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No Pants Ride

I Met Charlie Todd!

I’ve known about Charlie Todd and Improv Everywhere since he uploaded Frozen Grand Central to YouTube in 2008. I was fascinated by their creativity and boldness from the start. I went back and watched all their videos and read all the blogs from their missions – it was captivating. I subscribed to their YouTube channel and I joined the now-disbanded “Urban Prankster Network” online.

Charlie Todd and Me

Charlie Todd and Me

Charlie and I have exchanged emails and messages over the years after I helped co-found Improv AZ and I started digging into the legal issues surrounding flash mobs and pranks. He was always friendly and helpful, but since we lived on opposite sides of the country, we never met in person.

A few weeks ago, I got a note from Charlie saying that he was debuting his film “We Cause Scenes” at SXSW. The film follows the story of Improv Everywhere from the beginning to where it is now. I love this story because Charlie didn’t start out trying to create this group. He was just a guy who was having fun with his friends and he embraced the opportunities that allowed it to grow into his career. I was so excited. I immediately put his film at the top of my SXSW to-do list.

I met Charlie about an hour before the film in the convention center. When I saw his familiar face, threw up my arms, and screeched, “Charlie Todd!” I gave him a big hug and chatted for a few minutes before claiming my spot in line. It was so great to meet him in person but because we’ve been conversing for years, it was like seeing an old friend.

The movie was fantastic. If it comes to your city, go see it. It’s a great story.

During the Q&A after the movie, Charlie announced that Improv Everywhere was doing an MP3 Experiment in Austin. I of course rearranged my schedule so I could go. We were given a place, a time, an MP3 to download, and we were told to wear a certain color shirt and bring an uninflated balloon. You’ll have to wait to see the video to see what we did, but we had a blast. It was so great to do a mission with my prankster brothers and sisters.

I give my friend Jeff Moriarty a lot of credit for helping me become the person I am today. If he hadn’t organized the first No Pants Ride in Phoenix, there never would have been an Improv AZ and I wouldn’t be a flash mob attorney and blogger. Watching Charlie’s movie reminded me that I have to give him a lot of credit too. He was the one who came up with the idea for the original No Pants Subway Ride and he was the one who decided to invite the world to participate in 2009. If he hadn’t done that, he wouldn’t have given Jeff his launch into the official prank/flash mob world.

So thank you Charlie. Without you, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

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Is That Legal – No Pants Ride

Disclaimer: Although I am a lawyer, I am not your lawyer. This blog should not be viewed as legal advice and does not form an attorney-client relationship with any reader.  

The Global No Pants Ride is this Sunday, January 9, 2011.  This event was started by Improv Everywhere in New York 2001 and has become an international event.  People in at least 49 cities all over the world will be riding their public transportation without their pants.  They will look totally normal from the waist up, but from the waist down, they will only be in their underwear and shoes.  A common question I often get when I talk about the No Pants Ride is, “Is that legal?”

No Pants Ride 2013 - Photo by Joseph Abbruscatto from Flickr (used with permission)

No Pants Ride 2013 – Photo by Joseph Abbruscatto from Flickr (used with permission)

In most circumstances, the answer is “yes.”  If people were required to always wear pants in public, going to a public beach or pool wouldn’t be that much fun.  To anyone who finds this event repulsive, remember that we will be more covered than most people are at the beach.  Everyone who is participating in a No Pants Ride must follow the decency law of their state.   In Arizona, that means you must have your genitals covered.   You probably don’t want to wear a thong on the ride because (1) there is an argument that you’re not sufficiently covered, and (2) do you really want to put your bare tush on a subway or light rail seat?

If you’re going to wear boxers on your No Pants Ride, consider wearing a pair of briefs underneath them.   You don’t want to risk accidentally exposing yourself when you sit down.

Last year at the Arizona No Pants Ride, our group of about 350 pantsless people met at Arizona Center.  After about an hour of pantslessly enjoying our beverages at Starbucks and Hooters, we were told by mall security that we had to put on pants or leave.  We chose to leave.  (No more business for you!)  That was perfectly legal for them to do.  Malls and businesses are privately owned and just as they can say, “No shirt, no shoes, no service,” they can require that people wear pants while on their property.  We left and went to Dave’s Electric Brew Pub where they were happy to have our pantsless patronage.

I am very excited for Sunday’s No Pants Ride.  For my fellow Phoenix pantsless riders, please visit Improv AZ’s website for all the details and RSVP on the Facebook event page.  If you want to see the video of last year’s ride, it is available on YouTube.  If you want more information about the legalities of flash mobs and public pranks, I spoke about this topic at Ignite Phoenix #5.

See you on Sunday!

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