Times Square's Naked Cowboy and Cowgirl

'I was trying to get famous by any means I could find.'

Robert John Burck, aka the Naked Cowboy, was modeling for Playgirl magazine when he happened upon a simple formula for success: playing the guitar ... in his underwear. At first he performed in the streets of New York for free, just for the attention. After years of running up credit card debt, however, he realized he could make hundreds of dollars in tips a day and the stunt became a full-time gig.

Naked Ambition, a short documentary by Sofian Khan, follows Burck and his female counterpart, Cindy Fox, through a typical day in wintry Times Square. "I didn't know what to expect ... I was like, Oh my god, I can't even believe I'm standing out here in a bikini," Fox says, describing the first time she donned a star-spangled swimsuit and joined Burck's act. "They were so excited about the whole thing," Fox says of the crowd and women in particular, "so ... it kind of made me not have to worry so much about how I was singing or playing!" 

For more work by Sofian Khan, visit https://vimeo.com/capitalk.

Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.

The Blacksmith: A Short Film About Art Forged From Metal

"I'm exploiting the maximum of what you can ask a piece of metal to do."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

An Ingenious 360-Degree Time-Lapse

Watch the world become a cartoonishly small playground

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

Video

The Rise of the Cat Tattoo

How a Brooklyn tattoo artist popularized the "cattoo"

More in Video

Just In