Friday, August 26, 2016

Busting Out

In honor of National Topless Day-which really is about women feeling empowered by their bodies-I am reposting a version of an article I wrote that was published in June 2014 in the now no longer existing blog-agazine CityElla. 

It is totally legal for a woman to walk around shirtless in NYC. That’s right ladies, you can strut all over the city with your big apples out and no one can stop you.

But people will stare at you.

Most people are unaware of the fact that since 1992 in NYC it has been legal for women to go shirtless in any public place where it is legal for a man to do so. But even though it’s their right, most women would probably feel uncomfortable doing so. I know I would. Women get sexually harassed by men just for showing cleavage, how could they possibly feel safe shirtless? And what about all the controversy surrounding women who bare their breasts in public to breast feed their babies? If women are attacked for busting out their boobies to do that, why would we ever feel comfortable strutting our breasts down the street as say, a fashion statement?

But, as uncomfortable as others may try to make us feel about baring our breasts, there are laws in place to protect women who choose to go topless, and give us all the strength to not look at showing our breasts and nipples as something shocking, but rather as a right and as normal. It’s quite the empowering thought.

Feeling tempted to show your belief in women’s equality and go topless? Even though the sultry summer heat is here, if you aren’t ready to just shed layers and be half naked in Midtown yet, NYC seems to offer many places for women to get used to breaking free of their bras in safe, naked-friendly settings. These include naked yoga, naked paint nights, and even a naked book club called The Outdoor Co-Ed Topless Pulp Fiction Society which, with meetings in places like Central Park, aims to help remind everyone that being topless is legal and that reading is sexy. 

All of these clothing optional activities stress that sensuality is not at the root of being there naked, but that it is more about being free, being equal and not being ashamed. A man walking around shirtless is not seen as pornographic, but women’s breasts take that rating up. 

Filmmaker and actress Lina Esco released her funny and empowering film “Free the Nipple” in 2014 ( which is inspired by true events and follows a group of young women hitting the streets of NYC topless defending their right to do so. The film, which she started in 2012, has had a lot of struggles along the way with the issues that are exactly what the film addresses. The film’s facebook Free the Nipples page had been deleted and the MPAA said that it would be giving the film an NC-17 rating, limiting the theatres that could release the film. Even though Esco pointed out there was “not one sexual act in the film.” Esco said in an interview that all of this is what happens when you show aerola.

She is definitely onto something there. 

“Legal in NYC but not on @instagram”

Scout Willis, daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, protested aerola being taboo by strutting the streets of Manhattan topless and tying it in to Esco’s #FreetheNipple campagin, to get rid of censorship on the social media platform Instagram. 

Willis, in 2014, then followed up with a well done and thought-provoking article on saying:

“I am not trying to argue for mandatory toplessness, or even bralessness. What I am arguing for is a woman’s right to choose how she represents her body -- and to make that choice based on personal desire and not a fear of how people will react to her or how society will judge her. No woman should be made to feel ashamed of her body.”

So, with all of this, would I go topless in NYC? No. I didn’t think it was because I’m afraid of what others would say, or ashamed of my body, or that I don’t like being judged. In fact, if I did worry about any of those things, I wouldn’t be an actress, the quintessential career which seems to nourish those fears with constant rejection growing your self-doubt.

And I’ve even accidentally had a “nip slip” on stage. A couple of years ago I was working as a back up dancer for a Lady Gaga impersonator-(seriously)-and we were performing “Born This Way” at a Christening in Brooklyn-(you can’t make this stuff up)-and my sassy one shoulder costume just flopped right off mid shimmy making it a whole different kind of show. I laughed it off and wasn’t embarrassed. It’s just a nipple, the guest of honor baby was used to them. 

So while I'd like to assume that I wouldn’t go bust out in NYC because I just don’t like being topless, it may be because I have a size B/C chest and the thought of walking around without even a bra, my breasts flapping, seems just actually really uncomfortable. 

Running down stairs to catch a train? Running without a supportive sports bra? Nope. 

Also, if you are just wearing pants or a skirt, you have to really watch out for the always embarrassing muffin top issue. And what about sun exposure? I have only ever been publicly (on purpose) topless on a beach and even then I was pretty much solely turned on my stomach to protect my milky white breasts from ever getting what would undoubtedly be a painful sunburn. 

