Stroll through Times Square on any warm day and you’ll encounter two dozen or more topless women who will pose for photographs, sometimes as male companions stand at the ready should any tourist not fork over the demanded $10 or $20 tip. Such performance art, as it is reluctantly classified by the city, is completely legal and officials say they don’t know what to do about complaints from kid-toting tourists and local businesses. The New York Daily News is very upset:
An out-of-control influx of near-naked women jockeying for tips has turned Times Square into the XXX-Roads of the World — shocking children and incensing legions of tourists and New Yorkers alike. The expanding cadre of topless talent — wearing only a thong, a thin layer of paint and a smile — fight it out with the usual cast of amateur Buzz Lightyears and Spider-Men for souvenir photographs at $10 to $20 a pop. “It’s inappropriate,” fumed Odessa Leitch, 38, watching the provocative parade of ladies with her 12-year-son and 3-year-old daughter at her side. “Oooh,” added her stunned son, Tyler George, “there are little kids around here.” The police are powerless to stop the daily open-air peep shows. Public nudity in New York is legal as long as it’s part of a performance, exhibition or show, despite the objection of NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton. “It drives me crazy when at Times Square you see the naked people there covered in body paint as an expression of art,” he told City & State magazine.
In a separate anguished editorial, yesterday the Daily News declared that the only solution is to have all of Times Square classified as a public park as soliciting tips is not legal in city parks. (But try telling that to the break dance crews in Central Park.)
Gothamist is quick to denounce the “morality police” who are so terrible offended.
RELATED: This weekend the New York Times profiled one of the women.
Mey Ovalles ignored the snickers of gawking boys and the smartphones snapping photos as she clutched her bra to her chest and her bare skin became an opaque shade of blue with white sparkles. She shielded her nipples until they were cloaked with brush strokes, though her curvy, sun-kissed body — with the exception of a nylon thong — was exposed to hundreds of passers-by in Times Square. She felt naked until she became a canvas of red, white and blue. This was part of Ms. Ovalles’s daily routine as a desnuda, a Spanish word meaning naked that has been embraced by the women who strut around the Times Square pedestrian plaza topless and covered in body paint to pose for photos in exchange for tips. Ms. Ovalles is one of the newest participants to join the parade of seminude performers contributing to the carnival-like atmosphere amid the sea of tourists. “Oh my God, it’s a lot of people who see me naked,” Ms. Ovalles, 27, said. “It’s too fun. It’s totally different.” The earliest sighting of a desnuda seems to date to the summer of 2013, according to posts on social media. But this summer, on any given day, there are at least a dozen young women, primarily Latinas, of all heights and body shapes, strolling through the pedestrian plazas, trying to capitalize on this suggestive performance art.