The Naked Cowboy
New York, New York
It's rare that any individual human being becomes an essential tourist landmark (the late Chief Henry comes to mind), but The Naked Cowboy (real name: Robert John Burck) has earned his place in any NYC visitor's itinerary with his relentless devotion to self-promotion and his day in, day out dedication to booty shakin' for the masses.
Although he started his buff busker routine back in Venice Beach, California in 1997, he's been a Times Square fixture for a decade. Always up for a light grope from nervous female fans, he's a walking, talking pectoral photo op.
He's not actually naked, of course, and shows up (even in the dead of winter) packed into a pair of tighty-whities, sporting a matching white cowboy hat and boots -- the boots adorned with a carefully-lettered reminder to tip. The words "Naked Cowboy" are painted across his well-toned, brief-clad butt, although he has occasionally replaced this misnomer with a political message.
He's so protective of his image that he's trademarked his name and likeness. He once sued Mars, Inc. after they displayed an animated take-off on his prancing persona; an M&M wearing the easily identifiable skimpy Western Wear get-up was getting down on the M&M Jumbotron a few blocks away. The case was settled in 2008 (the sweet payout remains undisclosed).
Burck also took legal actions against comedienne/stripper Sandy Kane when she had the audacity to call herself "The Naked Cowgirl." If you're thinking of doing the same, why not simply sign up for Burck's franchise agreement: for $5,000 per year? Assuming you pass the "screening process" -- you can become an official Naked Cowperson.
According to his website, The Naked Cowboy also performs wedding ceremonies and reads "no less than 50 books a year."
Now pushing 40, this well-preserved specimen of beefcake continues to remain focused on building worldwide fame, maintaining his physique, making personal appearances, recording country albums (an X-rated one is in the works) and dominating a rather lucrative entertainment niche (he says that he makes about $1,000 in tips on a good day).
He won't be forgotten -- at least not until the moment he stops standing on the corner in his underpants.