Saturday 10 December 2016

Bare-chested activists stage GoTopless Pride Parade in New York City

Published 24/08/2015 | 03:23

Activists hold signs during the protest march, called the GoTopless Day Parade, in New York (AP)
Activists hold signs during the protest march, called the GoTopless Day Parade, in New York (AP)

Dozens of bare-chested women taking part in the GoTopless Pride Parade took to the streets of New York City to counter critics complaining about topless tip-seekers in Times Square.

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Appearing bare-breasted has been legal in New York since 1992.

But Mayor Bill de Blasio and police Commissioner Bill Bratton say the body-painted women in the square who take photos with tourists are a nuisance.

The mayor even suggested doing away with the pedestrian plaza at the "Crossroads of the World" - to control both the topless women trolling for tips and the costumed cartoon characters, some of whom were arrested last year for accosting non-tipping pedestrians.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said the scene harkens to the pornographic "bad old Times Square" of the past.

Sunday's parade in Manhattan was among dozens of such events in about 60 cities celebrating the worldwide GoTopless Day.

New York GoTopless spokeswoman Rachel Jessee said the goal is for gender equality when it comes to baring one's chest.

Two Dutch tourists relaxing on the park grass said they did not understand all the fuss.

"I don't know why they're making such a big deal out of it," said Paul Martin, 37, of Amsterdam. "There are more important things to worry about than nipples."

His friend, Leonie van der Maden, agreed: "It's ridiculous, really! I'm perfectly OK with it. But why do you need to march, if it's already legal?"

Marchers had various motives for participating.

"We are doing it because it's liberating, it's free, it's something different. Why not?" said Claudia Simondi, 46, a native of Argentina working as a bartender in the US.

Spencer Jones, 27, a Manhattan artist who has been sketching nude models since she was 12, and later became a model herself, said being topless "never really bothered me".

Theresa Crudo, 22, even brought along her 15-month-old son.

She came bare-chested - with her husband's approval.

"Boobs are natural, you know?" she said. "I wanted to show that you can breast feed in public and do what you have to do for your child."

But Sandy Belzer, 61, was not convinced.

He said he has "seen it all" as a former bartender at New York's famed Copacabana club.

"But this is just a disgrace, what this city has come to," he said. "What's 'equality for breasts'''?

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