Big Ap­ple stages top­less pa­rade along with 60 cities

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY VER­ENA DOBNIK

Dozens of bare-chest women tak­ing part in the GoTo­p­less Pride Pa­rade took to the streets of midtown Man­hat­tan Sun­day to counter crit­ics com­plain­ing about top­less tip- seek­ers in Times Square.

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.

Gov. An­drew Cuomo said the scene harkens to the porno­graphic “bad old Times Square” of the past.

Sun­day’s pa­rade 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 didn’t 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?”

The women were not the only flash­ing sight. A lineup of po­lice ve­hi­cles with lights flash­ing rolled along me­tal mark­ing the route.

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 U.S.

Spencer Jones, 27, a Man­hat­tan artist who’s 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’s “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 con­cluded. “What’s ‘equal­ity for breasts?’”

bar­ri­cades

AP

Rachel Jessee speaks into a mega­phone while rid­ing atop a car dur­ing the GoTo­p­less Day Pa­rade in New York, Sun­day, Aug. 23.

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