Naked Ambition in Times Square


The “Disney-fied” Times Square has come under fire recently; scantily clad topless women posing for tips, and  costumed cartoon characters aggressively hustling tourists for a buck are accused of lowering the tone in the pedestrian plaza at the crossroads of the world.

The “desnudas”—Spanish for naked and used because most of the women are Latina—have been sparking a debate of whether or not they’re bringing back the bad old days of Times Square. Possibly the most interesting fact to come out of this lively discussion (and New Yorkers love a lively discussion) is that it has been legal to be topless in the City since 1992.

The blame doesn’t just rest on the, ahem, shoulders, of the desnudas; aggressive pan-handling cartoon characters  like anti-Semitic Elmo, child-shoving Cookie Monster  bad Spider-Men  and groping Woody have been causing trouble since the Bloomberg administration.

Proposed solutions by Governor Cuomo, amongst others, are to revert the pedestrian plaza back to its traffic jam state, or in the words of Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, “dig the whole damn thing up.” Which seems a little like throwing out the baby with the bath water.

As someone who toiled in Times Square for 10 years, the plaza is a god send. Workers can get to work without having to walk in the street to dodge the gawking tourists. Why the Times Square Business Alliance can’t just audition performers and select the entertainment they way the MTA does for the subway system is beyond me. Too easy?

The Circus Maximus has gone too far and probity will reign for a short while before Times Square reverts to its old ways. Like junk food, we could only take one hour of visual overload. Shot with Leica M9 and iPhone 5.

Cartoon characters making ends meet.

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Proselytizing among the hordes and hoping to save souls

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Quiet contemplation among the hordes