Featuring: Todd, Kinney, Kula, Montague, Marhekifson, MacNeil, Arnheiter, Ace$thugg, Purnell, Arauz, Jesster, Ries, King, Spencer, Becket, Gill, Wright, Sommer, McCarson, Lodwick, Crowe, Verdugo, Beckman, Roderick, Blumberg, Ansari, Linder, Kendall, Shafer, Walker, Alstrum-Acevedo, Budin, Jones, Mikes, Leipzig-Scott, Hillman, Marco + many more!
Digital Photography: Agent Ries
Eyeglass and Button Hidden Cameras: Agents Todd, Roderick, Blumberg, Beckman
As before, we performed the mission twice: once uptown and once downtown, both times on the 6 train. This year’s No Pants was the biggest yet. We had 46 people taking off their pants and 15 additional people involved (pants sellers, camera men, door holders, window blockers). Due to the size we streched the event over more cars this year. We had two depantsing cars leading into one target car on the trip up. It was still incredibly crowded so for the way down we used two depantsing cars flowing into two seperate target cars (this meant using 4 total cars). Things were still relatively crowded, mostly due to the 4 & 5 trains running local. Perhaps next year we’ll hold No Pants late at night when there are smaller crowds. Enjoy the photos and agent reports!
This year’s turnout was so large that we couldn’t fit everyone into the group photo! Here’s the group divided into thirds:
One third of the group
One third of the group
One Third of the group
While my group of four was de-pantsing in the rear car, one of a pair of elderly women asked her companion, in a bemused but not negative tone, “Is this some kind of race or something?” I have no idea where the race thing came from.
Agent Todd was the first to depants
Agent Becket and I stood at the door as instructed and waited for the depantsing to begin. A family entered the train just as Agent Todd marched out in his boxers, and the kids were enthralled. They sat down and stood around a pole marveling in confusion at that guy with no pants on. All the while Agent Kula was stripping behind them. As the depantsing continued a grumpy man with a dolly sitting next to me, just kept going “Miss, I gotta ask. What is going on?” My response of, “What do you mean?” only irritated him further, as I suppose he wanted a reply of “Well, sir, all these folks here are silently protesting the Iraq War by taking their parts off and sitting pantless in solidarity with the suffering Iraqi people”. I muttered something about how we collect the pants and sell them to try to make a living. I tried this line again on the sassy camera-toting father of the aforementioned family and he scoffed at me : “Well, I find THAT hard to believe!”
Agent Becket hilariously made awkward “normal conversation” about our lives while people stared at us with their mouths open as pants flied toward our bags.
People kept craning their necks looking into the car behind us trying to figure out what was going on. The part I enjoyed most was when all of a sudden the two of us just turned and headed into the car behind us. I just like to imagine what the people watching us said after that.
On the second ride back downtown two huge dudes were hassling us for a while, grilling us on what was going on. The more people took their pants off, the more they shouted. “I’ve lived in New York my whole life and I ain’t never seen anything like this!” “Is this a protest? Where’s Michael Moore when you need him!” “Mayor Bloomberg should be on this train!”
When the guy asked me what I was doing with the pants, I answered that I’d probably try to sell them to make a buck or two. He yelled, “Do you own a thrift store?!” They were going nuts.
Moving through the crowded car with a heavy bag of pants wasn’t as bad as I thought, since many of the riders were pantless and knew what was going on. The second time we did it, I was a little more outgoing in my sales technique (I handled the pants for the “Big Boys”, the Larges and Extra Larges) and tried to find inspiration in the young men and women I see relentlessly hawking M&Ms all day long on the L train.
Two personal highlights:
During my first sales round, a woman came through selling batteries, which is hilarious in itself. I asked her if she wanted to buy a pair of pants and she stared me down, probably angry at me for selling on her turf.
Second, on the trip downtown: Agent Ace$thugg lying down “sleeping” on the train in his Box Briefs and waking up, having “missed his stop” and then buying a pair of pants.
