A Chilly, Educational Field Trip with the Outdoor Co-Ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society

Categories: Books, Breasts

Image via The Topless Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society
The book club at Lincoln Center, shortly before they were asked to re-clothe
In this week's cover story, we profile Holly Van Voast, an artist who for a time was also one of New York's most frequently topless women.

In 2011 Van Voast created a character named "Harvey Van Toast," who ventured out with a camera, a curly mustache painted on with liquid eyeliner -- and no shirt. She photographed hundreds of people in that persona, both her friends in the underground "punk drag" scene and a series of befuddled celebrities. (Filmmaker Chris Stearns made an excellent documentary, Topless Shock Syndrome, about Van Voast, with lots of photos of the performers she captured. It's available here.)

Although toplessness has been legal in New York state for 25 years, Van Voast was arrested or detained at least a dozen times, and involuntarily committed for psychiatric evaluation on four different occasions. Even when she wasn't being hassled by the police, she told me, public toplessness could be terrifying: "It's really nerve-wracking. It was like Jackass on speed." Before she went out, she says, "I'd sit there sweating for an hour."

After a few weeks of working on the story, it seemed to me that the only way to properly understand being topless in public was to do it (my editor would probably appreciate if I mentioned at this point that this wasn't his idea). I emailed the Outdoor Co-Ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society, asking if could come along on the club's next outing.

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Manhattan Topless Book Club on Brooklyn Woman's Arrest: Police Officer Was "Ignorant of the Law," "Abusive"

Image via OCTPFAS official blog
Book club members enjoy reading (and not being arrested) in Central Park
Last week, we told you about Jessica Krigsman, a Brooklyn woman who's suing the city, alleging that she was wrongfully arrested last summer for sitting topless in a Gravesend park.

According to the suit, Krigsman was sitting on a bench when two police officers approached and told her to get dressed; when she declined, the suit alleges, Officer Colleen Canavan forced her shirt on her. Krigsman was cuffed, taken to the precinct, and, ultimately, charged with "obstruction of a sitting area," a charge that was later dropped.

Although going shirtless in New York is, for the nth time, totally, totally legal, Krigsman's lawsuit generated the usually flurry of commentary about whether it's right and appropriate and what about the children.

"Skank," offered one thoughtful commenter beneath a New York Post story.

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Legendary Phantom Tollbooth Illustrator Jules Feiffer On Wanting to Overthrow the Government [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO]

Jules Feiffer in his Voice years
You've either never read the Phantom Tollbooth, or it's your favorite book. The first time you met Milo, you were probably his age, around 10, and Tollbooth seemed like a sweet little chapter book about a boy who's always bored and aimless. One day, a tollbooth materializes in his room, and with nothing much else to do, he hops into his little blue car and drives through, into a lovely story about words, math, and saving the two beautiful princesses of Rhyme and Reason. By the time you realize the whole book is an allegory, it's too late. You've already absorbed some meaningful life lessons about being ethical, industrious, and not eating too much Subtraction Soup.

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Here's Every Chapter-Ending Cliffhanger from the Man of Steel Novelization

Categories: Books, Film and TV

On a shelf with the classics.
Big news! Novelizations are still a thing! Here's the one you've no doubt been looking for, because, like any reasonable person, you just know that your time would be well spent reading a cheap-o paperback rewrite of the nonsensical script story of the new movie remake of an old movie and its sequel that themselves retold the story of comic books and TV shows that had already been around for the better part of a century.

That is what reading is for: to help us kill those sad moments before bedtime when we are briefly not staring at images of licensed characters.

Anyway, not everyone has the 45 free minutes it would take to read Greg Cox's Man of Steel. To help you decide if you should drop $7.99 at Walgreens, here's how it holds up to the key test for any mass-market paperback: How good are its end-of-chapter keep-you-reading hooks?

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The Village Voice's Top 5 Book Events This Week, May 29-June 4, 2013

Categories: Books, Lists!

2pac v. Biggie: the epic battle.
101 Classic Cookbooks
92Y Tribeca
Wednesday, May 29, 7:30 p.m., $15
Here's one for the foodies--or really anyone who cherishes the cookbook as more than just a batter-stained instructional manual. Like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for baked goods, 101 Classic Cookbooks (Rizzoli) is the Fales Library anthology of 501 recipes lifted from a the great defining cookbooks of the 20th Century, as chosen by an expert panel. Tonight some of these judges and honored authors will discuss how the book was compiled and the rationale behind certain selections. Hear archivists Marvin J. Taylor and Clark Wolf talk with writers Marion Nestle, Madhur Jaffrey, and Rose Levy Barenbaum about how cookbooks serve as a reflection of broader American culture, not to mention saving your ass when you have to bring something to a dinner party.

