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Arts and Entertainment

Photos From Go Topless Day 2016: Boobs, Bibles & Gawkers

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The end of August not only marks the waning days of summer, but also the annual Go Topless parade on Venice Beach, a time where peaceful topless activists, screaming religious zealous and shameless lookyloos all come together as one.

Go Topless Day was founded nine years ago by Rael, the founder of the Raelian movement, in response to the arrest of a topless activist in New York. She later sued the city and won, as being topless is legal in New York City. The Raelians believe in extraterrestrials and cloning, but they’re also an extremely liberal, sex-positive bunch who advocate that women should be able to go out in public just as topless and free as their male counterparts. The Free the Nipple crowd and the Raelians are common bedfellows when it comes to this issue, and even Venice tends to lend its support, with the Neighborhood Council voting to allow toplessness last summer. Of course, as Venice is part of Los Angeles, areolas are still illegal.

Go Topless Day has been happening in Venice since at least 2009. It’s really the same thing every year, but that isn’t to say it isn’t a fascinating spectacle.

This year’s event began at Navy and Boardwalk, where the topless activists gathered to prepare for their march down the beach. The women wore pasties for legal reasons, while men wore pasties or bikini tops in solidarity. Joining them were the same protesters that pester them every year, yelling about hellfire and damnation and carting around the same oversized Bible. Also returning for another season were the throngs of men tripping over themselves to snap a pic of a boob. It was clear they did not work for any particular media outlet, and were out taking photos for their own voyeuristic enjoyment. We even spotted one of them leaning against a tree, ogling at the women while talking on the phone. He was describing to his friend just how many breasts he was peeping at, as though he had entered some kind of magical dimension that had previously existed only in his wildest dreams. The actual topless folks of this year's event didn't seem to mind, though, and appeared to have a blast on yet another perfectly sunny and warm day in L.A.

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It’s odd to see a very small patch of skin cause such a spectacle, but Venice has a long history with this sort of behavior. In 1974, nude sunbathing was all the rage in Venice. However, once news of this chill scene spread, it became a problem. Why? Flocks of tourists arrived to the once placid beach, gawking at the breasts and trying to photograph the sunbathing women. Look, we get it: some people like to look at naked people, but maybe have some subtlety? The clothing optional Venice diminished in 1974, when L.A. City Council decided to ban being nude at the beach. According to the L.A. Times, then Councilmember John Ferraro said, "the beach is for young people and families, not for people who want to display their wares in public." LAPD was still asking people to put their clothes on in the 80s, and people were still gawking, apparently. An L.A. Times article from 1986 reported on an LAPD crackdown in which they were citing women for sunbathing topless and men for wearing g-strings. A police officer then said that a group of women sunbathing in the nude drew a crowd of over 100 staring men.

Go Topless Day Photos: A Boob Parade Down The Venice Boardwalk
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: Topless Women March For Equal Rights At Venice Beach
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

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