Agents Becket and Spencer, pants sellers
On the way back, when I first sat on the train (still with pants on) some guy started picking a fight with me. I was wearing headphones and zoning out, so I didn’t notice at first, which pissed him off more. Finally when I noticed he started like, “So what, you don’t even say excuse me? You just sit?” Apparently, when I brushed by him to sit behind where he was standing, he thought I was being rude. I’m a big pussy– I offered him the seat, and he was all, “No, I don’t want the seat. You just push me out the way like I’m not even there.” I apologized profusely, and finally he ended his barrage. Three stops later I was slated to take off my pants. I was scared to death. I felt like he would take that as the ultimate insult and start something. Luckily, a few people went before me, so he saw a couple of people taking off their pants. He had a quizzical look, but was clearly not amused.
Then came my turn. I considered backing out, but I went ahead and took off my pants right in front of him. The moment I dropped the pants, he cracked up. We exchanged a smile, and I got on the other train without my pants. I wouldn’t have guessed it, but taking off your pants appears to be the best way to end otherwise uncomfortable confrontations.
Testament to how big No Pants has gotten: at least once during each of the pantsless rides, I’d be scanning the faces of strangers on the train and I’d see someone and think, “Ha – I bet this guy has NO idea what’s going on.” Then I’d look down and see that, yep, he’s not wearing pants either.
A family gawks at the depantsing
I acted like I was asleep most of the time on the train. I remember I woke up once and the guy across the aisle give me a weird look and asked me what the hell was happening. I looked at him like he was crazy and went back to sleep.
A group of 8 ready to exit, pantless
I just wanted to share my favorite reaction from No Pants. On the way back down to 14th street I barely managed to fit into the car after I had depantsed. Because of this I was leaning up against the door for a few of the stops and everyone on each platform saw my lack of pants. When the doors at grand central opened up I heard some man yell “He’s not wearing any pants! Get some pants on that kid!”
On the way back down to Union Square, three of us were standing together in a crowded car, right in front of three giggling high school girls. After a couple of stops, one of them politely asked the pants-less guy next to me if he could “kindly move back a little bit.” I guess his pants-less crotch was a little too close for comfort.
I had a great time. It was a little tough observing all the craziness while I was trying to stifle my own case of the giggles. I did catch two interesting things though.
One: On our second trip, when one of the young women came in the car “selling” our pants back to us, a strange man with pants on actually offered to buy a pair. I think he was serious. I didn’t stick around to see the outcome because I was feeling the giggles coming on in a big way so I had to get out of there. I moved back to the last car. I can’t imagine he actually succeeded in buying a pair though. That would have left someone pantsless. I’m curious how she got rid of him.
Two: Upon returning to the other car there were two men having a conversation about what they had just witnessed. One of the guys said “Man, if there were any kids around when those people took their pants off they would have been leaving this car on their asses” In other words, he would have much rather had children witness acts of violence, that he committed, than see a bunch of grown men and women in their underpants. He was really angry. I don’t think he recognized me at this point. He looked right at me but I had pants on by then. What a disguise.
On the way up a tourist family was having their minds blown by all the depantsing people. They saw Agent Todd get off the train as they were coming on and had a discussion about just WHAT was going on with that young fellow as Agent Kula was depantsing undetected right behind them. As more and more people started taking their pants off and throwing them at me and Agent Spencer, they brought out their camera-phones, then the real cameras. Finally, Dad asked us what was going on. “We don’t know,” replied Agent Spencer. “We’re just collecting the pants.” “Well,” replied Dad. “I find that HARD to believe.”
On the way back down in the depantsing car, two husky young black men were trying to figure out what was going on. “Is this some kind of protest? What are y’all protesting? Is this for some kind of show? What show is this for?” More and more people started taking their pants off without explanation and these dudes could not believe what they were witnessing. “I never seen nothing like this in my LIFE, man! What is happening in AMERICA?”
The first ride had been a little chaotic for Agent Spencer and me, what with so many pantsless people trying to find their correct pants in our huge, overstuffed duffel bags. On the way down, we split the pants up by size. Agent Spencer sold to the “tall guys” while I sold to “little guys and ladies.” During this second sales round a dude kept asking me if I had any size 27s. At first I thought he was another agent, as I had my head buried in the bag of pants. When I looked up, I saw that the dude was already wearing pants and he was merely trying to get a good deal on some 27s. “I don’t know,” I said as I continued to sell pants to other little guys and ladies. “Let me check.” I rifled through the bag some more. “Nope! Sorry! No 27s today.”
