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Now at TKTS in Times Square, It's Monsterpiece Theatre!
April 29, 2013 11:05 AM   Subscribe

"On an average afternoon in the area around 44th and Broadway in Midtown Manhattan, you’ll find a motley crew of Chewbaccas, Buzz Lightyears, and Minnie Mouses — along with the usual Naked Cowboy and face-painted Statues of Liberty—posing for tourists’ pictures and demanding cash in return." Condé Nast Traveler editor Eimear Lynch spent a couple of days dressed up as Cookie Monster to see what it was like. Video.

This is part of feature for May on Condé Nast Traveler's website called "In Their Shoes: Undercover Travel Industry Job Reports." "They clean our rooms, serve us drinks, and sell us tours, yet most of us know nothing about them. Condé Nast Traveler editors work the jobs of the people who make our travels possible (or at least enjoyable) to learn what it really takes to keep us happy."
posted by zarq (28 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Man, those 'character' guys starting showing up in Hollywood a few years ago (whenever they built the mall on Hollywood and Highland), and now they are in NY as well? I used to complain that they did to Hollywood Blvd what they did to Time Square (Disney-fy), but I guess the opposite is happening as well.
posted by sideshow at 11:09 AM on April 29, 2013


I often wonder how much the naked cowboy makes. At this point you can't even mention Times Square without mentioning him, this article is just one example. He has become a legit tourist attraction himself.

I like to think in like 40 years he will be some strange cultural artifact that few people believe ever existed. I'll be telling stories to my grandkids, "And there was a naked cowboy, which was the style at the time. And nobody ate bugs because we thought it was gross" and they won't believe me at all. But I'll know, I'll know.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:16 AM on April 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


While the half dozen other Cookie Monsters in the area wore tatty-looking costumes, I was in a top-quality fur-and-foam number with padding that created an attention-grabbing pear shape.

Wow, she Does Not Get It. There's a reason those costumes are so tattered and uninspired.

I do believe in the benefits of street-art and busking. I believe the indigent should be able to collect alms on the street. But these guys...

They're pan-handlers who specialize in targeting children. This is not a good thing.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:19 AM on April 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


They clean our rooms, serve us drinks, and sell us tours, yet most of us know nothing about them. Condé Nast Traveler editors work the jobs of the people who make our travels possible (or at least enjoyable) to learn what it really takes to keep us happy.

Costumed beggars do not fit that description. ProTip: The guy that tries to wash my windshield at the traffic light is also not working a job that makes my travel possible or enjoyable. Also pickpockets. You can skip that profile, too.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:20 AM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I saw Mickey Mouse with his head off on the stairs at the N/R part of the Times Square stop the other day. It was frightening.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:21 AM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


His hair was perfect.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:21 AM on April 29, 2013 [15 favorites]


Ad hominem: " I like to think in like 40 years he will be some strange cultural artifact that few people believe ever existed. I'll be telling stories to my grandkids, "And there was a naked cowboy, which was the style at the time. And nobody ate bugs because we thought it was gross" and they won't believe me at all. But I'll know, I'll know."

According to his website (No, I'm not linking.) The Reverend Naked Cowboy is available to marry couples in Times Square for $499. Now there would be a story for the grandkids.
posted by zarq at 11:28 AM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


According to his website (No, I'm not linking.) The Reverend Naked Cowboy is available to marry couples in Times Square for $499. Now there would be a story for the grandkids.

wow, I've just started planning the perfect early 21st century wedding. A flashmob wedding in Times Square presided over by The Naked Cowboy. No save the date, no destination bullshit, just a txt and a tweet "Getting married in 20 minutes near the army recruiter in times square". Everyone can just stream pics and video to flickr, facebook, or wherever with their iPhones and liveblog for those that can't make it. Maybe I'll get more creative and get an ARG going, or write an app.

