Mayor vows to act against women wearing body paint in Times Square

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Thursday, August 20, 2015
Mayor vows to act against women wearing body paint in Times Square
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NJ Burkett is in Times Square with the latest

NEW YORK -- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday vowed to take action against women who pose nearly naked in body paint for photos in Times Square in exchange for cash.

The practice seems to be on the rise at the major tourist attraction, with many of the women wearing only the paint and a thong. They charge a few dollars to pose for photos with tourists.

"I think it's wrong," de Blasio said. "We are going to look for every appropriate way to regulate all activity that involves either begging or asking people for a contribution for taking a picture. We are going to enforce the law to the fullest with any and all agencies...I don't like the situation in Times Square, and we are going to address in a very aggressive manner."

Police say they can do little to stop it, and some local politicians and newspaper editorials are calling for a ban of the practice.

It is not illegal for women to go topless in New York City, but Times Square has become a major attraction for families, many with young children. And for first-timers it can be a bit of a shock. But Astrid Torres, who speaks only Spanish, said it's fine becauser her breasts are painted.

"A naked woman showing her body painted, I don't see anything wrong with it," she said through a translator. "I consider myself a decent woman. For this, you shouldn't judge me."

And Paola Pena insists it's her right to be there.

"I know they don't like that we are here in Times Square because we are naked, because of the kids," she said. "The truth is, I am not doing anything illegal being here."

Tim Tompkins is president of the Times Square Alliance, and he says the real problem is not nudity, but aggressive panhandling. He says it is no different from cartoon characters who routinely swarm tourists, demanding money.

But others aren't so offended, and many had no problem with their children posing for a picture.

De Blasio didn't specify what action he would take to stop it, but he says that accepting money for posing topless amounts to "a business transaction" that should allow the city some oversight.

"This situation is going to change, this is what I guarantee you," he said. "I'm not going to tolerate it. We are going to change things."

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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