What is “legal” can be a matter of interpretation. San Francisco tested that notion in 1965. In North Beach, San Francisco, at a club called the Condor, the question was: what is indecent?
Carol Doda was attending the San Francisco Art Institute. She was a dancer at the Condor Club, doing the dance called “The Swim” by Bobby Freeman. Here is the decent version:
On June 19, 1964, Carol’s publicist bought her a “monokini” – a topless version of a bikini – at I. Magnin. That night she danced topless for the first time. The Republican Convention was at the Cow Palace that summer. After becoming a sensation, she decided to have her breasts enlarged. By this time, entertainers were popping out all over the country.
Her only arrest came on April 22, 1965. The police raided the Condor on indecency charges. Judge Friedman directed a not guilty verdict, writing: “Whether acts… are lewd and dissolute depends not on any individual’s interpretation or personal opinion, but on the consensus of the entire community.” She continued to dance until 1985.
There was a 50th anniversary celebration of topless at the Condor: