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A Paint-In and "Kids Love Breasts" Installation

by Deb Moore, an X-plicit Player

The street calls to us, like an enthused lover turning on his side to envelope us in an extended warm belly, child's grin and warm calm hand. I know this pull, it is the time being ripe and ready for us. A tuning of the street that has happened over the last few weeks, turning this little stretch of land from People's Park , along the Ave. to campus, turning it into a softened and welcoming partner to our wishes. Nina and I still having the simple wish to roam breasts exposed in the liquid air of our home land, we've been answered. Yes, in the eyes of so many who frequent this place. Yes, we delight with you, they say in sunny smiles and bodies lunging forward almost indecipherably, like a delicate wave of feeling. They all have turned their heads and make mention to us in the tiniest of gestures, yes.

The street is a lover who can turn on you in disappointment if you disregard the willingness of yesses. If we back away, or dwindle away our energies, delay our return, wait till next week even, the place will be lost, refusal felt. This is a time when presence is required and letting that go unheeded will make it much harder to return in weeks to come. So we step out again into the morass of feeling.

Being half naked, lying on a thin sheet on the sidewalk under Moe's protective veil, under a canopy that above our heads holds my baby paintings, mingling with plastic breasts also adorning the overhang, we are fragile. Ken's delicate fingers place bits of color on my brow and chest, Nina cradles me in her soft round voluptousness, Bob blows didgeridoo at my feet. The sky drifts in, gluing me to itself, and becomes bespeckled with watchers. They appear slowly as drifts of more sky, delicate. They peer down at me like children through the keyhole. I hold still so as not to be blown away by it all, fascinated in the savoriness. I can't stop grinning, my mind absolutely clear. Everyone radiates calm, even the few nervous twitters, wails and shreiks are merged in the extreme tenderness of everyone's presence with each other and me. I fly.

A woman is turning her head sideways to look straight into my face. She is saying that I look so happy, or gentle, or something that is right. I put my hand up high in the air to her and she moves, kneels, is upon me. I am swallowed up in her eyes. She is saying something about so much freedom and I am saying yes, all women will be this way with each other. She looks so moved and warmed, and she stays when I ask her to stay by me. I play with her necklace, full of toys, she plays with my fingers, saying they're beautifully long. Soon she is putting bits of paint on my nose with her fingers. I cann't stop looking into her eyes. They are canyons and openings to sky; they are riveting. Her face is so full of pleasure that I cannot stop looking into it. She showers upon me with a gentle heat for a long time. When she goes I must stand to salute her. We raise our handheld arms up in eagerness. We will find each other again at the herb store where she works.

Marty is here now, he touched my ass cheek in a hello nudge. The river flows steadily now. His didgeridoo music pounds and pours into our flesh. Jacques and wife Benji are putting artworks on Nina. Their son Thomas has volunteered to paint me. I couldn't be more delighted at this. I wanted this event to focus on children in their ease with breasts, but I didn't know how it would come off the canvas display and into people. Now it suddenly has. Thomas moves around my body intent on putting specific colors on specific places and tiny toys, all to fit a landscape design he has in mind. Quick as a studious squirrel he sends color flying from his brush onto my ribcage, from thigh, to calf, to chin, and even takes a big swirl of color around my breast and lands confidently on my breastplate. I feel blessed by the state of abandon, so well-preserved in this child of eight, so uninterrupted by the world of shame and shamers around him.

My heart is about to bound out of my chest. Marty is in tune with my bliss, as he begins tickling Thomas's toes. He converses with Thomas about the big dog that is nibbling on his toes. "Toes, toes, Thomas toes, tomatoes, hey, tomaahtoes," a number of us say at once. A number of adults, in a mound of color, singing tunes around his name, we have become a wild child at play with itself. "They call me toe-moss at school, that's my nickname," he confesses. We try it on, "Toe-moss, Toe-moss." as Marty tickles his toes and I paint his back.

Others join the event. A dark-haired, tawny woman kneels over me painting me with intense attention to my left breast. We smile at each other in knowing coherence. She pulls off her shirt to let me paint her back, which Thomas and I do together, moving around her black bra straps. She tells me she will go further at an event with me if we take it out of town. How's Santa Cruz? Fine. A teenage father stops with his baby in his arms to ask for the meaning of what we are doing. I say that it is a celebration of breasts and how children love them, babies love them. His baby takes my finger in its tiny hand. He wants to know why not other body parts, and I answer that we are focusing on breasts right now, other parts another time.

Moby appears without his pink brassiere and instead puts on a pair of our plastic tits that I brought just for him. His friend puts on another pair and we begin our procession up the street. Marty taps out quick and light with a stick on his didgeridoo while Ken taps playfully on his drum. We are moving quietly all linked by arms and hands in one long spread.

The mouth of the street opens to our slow advance. It is hushed. The ground seems to swell up and roll us into peoples' bodies. Warming occurs from every direction, the rolling faces blend to become one face, one fully rounded beckoning mouth. We enter slowly watching it watch us. I see and see, each head turn and press out at all of us, freeze for many moments and lock into each other. We are meeting in a new tone. It is a tide of gratitude and commoness, ease and good will. With few exceptions, everyone is saluting everyone with pleasure. During the last block of our walk Nina and I take to dancing. It is a swirling, celebrative dance, arms flung high, a celebration of life and sun, health, and friendships. Punks say, "naked people rule!", a few young college guys raise their fists in the air and yell, "let them be topfree", as they promised to at our first parade. A blonde hippy momma in her early twenties comes up to us with an angelic baby named China, letting me hold the angel. The awestruck momma makes plans to join us next time. Other women, fully dressed bless us, applaud us, hold us, beg us to continue what we are doing, what we love to do. We are thanking each other.

When we spot police officers, I draw the parade around them. Slowly we encircle a policeman; instruments still playing, we stand still. Just to make sure he has seen us and we have captured him on video seeing us and not arresting us. We pause. Two cops cross the street toward us on bikes, and a police car pulls over, driven by an officer I recognize. I prepare myself for an arrest, telling myself this will be one way to take the anti-nudity law to trial. It would be an okay way. I would be happier to keep having events and let time and cultural change eventually change the law. We wait. The cop exits his car and rushes away from us across the street toward La Fiesta. "I'm going in for a burrito, keep me covered," Moby chimes. We all laugh.

Finishing our percussive tunes and kisses on the next corner, we linger for a while saying goodbyes to some and planning a picnic lunch with others. With gratitude, we announce that the event is over. As Nina and I stroll arm in arm up the Ave. a calm simplicity overtakes us. We have found our way back again to the freedom to be walking without a crowd, just with each other, walking with breasts exposed. The air caresses us, people enjoy us as we do them. The balance of natural forces swim around us in every step. A gentle magnetism pulls us along through the streets full of others. We have begun again to live this custom of intimacy, the walk of tenderness, breast freedom. Sun warms me to the bone!

p.s. Later that night Thomas asked his Dad to take a shower together with him for the first time ever. His Dad felt that Thomas had gotten beyond feelings of shame surrounding his body as a result of his participation in the breast freedom parade.

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Last update 23 May 1996