New York Daily News
TIT FOR BRAINS
Cops’ shocking pix with topless hustlers
THEY WERE caught posing with booty while on duty.
Two of New York’s dimmest took turns Monday snapping photos with two of the topless painted ladies defiling Times Square. The shirtless shakedown artists work for tips, but the cops offered none in this case.
THERE WERE no tips from this pair of NYPD boobs.
While the brass grapple with a strategy to corral the herd of topless women who critics say shake down Times Square tourists for tips, two beat cops took turns posing for pictures with nearly-naked ladies who had the Stars and Stripes painted across their breasts.
“Maybe we’re celebrities now,” one of the young women, a saucy Aussie who asked not to be identified, giggled. “The police are friendly to us, they really are. I don’t know if they’re friendly to the other girls, I think they are.”
She said they didn’t ask the uniformed cops for cash — or expect any from them.
“They don’t tip us,” she said. “They’re working, too.”
Told that Police Commissioner Bill Bratton was not a fan, she laughed.
“The police love us,” she said. “I don’t care what the police commissioner says, the police love us. They always come over and say hi to us. We don’t cause problems.”
The other topless performer, who lives in Queens, said this was not the first time she had posed with some of the city’s Finest.
“It happens to me repeatedly, with different officers,” she said. “But they’re not here right now.”
The NYPD had no comment on the photos snapped by the Daily News. And while the unidentified officers could be cited for “conduct unbecoming of a police officer,” a source said they’re not prohibited from taking selfies or cell phone photos on the job — as long as they’re not related to police work.
Cops began looking into what could be done about the women in response to complaints from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and other politicians who see them as reminders of the area’s seedy past — and another hassle for tourists and others passing through the Crossroads of the World.
“The plan is to sit down with legal and ask, ‘What are our options?’ ” Deputy Commissioner Stephen Davis said Monday. “What can we do? What can’t we do?
“We have to look at our legal options,” Davis added. “Are they crossing the line? Is it a lewd act? Simply being nude from the waist up is not lewd.”
Davis said they are especially concerned about the “managers” who stash the cash the topless women make by posing for pictures.
State Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. said the ladies who took pictures with the cops are in the clear and “protected by the law.”
“The police cannot arrest them,” said Diaz, a Bronx Democrat. “So I guess they might as well join them, enjoy them, because that’s the way it goes.”
Aggressive panhandling is illegal in the city, while going topless is not.
Meanwhile, the Times Square Alliance, which led the charge to clean up an area that was once blighted with peep shows and jiggle joints, released some of dozens of unsolicited complaints they’ve received about the nearly-nude women.
The group noted there has been an uptick in complaints since The News began exposing the overexposed ladies.
“Just to let you know that we will not be doing our regular visits to Times Square with our grandchild anymore,” wrote a disgusted writer named Regina. “The ‘Painted Ladies’ belong in a men’s club . . . not soliciting in one of our most popular tourist spots.”
Yvonne, a New Yorker from the Netherlands, insisted she was “not a prude.”
“Yet, for the past three times when I have had occasion to cross Times Square I have been appalled at the vulgarity and low-class commercialism in the form of a group of naked bodypainted women,” she wrote.
The Times Square Alliance noted that last year there were just a couple of topless women posing for pics. On recent weekends, there have been organized crews of as many as 40 who appear to report to four or five handlers.
“The women were painted over with stars and stripes and were strolling through the pedestrian area wearing G-strings like this was Times Square in the 70s,” complained a New Yorker named Gina. “The best part was they were right between the recruiting station and police station, with cops all around and no one seemed to blink.”
An organizer with New York Artists United for a Smile, which has worked to organize and advocate for costumed Times Square characters like Elmo and SpiderMan, concedes the relationship between the topless ladies and their managers is the subject of much “speculation and gossip.”
“There is an employment relationship because the guy who represents them speaks for them” at their meetings, said Lucia Gomez. “He’s making money off them.”
The News, in a Monday editorial, suggested banishing the buxom belles by designating all of Times Square as “parkland.” That would make soliciting money on the property illegal — and presumably drive the
“desnudas,” as the ladies are called in Spanish, out of the area.
Father Duffy Square at the north end of Times Square is parkland, making it a no-go zone for panhandlers of any kind.
“It is one solution that might work, but we feel that there are some other options that will provide better long-term results by recognizing the unique hybrid nature of these spaces,” wrote Caitlin Lewis of the Times Square Alliance.
Councilman Andy King (D-Bronx), the sponsor of a bill that would require the costumed Times Square performers and panhandlers to get licenses and have IDs, said he was “skeptical” about turning the 30,000-squarefoot pedestrian plaza into a park.
“If we set that kind of precedent, will that happen across the city whenever someone feels something is being violated?” said King, who is no fan of the topless performers.
Frequent visitors like Texas businessman David McCurrach, 46, said the boob-baring babes who hassle people for money will wind up chasing tourists away. He said he began avoiding Times Square after a pair of the painted ladies accosted him in July.
“Two of them come over and get on either side of me, rubbing up against me,” he said. “I’m saying, ‘I’m on my phone . . . I’m not interested.’ ”
McCurrach said they left red, white and blue body paint all over his suit jacket, which he wound up throwing out.
“The last few years, these characters and the naked women, they’ve gotten super aggressive,” said McCurrach, who travels to NYC on business a couple times a month.
“If you’re saying it’s a family-friendly environment, you need to make it a family environment.”