On the first run, I was sitting next to some very sweet old white ladies who noticed only by the third stop that there were men without pants standing mere feet away from them. One of them did a triple take before cluing in her friends, who immediately covered their eyes. As the train pulled away from Bleecker, the old woman closest to me leaned over to ask me if I knew what was going on. I told her I had no idea, maybe their pants were uncomfortable (unfortunately, I made a poor case for my ignorance, as I was pulling off my velvet drawstring leisures while talking to her). Moments later, as I stood up to exit the train, one of the ladies demanded (by way of actually calling me “young lady”) that I tell her what was going on. I just smiled and said, “a lot, probably.” Then I had to go.
On the second run, I had the misfortune of having positioned myself near a group of bossy-looking men so caught up in their jovial chatter that they remained completely oblivious to the first three rounds of trou-dropping (even though the train wasn’t crowded, and all they needed have done was turn their heads slightly downtown). But of course it was I who caught their glance first. “What the HELL?!” Bellowed one, while the others shifted position. As I hoped, they remained seated, but their eyes were firmly planted on my paisley drawers. I quickly made my way to the front of the car as my iPod cheerfully played “Same As it Ever Was.”
Agent Purnell (leaning against door in red boxers)
and Agent MacNeil
Down by the end of the car where we were taking off our pants, there was just this one guy who wasn’t involved. He looked like he was in his early twenties. He was just riding the train, minding his own business, and all these people kept standing right in front of him and dropping trou. He was mortified. I’ve never seen anyone turn that red before. His beard was blushing.
The second time around, I and this other kid whose name I didn’t catch wound up standing near these three girls who were delighted to see us. Though they rightly assumed that something was up, they guessed about everything from an acting class to MTV’s “Punk’d” without whacking the correct mole, as it were. I think they might have been hitting on us.
Something was in the air on Saturday. Just before we headed to the station, some people carrying 3 VERY large bags of helium balloons walked by. It was odd. To me, it was a good omen. Then, as we were walking to the subway, I noticed a drum circle. It was somewhere close by, and it was pretty loud. It felt like we were walking into improv battle. No Pants 2005 was another great experience, and I was able to do some important shopping. In addition to buying my pants back, I also purchased some M&M’s and a Chinese smiley face toy… without my pants on. I had to contain myself a few times. Jimmy almost got away from me. First, there was a gorgeous civilian on our car, and she was clearly turned on by our presence. I couldn’t help, but watch her getting a little heated. Then, Jimmy started to wander. I turned the other way and thought about Lou Gehrig’s final speech as a Yankee. Then, a very cute woman right next to me just started staring at my crotch. Wait a minute. This is starting to sound like a Penthouse
letter. Saturday was MLK’s actual birthday. Agent Martin was with us on this glorious day. We marched for freedom, and Agent Martin led the way.
Agent Sommer reads and listens to music
It was a great mission. I had several really fun low-key conversations with people sitting next to me or standing by the door. I had a great conversation with another agent about the warmth retention of corduroy vs. khaki. A few tourists allowed me to commiserate about leaving my pants at home while I was in a rush to get to a friend’s apartment. I told them it would be okay because we’ve known each other since middle school and we wear the same size pants.
The ride up to 125th Street was rather uneventful. We were the first large group of eight to de-pants, so it was probably the first major noticeable de-pantsing convincing subway riders that something was going on. Agent Alstrum-Acevedo and I began to untie our shoes one stop in advance, which got some looks from two adorable Asian children. They continued to watch as we slowly undid our belt buckles, and once the pants came off, the mother’s hands went right over the kids’ eyes. As we dashed from the third-to-last to second-to-last car, there were few looks. The comedy gold came when Agent Gil entered the car selling pants. “Got a thirty-two?” I asked. “I’m not sure,” she replied. “But you can poke around and check.” I did, found my pants, and put them on. I did so too quickly, as the majority of the ride up I was fully clothed.
The most eventful section of the mission took place on the ride back down to Union Square. I de-pantsed, and quickly ran from the third-to-last car to the fourth-to-last car, but the car I was supposed to enter was packed to the gills. I tried to squeeze in, but two older women surrounded by shopping bags galore proclaimed “There’s no room!” and “Wait for the next one!” Without any pants on, I was not about to “wait for the next one,” so I squeezed in. One of the women turned around after the doors closed, and gasped.
