New York City’s topless women panhandlers are about to get banned by Mayor de Blasio. The body-painted hustlers approach tourists in Times Square and ask if they’d like to pose for a picture with them.
Often, the topless women’s male “managers” approach the tourists and offer to snap the photo. Next, they ask the tourists to pay a tip. There are plenty of complaints from New York City visitors saying that the hustlers harass them and try to shame them into paying a lot more.
The NY Daily News talked with a few of the men who manage the topless women. Some explained that they get a 20 percent or even a 30 percent cut of the women’s earnings. The guys feel that it’s only fair, since they have serious duties like carrying the women’s purses. Frequently they need to re-touch the colorful designs on the women’s breasts and buttocks.
One fellow claimed to be running a stable of about ten women. Some men said they perform the important job of protecting NYC’s topless women. A lot of people feel that their function is pretty similar to pimping. In spite of their handlers’ “protection,” the women often report being groped.
— Wendell Jamieson (@Wendo20) August 16, 2015
New York City’s Mayor de Blasio says he will stop the topless panhandling.
“It’s wrong, it’s wrong. It’s just — look I, as a progressive who believes in civil liberties and believes in our First Amendment, I understand the legal challenge here. But I don’t think that’s the end of the discussion. This situation is going to change. This is what I’ll guarantee you, I’m not going to tolerate it. I’m not satisfied that we have used every tool in our arsenal yet.”
Both New York City Mayor de Blasio and state Governor Andrew Cuomo have now said, “Enough!” CBS News reports that, while it’s technically legal for a female to walk topless in the streets of New York, aggressive solicitation isn’t legal. The topless women may end up being regulated as a business is regulated. Officials might invoke rules like a minimum wage standard, or laws to restrict the practice to a small area away from Times Square.
Dozens of other costumed characters approach Times Square tourists every day, using the same aggressive begging techniques as the topless women. In a strange twist, a Spider Man street performer was arrested last summer for allegedly groping a non-costumed woman in Times Square.
The city could enforce the laws against blocking pedestrian pathways. However, the Wall Street Journal points out that, if the New York City cracks down on just the topless women, and doesn’t also restrict the beggars dressed as Oscar the Grouch and Batman, there may be civil liberties issues to contend with.
Local midtown business owners will be relieved when the city finds a solution to this thorny quality-of-life issue. For now, New York City’s topless women are out there hustling the tourists on summer days.
[Image Credited to Steven Pisano via Flickr.com]