Photographer Ryan Lahiff reached out to Untapped New York yesterday, sharing photographs he took around New York City on Wednesday capturing the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the city. He read our photo essay on empty New York by Aaron Asis and said, “I probably crossed paths with [Aaron] at some stage as I was out capturing some of the same areas.” Lahiff’s photographs from Wednesday capture the humanity of New York — workers cleaning the transit system, people wearing masks while playing ping pong out in Bryant Park, and more. We’ll be featuring more of his work next week. For now, one particular set of photographs captured our eye: the Naked Cowboy is still at work in Times Square singing, albeit with face mask now.
Lahiff shared a post he sent to friends and family on Facebook where he wrote, “Just remember, when you see the Naked Cowboy wearing a face mask shit is getting real! Lahiff says that when he saw Lahiff’s press badge, he immediately wenet into full song with poses with mask on and off, as “he wanted to make sure people could see his smile.” The Naked Cowboy, whose real name is Robert Burck, is also a staunch Trump supporter. He’s pasted his guitar with Trump 2020 campaign stickers that read “Keep America Great.”
The Cincinnati-born Naked Cowboy also has a history of running for political office: he ran for U.S. President in 2012 under the Tea Party movement and ran against Bloomberg for New York City mayor in 2009. He was challenged by the “Burlesque mayor of New York City” in that race, Jonny Porkpie, who called out the Naked Cowboy for not actually performing naked (the Naked Cowboy wears briefs). At the end of February, The New York Post reported that the Naked Cowboy found it “awesome” that Bloomberg mentioned him in the Democratic Presidential Debate.
How long will the Naked Cowboy be out there? Likely depends if New York City gets a shelter in place order. Lahiff says as of when the photographs were taken, there were “still the usual Elmo’s etc in Times Square, but the Cowboy was the only one doing any business, although mainly with foreign press who were amazed he was still out & about.” Two days ago, the Naked Cowboy posted an Instagram photo where he’s carrying a girl. Yesterday, a video shows him indoors. We’ve reached out to him for comment on his plans.