That time I freed my nipples on the beach.
These thoughts made me realize: these reasons are mostly just excuses to cover up the fact that I am actually afraid of what others would think? I tested myself by walking around my own apartment doing chores topless and was disappointed to find that I didn’t even enjoy that. I seriously felt weird and a bit like I was in a bizarre porno being topless doing mundane activities like the dishes and sweeping. And then I became increasingly convinced that my cat, who is a feline master of withering looks aka Cat bitch face, was in fact judging me and my saggy, pale breasts. maybe I am just a little paranoid about being judged. 

Now, I’m not saying I’m going to go YOLO, join #FreetheNipple and start heading out in NYC topless (with sunscreen of course) to celebrate the fact that women are and should be equal. But I do think the talk of topless has helped me examine some of my own unexpected prejudices and fears to realize that there is great power in separating breasts from sexualization and, more importantly, in not allowing exposure to make us vulnerable. 

We should never be afraid to get out from under the censor bar. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Flakey Millennials Find No Time for Fruit Loops-And Other Struggles of My Generation

This week, the NY Times reported that "Almost 40 percent of the millennials ... said cereal was an inconvenient breakfast choice because they had to clean up after eating it."
So, Millennials, who by all reports, are causing the demise of the modern world, are too lazy to even make themselves a bowl of cereal.

As a Millennial, I would like to respond to this outrageous accusation by saying....that is absolutely freakin' correct. Damn straight I hate doing dishes. I don't have a dishwasher in the apartment which I rent. By the time they were my age, older generations owned houses in shiny suburbs complete with dishwashers so they could afford to lavishly use dishes. But times they are a changing. And I have literally reused the same wine glass for four days to drink both my nightly glass of wine and my morning breakfast orange juice out of. 
And in further response to this study, I have compiled a list of things that I and other lazy Millennials seeking instant gratification do in case they need to do further studies on our apparently fascinating habits. 

-- I order Grub Hub, buy a dinner I shovel into a cardboard box at Whole Foods, or wiggle my way into dinner invitations so I don't have to cook. Or do dishes. Or grocery shop.

-- I order anything and everything I can online so I don't have to go anywhere extra or engage in dreaded small talk conversations with people who work at check outs.

-- I establish levels of cleanliness when it comes to laundry. Jeans can hardly ever be dirty. 

-- I have gone weeks maybe months moving one lightbulb from room to room because I was too lazy/forgetful to actually get more lightbulbs. This rationale has also been applied when it comes to other key necessities. I have showered with dish soap.

-- I prefer to text in emojis so I don't have to use actual words to express myself. A cute little pile of poop picture is worth a thousand words. Plus, words can be so tricky and confusing, whereas you can't really take an emoji the wrong way. 

-- I have committed the act of ghosting where I pulled a Houdini-like disappearance act on someone I was dating so as to not have to deal with the dramatics and feelings conjured up by an actual break-up conversation. 

-- "Dressy" yoga pants? Sexy, tousled bed-head messy hair? You can thank Millennials for these chic looks. Fashion is less of a statement and more about leaving my bed with time for nothing and still getting to where I am going passably on time. And beards being cool for guys does double duty by masking both their laziness to shave and their being too lazy to work out by hiding their chubby cheeks.

-- I look back on the days when Netflix didn't just play the next episode automatically as the evil Dark Ages of having to roll over and use a remote. 

-- Sometimes I just opt to watch a rerun or re-watch a movie I've seen because I'm too lazy to commit to focusing on something new. 

-- I can't remember the last time I wasted my ever dwindling energy looking something up in a book, writing a check, putting a stamp on something and mailing it, or reading a paper newspaper or magazine. Why would I? The internet does all of that. Faster. And I don't have to even put on yoga pants or leave the couch.

-- I actually get quite anxious and angry waiting for anything from email and text responses to waiting on my Uber car. Waiting feels like wasted time. And yet I find no irony in or problem with taking 10 minutes to select a filter for my instagram post or spending 20 minutes googling the perfect gif to respond to a friend's status with. 

-- I may not like, and even resent, my time being wasted from waiting, but I love wasting my own time. See Alanis, that's irony. 

-- Nothing infuriates me more than waiting in line, slow wifi, and cell phone batteries dying. These all seem like unnecessary ways the universe is being cruel. They test my already failing patience to the brink. 

-- Nothing thrills me more than plans canceling. Even if it is with a friend. The wealth of time earned from canceled plans feels like I've won the lazy lottery. 

