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February 18, 2004

Washington Square Times

Ten members of the Cleftomaniacs a cappella group had a run-in with the cops on Friday, but it wasn't because they were caught stealing. Instead, the female vocalists were ticketed $25 each for performing in the Union Square subway station without a permit. "It is kind of a ridiculous thing to be charged with," said Elissa Kranzler, the group's treasurer and a Steinhardt School of Education sophomore. "You would think they would give us a warning."

The Cleftomaniacs - or "Cleftos," as the all-female group often calls its members - sing at the station about once a week, pulling in $75 to $80 an hour, said the group's musical director, Laura Hartshorn, also a Steinhardt sophomore. And until now, the performances have been incident-free. One time, the NYU vocalists even spotted a police officer listening and dancing to their tunes, she said.

But on Friday, a man was singing religious songs in the group's usual spot, so the women tried out a new stage, Hartshorn said. Unluckily, the new spot was right across from an underground police precinct. Five officers approached the Cleftos in the middle of one of their songs, saying their superior officer had ordered them to issue tickets because the group was singing near his office, Kranzler said. "[The officer] told us that we should all go to court and fight it," she said.

The 10 members of the group who were present - there are 13 members total - will need to pay a collective $250 or stand before a judge on March 12. The women are still debating whether to fight the tickets. "I think they will go to court just to make a point, because it's kind of stupid," Hartshorn said. Cold temperatures aside, the subway is a good alternative to NYU concert spaces, which have become increasingly hard to secure since the Kimmel Center opened and the Violet Cafe closed, Hartshorn said. "It's cool because we get fans outside of the school," she said. They usually attract a ring of people around them, and occasionally they have a returning audience, she said.

Posted by acapnews at February 18, 2004 8:39 AM


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