There is an exhibit at the MoMA where visitors are forced to pass between a naked man and woman in a narrow doorway. It might seem weird, but it’s nothing compared to the Naked Painting Party held last night at the Gallery Bar in the Lower East Side. As you navigate across the swanky bar, you rub up against body types from chubby to tight with a full spectrum of breasts and genitalia.
The event, hosted by 25-year-old actress and producer Sally Golan, is exactly as the title suggests. Anyone can come in, strip naked, pick up a paintbrush and start some skin art. “I didn’t want people to say ‘Ugh, another networking party, here’s my card,” says Golan. “So I’m hoping that people can really start to get back into the edgier part of social life.”
Golan is interested in a more energetic New York, one that feels more real to her. “A lot of people aren’t as face to face as they used to be,” Golan says, “and that is a turn off for me.” She strikes a cross-legged pose with practiced cuteness as she tells me about the TV series she is starting called “Shitty Advice for a Dollar.” Written by Golan from her couch-surfing experiences, the series follows four friends who, each episode, pay a homeless man one dollar to give them advice on their lives. The first four mini-episodes will be shot this weekend for the web by director Alex Merkin (Across the Hall, 2010). If they go well, the pilot will be pitched to one of the major networks.
But first, they need money to shoot. The first Naked Painting Party, which Golan says was “wild,” raised money for Eco Art Space. Golan, running the event through her company Social Exposure Media, hopes that lightning will strike twice to fund her series. She assembled DJs Brian Christopher and Erica Rohne from the 95 Group, invited Voli Spirits to introduce their new vodka-lite to a New York audience, and commissioned a small collection of local artists to get the painting started.
Chong Cha, who works as a fashion designer for Rampage, was the only artist commissioned by Golan that I met. Everyone else I spoke to was just a guest who had picked up a paint cup. It isn’t long into the evening before the distinction between artist and subject disintegrates. Men and women paint each other simultaneously. As I walk through, I got caught on sweaty skin and felt random people run paintbrushes and handprints across my torso.
Some prepared for the celebration. Four men arrived in identical red briefs. One guy wearing only a Borat-style green bikini said that he had trained for the past six weeks at the gym. Others were less Bacchic. “I don’t wanna touch nobody,” said one man dressed for a country club. He lingered for a few minutes before about-facing back out the door.
Golan floated through it all with magnetic poise. She weaved in between the dozen cameramen who took so many pictures that it created a strobe effect. It was easy to see that, here, Golan was in her element. She’s a millennial Holly Golightly, with business acumen to boot. She smiles in her black strapless bra as two women make out and a couple vigorously dry hump in the back room.
“There’s definitely a sexual energy to it,” Golan says, “but that’s not the way I like to market it.” Adding, “that will happen without me having to say it.”