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Costumed Characters Hurting Hours After Times Square Rules Kick In

 The city began enforcing the new "designated activity zones" for commercial activity on Tuesday.
Performers, Ticket Sellers Fear Decline in Business as Times Square Rules Kick In
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TIMES SQUARE — Hours after the city’s new designated activity zones went into effect, Times Square’s cadre of costumed characters and ticket sellers said the rules are already taking a toll.

On Tuesday, the city began enforcing eight “designated activity zones” to which commercial activity in Times Square’s pedestrian plazas is restricted following the passage of a bill supported by the Times Square Alliance and other groups.

On Tuesday afternoon, many characters said they were already earning less than they had when they’d been allowed to roam freely through the plazas.

“It’s very hard to get customers,” said Iron Man impersonator Abel Farfan, 41, as he stood between two of the new boxes.

The performer, who has been working in Times Square for two years, said he’d only made $1 in two hours.

A Minnie Mouse impersonator named Rose, who was working alongside Farfan, said she had brought in “nothing” as of midday.

“It’s difficult now because everybody is together — it’s too [many characters],” said the 40-year-old, who declined to give her last name.

Some customers who approached her for a photo as she walked between zones became disinterested when she told them the photo would have to be taken inside one of the boxes, she said.

“People say, ‘Why?’” she said. “The people [don’t] pay for us.”

Making money, The Hulk impersonator Alex Lucero explained, hinges on approaching people and suggesting they pose for photos.

“Out here, in Times Square, we have to look for people — otherwise, nobody is going to take a picture,” the 35-year-old said.

“I think it’s really bad, because we don’t have any space,” he added.

Ticket sellers standing in the boxes, meanwhile, felt they’d been unfairly included in the legislation.

“It’s really upsetting because this is going to destroy livelihoods,” said comedy club ticket seller Dana Fuchs as she stood in one of the boxes in Duffy Square.

“Get rid of the bad apples — don’t lump [in] the people that worked with integrity.”

Some police officers told ticket sellers they would get arrested for speaking to customers outside the boxes, she said.

But a few officers told her that stepping outside the boxes was “fine” as long as cash exchanges took place within them, she added.

“This inconsistency to us is so scary because we have rent due,” she said.

Several Gray Line bus ticket sellers — including a 45-year-old man who gave his name as Victor — said they’d been told by their supervisors to keep inside the boxes.

Others continued seeking potential customers on street corners on Tuesday afternoon, paying no heed to the zones.

“I don’t know,” said a Broadway ticket seller who declined to give her name when asked if she was required to sell tickets inside the boxes. “I couldn’t say.”

Go New York ticket seller Barry Alfusainey, 34, said he felt the city “want[ed] us all to be criminals, selling drugs on the street.”

“We pay a lot of taxes,” he said. “They’re putting us in a cage like this when we’re just doing a legit job.”

Fuchs and a few costumed characters spoke of plans to sue the city, on the grounds that the new law is unconstitutional.

“I’m going to challenge the law,” Batman impersonator Jose Escalona-Martinez, 42, said.

He paid a visit to Times Square without a costume on Tuesday to see how the new rules were playing out.

“It’s not great. Look at this,” he said, pointing to a box where a group of costumed characters were working. “Right now, [the city] is for the rich people, and they don’t care about the poor people.”