Coming off a string of successful exhibits — including the recent “Babe Show,” which was exactly as billed — Greenpoint’s Human Gallery is going topless for one night tomorrow. Gallery co-owner Rachael Yaeger birthed the idea this summer, building off the Topless Blading Instagram account she started this past June.
“My cousin called me, asking why it was so socially unacceptable to rollerblade and I didn’t really have an answer,” explained Yaeger, who lives in Williamsburg. “Later she asked what I was doing and I said, ‘Laying out on my roof in Brooklyn, because I want to be topless.’ I was all hungover from the night before and thought ‘Oh my god! Topless blading!’’’
With a quick 1,500 followers (they’re closer to 2,000 now) Yaeger, Topless Blading co-founder Elizabeth Siematkowski, and crew set off to bound over the Williamsburg Bridge on blades sans shirts. Surprisingly, no one really took notice. But, for Yaeger and her friends, the idea was more than just a stunt or novelty Instagram account — it’s a statement about femininity, embracing the fact that it’s perfectly legal for women to be topless in public in New York City.
“It’s about owning it,” Yaeger said about being nude in general, “being comfortable with who you are and what you do, so much so that you can take off your top and not be stupidly skittish about it.”
Yaeger isn’t shy about it: she’s one of the four subjects featured in Human’s one night only show, simply titled “Topless.” The idea was something she’d been kicking around since starting the gallery in August and quickly came to fruition when she spoke to Jenne Lombardo, an owner of Milk Studios.
“I asked Jenne if I could photograph her topless and she said, ‘Let me know what you need, babe, other than my tits,’’’ Yaeger told us. “I knew she was close with DJ Chelsea Leyland, so I told Chelsea Jenne was doing it and she was down. My friend recommended Kava Gorna to photograph everyone, since she specializes in ass and tits, so I had coffee with her and she said, ‘Let’s do this.’ She shot Jenne at Milk and Chelsea at her apartment and then I thought that Jill Borenstein (Human co-owner) and I should be in it since we own the gallery. We shot on my roof, but since Jill and my boobs are so different we re-shot mine in McCarren Park and once again no one noticed.”
Tomorrow, you’ll be able to see the results in the form of 20” x 30” framed 35mm photographs. It’s as simple as the press release Yaeger crafted without pretension. “What else can you really say in a press release other than here’s four babes that are topless?” she said of the idea behind the show. “We can be going 12 miles per hour over the Williamsburg Bridge or chillin’ on a park bench topless and no one cares.”