Last weekend our niece and nephew ran in the NYC mini – triathlon ( 1 mile swim , 26 miles cycling and 6 mile run ) to raise money for the fight against cancer and we went to New York City to cheer them on . It was her second race , his first, and it was as great an experience as we remembered from the last time around.
The race was on Sunday morning and , the evening before the race, we went for a family dinner at Carmine’s on W. 44th St. ( More about the dinner in another post). After dinner , we strolled back through Times Square to our hotel. It was a warm summer night and the sidewalks were crowded like you wouldn’t believe . There were literally thousands of people taking in the sights. It was more like Grand Central at rush hour than anything else. As we threaded our way through the crush , we were brought up short by a mob of people clustered on the sidewalk around 47th St. There are many street performers in Times Square and we thought it was one of those that was the center of attention. We were half right .
As we made our way forward , we saw what it was that was attracting the crowd. It was a girl in high heels , stark naked except for a small , very small , cache -sexe. She was covered in yellow body paint and on her back were letters spelling out I Love New York. She had a beautiful figure with long, slim legs and full breasts, and a very attractive face . More than that I cannot tell you because I took only two peeks at her, one aft and one fore. Face to face with a real live naked woman , we men tend to avert our eyes . We may lust after cheesecake , we may stare at girls in bikinis at the beach , our imaginations may run rampant at a hint of cleavage but a real nude woman , uhh-uhh. Call it what you will – squeamishness, chivalry , foolishness – but the instinct is to look away after that first glance. And so it was with all of us that night.
My first feeling on seeing her was one of shock … how could this be happening ? Then , wonder that the police had not arrested her. And finally , mystification . What was she doing there in such a state of undress? My first thought was that she was advertising something , perhaps a Gentleman’s club. But , talking it over afterwards with the rest of the group, it was clear that there was no such entity in the vicinity. Besides, the letters on her body merely spelled out ” I LUV NEW YORK”, not the name of any commercial establishment. Then , we thought she might be charging passersby to pose for a photo with her. That didn’t make sense either. For everyone who posed with her , there would be dozens , scores who would take photos (and did ) of her in the altogether without paying her a cent . And how much could she hope to make even if she charged $ 10 a shot ? Would it be worth parading the sidewalk in Times Square without anything on ? It’s something I’ll never be able to figure out.
If we had seen such a sight thirty or forty years ago , we would have been scandalized , made scathing comments about her character and morals, about how society was going to the dogs. There were no such comments that evening. As a society , we have become much more relaxed in our attitudes towards nudity and ,perhaps ,that is the way it should be .
Oh ! Calcutta! was a Broadway musical revue that enjoyed a long run almost 40 years ago. It was performed in the nude and the actors , both male and female , did not have a stitch on as they pranced about on stage . As can be imagined , it created quite a scandal . One of the actresses was asked , years later , whether she did not feel any inhibitions about being on stage , totally nude , for the better part of two hours . She replied that though she took part in thousands of performances , she never felt ashamed of doing so . Except once . That was when she noticed a Japanese man in the first row , staring at the action on stage through a pair of binoculars .
Perhaps , so it was with that girl in Times Square that night . She had a beautiful figure and she was not shy about showing it off. Certainly, not something most of us would do , but not something that we should condemn either. It is the louts who were ogling her , passing lewd comments and feeling superior that should examine their behavior.