ALBANY - Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Wednesday the flashback to the seedy old days of Times Square must end and he will stop topless, painted women from roving among tourists.
"I believe this activity is illegal," Cuomo told NY1. "I believe we can enforce the law and clean it up and we will."
The women in red-white-and-blue body paint have drawn gawkers and media attention nationwide as they have claimed to be performance artists while seeking contributions from New Yorkers and tourists.
Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio say they are interested in an idea promoted by a Daily News editorial that Times Square be designated parkland, which would include a ban on panhandling.
"I was around for the bad old Times Square and this is beginning to remind me of the bad old Times Square," Cuomo said of the era captured in gritty 1970s movies. "It was seedy, there were panhandlers, there were people on the streets soliciting people to go inside peep shows."
Cuomo said the women who appear to be providing a cut of their contributions to men they work with must go because it infringes on established businesses and threatens to undo the taxpayer-paid "Renaissance" of New York City.
"The specific may be somewhat trite, but it's a serious issue," Cuomo said.