The car began to clear out a bit around 59th Street, and I was able to maneuver myself near the middle of the car closer to where Agent King was already positioned. Three very attractive young ladies noticed a number of us without pants and immediately caught on. “Is this a show?” Hottie #1 asked. “Uh, no.. I just forgot my pants.” Another agent heard me and we had a chuckle at the coincidence that we had both forgotten our pants. “Just one of those days I said.” But the hotties were persistent. “Oh my god, you must be so cold, are you in a fraternity?” Hottie #3 wondered. “Hah, absolutely not. I’m a little cold, but it’s nothing I can’t deal with.” Then we heard Agent Gil coming through selling pants. And what a relief it was to find a pants vendor. Time was running out, but I found my pants just before 14th Street, and nearly toppled over trying to put them on. The three pretty girls seemed to really get a kick out of it, especially when Agent King made a funny comment along the lines of “I don’t buy street pants.”
I was assigned the role of one of the “Pants Sellers” for this mission. For our first go, on our way uptown, I was in the third-to-last car collecting pants, waiting to move into the second to last car to sell the pants. As I collected pants from the other agents, I did not make any eye contact, or interaction whatsoever when making the transaction. I simply stuffed each pair of pants into my bag and stared blankly at the ads up above, as if nothing was happening.
Two people sitting near me kept looking at each other and laughing. I see them mouthing to each other, “What the F- is going on??” While shaking his head, one guy kept saying over and over, “I swear….New York is one of the craziest places I have ever been to…this is unbelievable.”
When the final group of pants-less agents exited the car, I waited a stop or two to begin my pants-selling route. I entered the car, plopped my big bag down and announced, “Attention ladies and gentleman, I am selling pants for one dollar….one dollar buys you a pair of pants”. Soon I was swarmed with dollar bills coming my way, as the agents searched through the bag to find their pants. “Do you have any jeans….? How about a size 32….?” I heard while making my way through the car. “Wow, the response has just been overwhelming today – it’s unbelievable” I said while more dollars came my way.
“Why are you doing this?” one subway rider asked. “Well, this is how I make my living, I am a professional pants-seller” I said.
When all the pants were sold for $1, I quickly folded up my bag and continued riding uptown as if nothing had happened. I noticed people move a little away from me, as if I was going to ask them to take off their pants!
Round two was a little more eventful, as we decided to split up the groups for our trek downtown. As usual, I collected pants one by one in the third-to-last car – but this time it was much more crowded in the car. I couldn’t help but bite my tongue to keep from laughing, as I see people shimmy off their pants while riding in a crowded subway car. I decide to sit down with my bag, as there was no way I could stand and collect pants. At one point there was a sort of assembly line to get me agent’s pants from the other end of the car. But when all was said and done, I definitely got some questions! One Russian woman kept asking me, “What in the world are you doing? Is this a political thing? What are you demonstrating – what is your platform?” I just kept saying, “I have no idea, they just wanted me to hold their pants…?” One lady finally breaks down after a few minutes of quiet laughter, “Okay, I just have to ask you, seriously, what’s going on???” Again, I just smiled and said, “I have no idea… ?”
When the time came to sell the pants, this was the most difficult part. I had to quickly run from one car to the other with 30+ pairs of pants in my bag. I don’t know who it was, but I definitely took somebody out while launching myself from the platform into the crowded car at Grand Central. “I HAVE to get on this car people – you DON’T understand!” I yelled. I made my usual announcement about pants for $1, but literally had to bump people out of the way to get through.
As I come towards the end of the car, I noticed a few pairs of pants still in my bag. Agent King was standing there while a woman asked him, “What are you doing? Why don’t you have pants on? Does everybody have to buy a pair of pants?”
“No, everybody does not have to buy a pair of pants, I don’t know what you’re talking about” he said.
So I sort of get the hint that he’s not going to buy a pair, just to prove to the girl he is not with us. So I hear her say, “Well can I buy a pair?”
