Non-Consensual Touching in Times Square


According to the Times Square 2019 Attitude Survey, nearly 1 in 2 New Yorkers say they have personally had an unpleasant interaction with a costumed character and/or solicitor in Times Square within the past year. 22% of New Yorkers said that costumed character/solicitor made unwanted physical contact with them or members of their group, and over half (57%) of NYC residents said that the best way to improve Times Square is through better regulation of characters.

Survey respondents described their interactions with costumed characters in disturbing terms:

“Elmo character tried to touch my breast during photo op then became very agitated and hostile because I did not offer him money right away.” - Joni , 68

“Costumed character forcefully grabbed my child’s hand to take a picture, and then demanded the ‘tip.’ Another costumed person suddenly appeared and quickly took another picture so I felt forced to give them another ‘tip.’” - Anonymous woman, the Bronx

“I am a wheelchair user, and a [comedy club hawker] attempted to sit on my lap . He thought he was being funny. I wasn’t in the mood.” - Christina, 34, Manhattan

“Costumed characters were NOT in the zone where they should be, and many of them come to my minor age daughter try to stop her for photos. She ignores but then, some tries to grab her, or tap her shoulder, and these unwanted unnecessary body touching against minor is really unacceptable” - Nami, 36, the Bronx

“I kept saying ‘we DON’T want a photo’ ‘DO NOT TOUCH MY SON ,’ but it didn’t do anything.” - Denise, 42

“A solicitor grabbed me and pushed his body against mine when I said I wasn’t interested” - Linda, 61, Tri-state area