As of Sunday August 23rd police reported that there were only minor incidents with tourists on Times Square. The groping, fighting, spitting and punching tourists, seems to be Times Square’s everlasting mess since the costumed critters have slithered into its streets many politicians feel, and it has not phased the public’s opinion much. In 2009 when Times Square was blocked off from traffic and seating areas were created, a “Times Square Utopia” seemed to have been in mind. As of August 19, 2015 City Officials have noticed that it has been tainted by topless painted bodies, escaped convicts, registered sex offenders, and costumed panhandlers in sweaty smelly suits that are hearing “cash-in” when they see tourist. The number of these costumed panhandlers has grown to an overwhelming number.
A bill that is being drafted by the City Council and supported by Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, to regulate and register the person under the costume, is a step forward in making some changes. In light of that announcement, Mayor Bill de Blassio and Governor Andrew Cuomo are having a conniption over the topless painted ladies, and there are plans to change that as well.
When the tourists are being hit hard in the pocket by the cluster of costumed critters with highly aggressive tactics, the frenzy needs to come to a halt many tourists feel. Times Square is the pinnacle of tourism, and for these characters it is a big cash-mining business. Ear to ear grins, as they take as much as they can from the unsuspecting tourist. “More-more, one more dollar come-on”, their (costumed characters) shouts are heard in a heavy accent. Not only are they targeting tourists, and some less than wise local residents, they are also targeting children.
Having lived in New York for many years, Ledrera said, “I understand that you have to hustle, this is New York and you have to make a living, but the aggression is just too much, and it has to stop. My son is only 6 years old, and they are asking him for more money after I gave them 5 dollars.”
Deepani, who works near Times Square is walking with her children, ages 4 and 8, and she commented, “I like those that are in regular costume, but not those that are topless, it is disgusting”, as she gestures in the direction of the topless painted ladies.
New York’s tourists industry is being targeted the most, and many have complained about the price gouging. Stephen Gilbo, who was visiting from China with his two friends, expressed exasperation with their Times Square experience. “I feel a lot of pressure-pressure, a lot. I was just telling my friends here, that we have spent a lot of time in China. And we run into these types of people in China all the time, they are right up-front with you, they won’t tell you one price and then change it to another price. Not like here. Here, they change the price on you when you have already taken the picture”.
Paul Venghaus stepped in and commented, “Originally what I was told, it was 10 dollars for one person and 20 dollars for two of us to pose with the girls.” Junjun Venghaus said, “Yeah, and before I knew it, another one of those girls came over and posed with me, and then I was told that I had to pay 20 dollars for the two girls posing with me, after we already agreed on 10 for one person to pose with one girl. I just wanted one person to pose with me, and I don’t know why another one came over.” Stephen Gilbo looking around noticed the yelling and said, “You also have these people here yelling profanity at you for not giving them money. They shouldn’t call it tipping since they have a set price, yet they have a tipping cup.”
Has the old Times Square returned? You would think so with topless painted ladies that now roam the Square. Maria’s (did not want to give a last name) body is painted, and has been working every sunny day this summer. “I don’t understand why we are being bothered so much by the media, this is the land of the free isn’t it? The police…we understand they have their job to do, and they tell us the guidelines, and we obey them. The people love us – we are their entertainment, and we aren’t harming anyone. The tourists like us here, mind you we aren’t going to make everyone happy. Many want us out.”
Alison a longtime resident from New York, said, “Tourists are asked to pay a fee of at least five dollars, sometimes more. Venders have to be licensed why shouldn’t they, they (costumed characters) have their set prices, the city should license them, and they should be taxed.”