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Culture

Go Topless Day in Venice: A Political Protest, or Gawker's Dream? (NSFW)

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Mon, Aug 22, 2011 at 12:03 PM
click to enlarge PAUL T. BRADLEY
  • Paul T. Bradley

Boobs. There's nothing that spawns puerile imaginations and adolescent snickers more (except for maybe butts and butt-associated puns). So it's no surprise that Go Topless Day in Venice nabbed its fair share of gawkers and boob-struck stares. For a purely visual recap, please go see Keith Plocek's titillating (ugh, sorry) slideshow for some great NSFW boobage.

The pro-topless march, led by a smooth-talking gentleman in a bikini, hooted and hollered its way down the boardwalk with slogans like "Everybody say 'Equal Rights for Women and Men!' and "Free those boobies and Free Your Mind!" among others. Women sported rubber nipple covers and men, in support, wore bikini-tops festooned with political buttons.

click to enlarge Go topless, just cover those nipples...with fake nipples... - PAUL T. BRADLEY
  • Paul T. Bradley
  • Go topless, just cover those nipples...with fake nipples...

A phalanx of photographers in a group larger than the marchers followed those rubber nipples along their entire route. Cops, of which there were two, supposedly forced the women marching to cover their nipples in shame, cleared the marchers path. There were even scattered reports of religious protesters. We're not sure if the supposedly foaming-at-the mouth religious nutters were more afraid of female breasts or men in bikinis -- they had scattered before the march started.

Go Topless Day is a purportedly political annual event that promotes Equal Rights. What it is instead is a promotional stunt put on by the Raelians -- an alien cult -- that relies on these activities for recruitment. Make no mistake about it, the sort of decency laws, like L.A. County's, insisting that women cover their nipples are ridiculous double standards. But, are the Raelians truly political activists on a mission to enforce the Equal Protection clause of the 14th amendment? Meh.

Much of the march's chanting included breaks for impassioned pleas to sign an online petition. The petition's target: "Government." What government you ask? Uh...that's where it gets kinda hazy. Are they petitioning the Los Angeles County government? Are they petitioning U.S. Congress? No. They are sort of petitioning the Supreme Court...kind of. In fact, a good number of the petition's signatories come from France and Belgium. Which is, unsurprisingly, the bosom of the Raelian movement.

Who are these Raelians again? Well, in short, they're an international religious movement, based in France, that believes in the alien origins of human beings. Rael (real name: Claude Maurice Marcel Vorilhon) had a vision in the early '70s where a group of humanity's purported creators (called Elohim) gave him the secrets of the universe -- one of which included the idea that we were designed by alien "gods." Since then, he and his followers have been on a mission to build an earth-based embassy for the Elohim, to promote international good vibes, and to reject restrictions on human sexuality. All of which, while kind of out-there, still seems pretty harmless.

Like most pseudo-political stunts, Go Topless Day marchers had their fair share of misinformed misanthropes (y'know, the type of "I'm gonna pee on the government!"-types that would have jumped off the pier if they had been led there). We spoke to one extremely vocal woman who was there to protest for her rights and exclaimed repeatedly that, "Women can't show nipples anywhere in California! ANYWHERE!" She even seemed suspicious that we might be there to disrupt the good vibes with our simple questions. She did not, however, seem to care that the organizing group was a UFO cult and was not actually making any real political strides. "I don't care," she said. "I want my rights." Fair enough, we suppose.

click to enlarge Manboobs covered in support of Womanboobs. - PAUL T. BRADLEY
  • Paul T. Bradley
  • Manboobs covered in support of Womanboobs.

Another ubiquity at pseudo-political-stunts-slash-nudity events is bros. We spoke to one bevy of bros who had come out in support. "We're here to support womens' rights!" one of the bros told us. "Y'know, women should be allowed to show their tits, man," another told us. Do you know who's putting on this event? "Gotopless.org, right?" Well, actually it's a French organization that believes in alien intelligent design. "Really?" Yeah. "Oh, well, whatever." Are you guys from around here? "We came down from the Valley." Anything else you guys want to say? "Boobs!"

For the record, there are a few places in California where women are permitted to go topless and the state does not explicitly forbid female toplessness. On the other hand, there are plenty of U.S. states and municipal governments that explicitly forbid women from showing their nipples. Again, and we're hardly constitutional law scholars, this kind of double standard is pretty silly and outdated and changes should probably be made to conform to equal rights protections. But, Rael and his followers aren't going to make that happen -- they're far more concerned with growing their numbers and building their alien embassy.

click to enlarge KEITH PLOCEK
  • Keith Plocek

Either way, the Raelians are mostly harmless and the boardwalk will probably see as much skin on subsequent Sundays from average beach-goers. After all, who hates good vibes and boobs? Certainly not us. For those of you concerned with political change, however, it's probably a good idea to know whose nipples you're following and what they're up to.

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