Team Captains: Agents Kula, Barrison, Kinney, Shelktone, Ace$Thugg
Leadoff Riders: Agents Todd, Good, Lovejoy, MacNeil, Shafeek
Pants Sellers: Agents Becket, Walker, Gill, Lathan, Arnheiter, Rodgers, Mercer, Loughran, Kodner
DV Cams: Agents Shafer, EMartin, Chunk, Cavin, Zeigler
Digital Photography: Agents Nicholson, Rainswept, Ries, Winters, Chigirev, Altaffer
Door Watchers: Montague, Wright
Taking off my pants on the subway has become a yearly event for me. It has all of the emotions associated with a real holiday: stress, excitement, joy, laughter. “No Pants” has come a long way since 2002 when for seven consecutive stops on the 6-train, a pantless rider took his pants off in one car, and hurried down to the next car in all his bare-legged glory. We didn’t even have our act together enough to take photographs the first year (though the video footage is still my favorite of everything we have on the video page). Each year it’s gotten larger and more exciting. It’s gone from seven white dudes in their 20’s to a lovely mix of men and women of different races and ages. It’s always a good time for both us and the random strangers we encounter. New friends are made. People laugh and smile. Some ignore us, but I think that’s pretty funny too.
Anyway, if you’re here for the first time, be sure to check out the the mission reports for the four “No Pants” that came before this, the Fifth Annual No Pants! Subway Ride. You can find them all on our Missions Page.
Heading over to the meet up point, I was nervous. Like years past I had sent out exactly one email promoting “No Pants” to my NYC mailing list, but that list has grown quite a bit over the last year. The details were forwarded all over. The event wound up on the front page of AOL, among other places. It was the fifth time we were doing this, so I didn’t really care too much if word got out ahead of time. It’s a tradition, not a secret. I was mostly nervous that I would show up and have to wrangle 500 participants.
I had over 30 people helping me out behind the scenes, and I met up with all of them at 2:00 PM to get organized. At 3:00 the agents at large started arriving. I was hoping for somewhere between 100 and 200 people and it came out to right about 160. As is becoming more common at my larger missions, I didn’t know many of the participants personally. It was a diverse group of folks. Someone even came dressed as a UPS employee (for all I know, he was a UPS employee.)
I hopped on the megaphone and briefed the crowd on our mission. The most important thing was for everyone to keep a straight face and refuse to break character. If asked by a stranger on the train, everyone was instructed to say they “forgot” their pants and did not know the others. Several newspaper photographers had shown up uninvited, and I instructed them on the importance of keeping their cameras hidden until everyone had their pants off. I had my own team of photographers and DV cameramen in place already, using duffle bags to conceal their cameras.
In years past we’ve only used two cars on the train. One “staging car” for the depantsing, and one “target car” for the riding without pants. This year we would be using all ten cars on the train– five staging and five target cars. The masses were divided up into five groups and each group was assigned a “Team Captain” (some of our most senior and trusted agents). The captains divided up their groups into smaller groups, assigning everyone a particular stop in which they would depants.
Pretty quickly all of the teams were ready, and we headed a few blocks south to the Brooklyn Bridge stop on the 6-train. It’s the start of the line, so the train would be mostly empty when we boarded.
The teams entered every other car on the train. The other cars were left empty, save a few strangers and our undercover cameramen.
Agent EMartin films with a camera sticking out of his bag
As the train pulled into the first stop, one agent in each of the five staging cars removed his pants and threw them on the floor. He then exited the car and entered the target car in front of him. The effect for those strangers in the target car is that the agent had been waiting, pantless, on the platform in the middle of January.
I was leadoff man in my car
At the second stop, another single agent depantsed and transfered to the target car. The pantless agents now riding the same car did not acknowledge each other. We all simply behave as if everything is completely normal. Some agents read the paper; others listen to their iPods. This year I chose to try to fall asleep.
At the third stop two more agents entered. Four enter at the fourth stop, and then groups of eight enter at each consecutive stop until everyone has depantsed. The logistics of the mission worked out perfectly. The train ran like clockwork as agents depantsed and transferred cars. As always, we experienced a wide range of reactions. Mostly people either laughed, smiled, or ignored. A few of the less jaded freaked out and manically tried to figure out what was going on. Throughout it all, we kept a straight face and just kept on riding.
If you see something, say something
Once all of the pantless riders are in place, two “Pants Sellers” enter each car. They annouce they have pants for $1 and proceed to make sales.
The pantless folks buy a pair of pants, hopefully their own, and put them on.
The pants sellers entered my car at 59th St. I remember thinking that mission had worked out too well: we still had several stops until our final destination at 125th and everyone already had their pants back on. I declined to buy pants immediately in an attempt to stretch out the fun. For some reason, we weren’t moving. The train was stalled in the station. Surely this was just another stalled subway train (a very normal occurrence in NYC). This didn’t have something to do with us, did it? Several stops earlier the conductor had said over the P.A., “Next stop 23rd Street. There’s something crazy going on on this train.” He didn’t seem angry, just confused. A couple of years ago a conductor told us “This train is not a playground” over the P.A., but nothing came of it. After a few minutes I got up and peaked my head out the door. Far on the other side of the train, all hell had broken loose.
A cop removes an agent from the train and demands know “what is being protested?”
It seems one cop happened to be on the platform, and he happened to notice a large number of pantless riders. Despite there being nothing illegal about appearing in public in underwear, he thought it was a good idea to stop the train. The conductor came over the P.A. and announced, “This train is not in service. Everyone please exit the train and wait for the next one. Due to a police investigation this train is out of service.”
Out on the platform everyone on the train walked around in confusion, both IE Agents and normal riders alike. Our delicately orchestrated mission, which was causing no delays, had been transformed into a chaotic mob scene by one cop.
Several agents caught with their pants down were lined up against the platform wall. All of the press that had come along for the ride quickly materialized with their oversized cameras making the scene even crazier.
This, of course, freaked out the cop and he called for backup under the “officer in distress” code. Pretty soon there were about 25 cops on the scene.
All types of cops arrived, including plain clothes cops. One of them was wearing a Mets jacket. They all seemed to be irritated that they had “busted [their] asses” to get down there only to find eight people in their underwear.
One of the arresting officers last name was “Panton”. No kidding. Panton.
Eight Improv Everywhere Agents were detained. Six of those were handcuffed and taken downtown in a police van. Despite breaking no laws and causing no disorder, they were all charged with “Disorderly Conduct” and issued a summons to court.
Let’s be clear about this. It’s not illegal to appear in public in your underwear in New York City (or anywhere, I should think.) Most agents were wearing boxer shorts, but even those wearing briefs appeared no more risqu than folks you can see lying out in Central Park on a sunny summer day.
The eight people charged in this incident were showing about as much skin as two basketball players I spotted on the platform at the same time directly in front of one of the cops.
Perhaps this would have been acceptable had it been an obvious corporate promotion, such as the “National Underwear Day” campaign in New York put on by a clothing website. This cop seemed to see the humor in the corporate stunt:
Without shirts, you would think such a stunt would be even more disorderly!
And certainly not allowed on THE SUBWAY!
Not to mention the fact that the famous “Naked Cowboy” makes a nice living in his underwear every day in the middle of Times Square:
So apart from wearing underwear, I’m not sure what the police had in mind with “Disorderly Conduct”. A NY Newsday article on the incident reports, “A police spokesman said: ‘People couldn’t get on and off the train and [the stunt] created a hazardous condition.'” That’s simply not true. Our agents were the last to get on at every stop, and believe me we would have known had someone been unable to get on the train and wound up stranded, pantless on a platform. The hazardous condition was created when one cop made the decision to evacuate a train that was otherwise running very orderly indeed.
I won’t go into the details of what happened to the “Improv Everywhere 8” who were detained. You’ll be able to read first hand accounts from them below in the Agent Reports section.
Amid the chaos, some agents got back on the train and headed up to 125th. Others headed back down to our starting point, Brooklyn Bridge, throwing an impromptu pantless party on the way home, complete with singing and lollipops distributed by one generous agent.
