Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to ban the women from Times Square. The women pose for photos with tourists in exchange for cash and often wear only body paint and a thong.
NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is promising to take action against women who pose nearly naked for photos in Times Square in exchange for cash, while the women contend they are simply bringing smiles to tourists.
The practice seems to be on the rise at the city’s major tourist attraction. Many of the women wear only body paint and a thong. They charge a few dollars to pose for photos with tourists.
Police say they can do little to stop it, and some local politicians and newspaper editorials are calling for a ban of the practice.
The topless women – known as desnudas – say what they work up to 12 daily making around $300 a day.
“I don’t see anything wrong with this job because truthfully I am not doing anything illegal. I am doing something many people like,” Pamela Peña, 23, told Fox News Latino.
The desnudas began receiving national attention – and criticism – after the New York Times highlighted them in an article last week. Since then, the tabloids have had a field day as even NYPD cops stop and pose with the mostly Latina women.
“When I paint myself, people surround me, I bring smiles to people’s faces,” Peña, who is from Venezuela, said. “When Times Square is packed, the people feel joyful, happy, the people laugh because they see us painted.”
De Blasio said Tuesday during an unrelated press conference at City Hall that he believes the practice is "wrong" and that a change can be expected “quite soon”
He didn't specify what action he would take to stop it but says that accepting money for posing topless amounts to "a business transaction" that should allow the city some oversight.
“If there’s a business transaction going on—let’s face it, the women in Times Square, or the furry creatures in Times Square are engaged in a business. We believe that opens the door for us to enforce the way we would with any other business. And we will do so while still respecting Constitutional rights,” de Blasio said according to the New York Observer.
De Blasio pledged to take a stand. “I’m not going to tolerate it, we’re going to change things.”
De Blasio, however, does recognize the nude women do have rights.
“Our current laws do make it harder to enforce in the way we might like to. There is a First Amendment protection for begging,” De Blasio said. “There is a First Amendment protection for painting yourself and displaying yourself in a certain fashion. It makes no sense, but I understand that is a First Amendment protection.”
Peña said she doesn't understand what all the fuss is all about. She understands that some mothers are concerned when they walk through Times Square with their children. But, she added, the solution is simple.
“Don’t let their children take photos with us,” she said “We aren’t looking for them, they find us.”
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