Just need to find someone who doesn't mind having the modern equivalent of swallowing goldfish or cramming people into a phonebooth for a wedding story.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:45 AM on April 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh, how I long for the Good Ol' Days, when ordained Elvis Impersonators ruled the earth...
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:45 AM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


And the guy on the drums with the plastic hair. Seriously. He was in Taxi Driver. Ah here he is.
posted by Splunge at 11:59 AM on April 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.
- Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night

"Ever since putting on the costume, I have felt strange urges. New, overpowering desires. I've blacked out and woken up in the middle of a grocery store, surrounded by empty Chips Ahoy and Oreo wrappers and a circle of aghast onlookers. What am I becoming?"
posted by JHarris at 12:00 PM on April 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Crumbs of the Cookie Monster II: The Becookening
posted by JHarris at 12:03 PM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I did the Broadway Walk up from Bowling Green to Inwood yesterday. I hadn't been in Times Square since it was fully pedestrianized. I guess that was a good idea, but man that place is even worse than it used to be, and it was never good. It'd be hell even without the tourists, but as is it's the Museum of Living Pop-Up Ads.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:34 PM on April 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is there anyone (over the age of...6?) who does not find those guys just incredibly depressing?
posted by JoanArkham at 12:51 PM on April 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Top Google hit for Times Square live cam, and hey, is that Nude Cowboy Guy front & center? (he's gone now)
posted by achrise at 12:51 PM on April 29, 2013


Previously on MetaFilter: Anti-Semitic Elmo (NY Times link)
posted by exogenous at 12:52 PM on April 29, 2013


There's a (really quite depressing) documentary about the lives of some of the characters who dress up on Hollywood Blvd. called "Diary of a Superhero." Definitely worth a watch, but pretty pathetic stories.
posted by ShutterBun at 1:01 PM on April 29, 2013


From the article: He wouldn’t confirm that they were undocumented immigrants, but their broken English suggested as much.

What the what?
posted by Jahaza at 1:02 PM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was walking a block or two through Times Square last month, rushing to get to theatre because that's pretty much the only reason to be there (Guy Fieri meetups aside), and a creepy dingy Elmo started following me. It was a pretty frightening experience.
posted by zachlipton at 1:42 PM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


zachlipton: "a creepy dingy Elmo started following me. It was a pretty frightening experience."

You better not read this, then.
posted by gertzedek at 1:53 PM on April 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've been spending time in NY for the first time in many years, and spent an hour last weekend or so getting Macbeth tix (aside: excellent) at TKTS.

I can't say I pine for the skeevy Times Square of the late 70s and early 80s (my first exposure to it as a teen), but it's sure one freaky and soulless pixellated corporate dizznyland now. I was glad the line moved relatively quickly. I'm happy to say we had no Elmo encounters, only perky-voiced aspiring actors over-enthusiastically handing out fliers for the lesser-known plays. That I can handle, barely.
posted by aught at 2:16 PM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I saw Mickey Mouse with his head off on the stairs at the N/R part of the Times Square stop the other day. It was frightening.

And no picture? Tease.
posted by aught at 2:18 PM on April 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you go to EarthCam's website, and watch Times Square's Crowd Cam you can see all the 'characters'.
Nothing like seeing Hello Kitty holding another Hello Kitty's head so the other can take a bathroom break? Go smoke a cigarette? Get a hot-dog?
Like that wasn't alarming or anything....
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 2:26 PM on April 29, 2013


aught: "I've been spending time in NY for the first time in many years, and spent an hour last weekend or so getting Macbeth tix (aside: excellent) at TKTS.

I can't say I pine for the skeevy Times Square of the late 70s and early 80s
"

I would trade the last ten years of my life for the ten tears from 1976 to 1985 in the old Times Square.
posted by Splunge at 2:27 PM on April 29, 2013


Condé Nast: paying rich kids to pretend to be poor kids and write about themselves doing it for rich people who have insulated themselves from poor people and have no real interest in reading stories about poor people that are not couched in a style that can make them feel as if they are reading the words of their own daughter who opted to study English in college and isn't it just great that she got a job writing about those other English Majors in the Monkey Suits and hopefully she'll meet a fine rich boy in that elevator and we'll have a great wedding to look forward to in the Hamptons. sigh.
posted by astrobiophysican at 4:21 PM on April 29, 2013


Shutterbun is referring to Confessions of a Superhero which was really great (and sad.)
posted by vespabelle at 4:35 PM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Times Square was exciting when it was the only place to see giant illuminated ads, but that was nearly 100 years ago, and I've never been able to figure out why I would still be excited to go there. I walked around there with friends when they would visit, and remain confused.
posted by emjaybee at 6:26 PM on April 29, 2013


Ah, thanks for the correction, vespabelle.
posted by ShutterBun at 2:50 AM on April 30, 2013


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