Eventually everyone found his way back to our meeting point. Missing pants were found and new friends were made. A few folks didn’t feel like putting their pants back on, even in the 40-degree weather outdoors.
I myself was delighted to find my jeans, trading them for the khaki pants of another agent that I had been wearing.
Thanks to the police, the mission made headlines. The Associated Press coverage appeared in several languages in papers all over the world. The publicity has been nice, but it will remain bittersweet until our eight agents have their cases dropped. I don’t see how anything else could happen, considering they committed no crime.
Perhaps next year I’ll have to be a little bit more discreet about the details of the Sixth Annual No Pants! Subway Ride. Although, had I kept it quiet this year, far fewer folks would have been able to participate, and nothing makes me happier than seeing an Improv Everywhere agent on his first mission smiling and making new friends. I guess for next year’s holiday, I could at least avoid posting notices in the subway:
(Mock MTA Sign: David Marc Fischer using the MTA Sign Generator)
Agent Barrison, Team Captain, Detainee
I was both a team captain and, eventually, a detainee, in this, my fourth No Pants Mission.
I was in charge of the middle group, responsible for the fifth and sixth cars of the train. I had about 25 people in my group, divided accordingly between stations from Canal to 23rd St. Agent Jester was my lead-off, and the entire deployment went smoothly. Perhaps too smoothly. I myself waited until everyone else had removed their pants and proceeded to the next car (the fifth of the train), so I entered the target car at 28th St. It was packed with people, most of them without pants. Because of the crowd, no one even noticed my pantsless state. Because of this, I decided not to buy back my pants when our pants sellers arrived at 34th St. It seems that most everyone had their pants by 51st St.
At 59th St. the train stopped. I thought nothing of the delay in getting underway, as these kinds of things happen routinely with the New York Subway System. Eventually, I saw a few police officers walk past my car, and I started to get suspicious that perhaps the train was being held because of us. Perhaps five more minutes passed when the announcement was made to exit the train. On the platform, I saw a policeman searching through one of the duffel bags the pants sellers were using. I though this was pretty reasonable; they see these big bags and decide to search them. I decided to lay low and hide amongst the crowds of people to prevent my pantsless state from being noticed by the police.
At this point, I happened to see my two friends Erin and Andrew, who were not at all part of the IE event and were just coincidentally riding the train at that time. Erin was visibly freaked out by the police activity, so I went over to them and said hello. “Look down, guys. I’m not wearing any pants. This is on purpose and I’ll tell you about it later, but I’m pretty sure I am indirectly the reason this train I being stopped.” They were understandably confused and left to catch an express train uptown.
I am now just standing on the platform with my book (The First World War by Hew Strachan), and I see a cop directing Agent Siegel to the wall where there are already one or two other agents. The cop passes me and says “You too! Up against that wall!” And that was how I got nabbed for Disorderly Conduct.
So now I am standing against the wall with six or seven other agents. My ID was requested by an officer, so I provided it. The cadre of photographers was immense. The camera snapping was continuous. The officer featured in photos of the event standing in front of me decided it was time to call for back-up due to a “crowd situation at 59th St.” The decision was made to move us “perps” to an ad hoc containment behind the service booth. By this time I only counted seven agents in custody. I still did not have my pants, but a pair was passed back to me, which luckily were my own. An officer was processing a female agent, writing her a summons, and perhaps four or five other officers were standing around doing what I see cops do most often; nothing. The female agent was released, and my name was called next.
The officer started asking me questions while he copied the information from my license to the summons book. “What made you decide to do this today,” he asked. “Well, I’ve been doing it for the last three years without incident, so I suppose I didn’t actually think anything of it at all,” I answered. “What are you reading?” “It’s a brief and highly readable history of World War One.” “You trying to start World War Three today?” I cannot tell you how highly inappropriate I found this comment. With all this talk about government spying, an Iranian nuclear program, and a recent tape by Osama, I don’t think that the term “World War Three” should be bandied about by a cop. I told him, “Um, no. It’s probably happening, but not here, and not by us.” “Probably right,” he said, “Hey, are you those guys that were in Times Square, lying buck naked on the ground?” I watched the smile on his face fade as I replied, “I’m afraid not, sir. We’re really not that kind of group. This is far more innocent than you realize.”
A larger officer who seemed to be of higher rank started talking in hushed tones to “my” officer. He asked how many people he’d let go so far. Only one had been (at least by this guy), and the larger officer gave instructions to hold up, that they were “deciding what to do with us.” We waited another five minutes, perhaps, when the cuffs came out. They decided to “send us through the system”, and proceeded to handcuff each of us. By this point there were six Agents; five males and one female. We were led out of the 59th St. station and into two separate NYPD vans. The five men were in one, the one woman in the other.
A few blocks from the 59th St. station, we stopped. In front of a Chinese food takeout joint. So that one of the officers could pick up his food. Sorry, that bears repeating: So that one of the officers could pick up his food. The larger high-ranking cop, sitting shotgun in my van went ballistic. “With all the fucking media down there, this asshole has to stop for fucking oriental Chinese food! What the FUCK, man! So fucking STUPID! I can just see it now: Cops Stop for Take-out with Perps in the Vans,” as he beats the dashboard with his hat. Underscoring this was a dance remix of Madonna’s “Like A Prayer”. Back en route, the cops asked us if we knew where we were going. We did not. Little Officer Mulcahy, who I understand made the initial investigation on the train, informed us we were doing to District 4. “We should take these motherfuckers to District 2,” said Fatty McHighRank. The respect was just oozing off his lips. “Do you know where District 4 is?” Little Mulcahy asked us. We did not. Apparently it’s Union Square. So now you all know.
The vans were driven right up to the subway steps, to avoid the anticipated and naught materialized media frenzy. The five men (Agents Siegel, R Kelley, Hillman, Hordfest, and I) were led into the Union Square Transit Police Station and into a holding cell in the back. We were systematically patted down, our belongings placed into manila folders. The following is my exchange with the officer who processed me:
O: Wow, you’re the best dressed of the bunch.
F: Hey, I try.
O: This is some nice coat. Man, that’s nice. Ralph Lauren.
F: It’s Hugo Boss, actually.
O: Boss, really? I hope you didn’t pay full retail for it.
F: I think I got it at a factory outlet actually.
O: Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about! This guy is the smartest of the bunch, too. Where did you get it?
F: Saks Off 5th, I believe.
O: You know where the Fourtunoff Clearance Center is?
F: I do, actually.
O: Yeah? You from Long Island?
F: Yeah, I grew up in Massapequa.
O: OK, you’re my favorite. Sorry, guys, this here is my favorite. [to me] You can go, the rest of y’all get back. Man, that is a nice coat. You’re lucky you’re not my size. I’d take it. I’d make up some reason and I’d take it.
F: Good to know.
This cop was, honestly, the nicest and most reasonable of the bunch. He admitted that he thought it was ridiculous that we were being held for riding the subway without pants. He described himself as the “only liberal cop in the place”, and explained that he really liked it when a case had a lot of media attention because “for one second out of the 24-hour day, everyone does what they are supposed to do and things work like they should.” Intelligent perspective. I wish more cops were like this guy.
That being said, when we asked if he could begin processing us, he snorted and said that the he wasn’t going to do some other officers’ work. If they brought us in, they can handle us. Can’t get greedy, I suppose.
Naturally, when Agent R Kelley was processed, a pedophile joke was made. By the cop. Very nice.
So we sat in the cell and waited. I was reluctant to sit, because although there was no toilet in the cell, it looked as though the walls and floor probably doubled as such some time in the past. Agent Hillman chatted with the officer about the fingerprint recognition system, both hardware and software. We were told that we were going to be fully processed and that it would take a few hours, although Sunday nights were typically light. Crime hiatus for Jesus, maybe.
And we waited.
Maybe 10 or 15 minutes. Not that long.