Yes. It's true. The struggle is real.
*Also, when it comes to making cereal, there is an extra step that I find so makes it worth it. Try pouring some Bailey's in your Cocoa Puffs. It's the true breakfast of champions. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Valentines Schmalentines: A Gift Guide

It has been brought to my attention that this weekend is Valentine's Day. While I will not be celebrating this holiday as it is against my religion of Singledom which worships the cat deity while drinking blessed box wine, I have taken a moment to assemble the absolute best Valentine's day gifts you could present your sweetheart or just get for yourself.

Name a cockroach at Bronx Zoo after your ex or your current boy toy who gave you an annoying drug store stuffed animal that plays and sways to Elvis. 
Unfortunately, the printed certificate that comes packaged with chocolate is already sold out. But you can still name a cockroach and print your own certificate for only $10!

Your own inflatable man. This is a steal, at only $6.95. Getting this 60inch dude in his snappy fedora and Clark Gable pornstache will leave enough money in your pocket for you to take him out to a nice dinner.

 If you really want to use some magic to make that special person fall under your spell, you can book reservations to have a special Harry Potter Valentine's Dinner at the Warner Brother's lot in London where they filmed the movies. The experience includes Moar drinks, a 3 part meal, a studio tour, and a wand. Though according to the website, unfortunately, you may have to actually be a wizard to get into this sold out experience. They have published the menu online, which looks amazing, so you could try to recreate this at home. And no, putting the movies on in the background and wearing a a snuggie and witch hat probably isn't good enough.

If creating a wizarding world isn't happening in your living room, you can always venture to White Castle of Waffle House which are both accepting reservations for Valentine's Day. Or just give up and head to Dairy Queen for the Single Blizzard Treat.

If politics is what makes your heart pound, why not get these presidential candidate chocolates. A "yuge" box is $44.95. But also, let's hope that life is not like a box of chocolates, because according to an article talking about these in NY Daily News, it is reported Trump is the most popular when it comes to chocolate candidates. No thanks. I wouldn't even eat him.

Star Wars has reached new levels of popularity again and is everywhere. So if you have a droid loving sweetie who you want to woo into your Millenium Falcon for journeys to galaxies far, far away, then screw flowers, because you should be sending one of these spectacular Star Wars Bouquets for $60. I'd totally get excited by this.

Or, if you want to get a little bit more...personal, you could head to Target and get one of these Star Wars pool toys that look like some Darth In-Vader adult fun. Whoops.

You know what is totally not at all creepy. Having a planter portrait sculpted of you and your significant other made. You can turn yourselves into your own chia pet. Together. Forever.

And if you are the type who is into personalizing stuff with your face, you can also do that with your underpants and your condoms

I'm not a hand holder because I'm a not a toddler who needs to be kept safe from running out in traffic, thanks. Plus those hand holder people bragging about their love take up so much space on the sidewalk as I'm in a manic rush to get to where I'm going because I woke up (alone) with time for nothing. But now, if you are one of those hand holders, you can show everyone how truly annoying you and your Shmoopie are by getting this heart mitten

 But, really, sometimes a simple Making a Murderer card just says it all. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Things That Look Like the Superbowl 50 Halftime Show

I have no interest in football. I do however love a good show. So obviously I tune into the Superbowl to catch the Halftime Show.
But this year's show, featuring Beyonce, Coldplay, and Bruno Mars, was....weird. Like acid trip weird, despite having a great message about love for everyone. But by the time the marching band and Beyonce and Bruno Mars were shaking it to "Uptown Funk," I found myself desperately wishing that the lights would just go out, like what happened the last time Queen Bey took over the Superbowl stage.

So in case you missed it, here are several images that pretty much perfectly will recreate it.

