Mayor Bill de Blasio Vows to Crack Down on Topless Times Square Performers; Naked Cowboy Safe


Mayor Bill de Blasio is bravely stepping once more unto the breach, this time to combat the latest tabloid-manufactured crisis — boobs with paint on them.

The mayor and a host of other elected officials announced on Thursday that they would form a “task force” — this is not The Onion — to deal with the “problem” of desnudas, performers mostly in Times Square who offer to take photos with tourists for tips, all while clothed in underwear and no tops, their breasts painted with patriotic designs.

See also: New York’s Topless Pioneers — and What They Gave Up for Your Right to Bare Breasts

The initiative seems to have been prompted by a series of recent stories in the Daily News and the Post. The Daily News in particular has been shocked — shocked! — by the display of obscenity. They’re so shocked, in fact, that they’ve plastered images of the partially nude panhandlers on their front page three days in a row this week. (They also offered up an extensive photo gallery of the women, because that’s what journalism requires, and not at all because they’re profiting off the very same thing they’re condemning. Just to be clear.)

After a week of relentless clickbait — er, coverage — de Blasio, who this summer has allowed the city’s tabloids to lead him by the nose on everything from the homeless “crisis” to this newest outrage, dutifully clicked his heels and vowed to act “aggressively” against the desnudas.

Getting rid of them may be a tough one to pull off, though, because the New York State Constitution pretty much unequivocally protects their right to do what they’re doing. So does a lot of case law. And common sense.

Even so, the mayor said the topless performers — and the furry costumed characters that were the focus of the last tabloid-fueled freakout — have become a nuisance. The goal is partly to keep Times Square bland and unobjectionable for out-of-town tourists, de Blasio said in a press release (we’re paraphrasing). He’s also thinking of the New York residents who he thinks go to Times Square, of all places, to experience “the bustling metropolis of New York City.” Those New Yorkers number exactly zero.

“To ensure all are welcome,” de Blasio said, in the press release, “and to continue the great success that is Times Square, the City will aggressively pursue every avenue for regulating these behaviors. This task force will identify the best legal and regulatory ways to move forward and keep Times Square the popular destination site for visitors and families from New York City [sic] and across the world.”

De Blasio has garnered the support of others from both the public and private sectors, like Peter Ward, the president of the New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council.

Ward offered up his own diagnosis, making sure to cite “safety” as a reason for the crackdown, though there is literally no evidence to suggest that boobs with paint on them are going to hurt you.

“Times Square is not only an iconic landmark that attracts tens of millions of tourists from around the globe,” Ward said, “it is also the symbol of the city’s transformation over the past three decades, and as such should be safe and accessible for New Yorkers and our visitors.”

De Blasio created even more alarm when he reportedly floated the idea of closing the pedestrian malls in Times Square altogether. According to the New York Times, at a press conference in Queens, de Blasio said the idea was on the table. “You could argue that those plazas have had some very positive impacts. You could also argue they come with a lot of problems,” de Blasio said.

For his task force, de Blasio has enlisted a crew that would be fit to take on Chapo Guzmán, including NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, the city’s Law Department, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, Eliot Ness, and J. Edgar Hoover. (OK not those last two.)

Just to reiterate, they’re going after some boobs with paint on them.

For the record, the Naked Cowboy was not mentioned in the announcement.