New York. The Naked Cowboy wants to be the Big Apple’s mayor, promising transparency in politics — while running almost buck naked.
“I know how to do more with less,” said entertainer Robert Burck, clad as usual in a pair of white briefs, boots and a cowboy hat, as he announced his bid on Wednesday in Times Square.
On most days, the 38-year-old ordained minister collects tourists’ tips while posing for photos with “Naked Cowboy” emblazoned across his underwear, cracking jokes and making up funny songs on the guitar strapped across his bare chest.
He’s running as a write-in candidate against Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a buttoned-down billionaire vying for his third term.
Burck insists he does not need clothes to campaign.
“You’re not going to be seeing me buying a whole new suit because I’m running for mayor — not on the city’s dime,” he said.
Besides, he said, “Being naked is a whole lot more than having no clothes on: It’s about transparency in politics, it’s about telling the naked truth.”
Last year, the Naked Cowboy called Bloomberg “an excellent choice” for mayor. Now, Burck says that he, himself, would be the better candidate.
“I go out into the public every day and deal with every type of person in the world — black, white, brown, plaid,” Burck said.
For the past decade, he has earned as much as $1,000 a day working the square from about 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and donating some earnings to charity.
Burck has a political science degree from the University of Cincinnati. He has also written several self-published motivational books and cut a country music album.
On Wednesday, he reeled off his promises as mayor, including $10,000 loans to 1,000 small businesses at no interest, energy efficiency (he does not use air-conditioning) and taxi call buttons on street corners.
He also wants to build a Times Square chapel, marrying both straight and gay couples there in a “billion-dollar wedding business that will rival Las Vegas.”
As for campaign funds, the frugal candidate said: “I have no expenses. I own 40 pairs of underwear, a car and a suitcase.”
Then he took a quick poke at his wealthy opponent: “He’s got billions and what does he buy with it? Publicity.”
In Times Square, plastered with neon publicity, Burck was a traffic-stopper.
Tourists atop double-decker buses cheered him and a bike messenger howled his support.
“He really talks to people,” said Lew Blevins, who runs a nearby band equipment shop. “He’s an energetic person who really cares about New York City — it’s heartfelt.”