Performance artist, Carmelita Tropicana, lives in Manhattan's East Village, by Hamilton Fish Park. After a performance one night, she's mugged by a knife-wielding thief. The next day, in a clash with anti-abortion protesters in front of a woman's health clinic, Carmelita is arrested, along with her lively friend Orchida and her sort-of up-tight and wannabe-wealthy sister, Sophia. They're placed in a cell with another woman, who turns out to be last night's mugger, a down-and-out young woman named Cordelia (Dee). Relationships between each pair of women and among the four of them go through changes as the afternoon passes.