What It Was Like to Pose Topless (With My Dog) As An Extra on 'Girls'

by Sara Benincasa

Last week, I excitedly told everyone I knew that my beloved dog, Morley Safer, was about to make her 2-second television debut in a “celebrity cameo” on HBO's “Girls.” What I forgot to tell some of these folks is that I would also be in the episode for 2 seconds, and that I would be topless.

(Warning: Spoilers for “Girls” Season 5 Episode 3!)

In the episode, “Japan,” Hannah (Lena Dunham) and her new boyfriend Fran (Jake Lacy) run into a snafu of sorts when Hannah accidentally finds nude photos on Fran's phone. Of his ex-girlfriends.

He immediately owns up to using these photos to jerk off to, explaining that he thinks pornography is gross and exploitative, whereas these photos were sent consensually. He also tells her that her own nude photos are kind of goofy and silly and difficult to masturbate to, and he'd love it if she sent him some sexy photos.

She goes through a few ex-gf photos, gets understandably huffy, and later goes through more images of his sexy exes.

This is where Morley Safer the dog and I come in.


Months and months ago, I received a most glorious inquiry. Would I be interested in contributing a selfie to an upcoming episode of “Girls”?

It could show anything I wished: boobs or butt or bush or my face or all of these things or none of these things! There would be other photos of other gals, and diversity of appearances was welcome and encouraged.

Some payment would be involved and I'd sign a release form and all that jazz. I should only do it if I was totally comfortable with it and I could make specifications as to what could and couldn't be shown.

Of course I said yes, because I dig the show, I dig Lena, and I thought it would be hilarious to make my HBO debut in a photo that would be shown very briefly on camera.

I could've just made a silly duckface or contributed a photograph of my heinously embarrassing lower back tattoos. (I have three. THREE! I mean, I grew up in New Jersey in the '90s.)

But I was also in preproduction for a short film, “The Focus Group,” about a woman (played by me) who focus-groups her own “plus-size” body in an effort to find out how she can be more conventionally attractive (and popular, and successful, etc.)

The film, which I wrote, is sad and funny and ultimately, I think, uplifting – my own archetypal worst nightmare turned into a victory for the character. I did a Kickstarter for the film with a goal of $9,000. I ended up raising $20,000 from 510 backers from around the world. And Lena's work and encouragement definitely inspired me to be so bold.

So, I figured, why not pregame for my topless Internet short film debut with a topless selfie? I may as well get used to it.

Plus, I was 34 at the time (I'm 35 now). I'm about 175 pounds and just under 5'3”. I have a belly that I'm self-conscious about and hips that knock into things sometimes.

I know I'm hot but I also know I don't have the kind of body that sells bikinis to America, because advertisers are lame and boring. My tits are huge and they're not gonna get any perkier unless I get a lift, which I certainly can't afford right now. It seemed a fine time to document their presence.

I went into the bathroom and took a few options, but none seemed right. My boyfriend at the time, who remains my patronus, consulted on them and said they looked great (good work, sir) but I felt there was a spark missing. A glorious bit of oomph that would set this particular narcissistic imagery apart.

“Morley Safer!” I said. “I need Morley Safer!”

Morley Safer is a rescue dog. Many folks think she is a Brussels Griffon mix. I believe so as well, though her DNA test claims she is a mix of full-size greyhound, toy poodle, chihuahua and Shih Tzu. I think her DNA test is bullsh*t.

Anyway, she is perfect and amazing. She is housebroken and she knows how to sit and roll over and she is two and a half years old. (At the time she was only two, a youthful actress, but definitely of age to be onscreen).

She was abandoned in the desert by the side of the road when she was around 6-8 weeks old. Animal Control picked her up, and she was at a high-kill shelter when she was rescued by the Glendale Humane Society.

We adopted her about six months later. She is loving and caring and weird and has a crazy underbite. She lives at home and goes outside a lot but she isn't a purse dog or anything. She's just a wonderful dork who loves people. Her father is her custodial parent and he lives in Brooklyn. She is his familiar, probably, in some kind of wizard way.

I considered the kind of weirdo who would send a topless selfie to her boyfriend and include her dog, and I decided my uncredited character would be that weirdo. So I snapped two photos, and picked the most amazing one (difficult, as both were stunning, due entirely to Morley Safer.) My boobs looked great, but Morley made the photo.

I gave my parents a heads-up and told my sister-in-law, who loves the show, and my brother, who occasionally catches it. My dad and brother didn't really care but they were glad I warned them so they could avoid watching it. My mom and my sister-in-law were stoked. I told some friends and then semi-forgot about it.

Fast-forward to last week: It was happening! It was really happening! Morley Safer's HBO debut!

I made several announcements online and then remembered to edit them to include the fact that I'd be in it and not to watch if you were related to me in some fashion. I accidentally forgot to do that on one announcement, which is how my distant cousin ended up getting quite the surprise when he tuned in to see Morley Safer. That was awkward, but life goes on.

Anyway, overall, the experience was a hell of a lot of fun and I'd do it again in a second. People were very encouraging and sweet about it, and it makes for a hilarious moment in the episode.

Plus, I've since been contacted by two animal casting agents about Morley Safer. I've explained that she is not an actress because she's a f*cking dog, and she knows two commands, but whatever. They persist.

Fame has found Morley Safer, and my excellent boobs are honored to have been a part of her debut.