Warning: A Letter from the Chief of Police to the Residents of the Hamptons

Elmo and Cookie Monster in New York City.
Elmo and Cookie Monster in New York City. Eldad Carin/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock

To the citizens of the Hamptons:

As you may know, the new mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, has announced a crackdown on the people who dress up as superheroes or cartoon characters in Times Square to panhandle the tourists. Elmos demand cash for having their pictures taken. A Little Bo Peep will dance for money. But it has gotten out of hand. A Spider-Man, for example, was arrested three weeks ago for fighting with the police in response to a complaint. A Cookie Monster was arrested and later convicted of harassment for reportedly groping a woman. Other impersonators, dressing up as the Statue of Liberty, as President Obama, as Minnie Mouse or Donald Duck, will politely allow a tourist to take their picture with, for example, the tourist’s daughter, but afterwards will demand that they be paid.

The mayor believes this behavior is not good for the City of New York. His police are making arrests. Separating the wheat from the chaff. And, at the present time, his City Council is considering regulations that would include licensing those who wish to impersonate in Times Square.

Alarmingly, here in the Hamptons, Mayor Priestly has informed me that some of these costumed impersonators, apparently as a result of being driven out of Times Square, are increasingly appearing on the Main Streets of the Hamptons dressed up not as cartoon characters or superheroes, but as celebrities. One such impersonator was found on Jobs Lane in Southampton, dressed as Bill Clinton, asking if visitors might wish to have their picture taken with him. He seemed at first to be offering this for free, but then afterwards, with his hand out, he demanded cash. Another, in Montauk, dressed as Mick Jagger, was seen doing the same thing on East Lake Drive in front of the Crabby Cowboy Café. Still another celebrity fake, J.Lo, with several photographers who pretended to be paparazzi taking pictures of her, was looking for victims in front of the Beach Bakery in Westhampton Beach.

Mayor Priestly has asked me to issue an alert to all local residents, summer people and tourists who might read this to call 911 if you see someone impersonating a celebrity in the Hamptons. I also want to urge you to not take matters into your own hands. Do not grab the hair of the rubber mask of someone impersonating Howard Stern, for example, and try to pull it off.

Unlike in Manhattan, where there are no superheroes or cartoon characters actually there, there are real celebrities going about their business here in the Hamptons. Christie Brinkley is sometimes seen at the Candy Kitchen in Bridgehampton. Sarah Jessica Parker might be found buying fish at Stuart’s Seafood Market. Mel Brooks might be pumping his own gas at the Hess Station on County Road 39. Billy Joel might be out on the beach in Sagaponack, surfcasting.

The trouble is that sometimes it can be very hard to tell the real thing from the impersonators. Look for telltale signs. Bill Clinton, for example, is six foot two. If you see a Bill Clinton who is five foot seven, you can assume that this is not the real Bill Clinton. Madonna is a horsewoman and is sometimes seen riding at one of the local stables. So if you see a Madonna hanging onto a horse’s mane for dear life as he roars off at a full gallop, that is not Madonna. Steven Spielberg speaks in a clear baritone. If you hear him speaking in a high squeaky voice with a foreign accent, that is not Steven Spielberg.

In particular, do not be fooled by zippers in the back. Many celebrities, particularly women, wear clothing with a zipper in the back. For example, Beyoncé has been seen out here wearing a dress with a zipper in the back. So if you try to “unzip” a perpetrator, you might be unzipping the real thing. This could get you in serious, serious trouble—even more trouble than if you were an impersonator.

Our local celebrities are entitled to be left alone as they go about their business in the Hamptons. Many are here to relax and enjoy the beaches and fishing villages, shop in the stores or play tennis or golf at our fine golf courses. They do not deserve to be “unmasked” in any way, of course. And we certainly do not want that to happen. Michael J. Fox, for example, might decide next summer to take his entourage to the Jersey Shore.

I have sent members of our police force to Times Square in Manhattan for a day to observe the impersonators at work there. They are now well trained to tell the difference between an impersonator and the real thing. And they will act upon what they have learned.

Impersonators will be bundled into the back of police cars and driven out of town. The real celebrities will be given a knowing smile, a wink and a little bow to urge them to continue to go about their business.

Again, if you believe you are looking at an impersonator, call 911. Do not take matters into your own hands.

Chief Brody
Hamptons Police Force

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