“Go Topless Day” in Bryant Park Brings Out Boobs—And Some Topless Ladies, Too [Slideshow NSFW]

  • If you squeezed your way through the mobs of photo-snapping onlookers in Bryant Park or Times Square yesterday, there was a chance you could have observed the New York rally for Go Topless Day, which was celebrated in forty cities worldwide. A dozen or so women took to Midtown to celebrate their legal right to let their lady bits stand (or, in some cases, droop) freely.

    In 1992, New York State ruled that women have the right to be topless anywhere a man does, much to the surprise of many New Yorkers that The Observer talked to yesterday. Even some of those braving the sidewalk bare-boobed didn’t know they were free to do so until this weekend. Maxine Krasnow had tickets to see a Broadway show but after reading about Go Topless Day in the Metro newspaper she ditched her theater plans—and her shirt. She did admit to us she was “a little worried about people leering at first,” but we saw her leading the pack with a sign reading, “Free your breasts. It’s your right,” by the end of the afternoon.

    Moira Johnston, who has received local fame as a topless advocate in the Union Square area the last three months, was the belle of the ball to photogs and male admirers when she arrived on 43rd Street. Ms. Johnston was unfazed, but when we took a break from the hoopla—and bare-boobdom—inside a Starbucks, she spoke freely. “This is not for attention because there’s a lot of other ways to get attention.” The 29-year-old exotic dancer told us, “There is a real negative side to it, too,” she said, referring to the nasty jabs she often hears. “I know what I’m doing isn’t accepted but I’m willing to sacrifice that for women’s rights.”

    The Observer heard some of the negative response in Times Square when some 15-year-old girls from Philadelphia muttered words of disgust through their braces. “Eww, gross! I don’t understand. If it’s legal why do they care?”

    On the contrary, Jeff Ohle and his wife laughed as their two young boys covered their eyes. “Doesn’t bother me—it’s New York! I have enough trouble trying to keep them off the internet,” Mr. Ohle said.

    More disturbing than some nipples could ever be was the omnipresence of sweaty male oglers. Caitlin Johnston, 25, pointed out the obvious: “There are a ton of men in that park topless. I don’t deserve to be mobbed by men just because I’m not wearing a shirt.”

    We walked to a woman sitting on a fountain that had came to participate in the event but was disappointed. “I thought this was supposed to be a feminist event, but all these men are touching and surrounding them. Ick. It’s kind of equally fascinating and disgusting,” said Patricia McBride, 34.

    Before heading out we tracked down Ms. Johnston (who once again had a flock of fans encircling her) to say our farewells.

    “Bye bye,” she told us before tilting her head for the next shot. “Feel free to let your breasts out on the way home.”

    “Yeah, do it!” a skeevy guy in a basketball jersey agreed.

  • Moira Johnston guest speaker in Bryant Park. "It's a woman's choice whether she wants to bare her breast or not."

  • "I don't think my family would approve of me doing this but I think it's right," said a 21-year-old who called herself Energy.

  • "A lot of women are not going to exercise their rights even though it's legal. Why not?" said Beth Sopko, 50, dog walker and breast blazer.

  • "I read about this on the internet and thought it would be fun. Hey, why aren't you topless?" Katie Lebedeva, 26, asked us.

  • Maxine Krasnow ditched her matinee musical for a meeting of the mammaries.

  • After we acquired permission for this photo Catilin Johnston, 25, quipped, "Thanks, the only people that actually asked were women."

  • Naturalist, stroller pusher and burlesque dancer, Jilli Puff, 33, bared all to, "defend our rights to be naked and breastfeed in the park."

  • Eli Mac, 42, came all the way from New Jersey to show off her new hat. You can't stop staring at it–right?

  • "I'm here to support being able to be topless without getting harassed by photographers," said Joy Nightingal, 32. Then we told her to shut up and smile for this photo.

  • Karen Henen cut no corners in her tireless crusade for women's rights when she started the chant, "Nipple, nipple, nipple!"

  • Randy Redford, 19, simply stated, "I thought this would be fun!" Her boyfriend Miguel nodded and forcefully murmured, "Yeah...fun."

  • "I'm here to show the world that breastfeeding does not mess up your breasts. Just makes your nipples big," said Catherine Slingerland, 62. She should know: she breastfed one child until the age of six and a half, the other until age eight.

  • Moira Johnston, 29, was graceful and articulate but one rule: "No touching." And, boy did they try.

  • "I've been arrested ten times for being topless," said Holly Van Voast.

  • Kathy Kelly, 59, and her husband Jim trotted her tatas around the block. Ms. Kelly admitted the scene was, "Kinda weird. I wouldn't do it by myself." Mr. Kelly told us he was the one that suggested they attend the event: "I came to take pics, too."

  • A little Janet Jackson-inspired accessorizing.