Thanks to weeks of relentless front page outrage by New York City’s tabloids, both Gov. Cuomo and Mayor De Blasio have vowed to chase out the dozens of painted topless women who work Times Square for tips. Gothamist reports:
“I believe this activity is illegal,” he [Cuomo] said, speaking to NY1. “I believe it is infringing on legitimate businesses. I believe it is infringing on the investment that the state and the city made in the 42nd Street area, and I think it has to be stopped.” Cuomo did not elaborate on what statute the women who call themselves “desnudas” might violate. Both female toplessness and panhandling are protected under New York law. “I was around for the bad old Times Square and this is starting to remind me of the bad old Times Square,” Cuomo said. Cuomo praised the News’s campaign, comparing it to the hard-nosed reporting of yore: “It reminds me of the old-school journalists, like Murray Kempton, Pete Hamill, Jimmy Breslin, Newfield, Barrett, where they would just take an issue and keep hammering the issue.”
De Blasio is even threatening to bulldoze Times Square’s sprawling pedestrian plazas, one of the few universally lauded Bloomberg innovations.
Mayor de Blasio today announced a new multiagency task force that will address the “growing problem” of “topless individuals” and costumed characters in Times Square, and told reporters that he’s considering the “option” of bulldozing Time Square’s pedestrian plazas as a way of addressing the alleged problem. “I believe, fundamentally, in addressing quality-of-life issues at their root,” he said. Co-chaired by NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton and City Planning Commissioner Carl Weisbrod, the task force will “study the legal and oversight issues associated with regulating topless individuals and costumed characters.” However, announcing the topic in Queens today, the Mayor was sure to lead with the ladies. “I am unhappy with what’s happening in Times Square in relation to the painted women,” he said. “I don’t like it, and I’m going to do something about it.” Because both female toplessness and panhandling are protected under New York law, that “something,” will likely manifest as new regulations aimed directly at these Times Square performers. “Right now, the laws in place don’t give us all the enforcement capacity we deserve,” de Blasio said. “What’s happening with those individuals needs to be regulated like a business, but we need to identify the appropriate regulations.”
One of the painted ladies yesterday pointed to complaining “overweight women” as the source of the controversy.
RELATED: Times Square’s most famous topless performer, the Naked Cowboy, is apparently very unhappy with the competition and yesterday he exerted some male privilege by wearing a bra. He told the press: “If everybody is pissed about it you should comply. I don’t care if they got their boobs flapping around [and] you may have a legal right to do it…[but] it’s about Times Square.”