Man dressed as giant rat takes subway mask requirement to new heights
So this giant rat walks into a Midtown subway car — and nobody blinks an eye.
“Buddy the Rat” — AKA performance artist Jonothon Lyons — has been boring seen-it-all subway riders a lot these days as he perches on seats in all his rodent regalia, including a full-face mask and a long pink tail.
But Tiktok loves him.
“Oh NYC is dead? Explain this,” self-described comedy writer Alison Williams posted on Twitter over a Tiktok video of the human rodent boarding a No. 1 at 42nd Street that’s going viral.
Lyons, who wears a suit and nice shoes, plus gloves on his hands as he crawls, has posted about 30 other Tiktok videos, and appeared in a few filmed by passersby, including one where he scampered across a city street.
Lyons works in physical theater and puppetry, including a stint with the Blue Man Group.
He said he created Buddy the Rat about 11 years ago, and posted a video on YouTube of a visit to Times Square that got about 70,000 views.
Lyons brought Buddy out of retirement last month to tape a short film with director Todd Strauss-Schulson, known for “Isn’t It Romantic” and “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas.”
Their short — which Lyons described as, “Lonely rat finds love and dances the night away” — will debut on Lyons’ Vimeo and YouTube channels on Thanksgiving Day.
While they were filming in Washington Square Park, Buddy started getting attention, and some spectators took videos.
A post of them filming has now made Buddy social media famous, and Lyons has started taking the character out on the town just for fun.
Lyons, a native of Arizona who moved to New York in 2005, enjoys the fact that the sight of a man in a rat costume doesn’t phase most people.
“Most New Yorkers are totally indifferent,” he said, though he added that some people do get excited and occasionally scared when Buddy appears.
e joked that the costume makes it easy to practice social distancing.
“I don’t have to worry about people staying 6 feet away from me,” he said, adding that he’s wearing a regular mask underneath Buddy’s face.
The MTA gave an apparent OK to the faux rodent’s face wear, retweeting the video with the comment, “Thank you for wearing a mask.”