New York City, NY
By Darren Ornitz
Having lived in New York for eight years, Times Square is nowhere near the top of my list of places to photograph. In fact, it’s probably close to dead last. Just the other day however, I got an assignment to roam the chaotic streets trying to find a feature story. Walking through the revolving doors of the Thomson Reuters building, I wondered where I would even begin. While something exciting could happen at any moment, the chances of running into Elmo getting arrested seemed improbable.
After only a few blocks I found myself wedged between a family trying to take photographs of the apparently fascinating Nasdaq building and a bunch of men screaming at me while waving pamphlets in my face about how much fun I’d have sitting on top of a red bus in the middle of bumper to bumper traffic touring the city.
Among the throngs of people I spotted in the middle of the road was an African American man wearing white briefs, cowboy hat, boots, and a guitar. It was a “Naked Cowboy!” Everyone has heard about the original Naked Cowboy, but I had never seen this particular cowboy before. He was a young guy, rocking out on his guitar in the middle of the road, with a grin on his face and a little swag to his strut. I decided to follow him around a bit. At the very least I could snap a few fun photos of him interacting with tourists, all the while getting a little humorous entertainment.
Stopping to interact with giggly, bashful girls requesting pictures with him, it wasn’t long before he made his way across 7th Ave, turning left down a ramp into a parking garage. Now this could be very interesting, I thought to myself. He must be planning to leave in his car and maybe I could photograph his transition back to normal civilian life.
I was not expecting what I came across next. As he walked through a few cars into a cornered nook of the garage, I noticed two other people behind a dimly lit white Escalade. A man emerged from behind the car, the fluorescent light illuminating the rim of his cowboy hat. It was Robert Burke, the original Naked Cowboy! Next to him was his wife, Patricia Cruz, who he had met on the street and who now performs with him as a Naked Cowgirl.