Our detaining officers came to fetch us. We were cuffed again for the arduous 15-yard walk to the front desk. Turns out they were not going to send us through the system after all. Apparently it was decided that just letting us go with a Summons each was less embarrassing for the NYPD than actually tying up resources in arresting us. Office Mulcahy told me, “The Captain decided to be nice. It could have been much worse.” To which I replied, “Well, that statement could be applied to any situation, and while I understand your opinion on the matter of the Captain’s grace, we’re going to have to agree to disagree on that point.”
Eventually my name was called (with some difficulty I might add, and not with my first name. It was the last name that threw the guy), I was issued my summons for violating section 240.20(07) of the New York City Penal Code, and was instructed to appear in city court on March 28, 2006 at 9:30am.
Thus began the opening tics of my fifteen minutes of quasi-fame. To date, I have participated in 3 radio interviews. In the first, for a Santa Barbara, California classic rock station, I followed Peter Frampton’s “Show Me The Way”, which was a lifelong dream of mine. The DJ’s on this station were particularly fond of the term “banana hanger”, which is apparently means “men’s briefs”. I also appeared on a on a morning show in Ontario Canada, where I followed Stevie Nick’s “White-Winged Dove”, and a night time chat show in Dublin, Ireland, where I followed local traffic conditions.
It appears my fifteen minutes are now up.
Agent Kelley, Detainee
I have never before knocked on a stranger’s door to pick up my pants, but last night I was forced to do just that. And I liked it just fine.
I suppose, this being my first No Pants mission, I assumed that others would have the situation under complete control… I mean, Agent Todd with his bullhorn issuing protocol to the major newswires? Everything was plainly set.
So after I’d been lounging in my underpants (the tight and white variety) on the first car of the 6 train, and an officer barked at me to get off the train, I wasn’t so sure how to handle things. By that time, I had on a pair of pants, but they weren’t really zipping up all the way, so there was some awkward shuffling as I got off the train.
I can’t say that the passengers looked particularly amused, but mostly they were just baffled (and trying their Manhattan best not to look it). While on the train, a fellow tapped me on the shoulder and asked what it was all about, and I gave the stock denials. Then he leaned closer and winked and said, “Come on, man, what’s your gig here?” I persisted. He gave up. We are deadpan, us underwear types.
What followed was a bunch of arbitrary cop decisions and a whole lot of waiting. My pants, I should add, were not particularly comfortable in the crotch. We like comfortable pants, us underwear types.
To be one of the 8 selected from 160 pantsless riders… what can I say? Skateboarding is not a crime, but apparently my pale-ass chicken legs are. I wasn’t flattered to be among the ticketed until the cameras started going off, and there were really a lot of them. I started figuring in my head how I could get maximum exposure (PUNNY!), but I had pants on — Agent Siegel was looking a lot better and a lot more exposed, not to mention that he was whistling the Star-Spangled Banner. I can’t whistle.
When the handcuffs came out, we were just baffled. And when they put them on too tight on every one of us, you got a sense of the control issues that were at play. The cops were alternately amused and annoyed-as-hell, and the cameras and crowds only stoked things.
A brief van ride to the Union Square station — who knew cops got down to Slim Thug? — and we were put in a holding cell. Some revelry, some boredom, much idle speculation and a couple hours later, they released us to court dates and little fanfare.
I was still in somebody else’s pants — black Rustlers, sized 34×30, people — and to this day they’ve yet to be claimed. Step up, underwear type — claim your pants!!
Agent Siegel, Detainee
When we approached 23rd street, my assigned station, I excitedly, but calmly depantsed and started toward the front of the train. Behind me I heard a woman say, “There’s another one!” In my target train, I stood for one stop and then grabbed an open seat, took off my headphones to try and hear any of the reactions from people around us. The woman sitting next to me after a bit finally asked, “I’m sorry, is this some sort of a thing or something?” “No,” I replied, “I just got kicked out of the apartment by my girlfriend and I didn’t have time to get pants.” After a moment she said, “I suppose everyone else got kicked out of the apartment too.” “Are you saying my girlfriend is sleeping with all these people?” I asked, at which point we sat in silence until 59th street.
When the train was stopped, I heard the pants sellers coming through, it seemed a waste to buy pants so soon after depantsing, and I decided I wasn’t going to buy any at that time. As the sellers came in front of me, the woman next to me looked at them and at me, expecting me to purchase a pair, “Gross, I’m not buying pants from the subway” I said. As the train just sat there I got frustrated as any subway rider would, and when they announced the train was out of service, I stood up, and calmly walked onto the platform. Moments after I saw the police swarming around Agent Todd and all the photographers, as a huge crowd of on-lookers and participants flocked over, I tried to remain unobtrusive to the side. It was then that I saw the police coming through the crowd, and as Officer Bowser passed me one of the audience members pointed out Agent Barrison and myself as pantsless individuals, he immediately grabbed us both and took us off to the side against a wall.
I asked why we were taken and he refused to answer; he asked for my ID, which I handed over and went back to reading my book. At this point the photographers were all standing directing right in front of Agent Barrison and me relentlessly snapping photos. As the delay started taking longer and longer, I tried speaking to the cops, by now Officer Bowser was joined by Officer Panton, whose highly appropriate name I attempted to point out but he would have none of it. More and more of the crowd were standing around watching us, and I started to whistle the Star-Spangled Banner and soon the audience was getting rowdier and the police freaked out, calling in backup and deciding to take us out of the station and away from the developing circus. More standing around ensued as 25 cops came into the station, mostly standing around as only two officers began issuing summonses; then the officer in charge decided that we were going to be arrested and so they whipped out the handcuffs and started to take us away.
I was the only one of the detained still without pants because I had thought we would be done quickly and so I didn’t bother about getting mine back, then the handcuffs were out and it became too late. We piled into the police van and started driving away, a block later, we stopped in the middle of the road as the other van had stopped so that Officer Bowser could get his takeout Chinese food. The cops in our van went BALLISTIC, all worried about the press coverage and being in the Daily News the next day, “Cop stops for takeout with Perps in Car.” We drove all the way down to Union Square, got out, still handcuffed and went into the police station inside the subway. We were taken to a holding cell, the five male agents and after being patted down, having our dangerous items, such as cigarettes, shoelaces, iPods taken away, we sat down and waited. And waited. And waited. Nothing happened for about 45 minutes to an hour, and we had been told we were going to central booking which was a less than exciting possibility, it being Sunday and me still wearing no pants, we knew it would take hours and hours. Eventually our arresting officers, Bowser, Panton and Malchy came back, handcuffed us once more and took us to the front of the station. They issued us our summons tickets and then uncuffed us and told us we could leave. As they escorted us out of the subway station, I asked if I could take the subway home, “NO!” Officer Bowser said, but beside me Officer Malchy whispered, “Yeah, its fine, just don’t come in this entrance, we don’t really care.” After being escorted out, and saying farewell to my fellow detainee agents, I went back into the Union Square station, took the 5 train home without incident, or anyone even really giving me a strange look. So after all that, I was able to go home and do the same thing I had done to get me into trouble in the first place. Now, I have sent in my summons and look forward to my court date and getting the charges dismissed. Excellent No Pants mission!
Agent McCarson, Detainee
Improv Everywhere is one of my favorite things about New York. I have been involved in missions for several years. Everyone involved is automatically like your favorite best friend who can always make you laugh. Everyone is witty, funny, friendly, and supportive. I would follow Agent Todd, as well as other longtime Agent friends, into the unknown.
That being said, TAKEN DOWNTOWN IN HANDCUFFS WAS REALLY LAME!
The day started as normal as any other No Pants day. I met my friend Agent Hart at the Brooklyn Bridge stop and we made our way to the black sculpture. We greeted friends, new and old, and excitedly discussed the mission. A TV crew from Current, Al Gore’s TV station, interviewed us, and decided to follow Agent Hart and me for the mission. I had participated before and Agent Hart hadn’t (plus we are both southern girls in panties), so we made a good story.
We were asked to be in Agent Kula’s group (the first two cars on the train) by the Al Gore people. Sure! We listened to the instructions and waited to begin. The signal was given and off we went to the train. Everyone was on and the mission had started. I had my iPod on my special No Pants playlist and was ready to go. After we departed Astor Place, I depantsed, threw them to Agent Mercer, and waited by the door to switch cars. A few people looked at me and laughed. I smiled innocently.
