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New York cracks down on costumed performers in Times Square

Times Square's heavy pedestrian traffic has attracted dozens of costumed performers Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Times Square's heavy pedestrian traffic has attracted dozens of costumed performers

New York has passed a bill that creates rules for Times Square's costumed performers, after tourists and business interests complained that the characters were becoming a nuisance.

Under the bill, the performers - often dressed as popular characters like Elmo - must work for tips in special areas.

Some performers have been criticised for being overly aggressive and one was arrested for punching a police officer.

They threatened to tarnish the area's newly acquired family-friendly image.

In recent months, topless women called desnudas joined the superheroes and cartoon characters jostling for tips.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The performers often take photographs with tourists for tips
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Topless women in body paint are a recent addition to Times Square

City leaders feared the desnudas in particularly would hold back their efforts to establish Times Square as a top tourist and shopping destination.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the area - filled with strip clubs - had a seedy reputation.

"People should be able to walk through Times Square without being harassed and harangued," Councilman Corey Johnson told the New York Times.

Mayor Bill de Blasio - who had considered removing Times Square's pedestrian areas altogether to combat the problem - is expected to sign the bill into law.

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