Don’t be fooled by their seemingly patriotic costumes. In fact, if you look closely, you’ll notice those aren’t costumes at all — they’re body paint. And the words emanating from their mouths are not the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner” or “America the Beautiful.” They’re four-letters words, and if you fail to comply with their demand for a “tip,” they turn even uglier.
They call themselves desnudas — Spanish for “naked” — and they have been shaking down visitors to the Crossroads of the World for several summers now, offering to pose with hapless tourists for a souvenir photograph. And all of this — the public nudity, the harassment, the flouting of the law — plays out in plain view of uniformed police officers, who have been ordered to stand down.
The only concession he has made to those who view this as the problem it is was to cordon off sections of the Square as “Designated Activities Zones (DAZs)” for street performers last year.
But according to the New York Post, “on two recent afternoons, only half of the two-dozen tip-mooching characters stayed behind the … DAZs.”
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