Entering the next car, I went to the front where it was less crowded, smiled at a particularly cute and confused tall boy sharing my pole, and continued to listen to my music, sorta bopping to the beat. Everything was fine, people were smiling, laughing, or ignoring us. As we approached 59th, no one seemed offended or upset.
Agent McCarson, right, with sunglasses
At 59th the train was held up. I saw a policeman running back and forth by the windows exclaiming, `They’re everywhere. What is this?’ The pant selling agents boarded and caused a mad rush to buy pants. Everyone was a little nervous. I tried to find mine, but I was just too far away to get to them and it was too chaotic. So, I just stood there in my inoffensive undies and skin tone shaper shorts listening to my iPod. Then, I was grabbed and pulled out if the train. Officer Mulchay demanded to know why I wasn’t wearing pants. I tried to explain that I wanted to buy some, but I hadn’t found my size. He didn’t get it and kept barking at me to `stay where I am’ and `stand still’. He insisted on knowing what I was protesting. Finally a fellow Agent offered a pair of pants that might work for me. They did. The officer then yelled at me for trying to put my pants on. What was it he wanted me to do?
As we were waiting, he asked an older lady beside me how long she had been riding the train with people not wearing pants. She responded, `I don’t know. I don’t care. When is the train gonna be running again?’
My fellow detainees and I were escorted through the crowd where we were met with media sources, cheers, applause, and confusion. Someone gave us a pack of gum. At this point, I considered taking my pants back off, but Officer Panton was standing right beside me. Apparently, policemen can’t laugh.
We were taken to the tollbooth area in an attempt to clear the platform. Again, we were lead away through a crowd of applause and support. Someone told me I was a fallen hero. I asked the Al Gore people if Al Gore could do anything about this. He hasn’t, as of yet. They had 8 of us. 5 guys and 3 girls. There were probably 30 policemen. Clearly, we were a major threat. The police wrote the other 2 girls summonses and let them go. As they were writing my summons, they decided we should be put in handcuffs and taken downtown.
One thing about handcuffs, they are not comfortable! And if you comment on how uncomfortable they are to policemen, they say, `What do you expect? Daisies?’ I don’t really know how daisies and handcuffs are comparable, but, yes, I would rather have the daisies.
After being escorted out of the subway, I was put in a separate van from the boys. This was scary and terrible. I was pushed to the back of a NYPD van with 4 male officers. One of the officers was upset because he had ordered food at a Chinese restaurant and had to leave before he got it. We stopped to pick it up. WE STOPPED TO PICK UP CHINESE TAKE OUT!! The other officers in my van and in the boy van were yelling, `The press is following us and we stopped to pick up chicken?! This is bullshit!’ We rode all the way to Union Square with the siren on, running red lights at reckless police-chase speed. I was being tossed around the back, handcuffed, ignored, mostly pantsed, and was not offered any Chinese food.
At Union Square, my van got there before the boys’ van. Thusly, I was escorted through Union Square Park and the subway to the police station in handcuffs, all alone. This was also terrible. People were looking at me with confusion; girls that wear purple tweed coats and Merrell clogs aren’t criminals. The boys finally got there and we were put in cells. The boys went to the two real cells in the back. I was detained in the juvenile room. A few men were stationed to watch me. I asked if they could loosen my handcuffs because I couldn’t feel a finger. They ignored me. I asked if they could get the hair out of my mouth. They ignored me. I got searched by a pleasant, but thorough, lady cop. I finally convinced her that I couldn’t feel a finger, for real, and she undid one of my hands (not the hand with the unresponsive finger) and recuffed me to a pole on the wall. From the way I was being treated, I must fit into a particularly dangerous criminal profile.
The nicest of all the cops stopped by to tell me I should rent a movie next time I want to ride the train with no pants. He laughed at his joke for what I thought was an uncomfortably long time. I tried to explain I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but he was laughing too hard to hear.
The room I was held in was right beside the bathroom. There was a can or Febreeze on the desk in my room. The officer who stopped to pick up his Chinese food came in, got the spray, sprayed the bathroom and the hall, and put it back. I stifled laughter and, at that point, realized it was all somehow worth it.
A long, lonely, boring, painful time later, I was told we were being released with summons, charged with disorderly conduct. Both hands were recuffed, I was brought to the front, and reunited with the boys. One by one, we were issued our summons and uncuffed. THANK GOD!! We exited to Union Square, exchanged cards, and went our separate ways.
I really miss those guys!
I was certainly the most upset of the group. I think it was the isolation and excruciating pain. They could have uncuffed me since I was being observed by several large policemen with guns.
My summons looks like a Mad Libs. The names, dates, and addresses are all not quite right. Also, they told me to sign in the wrong place, so mine isn’t even signed. You would think, as a policeperson, they would familiarize themselves with the common forms they fill out. I guess they are too busy busting up gang related pranks and driving around with their sirens on.
I don’t really understand why No Pants 2k6 became such a big deal, but I couldn’t be happier that it did. And that I am the badass girl that went to jail with the boys for not wearing pants. A mildly unflattering picture of me is circulating major media publications, I have done a couple follow-up interviews, and Improv Everywhere is getting a hella lot of free publicity. I wish I could speak more fondly of my time spent with New York’s finest, but everything else was very, very worth the trouble.
I plan to meet my new friends in court on March 28th at 9:30 am and plea not guilty. I promised my fellow detainees I would bake muffins. I can’t wait for the next mission. Heck, I can’t wait for the next No Pants. However, I might stick an extra pair of pants in my bag, just in case.
I still can’t feel the outside of my pinkie on my right hand. Does anyone have a doctor friend specializing in the area of nerves in the hand?
In the end, everything is all right and I have a really strange/funny/awesome story to tell. All you Improv Everywhere Agents and fans, thanks for the support and fond wishes! You are great! Buy me a drink and I’ll tell you the whole story…
I am now uber-qualified to be on Law and Order.
Agent Tassiopoulos, Detainee
So, I’m waiting with my friends for No Pants 2k6 to begin. I was quite nervous because I had never participated in anything like this before. Despite my nervousness, I was going to strip down to underwear and not “lady” boxers. I never wore them before, why start now?
Finally, around 4:00 pm, the mission began. I was in team delta. My friend and I were to go at the Bleecker St stop. I depantsed quickly and went to the next subway car. After the first few minutes, I relaxed and looked around. Everyone appeared not to notice at first, until the car started to fill up with more pantless individuals then not. One fellow who was sitting next to me was particularly amused when the pant sellers came around. “How convenient!” He bemused. I browsed through what was available but it was all men’s pants so I figured I’d wait.
It was around this time that we stopped at the 59th St stop. When the announcement came on that the train was no longer in service, I thought it strange but I was not suspicious of anything else. At this point, I was kind of excited to have to walk around the platform in my underwear. I was totally in mission mode, gotta keep on keeping on!
Within seconds of getting on the platform, I was approached by an officer.
“Why aren’t you wearing pants?” asks the officer.
“Umm, I don’t know.” I sheepishly respond.
“Are there others not wearing pants?” He questioned. “Tell them they have to put their pants on.”
“I don’t really know, uh, okay.” I really had no idea who still had no pants nor did I know where everyone was.
A pants seller thrust some pants my way and I put them on. I offered her a dollar for them but she gave them to me for free. Finally, it occurred to me to admit that this was going to be a failed mission. Agent Todd came up to me and said not to worry. I felt at ease, again. The officer took my ID and started writing. I thought, wow, I might get arrested for this!? The officer brought us over to the side which is when I noticed his name was Officer Panton. Then the reporters started taking pictures like crazy. Officer Panton asked me why I was trying to delay the train and I said I wasn’t, I was just sitting there. That was the end of our conversation.
I noticed that there aren’t many photos of me but I was already wearing pants at this point, I wasn’t newsworthy…oh well. I did get free M & Ms from someone! I found it quite exciting and it preoccupied me until Officer Panton moved us to this cell behind the ticket booth. I loved the applause we received while we walked there.
