The Naked Cowboy: Meet Joe Buck

When I first came to New York 11 years ago to pursue modeling, I was homeless. I danced in every go-go bar in town just to make some money. There I was, this conservative straight white boy from Cincinnati, dancing in all these gay bars. I’d try to make friends with different patrons and drag queens who were sympathetic towards me and would let me stay at their place.

Sammy was a regular at The Gaiety when I met him in the late ’90s. He let me stay at his apartment and would always tell me, “You don’t know how to hustle.” He made me watch “Midnight Cowboy” with Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman.


In the 1969 film “Midnight Cowboy,” Joe Buck (Jon Voight) comes to New York City from Texas and tries to earn a living as a male prostitute while caring for his ailing friend Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman).

I must have watched that film a hundred times. Years later, after I became the Naked Cowboy, it never even occurred to me that my life had so much in common with Joe Buck, the main character in the film. People make jokes about it now, but I never thought my life would become so similar to Buck’s.

Robert John Burck, better known as The Naked Cowboy, is an actor, writer, musician and Times Square street performer. He was born in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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