What If Kickstarter’s “Topless New York” Project Were Brought To Beijing?


I swear I was not the one who blurred out this girl’s breasts to make it look like she has big gray tits. For that, you can credit the editors of NetEase.

Recently, under attack for questionable levels of decency, the foreigners of Beijing have felt the sting of tiddly bits of media criticism, being called such poignantly awful names as “self-centered yuppies,” “packs of whingers,” and “shrews” following “lifestyle choices inappropriate to Chinese morals.” (By which he means drugs.) And who’s really to blame Yoichi Shimatsu for saying such things? If American expats were to return home to the “crap place it’s become,” they would find breasts… in public. !!!!

The Kickstarter Topless New York has 14 days and $9,550 to go (started at $10,000). The project’s aim is to raise money to display a series of photos taken by Mr. Topless New York of everyday ladies taking their big apples out for a romp in the city. I’m not sure I would call the body of work “art,” and I’m not sure I would call it a “protest,” but it is, from all soft angles, interesting. And thoroughly enjoyable to look at.

If you were not aware, it is legal for women to bare their breasts in public in the state of New York.  There are clubs for reading pulp fiction topless, men painting on topless girls, and now a Kickstarter. (Naturally, it’s been given the NMA [Apple Daily] treatment). If you have never taken advantage of the gender-blind titty laws and would like to know what it feels like, click here for a firsthand account from a bashful blogger who sunbathes, eats a hotdog, and takes a topless tinkle.

It all leads one to wonder… what would happen if this phenomenon were brought to China? One would be tempted to tab Ai Weiwei as Mr. Topless Beijing, though we suspect he’d take things too far. I mean…

We could get in touch with the ringleader of a nude performance in Chengdu, in which 41 students lined together to form the @ symbol before domino-ing down. The People’s Daily’s insightful comment: “Young students, especially those from academies of fine arts, are desirous, emotional, impulsive, outgoing and nomadic.” Hear, hear!

But really, Chen Zui is our man, described by China Daily as a “trailblazer of Chinese nude art.” His academic treatise published in 1988, On Nude Art, sold 200,000 copies. An art book. Surely he could raise the measly $10,000 — 63,575 yuan, as it were — needed to bring his pics of topless ladies to light.

Chen Zui didn't take this photo, which first appeared in the Shanghai Star, but apparently it caused a "social earthquake" in 1937

You might think China is an unlikely place to see boobs in public, but you’d be wrong. You know we devoted a whole post to nude art, right? And from this very site, there’s this, this, and this. So yeah, Topless Beijing is a project that can happen, and I know certain guys at BJC would certainly like it to.

The only concern is that censors would put a kibosh on the whole thing before anyone could even unfasten a bra. Actually… that’s probably the only realistic outcome.

Not in the New York though. The man behind the photos, Mr. Topless New York, has “never been called a pervert,” according to Gothamist, but posts his work on DeviantArt. Snicker. So, for all you Stateside ladies (or any who are willing to meet Mr. Topless halfway), “if you are interested in donating your time and services, and supporting a great cause, by modeling for the Topless New York project, please feel free to contact [him] at toplessnewyork@gmail.com.”

Lola B is an artist in Beijing who writes the Yishus (art) column for BJC. She can be reached at lola@beijingcream.com.

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