Agent Tassiopoulos, with M&M’s
Finally another cop, Officer Bowser, wrote up my ticket and let me go. I was fined $60 for “walking in underware causing a public alarm”.
Then I had to switch the pants I was wearing with someone else because they were her pants. We went into a Diesel Store and they let us change there. I wasn’t able to go to the Brooklyn Bridge because I had to go to work. Unfortunately, the pants she gave me were a little too tight and I had to ride the subway with pants halfway up my butt. Ah, well. I wonder where my pants went though. I hope they found a happy home.
Agent Omega, Detainee
I was one of the two who was given a summons, but not taken off in a police van. At the time I was scared that my photo would show up in the paper and I’d be fired (it didn’t!), but in retrospect I’m soooo glad I participated.
I could barely contain my laughter on the train, and was totally taken aback by the cops showing up. The cop who took down my information’s hand was shaking. I think the photographers and the crowd made him really nervous. He asked me if I just needed to show off to other people – and I said I thought people could witness my hotness with or without pants. Got a chuckle from him. Most of the cops seemed like nice people who just happened to get called in and figured they had to go through the motions.
Overall, a fantastic experience. Thanks, Improv Everywhere!
Agent Omega reads her summons to the crowd after the mission
Agent Kinney, Team Captain
Our group started off in the last car of the 6 train and all went smoothly. We were getting more attention on the last car where everyone was removing their pants than I noticed us getting on the car we moved into pantless. One woman with a young girl (4 or 5 years old) said something to the girl about it being weird and that they were leaving. When I moved into the next to last car, they were sitting right by the door. Sort of an out of the frying pan situation for them.
Agent Kinney, center
By the time the train got to 59th Street, our pant sellers had been peddling their pants for a stop or two. After we sat at the stop for a while, I started to think something fishy might be happening. However, knowing that we still had 10 or 12 stops before we were getting off the train, I tried to drag out my pants buying for a little while. Luckily, I appeared that all of us had pants back on by the time the train was put out of service.
One quick apology to my team members on the last train: I’m sorry for leaving all of you and heading down the platform to see what was going on. Well, I’m not so much sorry for leaving you as I am for not getting back to you in time to keep you from getting back on the train and heading to 125th Street.
Favorite cop quote: “I haven’t run that hard since the academy.” (Overheard while standing next to one of the 30 cops who came running from everywhere near 59th Street.)
Agent Kinney confers with Agent Todd during the chaos
Agent Ace$Thugg, Team Captain
I was the Team Captain for my crew of 27 IE agents; we were in the 4th car from the front. Only our leadoff person (Agent MacNeil) and I had previous No Pants experience. I asked for volunteers in our group to go second, third, and fourth and thankfully everyone was very enthusiastic and willing to volunteer without any prodding, so it made organizing our car easy.
Agent MacNeil started things off wonderfully and easily, and drew some stares from passengers on the train as she took off her pants. Agent Rigel followed up second with no problem. Things were in smooth motion with no coaching needed or instruction from anyone.
After the 2 solo agents depantsed and moved from the staging car to the target car at the first 2 subsequent stops, it was then 2 pairs of depantsers at the next two stops, followed by groups of 4, 8, and 8 depantsers at each following stop.
Bringing up the rear of our group was 3 last agents. This included Agent Krasdale, Agent UPS (wearing a UPS uniform) and me. A comment from a passenger after watching the first 24 agents depants and move on to the target car for 7 straight stops, was “Alright, I don’t know what’s going on, but if this UPS guy takes off his pants, I’m getting off at the next stop.” And right on cue, Agent UPS stands up and depants right in front of him. It was classic. The guy just shook his head. I didn’t stick around to see if he really got off or not at that stop.
Agent UPS, center
Moving on to the target car, there were all 27 agents on my team hanging out with no pants. A family of about 7 was trying to figure out the internal logic of all this. They kept questioning the chances of this occurring not only to one person, but to 27 people at the same time. Then the pants sellers got on, and this really blew the family’s mind. They were even questioning the pricing. “How realistic is it that pants would only cost a $1?” “Would you even want pants that cost $1?” “How did the pants sellers find the people with no pants?” “I don’t know, there’s just too much coincidence going on here.” This family debate lasted till 59th Street and they remained completely baffled until the train got stopped.
I was standing in the doorway of the train and within seconds of purchasing my bargain priced pants and then putting them on, I turn around and a cop comes up to me and looks me right in the eye and says “Anyone on this train have no pants on?” I just stood there and gave him the craziest look I could. Then he looked at on older woman next to me and she replied “I don’t know Officer, I just got on the train.” I just kept looking at the officer like he was off his rocker and shook my head at him. He then left and went up to the first car in the train.
I look out and see the officer pulling off pantless agents from the first car. Fearing the worst, I make the decision to go throughout my car and notify the remaining pantless agents on my team to purchase and put on their pants immediately. As soon as everyone has gotten word, the blond overachieving officer comes back and asks me again if there is anyone on my train without any pants. I just continue to look at him blankly and reply, “I have no idea what you are talking about.”
The conductor then makes an announcement that the train is going out of service due to a police investigation and that everyone has to get off. This was the most comical part of the whole thing. There were about 100 people on the platform with mismatched and ill-fitting pants and about a dozen cops rounding up as many agents as they could that did not have any pants on.
The back of the 59th Street platform became the cops’ impromptu lineup. This included about 8 agents without pants and it turned into a paparazzi barrage of flashbulbs from the press. The cops looked confused, the agents looked hilarious, and I was sneaking in-between the two and providing leftover pants to as many pantlesss agents as I could.
We all decided to get on the 6-train downtown to Brooklyn Bridge to regroup. About 50 agents got on the same car and we sang as loud as we could “99 pants on the train” in the form of “99 beers on the wall.” We actually completed the whole song and were jumping and screaming the whole way downtown shaking the car. I was convinced we would get stopped again. We didn’t, so we sang and chanted some more pants-themed songs. This included a Beastie Boys homage “No Pants Till Brooklyn (Bridge)”, rap remixes “Ain’t No Party like a No Pants Party”, “Slacks are Wack”, and lead by Agent Rodgers and me: “Pantaloons are for Baboons.”
This trek back was more of a disturbance and hazard than the calm and cautious pantless ride on the way uptown. It made no sense to get stopped for that. However, the bonding after the unnecessary police bust and the unwavering support for our detained agents was unbelievable. Everyone came together and helped each other out at the end. We even all chipped in money so one agent could take a cab home whose own pants ended up in jail. It was a great successful IE event in my eyes.
Agent Ace$Thugg distributes lost pants after the mission
Agent Kula, Team Captain
Agent Hordefest is roommates with me and Agent Todd. Over the past two years, he’s heard us talk about probably every IE mission to date, but No Pants 2K6 was the first one in which he himself had been able to participate.
So, this being his very first time causing a scene in public, OF COURSE he was one of the few to get busted by the cops.
Agent Hordefest in cuffs
In fact, Hordefest was one of several tragic newbies from my #2 car to get apprehended. (One guy, Agent R. Kelley, spent the whole walk from the meeting point to the subway station telling me how long he’d been following IE stuff and how psyched he was to be taking his pants off today. If this had been a war movie, he’d have been the fresh-faced private you just KNOW is gonna get shot before the end credits.)
Agent R.Kelley going in to battle
As their group leader I felt terrible not only because they were in trouble but also because I was just fine – I’d gotten my jeans back on just before the cops raided our car. It felt like those kids had stepped in front of a bullet that was meant for me and all I wanted to do was scream, “NOOO! It should have been ME!”
Instead, all I did was give Hordefest a shrug that said, “Oops. Sorry man,” like we were at home and I’d just drank the last of his milk. Except when that happens, he’s usually not in handcuffs. USUALLY.
