NEW YORK – The painted nude panhandlers in Times Square are flipping the finger at Mayor de Blasio and the hands of NYPD are tied.
The “desnudas”—Spanish word for naked—as they are called are harassing tourists in the popular venue. Yet according to police, they can’t arrest them “because most of them are illegal immigrants.”
So the “desnudas” have become empowered and turned into “des-Rude-as,” as Fox News described them.
The lewd and rude “desnudas” are part of a Times Square assembly of popular costumed children’s characters and mostly-naked females hitting tourists up for money in the uber-popular New York City district.
A law enforcement source told The New York Post that past proposals to license the often obnoxious street performers went nowhere because most of them are illegal immigrants and wouldn’t register anyway. Plus, City Hall, under Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio, isn’t interested in going after illegals such as the desnudas, the source told The Post.
So with little police enforcement, squads of Minnie Mouses, Incredible Hulks and painted women continue to pester passersby.
Costumed characters in Times Square are giving the finger to attempts to rein them in, both literally and figuratively. They are refusing to stay in designated areas and continuing to curse in front of children. Moreover, they threaten people strolling in the area for cash.
Foul-mouthed desnudas, grabby Hulks and tourist-terrorizing gangs of Minnie Mice are still brazenly holding the Crossroads of the World hostage even amid a heavy presence of NYPD cops, who have taken a “stand-down” approach to them.
At any given moment on two recent afternoons, only half of the two-dozen tip-mooching characters stayed behind the blue lines of Times Square’s “Designated Activity Zones,” or DAZs, the city-mandated areas created last year as their boundary for posing for photos and asking for tips.
Yet none of those who illegally strayed outside the zones were issued a summons by police officers patrolling the pedestrian plaza.
A law-enforcement source shrugged that the officers’ hands were tied since most of the costumed panhandlers are illegal — and under the de Blasio administration, it’s a no-no to go after them.
Mayor de Blasio signed the bill that created the DAZs.
The most shameless of the costumed pack repeatedly left the DAZs to grab, mob and berate tourists — “Take a photo lady! Mami!” shouted a trio of overly-aggressive Minnie Mice — in their frantic pursuit of cash.
“I told you, if you don’t have a tip, then f— off!” one star-spangled desnuda, a painted nude hustler, snarled to a Post reporter, displaying just the sort of greed that detractors say is ruining Times Square’s happy, family vibe.
Times Square Alliance President Tim Tompkins told The Post during a recent walk through the crowded pedestrian plaza, “Watch — the Hulk always goes and touches people.”
At that moment in time, the superhero was well outside the DAZ at 47th Street and Broadway, getting tourists’ attention by running up to them and putting his bulky green arm around their shoulders.
“The Hulk drives me crazy,” Tompkins said.
A short distance away, at 46th Street and Seventh Avenue, a trio of polka-dotted Minnie Mice were hustling the crowd together.
The first Minnie would crash a tourist’s selfie or run up to a child, arms outstretched. Once the first Minnie was in the picture, the others would rush in.
“Suddenly, there’s three Minnies in your picture,” Tomkins said. “And a Batman, and a Spider-Man. And they all want cash. . . . they’re all outside the zone.
“It’s a total f—ing scam, and it happens thousands of times a week,” he said, clearly frustrated.
“It’s those same three f—ing Minnie Mouses.”
Times Square Alliance staffers recently made a some observations that prove the street performers have no intention of complying with de Blasio’s DAZs.
According to the organization, they witnessed 418 character-initiated encounters between 45th and 47th streets from 4 to 9 p.m. Of those interactive adventures, 67 percent occurred outside a DAZ, they said.
The characters walked away with tips in fewer than half — 43 percent — of the interactions.
Yet most astonishingly, nearly every interaction, 88 percent, involved the character touching the member of the public.
“They are very aggressive,” Tashay Carter, 30, from Birmingham, Ala., complained.
“I just encountered that with Cookie Monster. I didn’t want to get a photo, and he or she or whoever it was, they were very aggressive with me.”
One of the few characters that tows the line is a panhandler dressed as Donald Trump. But The New York Post reported it odd that he’s shunning publicity.
“I don’t wanna say anything,” he told a reporter.
Robert John Burck, known as the Naked Cowboy, also was among the most law-abiding.
“You can make it work if ya try!” he said of the DAZs with a chirpy twang.
A petite Asian woman who works in the plaza experienced an assaultive attack by one of the characters. She had been taking a photo at 47th Street and Broadway when a Cookie Monster attacked her. Incorrectly assuming she was a tourist, the fuzzy blue character ran over and locked her into a tight one-arm embrace, all the while shouting “Arigato! Arigato!” — Japanese for thank you.
“It took multiple times saying, ‘No. Don’t touch me!’ ” before Cookie let go, said the woman, who asked her name not be used.
“Within a minute, a Minnie Mouse, before I even saw her, had her hand on the back of my neck, saying, “Picture! Picture!”
The woman said she again had to shout repeatedly, “Don’t touch me!” before the panhandler let go.
A summons carries a fine up to $500. Yet they are few and far between. In the first 12 months since the zones were established, cops issued 220 summonses. This averages well below one per day, despite the flagrant flouting of the rules.
Part of the problem is the panhandlers can be elusive. When they see police on the way, “they dart back into their DAZs,” Tompkins said.
Furthermore, the reality is that Times Square is a prime terror target. As a result, herding desnudas, Elmos and Minnies isn’t exactly the highest priority, the source noted.
Asked about the issue, City Hall referred The Post to the NYPD. Police spokesman Peter Donald responded in an e-mail that “the enforcement data tells a different story. There have been a number of arrests and hundreds of summons issued to costume characters over the past year in Times Square.”
(Photo: Screenshot New York Post video)