We arrived at the designated meeting spot with dilated pupils, sunglasses on, as was always the case. We were veterans at showing up at 6am, forcing ourselves to stay awake each night before with the help of various illicit substances, priming ourselves for exposure.
There were a lot of reporters that last time almost three hundred people showed up, although it was early (6am), and cold (40 degrees fahrenheit). Lots of video cameras.
In typical New York fashion, stereotypes abounded, from models and dancers to tattooed and pierced young things, nightclub leftovers, and old men. When it came right down to it though, everyone came to get naked immortalized with our clothes off.
So there we were, on our backs, looking up at the airbrushed and miraculous face of Nikki Taylor clothed in Liz Claiborne. Jokes flew, as always.
A party boy you know the type came in from the suburbs to "get naked."
"Hey, are you guys here to get NAKED?"
He looks a little shocked by the lack of party atmosphere.
There's another guy who looks like he spent the night before in Atlantic City. Shirt unbuttoned to the middle, yellow patent leather loafers, gold Italian horn hovering just beyond the border of a frontier of chest hair.
"We're awl supahmoduls," he yells out, "we're awl moduls heah."
Who brought this guy?
At the count of three, we're streaking down Broadway it's only 5:45am, but the taxis slow, horns honk, and the huge Marriott sends it staff running out onto the streets. I expect to see a crew of Japanese tourists any second now, recording devices in hand, but from the position I'm in (on the ground crumpled in a ball), I can only hear the whoops and hollers of bystanders.
With a yell from Spencer Tunick, we reposition ourselves, lying flat on our backs, facing downtown.
We're here today to "protest violence," Spencer says.
We're causing it, I'm sure. The entire staff of the Marriott neglects its duties, passengers in taxis ignore the meters for a moment, bystanders stand in shock. (Yes, there are still some things that can shock a New Yorker. Would you believe nudity is one of them?)
"Dey got bawls," I hear a bystander say.
"Dey got REAL bawls."
Yes, as a matter of fact, some of us do.
I look around and look at lots of balls. And breasts, and arms, butts, legs, backs. Cellulite. Tan lines. Tattoos. Bald spots. And some hairy ones.
The jokes start flying again someone else yells out, "I always wanted to be on Broadway!"
I stare at the patch of sky between skyscraper and billboard. Broadway beneath me is warm.
It's good to be exposed. For a few weeks after this event I regard my thick thighs and tiny breasts as unique, and mine, even without the myriad modifications and adornments things I've added to claim (or reclaim) various separate parts of mine. Not the same, not like Nikki Taylor's. But definitely a whole, entire, naked body belonging to me. Worthy enough for Times Square, or the Brooklyn Bridge, or the Gaseteria on Lafayette and Houston, or the Nevada desert. And most certainly, for the naked, vulnerable, sleeping boyfriend spooned against me.
Where have you been naked?