Agent MacNeil, Leadoff
I was so looking forward to being able to cut and paste my testimonials from the last two years and just change some of the words. *sigh* Screw you, The Law. I won’t go too deep into the spazzy-cops-who-flipped out part of it, because I wasn’t involved in that part, and because other people have much, much better stories on that end. Here are my shoddily memorized transcripts of some of the conversations I had with fully-clothed civilian onlookers:
*Prior to the shit going down*
Woman sitting next to my bare legs: What are these people doing?
Guy standing in front of her (with absolute certainty): It’s a pledge.
Woman: A pledge?
Guy: Like for college. It’s a college pledge.
Guy: You kids think you’re pretty funny?
Me: I forgot my pants.
Guy: Yeah, it’s a pledge.
*While the shit was going down*
Lady: What is that? Is it someone famous?
Me: Jessica Simpson
Lady: Really?! Where?
Me: Over there. That guy’s in the way…. look! See?
Lady: Oh my god! I can’t believe Jessica Simpson’s riding the 6-train!
Me: J-Lo rides the 6-train.
Agent Chunk, Hidden Camera
I got on the target car before everyone else and got out my SUPER secret plain brown paper bag with a hole cut in the side to start video taping. Almost immediately a dude who was wearing a sports starter jacket and who was super jacked (he looked to me like an undercover cop) came over and asked what I was doing. I told him I was filming, since he was looking directly into the paper bag and could see the camera. He said “why?” And I said “I’m on vacation.” Which really made no sense. He told me that I should take the camera out and film people in the open so they knew I was doing it. I said “OK,” and just kept doing what I was doing since Agent Todd wanted the filming undercover until around 23rd st. But honestly this dude was freaking me out. He stood next to me and would intermittently ask me questions: “Where do you live?” “Jersey.” “So you’re on vacation in New York from Jersey. Right.” And after a few rounds of these questions I just took the camera out and started openly filming and asked the dude, “Are you just a concerned citizen?” which was my version of saying “If you’re a cop, be a cop and stop me from filming, if not, leave me alone.” And he said, “I’m a freelance citizen, just like you and your vacation from Jersey.” Which made no sense and also a little sense. Eventually around 23rd St, the dude got of. I have no idea if he was an undercover or off duty police officer, but he sure as hell acted like one.
Later a kinda rocker couple got on and saw kids with no pants on and the dude said, “Oh hey, it’s no pants day! I forgot it was today. But I’m ready.” And immediately dropped his pants. And it seemed like he was ready – since he was wearing bright red and blue underoos kinda underwear. Maybe that dude wears that kinda undergarments all the time, or maybe he truly came “Ready.” After about 7 minutes or so, he pulled his pants back up and they got off the train, but they were definitely psyched.
Agent Lathan, Pants Seller
I was a pants seller in the very last car. When the train stopped at 59th street we didn’t even know there were cops or that people were getting detained. So about 20 of us got on the next train and rode it all the way up to 125th street. We were the ones who got away. One of the many highlights was on the way back down from 125th street to the Brooklyn Bridge station. There were only about 10-15 of us left in a car at that point and we had by then heard the news that some people were arrested. And yet a few daring agents rode back on the train the entire way down with their pants off. Take that Coppers!
Agent Gill, Pants Seller
This was my second year doing the No Pants mission, and was the most exciting. I was assigned to be one of the pants sellers, in the car that of course got in trouble later on! Agent Kodner was my co-pilot in this mission.
As people started to de-pants, Agent Kodner and I struck up an intriguing conversation about Craigslist. As the pants started flying our way, we nonchalantly tucked them in our respective duffle bags, the entire time maintaining our conversation. A few women tourists sitting across from us took out their cameras and camera phones and started snapping away as more and more pants found their way over to us.
At one point, I was intently listening to a point Agent Kodner was making when a pair of pants hit her squarely in the face. Another pair of pants then landed on top of MY head completely covering my face with my hair – but we managed to keep our conversation going. At one point though, I swear, there had to be close to 10 people going at once. There were pants everywhere, as Agent Kodner and I tried to tuck the last few pairs into our bags.
We changed cars at Grand Central to begin our pants selling. I went first, noticing along the way that I had more men’s pants than women’s, so I advised the pantless patrons that my “colleague” behind me had more of a women’s – tailored inventory, and to check with her. A guy with a moustache (I am afraid of moustache’s) asked me why I was selling pants, to which I responded, “Just trying to pay off a student loan”.
As I doubled back to sell pants to those I bypassed, the train was halted at 59th Street station, and an announcement was made that all subway riders were to exit the train onto the platform, due to disruptions in one of the cars. Little did I know that it was OUR car that got caught making the disruptions, and I am now standing next to an officer holding a bag of pants. I tried to tell those people being detained by the police that I had their pants, and I tried handing them a pair saying they could owe me the dollar later, I trust them. But with no avail, the police whisked them away and I was left with a pants surplus (just like last year!!).
The chaos on the platform was just awesome as a wall of photographers flashed their cameras wildly at the line up of pantsless people against the wall. The police tried to keep everyone moving, as little did they know the hundred or so people gathered around all belonged to our pantless heroes. One started whistling the National Anthem to which I tried to instigate amongst the crowds. We all put our rally-caps on, as that was the turning point of the mission.
We headed back to our original spot near Brooklyn Bridge in a subway ride that I will never forget. 99% of the people in there had their pants around their ankles or completely taken off. As random people entered the train, they were told this was a “pantless car” and they had to “drop their pants upon entering”. An older couple in particular thought this was hysterical, as we continued to cheer & chant. The entire car was bouncing up and down as we stuck the word PANTS into every rally cheer imaginable….NO PANTS `TIL …….. BROOKLYN… (BRIDGE)……99 Pairs of Pants on the Train (yes all the way down to 1!)…..Slacks are Whack…..etc etc. It was awesome.
Agent Gill, center with mouth agape
The ending was pretty fun too when we got back to the Brooklyn Bridge station. There were unofficial trading posts all over the place of people finding their long lost pants mixed up throughout the mission. When Agent Todd and the rest of the agents returned we were briefed on what happened, and ended with a nice progressive, slow-clap (clap it out…).
**Watching men in women’s jeans try to walk up the stairs
**Seeing a girl and a guy figuring out they’re wearing each other’s pants
**The joy in people’s faces when they finally found their pants
**Those people who refused to put their pants back on, out of principle, even though they had two pairs in their bag.
**Everyone pitching in a dollar to the guy who had to take a cab home with the wrong pants on.
**The fact that the policeman spelled underwear wrong on one of the summons.
Agent Mercer, Pants Seller
The most urgent thing on my mind before the train got to the 59th street station was the fact that I had to pee really badly. I made the mistake of having this large cup of coffee before I arrived at the meeting location, and as we boarded the train, I knew I was going to be screwed by the time we got down the line, and as a pants seller, I had to maintain some level of focus that didn’t pertain to my bladder.
But when the train pulled into the 59th street station, my bladder took a backseat. I was a pants-seller for our group, along with Agent Rodgers. Over the course of each stop our group had depantsed, given us their garments, and moved to the “target car” successfully, and at 59th street, we made the move toward the car in front of ours to sell the pants to the pantless… when I nearly walked smack dab into a cop standing in the doorway of our target car. The officer had pulled out his flashlight and was shining it directly at the briefs of a pantless agent (odd, since the train was very well lit). The cop said something like, “No, no, no… this is…What is this? Some kind of protest? What are you doing?”
There was a long, tense silence, and I realized the train had been stopped in its tracks- the doors had been opened for a while… they were taking the train out of service. I stood there for what was probably only a few seconds, but it felt like an eternity, mulling over what to do, the cop looming right next to me and my giant sack of trousers, when Agent Rodgers boldly pushed his way past the cop into the packed car, and called out to everyone, “Pants for sale!” I snapped out of it and followed right behind him, realizing we had to get the pants back on everyone before the cop saw the rest of the no-pants agents amid the general public…
As soon as Agent Rodgers and I announced we had pants for sale, we were inundated with an urgent rush of the pantless, dollars flying at us, hands raised high, “Oh, I need some pants!” I was handing out the pants very quickly, but the funny thing was, the mission was holding. It still worked, and everyone maintained their cool, just in a more desperate fashion… like they really, really wanted those pants (except for Agent Kula, who was lackadaisically leaning against the center pole with his iPod and looked up toward the end of the rush and, slowly removing his headphones, just said, “Oh, hey, you sellin’ pants?” Priceless.)