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The Village Voice's Top 5 Book Events This Week, May 15-21, 2013

Categories: Books, Lists!

James Gulliver Hancock, among art.
Fiona Maazel and Peter Trachtenberg
Pete's Candy Store
Thursday, May 16, 7:30 p.m., free
In reality we've already got G-, Facebook-, Skype-, and every other type of non-synchronous chat option imaginable, but Fiona Maazel's new novel explores a more extreme quick-fix remedy for feeling alone. The protagonist in Woke Up Lonely (Graywolf) founds a cult that promises to cure loneliness for good through a program of low-risk speed-dating and hyper-managed socializing. But as with all cults, things start going south when hostages and Kim Jong-il get involved. Hear Maazel read excerpts from her alternately hilarious and heartbreaking story tonight. She'll be joined by Trachtenberg, author of the memoir Another Insane Devotion: On the Love of Cats and Persons (Da Capo Press), who recounts the mildly crazy but genuine affections of a "Cat Lady," or in this case a "Cat Gentleman." Is there such a thing as commiserative loneliness? We think so.

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Read Up!: Our 5 Favorite Book Events This Week

Categories: Books, Lists!

Alida Nugent, looking spiffy.
Edward Albee and Paul Auster
The Strand
Thursday, 7 p.m., $15-$30
Every time somebody even mentions a play by Samuel Beckett, we become immediately suspicious that they're about to pull some kind of clever existential farce. Such is the whole "gotcha!" nature of postmodernism. But unlike Godot, we think these writers are actually going to show up. Literary heavyweights Albee and Auster lead a discussion about the late Irish avant-garde author and his diverse body of work. They'll be joined by special guest Jeanette Seaver, who played an integral role in introducing Beckett to America way before European absurdism was all the rage on this side of the pond. Don't miss this rare chance to hear a couple of New York greats talk about a common influence.

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Spring Reading: Top 5 Book Events of the Week

Categories: Books, Lists!

Internet killed the video star: the original VJs.
Julia Solis
Spectacle Theater
Thursday, 8pm, $5
There aren't any actual deaths in the ghost story Solis tells, but it's still mighty chilling. In her new photography collection Stages of Decay (Prestel), she chronicles the fallen grandeur of abandoned theaters across America and Europe, affectionately depicting stadiums once--literally--full of life, now succumb to decomposition. While it's hard to imagine the same grisly fate for, let's say, the just recently Jay-Z-launched Barclays Center, the empty spaces she scouts are haunting mementos of everything's inevitable downfall. Tonight she'll read and present a slide show at Spectacle--a theater successfully resisting decay--to remember stages of yesteryear, previous hosts to the Marx Brothers, Mae West, Johnny Cash, and the Who. She'll be joined by militant theater revivalists Lazar Kunstmann and Jon Lackman, of Les UX, who salvage ruined spaces to create underground cinemas.

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This Week's 5 Can't-Miss Book Events: For Rebels and Birdwatchers Alike

Categories: Books, Lists!

Jen Kirkman: A fan of the Ramones, not children.
Animal Farm: 2013, 1998, 1954, 1946, 1879
Molasses Books
Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., free
This little piggy went to market. This little piggy stayed home. This little piggy wrote a politically charged parody a mere 14 delicate days after the 9/11 attacks and barely sidestepped legal action, but not without a menacing proverbial fist-shake by way of the Orwell estate. John Reed was just such a piggy. Snowball's Chance (Melville House), his controversial 2002 follow-up to George Orwell's Animal Farm, concerns what happens when one particular swine returns to the farm and takes over, preaching the word of unchecked capitalism. As part of Molasses's monthly lecture series, Reed will discuss the history/legacy of Orwell's novella, charting its influence across time and nations with fellow New School professor Nicholas Birns.

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Nathaniel Rich Wrote About Hurricane Sandy Before It Hit

Categories: Books

In 2007, the writer began work on a project about a massive hurricane hitting New York City. Five years later, just as he put the final edits on Odds Against Tomorrow--published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux earlier this month--Hurricane Sandy descended on the city. Over a recent cup of coffee in Turtle Bay, the fresh-faced 33-year-old talked about writing the apocalypse, his obsession with worst-case scenarios, New Orleans, and productive misunderstandings.

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