Gee, it's not taking long for Mayor Bill de Blasio's New York City to turn back into The Out-of-Towners.
They've got muggings in Central Park again. They've got squeegee men. They've got the homeless making their homes in Penn Station.
And now, they've got naked ladies in Times Square. Just like in Taxi Driver!
Here's the report on That '70s Show in the Crossroads of the World:
On a crowded pedestrian plaza in Times Square, half a dozen topless women pose for pictures with passers-by. The only thing concealing their breasts is red, white and blue body paint.
They urge men, women and even children to stand with them, first taking a frontal shot, then the backside. In return, they expect a tip….
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he believes the women are engaging in an illegal activity that harkens to the "bad old Times Square." And Mayor Bill de Blasio this week formed a task force to look at how to regulate "aggressive solicitation." He suggested one solution would be simply to do away with the pedestrian area where they gather.
The experience of millions of tourists "has been diminished by the proliferation of topless individuals and costumed characters who too often harass people and expose families to inappropriate acts," the mayor said.
City officials have already brainstormed solutions that include licensing those who troll for tips in furry costumes or pushing them out of the square. But the city and the Times Square Alliance, which regulates activity there, have so far taken only one step: posting notices and handing out flyers informing visitors that tips are not an obligation.
Legal experts say the quandary is whether the activity amounts to a street performance protected by the First Amendment or a form of commercial activity that can be regulated. There's nothing illegal in New York City about going topless (with or without body paint), parading around in a furry costume or even begging for money in most places.
Of course, the elite media, which have been complaining for two decades about the "Disneyfication of Times Square"–Rudy Giuliani's cleaning out the porn and the prostitutes so as to make it a safe place to take your kids to, is drooling over the idea that now you actually don't want to take your kids to Times Square. Here's the Gothamist mocking the shocked hicks from the sticks:
Times Square, once a potpourri of porn shops, peep shows, and prostitution, has long since been Giuliani-fied into a tourist's Disney World, complete with a giant Toys 'R Us and grifting cartoon characters. But Times Square's family-friendly environment is UNDER ATTACK, according to the Post, thanks to a panhandler who's been welcoming newcomers to the area with a sign reading: "F–k You!!! Pay Me!!!!!!! I need money 4 Drugz & Hoez & Weaponz Mother F–kerz!" New Yorkers are nothing if not honest.
The tabloid reports that 36-year-old Daniel Kimery was spotted advertising Taylor Swift's original lyrics near 43rd Street and Broadway yesterday, which is prime tourist fodder, considering its proximity to a Starbucks, the Hard Rock Cafe, and a pedicab tour station. And people were not happy—"The entire situation just wasn’t right. I could tell something was off with that bum in the green shirt from the second I saw him,” tourist Robb Hueston told the Post. Hueston hails from Dallas, a city in which people once carried guns into a Chipotle to prove…something. "I have small children, and my kids don’t need to be reading that kind of offensive garbage," he told the tabloid.
And here's more tut-tutting at the puritans who think there should be such a thing as public decorum in public places:
Enter de Blasio hater, Governor Andrew Cuomo. He, too, is scared of breasts and thinks topless women are a step too far for Times Square, "I believe it is infringing on legitimate businesses. I think it is infringing on the investment that the state and the city made in the 42nd Street area, and I think it has to be stopped," and said it reminded him of the "bad old days." Sure, a handful of semi-naked ladies wearing headdresses is the same thing as junkies and dudes going to Peep-o-Rama, so he had his Empire State Development pass a resolution to specifically rid the area of the women.
And here's one more way de Blasio's New York is becoming ever more like Taxi Driver: Taxis!