One moment I remember during the chaos: an agent nearby me asked me if I had any size 32’s, and I was already out of pants. I called down to Agent Rodgers, who was at the other end of the car (I think I called him “Jim” for some reason, I remember having this weird notion in the moment that I better not use his real name with the cop nearby… like it made any difference… weird)… anyway, I called to him and said, “Hey, ya got any 32’s down there?” He didn’t hear me, and this woman sitting closer to him smiled, got his attention, and said, “Excuse me, do you have any 32’s? That guy over there needs 32’s.”
In the end, a couple of people in our car didn’t get their pants in time and were detained, and then they, including Agent McCarson from our group, got some great press interviews and became heroes of the mission. And I got to pee at Bloomingdale’s.
Agent Rodgers, Pants Seller
I was a pants seller, or as I interpreted it, a pants hustler, so I tried to dress the part. Someone selling pants on the subway, I imagined, would look similar to the young, urban gentlemen who sell candy for basketball uniforms, class trips, or to “keep themselves out of trouble.”
Things were going as planned. Group after group removed pants. I stood in character playing the ring tones on my cell phone, as agents threw their pants at my feet. As expected, there were great reactions, including one of the greatest double takes I have ever seen as a group of pantless young women exited their de-pantsing car.
By 51st Street my car had been cleared of agents, and my fellow pants hustler, Agent Mercer, and I were debating what stop to start selling pants. He asked me, “Should we start at 59th?” I told him we could, but that still leaves quite a few stops before 125th, so maybe we should wait an extra stop. “Lets make `em sweat a little,” I said.
I was prepared to wait past 59th, when I realized our train was taking far too long to move. Then a police officer poked his head in to our car, which was empty of agents, and I heard him say, “Nope none in this car. I still haven’t seen any yet.”
Then he went to the front car, which was where the pantlsess agents were. I told Agent Mercer we better move, so we cut in front of the policeman and entered the car. This was right before he laid eyes on Agent R. Kelley. The policeman was completely dumbfounded by the sight of Agent R. Kelley, who is noticeably tall and wore high white socks and “tightey whiteys.”
“YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME,” the officer said. “Can someone tell me what’s going on here? Get over here.”
No one broke character.
Agent Mercer moved to the middle of the car, I stepped in front of the police officer, telling him “Yo I’ll just sell `em pants.”
Then I yelled, “Excuse me ladies and gentlemen, I am on this subway selling pants, not for no charity, but for myself, to stay out of trouble. $1.” I saw Agent Mercer start to sell as well in the middle of the train. The cop left talking to himself, ” I don’t know what ta do! It’s da whole train!”
I knew I had to act fast, and dish out as many pants as I could, before he came back. I gave Agent R. Kelley a pair right away, since he was the main person who drew the poilceman’s attention. I threw a pair of pants at a few people, snatched their dollars, and poked my head outside the car. I saw more cops and a few agents being taken out of the cars behind us. I saw Agent Mercer had sold out of pants, so I walked out the door at the end of the car, where I had distributed a good amount of pants, and walked to the front. What surprised me was how disappointed everyone was with the pants they ended up with. Time was of the essence, but people were shouting, “Do you have any 32s?” Even a passenger, an elderly black woman, spoke on an Agents behalf, saying, “He wants a 32.”
In the end I said, “All I got is a size 8 Women’s, I think you should take it.”
After the well-documented police action, we Agents rode the subway back downtown to our original stop at the Brooklyn Bridge. I found myself in a car filled with almost all agents. We were screaming a no pants version of 100 bottles of beer on the wall, called 100 pairs of pants on the train. The song ended a few stops too early, which led to a few chants. I will take credit for starting, “Hey-Hey Ho-Ho, These pants we’re wearing got to go!” Someone near me started the best one, “no pants till Brooklyn (bridge)” Agent Ace$thugg started, “Pantaloons are for Baboons.” The only non-participants I saw in this car were a young couple who got so caught up in the energy they started making out in the corner.
The romantic in me would like to think this was not the only love connection that was made at this years no pants. There was a rare feeling in the air, as people exchanged pants outside the 6-train stop that was hard to leave without a smile.
Agent Montague, Door Watcher
We began the day assembled in front of the courthouse, and we shall end the mission in the courthouse.
I feel bad for the detained agents and the civilians who were stranded on the platform. That said, this was the best mission ever.
My job was simple: hold the subway doors, and make sure agents travel safely from one car to the next during stops. I was glad I’d been placed in a target car, and not a changing car. That way, I could watch the pantless agents arrive to an unsuspecting crowd. As agents trickled in, none of the riders even noticed. They continued not to notice until the larger groups of 4 and 8 arrived. Then, it was a mixture of smiling people and people who didn’t care.
The conductor knew something was up, and he even announced during one of the stops “Something crazy is going on on this train.” His tone was perplexed and confused, but certainly not annoyed.
After all of the agents had safely found their target cars, I figured I’d take my pants off too. I was standing right next to Agent Barrison (one of the detained agents). I figured I’d leave car #5, and go to a changing car. I was a civilian with pants to car #5, and I wanted to stay that way. Around 42nd St, I headed to car #6, took off my pants, and put them in my backpack. At the next stop I headed to car #7, instead of back to car #5. Car #5 might’ve recognized me. This line of thinking saved my ass.
When the doors at 59th St. had been open for several minutes, I knew something was going on. Even though my doorman duties were fulfilled, my instinct was to check the platform. I stepped out, and saw a policeman scurrying toward car #5. Assuming the cops were heading in our direction, I reached into my backpack and put my pants back on. The rest is history.
I can only imagine what the cops must’ve thought when they realized the stunt was swarming with media. As the detainees lined up, so did the cameramen. Brilliant. Just brilliant.
After the drama died down, we decided to head uptown on an arriving 6 train. At the last second, we decided to go downtown instead. Some of us exited the train, while others stayed on the train. Agent Todd signaled everyone off the train. Those still on the train were mostly oblivious. A thought raced through my head… “That’s my job. Hold that door.” It remained only a thought. The doors closed, and agents were now scattered in different directions. Some people with their own pants, but most people with other people’s pants. It was the ultimate mix-up. People were wandering around aimlessly, looking for the right pair of pants. If people didn’t wear pants, this problem never would have happened.
Agent Walker, Pants Seller
Four civilians from the original train followed the entire mission, apparently aborting their prior commuting plans just to witness the goings-on. As we all (or mostly all) re-gathered at Brooklyn Bridge to exchange pants, they were still there, continuing to utter statements of disbelief.
When the depantsing first occurred a group of strangers started excitedly conversing in Spanish. I wish I knew the Spanish word for pants.
I was a pants seller, and when the train got “pulled over” I still hadn’t unloaded all my merch. Having already received a summons for the sake of Improv Everywhere for the U2 stunt, I didn’t wish to tango with the fuzz. All of a sudden I felt like I was carrying around a big hot sack of evidence. Slyly, I managed to conduct business as usual on the platform, making that crucial last 3 bucks and repantsing the stranded. F%#@ the police.
Favorite quote: “Excuse me, miss. You’re not wearing pants.”
Agent Shelktone, Team Captain
Agent Shelktone organizes his team
I was captain of the 3rd and 4th to last cars. One of the guys in my group took off his pants in the back of the car and threw them down. Luckily, I saw it or else he was going to lose his pants for good. (The pants-seller being in the front of the car). As I picked up the pants, people were saying, “What’s going on? He just took off his pants.” I pretended I didn’t know. And then took off my pants. Old man: “Here we go again. Off with their pants!”
When we made it into the next car, it was 23rd St and very soon after Agent Arnheiter, came in selling pants for his high school basketball team. We were so jammed in, I bought pants right away. Luckily, my pants fit perfectly. A little kid about 5 or 6 was trying to point out to his dad that a girl next to me had no pants on. The dad was trying to ignore it. But the little kid kept pointing. I guess just like why is the sky blue, the dad didn’t have an easy answer to why is that lady not wearing any pants?
