For most first-time visitors to New York, their first stop is Times Square.
It was no different for me when I landed there for the first time in 2009. Since then it’s stopped being just a place to pass through, to either head uptown or further downtown. It’s a convenient place to hook up with friends, and then progress elsewhere (if you’ll ignore the mass of tourists and locals). In fact, I’ve more reasons to avoid it now, since Toys “R” Us decided to close their flagship store a few years ago, and eventually file for bankruptcy. But that’s another story.
One of the things that caught my eyes then, and continues to fascinate me even now, are the costumed characters and the painted ladies, or desnudas as they’re popularly known as.
I’ve never posed with them. The idea of being fleeced for five dollars or more for a rushed snap did not appeal to me. I’d rather watch from the sides instead. It’s not stopped me from clicking them though. And no, I didn’t have to pay them anything. Some even smile for the camera.
I understand it had become a serious issue a few years back, with talk of banning them from that area. However, I am not sure what came of that, as they were still there on Times Square when I was there last, in 2018.