NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Four so-called “desnudas,” women who wear little more than body paint, were arrested Thursday in Times Square, accused of taking advantage of tourists.
As CBS2’s Jessica Layton reported, the women were held inside the Midtown South precinct for hours. They are accused of aggressively going after tips from tourists and in some cases, even stealing from them.
Of all the sights to see in Times Square, the performers were not part of the scenery the Sanchez family was expecting to see on their first trip to New York.
“Seeing half dressed women like that – or almost naked – I don’t think it’s appropriate for the kids,” Jennifer Sanchez told Layton.
While some consider it unsavory, or at least unexpected next to Spider-Man, the painted, topless women taking pictures inside the designated activity zones are not illegal.
“The pictures we’re taking — it’s a postcard picture,” entertainer Angel Bunting said.
But as Bunting and friends were smiling for the camera, four of their colleagues were getting mugshots taken down at the police precinct. The so-called “desnudas” arrested Thursday afternoon face numerous charges, including grand larceny.
Police said in one case, money was actually stolen from a person who posed for a picture.
Officials implemented a series of zones in Times Square in which the desnudas and costumed characters could ask for tips in exchange for photos.
“They were like really pulling on the kids, just to get a picture. And you know, of course they stand there and then all come over and kind of attack you,” Jacqueline Sanchez said.
Bunting said those who harass should get in trouble. But she doesn’t want to be painted with the same brush as the women arrested.
“What these girls do gives us a bad name,” she said. “It’s not fair, not fair to any of us.”
The arrests were part of an organized crackdown by the NYPD.
At the time, Tim Tompkins of the Times Square Alliance called on the NYPD to identify the costumed characters who were more aggressive and help them learn what is – and isn’t – appropriate.