Come winter, many germ-conscious New Yorkers are glad for the opportunity to wear gloves while holding subway poles. However, for a distinct group in the city, cold weather is a chance to engage with the subway in a very unexpected way: by forgoing pants and participating in the annual No Pants Subway Ride.
The visionary behind this event is Charlie Todd, the founder of the performance group Improv Everywhere. His first pantless ride was an improv performance in 2002 with himself and six friends. Today, Charlie is at the helm of a yearly gathering where up to 4,000 New Yorkers –from young parents with their newborn baby to a grandmother with her granddaughter–bring joy, humor, and uncertainty to their fellow subway riders by enjoying a commute in their undergarments. On the eve of the 15th annual No Pants Subway Ride this Sunday, 6sqft spoke with Charlie about the lure of riding the subway without pants and what keeps him motivated each year.