Now I freak out because there are so many people around, I still have about 3 pairs of pants, and I’m trying to stay committed to my pants-selling role! Thank goodness 14th street is the next stop! Anthony finally buys a pair at 14th street station, but now there are two left! One agent finds me and exchanges one pair for the pair he’s wearing. It became sort of a trading post of pants exchanges. But again, I’m still left with two pairs!
So now at this point I’d sell them to anybody! I’m yelling, “I have a surplus of pants – I’m from Overstock dot com – we have too many pants!”
Finally I see Agent Todd and he points to the rest of the group, where I find my two pants-less agents who owned the two unclaimed pairs of pants.
It was a good time!
Agents Ansari and Purnell
On the way uptown, the woman sitting next to me sees the first round de-pants-ing, and says to no one, “What is he doing?!” in that way that people watching a movie exclaim in a pleading voice. “Stop him!” Concerned, but not going to do anything. Then she sees him leave. “Oh, that’s good.” Then I get up and do the same thing. I didn’t hear her this time. Before leaving the car, a sitting man mumbled, “must be a protest or a TV show,” in a tired voice.
Free and clear in the second car, there’s a touristy-lookin’ guy leaning over and looking out at the station, but he’s blocking a seat. I go over and ask, “Excuse me, are you going to sit?” He looks down and leaps away. “Thanks,” I mutter. The guy to my left wondered if “the world’s gone crazy today.” He laughed when the pants vendors came in, and he gave the biggest direct response that I heard all day.
In the depantsing car on the way down there were about three children (about 4 to 6 years old), a mother and her friend, and another family with a stroller in the way of the exit. Thus, there were a bunch of us dropping trou in front of the happy family outing. The parents were exchanging looks of fear and anger, and were glad to get off at 86th St. My turn to go. We pull in at the next stop and a few of us go to the next car.
Which is packed solid. All three doors. We run by the conductor, hurriedly looking for ANY opening at this point. We got one in the middle of the next car. It’s packed so tight that people aren’t moving, chest-to-chest, inhaling to let the doors close. I then come to a realization – that anyone could go out without pants on the 6 during rush hour and no one would notice. They can’t see below your waist at all. I smiled until I felt some woman’s shopping bag push into my VERY personal space.
When there’s a little more breathing room we race back past the conductor and try to get back on the train where our pants will hopefully be. One woman was quite offended that I should have come on so forcefully. “Sorry,” I said. “I’m late for work.” She turned in a huff, and I’m pretty certain that she also had no idea that I was without trousers. The pants seller comes through, but I’m so far back and with so many people in front of me, I can’t pick them up. No worries, I’ll just get them at the platform.
An older couple from out of town were smiling as Agent Gil passed by. The husband shrugged to his wife, saying “It’s New York. It’s probably for the spring fashions. That’s how they get them out, I guess.”
We get out at 14th St., and I go to where the larger group is. I’m pretty sure I saw Agent Gil get off the train. I look around for her. No dice. I look around for anyone in my group. Pretty much a wash. So I’m standing on the 14th St. platform with another agent, and we’re both pretty clear about what our status is. I start thinking how long it will take for someone to get off at Astor Place, come around, catch an uptown train, then come over to our platform. More trains arrive. The photographers sense one of those award-winning moments with my gams, and plenty of shots are taken.
Inside, I’m pretty calm, being that it looks like I’m going to be without pants for a good long time. It’s something that’s always nagging at me with almost anything, focusing on what could go wrong. Now that something apparently did go wrong, I was surprisingly calm. So I have no pants. Can I go home like this? Sure, why not? Zen achieved at 14th St.
About then is when Agent Gill appeared with her pants surplus, and everyone was happy.
Agent Gill gives Agent Arnheiter his pants on the platform
Later in the day Improv Everywhere received this email:
My name is Danielle. I live in New Jersey and was spending a day in NYC today with my family and some family friends from Alabama. One who had never been on a subway before. Let’s just say we were all very confused about this yearly ritual. Everyone who participated in the event kept a straight face and took their pants off. It was really awesome. My brothers and I thought we were on the show Punk’d or something. We wish we knew about it earlier. We would have taken off our pants too, if we had been prepared. Keep up the good work/missions.
I wrote her back and asked how she had found out who we were. She googled “pants off in the subway”.
Bonus Photos!: The following photos were graciously sent in by photographer Irene LaGrasta: