The fate of the topless women in Times Square, who have titillated tourists and outraged editorial boards on their way to becoming tabloid sensations, became clearer Thursday as a City Hall task force recommended that they be restricted to one portion of the famous intersection.
The women, known as desnudas, often wear just body paint, a thong and a flirtatious smile as they ask for money to pose with passersby. As their numbers grew over the summer, the city’s tabloids took note and splashed the women on the front page even as they called for their removal.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, though careful to note that the women had a legal right to be there, vowed to better regulate the painted ladies and commissioned a task force to propose recommendations. Those guidelines, released Thursday, will be debated and are expected to be passed into law by the City Council.
“Our task force has created recommendations that will ensure Times Square is a great experience for the millions of New Yorkers, families and tourists that make it such a popular destination,” de Blasio said in a statement.
The thrust of the plan is to restrict the women and panhandlers to certain areas of the so-called “Crossroads of the World.” Also, a dedicated police presence will be established for the area, staffed with officers who know the areas and its characters.
Also, weeks after de Blasio triggered outrage by suggesting that he would be open to the idea of tearing up the square’s popular pedestrian plazas, the task force recommended that the plazas stay and be completed.
Dana Fuchs, a ticket seller for a comedy club, said Thursday she doesn’t like how the city is handling all the activity in Times Square.
“Because they have an issue with them (desnudas and panhandlers), we get dragged into it,” said Fuchs, who described herself as an actor and independent contractor from Long Island who says she works in Times Square six days a week, eight to nine hours a day.
“If they put us all in one area, there’s going to be arguments and fights,” she said. “Deal with them one on one, don’t lump us in with them.”