First of all, those three artists, while each good, just don't go together. This is the meal equivalent of what we had to digest on stage:

Granted, the mash up and dance off with Bruno Mars and Beyonce had potential to be cool, but it just really looked like this:

And Chris "Coldplay" Martin went from being waaay too hyped up to looking so left out and awkward once those other two got involved, it was like this:

But really, Beyonce's mane event was upstaging everything like this:

Her mane swirled around more than the trippy bouquet of Lisa Frank flowers dancing across the 50 yard line making the whole thing look like my fifth grade trapper keeper like this:

By the end of the show, we were left with just so much freakin over-stimulating color like this:

And the same uneasy feeling you get from watching a Rankin Bass cartoon like this:

Thanks Superbowl 50 for the rainbow musical mess. 
I'm actually shocked they couldn't find a place for Superbowl icon Left Shark in this many colored spectacle. 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Female Shark Who Ate A Male Shark Whole Is The Feminist Hero We Need

While we are in the dead of the winter and months away from the wonderful summer days of Shark Week, a video of a female shark eating a male shark from a Seoul aquarium has gone viral. And it is amazing. Mostly because this female shark is the feminist hero we've all been waiting for.
After being pestered by a male banded hound shark that kept bumping into her, this mighty female tiger shark retaliated in the most girl power way possible- by eating the annoying male.
Here's the video:

YAAASS shark girl! 
You show that guy that NO MEANS NO!
You warned that persistent Romeo that his unwanted attention and touching was harassment and you would take action. And you did. Fiercely. 
Now every time I am walking down the street and some clueless man cat calls at me that I'm "hot" or when some dude all of a sudden has more arms than an octopus and all of them are on me, I'll think of this bad ass shark chick, and visualize these harassers as my snack, with their toes hanging out of my mouth as I strut swim away. And I suggest you do the same.
Now, while it would be hard to justify this kind of vigilante behavior in the human fight against sexual harassment, it is really empowering to see a female come out on top of the food chain.
It's not easy being a woman. Women get paid less than men. For example, it leaked last week that Gillian Anderson was offered less money than her co-star David Duchovny for the X-Files return. And we know women's bodies aren't always their own. Most disturbingly this week in El Salvador, where the Zika virus is spreading, the government is telling women to not get pregnant so as to reduce the risk of more babies being born with the birth defect the virus causes. And while this seems like a good idea, contraception in this country is hard to come by and abortions are illegal. And when it comes to women in power, we see presidential candidate Hilary Clinton being told she is not "trustworthy," which at the root seems like a complaint dripping with sexism. 
With struggles like this, women need a hero to look to. An inspiration to remind us that we are strong and that we are bigger than whatever is bothering us. 
And I think this male eating shark is that hero.

Marvel Comics 
Now, I'm in no way suggesting you attempt to eat that man in your office whose un-welcomed flirting is even harder to cope with knowing the idiot also probably makes more money than you do. That would be a bad idea. And cannibalism. But I do think you can use Female Shark as your feminist spirit animal to rise above and in other ways destroy the limitations set on you. You don't have to take being touched when you don't want to be. You don't have to tolerate being told you run like a girl or that your choices for your body are a matter of politics. Female Shark wouldn't take crap like that. And neither should we. 
Ladies, let's live every week like it's lady shark week!

Friday, January 22, 2016

La Cheeze & Whine Winter Shut In Netflix Binge List

We are bracing for Snowpocolypse 2016 on the east coast. With this year's mild weather so far, I feel we are all actually like this teacher looking forward to some snow for forced couch time.
And since obviously we have all already binged on Making a Murderer and are stressed out from Sarah Palin, I figured I'd let you know about some fun and maybe lesser known picks from the lighter side of Netflix viewing that will help calm you down and get you through.

La Cheeze & Whine Winter Shut In Netflix Binge List

"The Spoils Before Dying"
An IFC mini-series that is a creative parody of vintage bad tv follows a 1950s jazz pianist turned private eye who becomes embroiled in a murder investigation. It's sort of a high budget, extended SNL skit starring Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Chris Parnell, Maya Rudolph. It's so intentionally terrible that is delightful. Make it a true binge and watch its sister series "The Spoils of Babylon" while you are at it.

A snarky British police sitcom featuring a mis-matched pair of Detectives with sexual tension who must work together to solve bizarre murders. If you like things like "Law and Order: SVU" and "Castle," but wish they had more sarcasm and sex, you'll dig this.

"The Search for General Tso"
A history of the real General and how my favorite Chinese take out chicken dish got named for him. Informative, filled with fodder for interesting anecdotes that you can wow any crowd with when they bring up Chinese food. It's also told like a good detective story, and best watched while enjoying some take out-because you will definitely be craving some watching this.

After all the recent Lottery craze, this is a relatable one. It's a dark comedy about a serial killer who unwittingly wins the lottery jackpot starring Colin (Tom's son) Hank, Ann-Margaret, and Mimi Rogers aka the gum girl from Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist.

