “inappropriate” to see a woman strolling down the sidewalk topless. So who cares? They have to deal. Nobody is going to get scarred from seeing breasts on a human body.

    • Topless New York

      Felicity –

      Believe me, I pondered over that decision for quite a while. But I firmly believe that if I had used topless photos in the campaign itself, Kickstarter would not have approved it. Is that “wrong” in my opinion and yours? Yup. Is it better to get the word out by using a little discretion than to get rejected and never get the word out? Absolutely. No regrets.

      Topless New York

  • David Nathan Allen

    it’s tacky when men do it and thats about all it is if women do it.

  • If you would be interested in seeing an in depth video with New Yorker’s reactions to public toplessness, I just finished one. It shows me and officers before they arreste me, it shows angry parents, it shows people who appreciate a real New Yorker rocking a world they have never seen before… most of these people have never seen public breast exposure of any kind before. This is New York City!:


    • Dave Gustav

      Just letting you know that you might want to look into putting your video on Vimeo too. We run Google ads here and Google has automatically stopped running ads on this post because they deem it explicit. It wouldn’t surprise me if they take down the video on YouTube since they own that site.

  • Paala Secor

    Fantastic! I am so proud of Moira for standing up for herself and by doing so, all women. As a breastfeeding mother, the controversy is all about covering or not, even though breastfeeding in public is also protected by law. I would love to breastfeed bare breasted in public! I’ve shared a link to this story on my website too, by the way, paa.la