A civic-minded group of students took to the streets outside of the main NYU buildings today, exhibiting their bodies and their concern for the environment. Timing their small march to coincide with the gap in between the 11 AM and 12:30 PM classes, they made a circuit of six blocks several times, chanting and cheering in support of Earth Month.
They gathered at the east side of Washington Square a few minutes before noon to trade shirts, pants and brasseires for colorful war paint. Most of the men wore shorts and running shoes, while the women wore pants or athletic shorts and a bra or body paint. It was a few degrees too cold for comfortable nudity, and assorted nipples greeted the air cheerfully. Though they looked a bit silly, the participants had their message ready, as though they expected people to ask why they were running around topless.
“We want to raise energy awareness,” said a woman named Channing, “and to help build a healthy community. I’m already part of a strong energy community: we have potlucks, freeganism events, dumpster diving, things like that.”
A girl standing next to her said, “I don’t know who’s in charge, but I just saw people getting naked and had to come join.” She had stripped down to just a bra and underwear.
From the blue and purple body paint to the glittering gold American Apparel shorts, color was a theme, a contrast to the whitewashed torsos of those running. Jordan said, “This is supposed to be a fun thing. So much about global warming is like, oh, the world is collapsing. This is a way to have fun and do something good.”
At about 12:10 PM some
one shouted, “All right! Let’s start walking,” and they took off towards Silver, the main building for the College of Arts and Sciences. Walking in the middle of the street, they attracted less attention than one might expect, but made noise that could be heard from ten stories up. “Less gas, more ass!” they chanted, a slogan written on the back of Ian, one of the young men leading the group.
Earth Month apparently had needed awareness; most of the people who saw the half-nude parade were confused. A group of businessmen stood on the corner of Mercer and Washington and giggled like children. “What the hell are they even protesting?” one embittered student asked.
As they finished their first turn around the building, a truck driver blew his horn at the parade of flesh. It would have been creepy, but he was picking up reusable vegetable oil and bore a recycling symbol on the side of his tank. It was an old trope revitalized, turned into 21st century, 100% green sleaze.