Go Topless Day Photos: A Boob Parade Down The Venice Boardwalk
Buxom stilt walkers, streets flooded with men in bikini tops and women in pasties, and angry protesters being drowned out by party jams was the scene in Venice Beach yesterday at the annual Go Topless Day event.
This event was much bigger than last year's, with a fun parade, a boisterous rally and lots of support for the cause.
Go Topless Day was founded eight years ago by Rael, the spiritual leader behind the Raelian Movement, in response to the arrest of Phoenix Feeley, a topless activist who was arrested for going topless in New York in 2005. Because toplessness has been legal there since '92, Feeley scored a $29,000 settlement from the city for her wrongful arrest. However, she was arrested again in New Jersey for going topless in 2013. The main sentiment of those who subscribe to the movement seems to be this: If men can be topless, why can't women? It's a double standard that just isn't fair.
There are Go Topless events in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and numerous other cities around the world. While toplessness is no big thing in San Francisco and legal in New York, Los Angeles women have to wear pasties or put tape over their nipples. So, men typically will also tape their nipples or wear bikini tops in solidarity. Last year, Los Angeles had a weak showing, as organizer Lara Tersteknjak told LAist that they tried to secure permits for Hollywood which were ultimately denied. This year, however, was a strong one—possibly Los Angeles' biggest event yet.
Now, the Raelians aren't exactly mainstream: they believe that humans were created by an advanced extraterrestrial species and that eternal life lies in cloning, GMOs, nanotechnology and sensual meditation. However, their topless advocacy has found mainstream support from the #freethenipple campaign-which has celebrity devoteees like Miley Cyrus and Chrissy Teigen—and the Venice Neighborhood Council. They're currently also pushing for women to be able to swim and sunbathe on Venice Beach.
We headed down to Venice Beach around 1 p.m. to check out the event. After last year's disappointing turnout, it was cool to see this year's event was much more robust. We found our way to the meeting point at Navy and the Boardwalk, thanks to the yelling and screaming of the couple religious protesters who seem to show up to this thing every year. Actually, they seem to show up to everything. I spotted them at last week's D23—the Disney fan convention in Anaheim—and I saw a few more at the TCL Chinese Theatre a couple weeks ago. Anyhow, these ones were particularly hostile, screaming about how these women were 'whores' whose parents hated them, and how eternal hellfire was waiting for everyone. There was also a man with a sign about the New World Order and 'the truth about 9/11,' two women were who much more polite about sharing their religion, and a man in a military uniform who was pushing around a giant Bible on wheels and yelling about salvation.
This could have been annoying, but the Topless crowd soon started blasting Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" and danced around the protesters in a circle. The protesters' vitriol—paired with the Topless crowd's enthusiasm for life—was fun. While that was going on, a number of men flocked to the group to take photos of mostly exposed breasts, a couple police officers stood around with not much to do, and the some passersby got lured into arguments with the protesters. One young man on a bike started hissing Satan at the New World Order guy, causing him to flee a short distance away. Another man started daring one of the protesters to look at his nipples, but was detained by police shortly thereafter for allegedly spitting at one. The protester in question resumed his right to freedom of speech, telling a petite woman that she should be embarrassed by how small her breasts were and another that she was too heavy to be topless. Needless to say, he made a grand total of zero friends.
The Go Topless crowd seemed to pay them no mind, and had many props, including ice cream cone pasties, signs about gender equality, and fake nipples to attach to random parts of the body. They also had giant fake plush boobs, boob umbrellas and bikinis with nipples on them. They and their props mobilized at about 2 p.m. An LAPD cruiser led the parade down the street, which featured a stilt walker and a throng of marchers that was impossible to count—possibly because it seemed like it was attracting more and more men who wanted to take photos of breasts with every few feet it lurched.
The slow-moving parade ended at Windward Stage, where Go Topless organizers explained the origin of the movement, lambasted against double standards and talked about women who had been arrested in their own apartment complexes for daring to swim in the complex pool topless. There was a lot of cheering and a performance from three members of burlesque troupe The Brazen Booties.
The exuberance of the crowd endured until 4 p.m., at which point one of the organizers politely announced that the event's permit was up and thanked everyone for coming. The crowd peacefully dispersed, with some heading to the bar Danny's for an after party, and others moving to a drum circle that had formed on the other end of the beach. Ironically, Danny's has a policy of "no shirt, no shoes, no service" so the revelers who went there had to throw on tops. We paused on our way out to ask a police officer if there were any arrests, hoping she might tell us what happened to the spitting guy, but she said she was not aware of any incidents.
Go Topless Day 2014: Taped Nipples, Angry Christians, Men With Cameras (NSFW)
Go Topless Day 2013: Photos: Topless Women Free Their Boobs, March For Equal Rights In Venice Beach (NSFW)
Go Topless Day 2012:
Go Topless Day 2011: Just What It Sounds Like: 'Topless Day' Returns To Southern California On August 21
Go Topless Day 2010: Women March Topless at Venice Beach for Equal Rights