"The Riches"
You may have missed this totally binge worthy show when it aired on FX nearly a decade ago, but it is so good. Eddie Izzard plays a gypsy con-artist who leads his family into stealing the upscale life of another man who they find dead on his way to moving into his new home. You won't be able to stop until the end. And Izzard creates a character who, like Tony Soprano, makes you so confused about what is actually right and wrong.

Not the shit movie they attempted to make. The original. The 80s cartoon that you probably watched but didn't really understand. It is like a soap opera with date drama plots worthy of Sex and the City. And just as stylish.

"Friends with Benefits"
A short lived but cute sitcom from 2011 that if you like things like "How I Met Your Mother," "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," and "New Girl" you will enjoy. Right from the first scene of the pilot episode where a guy, rushing out of bed after sleeping with his best friend, puts on her skinny jeans instead of his own.  Oh the struggle.

"The Increasingly Poor Decision of Todd Margaret"
David Cross' dark sided humor creates this character who is destined to fail and bring everyone around down with him in this IFC sitcom about a pathetic loser who accidentally gets sent by his company to work in London, despite the fact that he is so clueless he doesn't even know that the Pound and Dollar have different values. Also stars my favorite British actress/comedian/writer Sharon Horgan.

"Better Off Ted"
A brilliant sitcom about a heartless company called Veridian and the employees who "don't fight it." Starring the super cute Jay Harrington and Portia de Rossi being the ultimate perfect corporate bitch. This show is so clever it is hard to believe it only was allowed to exist for two years. It is vainglorious. So watch it. For Jenkins. You'll get all this when you watch it.

"Small Town Security"
A reality show about a family security business in a small town in Georgia led by the matriarch Joan, a former local cable access tv star whose employees include a trans-gender security guard who is in a bizarre love triangle with her. There are all the elements you need here for captivating viewing of bizarre realities of other lives. So get on it.

"Bojack Horseman"
An animated series in the twisted vein of "Archer," this one is about a horse who was a 90s sitcom star but is now a miserable drunk desperate for a comeback. Hilarious and raunchy and filled with great pull quotes. 

There you have it! Now get binging!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Trump and Palin Join Forces to Lead the Apocalyptic End of Times

I'm not sure why this is being called a "Bombsell Endorsement."
You can't say you didn't see this coming.
But, that doesn't make it any less awful.
Sarah Palin is stumpin for Trumpin.

Inexplicably dressed like Dorothy Zbornak, Palin yips about how great Trump is like she is a yorkie on cocaine. She shouts (Why is she shouting? She has a microphone. Bitch needs to chill.) that Donald Trump will "kick ISIS' ASS!" All the while Trump and his constant duck face stands by gleefully gloating that he is finally unleashing this pound puppy on America. Bringing her out is clearly his eleven o'clock number. Those toddlers in tiaras that he had wearing star spangled tutus and singing patriotic songs that sounded like we are now in North Korea-yeah that was clearly just a starting step to the new level of craziness we will be climbing to.
Maybe all this has been a big staged joke. Maybe Lorne Michaels, NBC, and SNL are in on it. I'm just desperate to find my way out of this wonderland we've fallen into. I mean really Trump and these people who are making him lead in the polls can't possibly  think that when it comes to campaigning he is nailing it? Right? Right!
Obviously anyone with a fucking brain is feeling sick and outraged.
Yep, Palin, you do get one thing right in your "speech." I AM "dog-gone angry." I'm angry that while this is all brilliant stuff for parody, this is real life. And I probably have to give my landlords notice that I will be relocating to another country. It's cold here anyway.
Well, America, I guess it was inevitable. All great civilizations come to an end. One day, thousands of years from now, teenagers will be studying the downfall of the U.S., transcribing our emoji hieroglyphics, and discussing how such a powerful nation came to meet its own demise at the hands of two "reality tv stars."

Also when Palin says "kick ISIS'ASS" all I can hear is the Lily Tomlin speech in the movie "Big Business" where she says she is going to "Raise some hell and kick some snooty New York Ass." That's a great movie. It also stars Bette Midler, who in happier news that gives me something worth living for today announced she is going to be in the Broadway revival of "Hello Dolly."

Just go watch this movie right now. It's so fabulous, it will help you forget or at least cope by reminiscing about the simpler time of shoulder pads.