One of the enduring sights in New York City’s Times Square is the Naked Cowboy, who - dressed only in underpants, boots and cowboy hat - charms the tourists that usually throng the area out of a few dollars with a wink and a song.
The street performer - real name Robert Burck - is still putting on a show, despite the coronavirus-related stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions that mean the usually packed streets are far quieter than usual.
Now adding a stars-and-stripes face mask to his outfit, he flexes his biceps for passing cars and plays his guitar that is affixed with stickers for U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign.
His livelihood has been seriously curtailed, he said. Still, he sees this time as a character-building experience, despite the dearth of tip-giving tourists.
“I’ve never missed a day and I feel very fortunate to, just to have my routine, and my rituals,” Burck told Reuters on Friday.
“My message is - get out everyday, do the most you can to keep up your passions and your instincts and the things you want to accomplish,” he said.
“These tough times actually build the character for the upcoming economy booming back and everything else.”
The staunch Trump supporter says there is a benefit to the sparse streets - even more exposure than he already has.
“Basically with so few people, I’m able to capture the attention of every single one of them. So it’s like there’s less people but (it’s great) just to be able to hit every single person and cheer them up and get them honking the horn,” he said.
New York is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, with more than 13,000 deaths in the city alone.
On Friday, state Governor Andrew Cuomo reported that the COVID-19 daily death total for the day before was 289 - the lowest death toll since March 29. Hospitalizations also fell to their lowest level in more than a month.