Bodypainting

[NSFW] Times Square Went Nude for "Bodypainting Day"

“When you express yourself, it actually looks like this,” says artist Andy Golub of the hundred or so naked and painted bodies around him.
June 12, 2017, 9:20pm
Crowds gather around the models in Times Square. Photos by the author.

Suspicious characters in Elmo costumes were not the only thing you could expect to see in Times Square this past Friday, as volunteer models stripped the costumes of their everyday lives to come together and promote messages of "body acceptance, self love, science, and a little politics," or so model Koy Penguina, one of the throng, put it. As part of a four-day-long installation, artist and body painter Andy Golub has expanded the concept of his annual Bodypainting Day, in which volunteer models get naked and painted, to feature written messages advocating for self expression—an ode to Matthew "Levee" Chavez's sticky note project in Union Square last year.

Model and professional photographer Eva Mueller poses with a message to "Love Life."

72-year-old Jim —with a message that "All people are worth it"—can cross this off his bucket list.

As Golub himself tells Creators, "When people are nude, there's a level of vulnerability, and that means that there's a level of trust, and... also a level of really wanting to share. [The messages] kind of make it happen on two levels. On one level, it's just words, and on another level, it's their body. Words are much more literal."

Model Koy Penguina's message reads: "Love more, fear less. Float more, steer less."

Indeed, the models are willing to share much more than the physical words written across their chests. They tell stories of overcoming the societal expectations for their bodies, and learning to love their perceived flaws. As one model, Melanie Fortino, tells me, "It's amazing what giving in to doing something like this does for your self-esteem, because everyone wears clothes. Until you're all naked, you think you're the only freak with this, or that, and then you go, 'Wait a second! That person has that weird thing I've been embarrassed about all my life.' And you realize, we're all much more similar when you take our clothes off." She looked at me in my long-sleeve t-shirt and added, "Plus, I think we're enjoying the breeze a little more than you are right now."

Models Melanie Fortino and Jim O'Connor pose with artist Andy Golub.

The joyfully comfortable vibe of the models and their colorful messages permeated the bustle of Times Square as wide-eyed tourists swarmed the hundred or so naked models posing behind the barricades. The models were anything but shy; they all seem to abide by Golub's philosophy that "the body, in and of itself, is a form of expression." As model Jim O'Connor sums up, "It's not a big deal. It's a boob; it's a butt; it's a penis. Everyone's seen it… It's not sexual. And it's just awesome to run around with no clothes on."

Model Roger's message reads: "Be Yourself."

Bodypainting Day took place on June 9, 2017. Click here to visit Andy Golub's website.

Related:

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A Naked Performance Art Festival Is Coming to Switzerland

The Mission to Turn Times Square Into a Massive Art Gallery