Robert Burck is known as the Naked Cowboy. He is usually seen in Times Square and is known for playing his guitar while wearing only briefs and a cowboy hat. He removed his clothing to get people to listen to his music 13 years ago. Burck said the ploy gave him "immediate success." Now, his act is a nationwide brand. He has also become popular with tourists, who pay to pose with him in pictures
Burck sent the Naked Cowgirl a cease-and-desist letter for violating his trademarked image. He has threatened to bring her into court for as much as $150,000.
The Naked Cowgirl's real name is Sandra Brodsky. She is a former stripper, who is now part of the city's comedy scene. She goes by Sandy Kane and wears a red, white and blue bikini with a matching cowboy hat. Brodsky has been appearing in Times Square for the past few years. She also carries a guitar and sings. Like the Naked Cowboy, she also charges people to pose in pictures.
Burck has turned the Naked Cowboy into a franchise. He feels that if Brodsky is going to make money posing for photographs, then she should sign a "Naked Cowboy Franchise Agreement." Most of his franchisees pay $5,000 a year or $500 a month. They must also go through a screening process.
"It's been trademarked since around 2000," Burck said.
Another woman, Lousia Holmlund, who also calls herself the Naked Cowgirl, is a franchisee of Burck. She wears a skirt, a cowboy hat, and little else.
"I think she's saying the naked cowboy is on a cd with her. [She] doesn't have the right to do that," said Holmlund.
Burck's manager said they are willing to work out a special deal with Brodsky. They want her to sign a franchise agreement or to stop calling herself the Naked Cowgirl.
Brodsky, who is in her 50s, says she does not owe Burck anything. She also said that Burck and she used to have a good relationship.
"He thinks I'm stealing his thunder, just wait until I release these double d's," Brodsky said.
Brodsky is consulting an attorney, and is considering changing her name. She says that since she only makes two dollars a picture, she can't afford the fees the naked Cowboy wants to charge.