When the train stopped, we all got out and Agent Todd came by and said make sure everyone is wearing pants. At some point, there was a loud cheering. I couldn’t decide if it was because people got arrested or people didn’t get arrested. Then a new train came, and Agent Todd said get on the train to 125th. So we got on, but then at the last moment, he got on and said to get off. As captain, I felt I should wait till everyone else got off before I did. But we didn’t all get off in time. So we headed up one stop. And waited for the next train to see if someone would come up to tell us what to do. No one did, so we got on and went up to 125. And waited. And waited. No one came. So we figured double back down to Brooklyn Bridge. It’s like Vizinni says to do in the Princess Bride. What do you do if something goes wrong? Go back to the beginning.
Got there, and everyone cheered that our lost group found it’s way back to the flock. And found out Agent Barrison and others had gotten taken ‘downtown’ (“to Chinatown”). We were supposed to play in an open mic later that night so I got to leave a classic message for a bandmate of, “Hey, I’m not sure if we’re going to do the show tonight, Flynn got arrested*.”
* didn’t get arrested but thought he did at the time…
Anyway, it turned out to be a really exciting mission!
Agent Good, Leadoff
I was the leadoff guy for Agent Shelktone’s group in the 4th from the back target car. We boarded our staging car and the second the doors closed my pants were down. The only person to react to this was a small Chinese man a few feet away, he nudged his friend and they both snickered. I tossed Agent Arnheiter my pants and moved to our target car at the first stop, Canal Street. I was greeted with almost no immediate reaction. As I made my way from one end of the car to the other all I got was a quick peak then a turn to conceal a smile. And that was only from a few of the people. I got down to the other end of the car where a group of college students were sitting opposite of each other and wedged myself in between them so they had to talk around me. They were trying to gesture to each other about me, without me noticing. One of them even pretended to check her cell phone while snapping a picture of my bright pink boxers.
As the rest of agents boarded the train there was more of a noticeable reaction by the civilians. One woman asked a new agent about whether this was some kind of group protest or something, but staying completely in character he shook it off saying he just forgot his pants and he didn’t know us, leaving the woman visibly confused. After all of our no-pants agents were aboard, Agent Arnheiter came on selling pants. I ignored him the first time by. At the next stop a couple getting off yelled to me that I “should buy a pair from that guy over there,” to which I replied, “I’m good, thanks.” I declined pants for a second time and Agent Arnheiter moved to the next car. (I didn’t notice he was gone until later.) So by the time we made it to 59th street I was still very much in my underwear. After being stopped for a while and having the conductor come over the loud speaker just to say something weird was going on, people were starting to talk. All of the agents were staying in character. One agent by the door mouthed the word “Cops” to me, then I mouthed back, “what?” Then he said, “police”, to which I said “shit”. I turned to look for Arnheiter but he was gone… with the pants. Right then a second announcement came from the conductor saying everyone had to get off the train.
When I got off Agent Arnheiter found me and threw me the bag of pants. After finally finding mine (being worn by one of the other agents) and helping others get theirs, I went to see what happened. Eight of our agents were up against a wall surrounded by police, the press, and an unruly crowd. All of the detainees seemed to be calm and even staying in character. One of the photographers told me she heard a cop call in a “10-13” which I was told meant officer in distress, which led to eight more cops running down to the train at full speed only to find a few people with their pants off. I stayed with Agent Todd as most of the agents went back to our original meeting place. Most of the officers were ignoring questions and trying to figure out what the hell was going on. One young officer who arrived late let me ask him about our captive friends, he left to find out and came back to tell me about the disorderly conduct charge and that they would have a court date. When passersby found out what was going on, every single one of them said that it was the cops were taking this too seriously and no one should have been arrested. Even despite our little hiccup this was a very exciting and successful mission and trust me, everyone there had a story to tell their friends.
Agent Good watches as Agent Shafer films the detainees from afar
Agent Arnheiter, Pants Seller
Having been a leadoff man on last year’s ride, I kept the pants on for this year’s run.
The car became crowded very quickly, maybe even by the first stop, but I’d staked out some ground, and as pants flew my way, people gave me a bit more space.
Two women who were seated to my left said, “Can we ask what’s going on?” I told them that I own a vintage clothing store, and I find you can get some good deals on the subway, and I just re-sell these in my shop. An older woman by the door said “I might take my pants off,” and I told her that today would be the day to do it. Her husband joined in saying he’d take his pants off, but he’s not wearing any underwear. I replied that he shouldn’t let that get in the way of things.
When all of the pantless agents were in the fourth car, I went through the doors. This is illegal now, but I figured, hey, why not, you only live once, so I flagrantly disregarded the statute and went through.
The car was packed, and there were a slew of agents right there. I started my story: “I am sorry for the interruption ladies and gentlemen, my name is Carl and I’m a high school senior selling pants to raise money for my high school basketball team. In addition to helping me buy a new uniform, selling pants on the train keeps me off the streets and out of trouble.”
Business was gangbusters immediately. When I moved past the first set of doors, it was a little less crowded, and the agents were spaced further apart. I repeated my story, declined a donation – “I don’t want a pair of pants, but I’d like to donate $1 toward your uniform” – and fielded a few questions about where I went to school and how the team’s doing this season. Not every agent bought a pair of pants.
After 50th St, I moved to the next car forward. And at 59th St., the doors didn’t close. Then came the “Ladies and gentlemen, we apologize for the unavoidable delay,” and with that, I saw uniformed officers peering into the car as they walked by. I was just about to move back to the car containing still pantless agents when they took the train out of service. Now on the platform, I rounded up the few unclothed holdouts and made sure they had a pair of pants – any pants – as no one was sure what was happening. By this time, there were a lot of camera flashes coming from the front end of the platform.
After that was settled – I wasn’t near or a part of it, so there’s nothing for me to say about it – we headed back downtown. There were only a few of us in a car, with the bulk of agents in the car behind us. Each time the door opened, we’d hear a new chant. One standout, “No pants to Brooklyn!” and at one point, I guess people were jumping up and down because the entire car was bouncing. A very unusual site, and one that got us all laughing.
That’s the way I saw it all…
Agent Todd holds a Pants Seller meeting, pre-mission
Agent Becket, Pants Seller
I was working as a pants seller in the last car of the train, with Agent Lathan. Things went pretty smoothly on the trip up. We tried to separate the pants, with Agent Lathan taking the gentlemen’s slacks and the women’s trousers going in my bag. This made it a little easier for people to find their pants when we finally moved into the sales car at 59th St. We were in the station for an inordinately long time, but this gave us time to sell most of our pants. When we were asked to clear the car, I felt like it was probably due to our mission, but we were at the opposite end of the platform from where the police activity was happening and couldn’t see anything. A new train came a few minutes later, we reboarded and as we pulled out of 59th St., I was watching the platform to see if I could see the cause of the delay. As we passed the station exits, I saw a massive cluster of people, with a couple of cops at the center of it all and camera flashes going off. I remember thinking “Oh … shit,” but there was nothing we could do as the train sped out of the station.
On the way up to 125th St., Agent Lathan noticed an ad for Bahamas Tourism which had the tagline “Say no to pants.” How can the MTA get mad about people depantsing when their own trains bear advertisements promoting that very activity?
Agent Nicholson’s Flickr photoset (Nearly 300 photos)
Agent Rainswept’s Flickr photoset (100 more photos)
Agent Linder’s Blog (A comprehensive listing of No Pants 2k6 related links)
Also see the comments section below for reports from many of the other agents involved.
All 8 ticketed agents eventually had their cases dropped. 6 appeared in criminal court and 2 appeared in transit court.
Below is the actual decision as written by the transit court in dismissing Agent Omega (real name omitted from the document for her privacy). Officer Panton (yes, his real name) appeared and testified that it was a “fun day”. Read the whole document– it’s hilarious.