Bad, Icky, Nasty, Creepy Elmo. Parents Beware!
Every so often I’ll get a call from an editor asking me to shoot an assignment that just makes me laugh. Tuesday was one of those days. Fresh off a plane from a two-week shoot in Hawaii, a metro editor at the NY Times rang me asking me to hop into Central Park (always my favorite assignment location) to photograph a “Bad Elmo”. Since I was off the grid from a full day of travel, I hadn’t heard about the recent news of a hate-spewing Elmo who was yelling at people the day prior. I’m talking about the silly people who dress up like characters and pose with tourists for money. Think Times Square or Hollywood Boulevard in LA.
Since I live right on Central Park West, I often get called for last minute assignments in the park, like this one. Apparently the reporter was doing some investigating and found the Bad Elmo in the same spot he was the day prior, posting with tourists and collecting $1 and $5 bills for his talent. Turns out these guys can make a pretty decent living doing this. He said his suit cost $300 off the internet and he can make around $200/day.
As he continued to speak with the reporter the story turned more and more disturbing and I was shocked to hear him be so candid, explaining that he was just let out of a psychiatric ward at the local hospital where he’d been held since the altercation that put him there a day earlier. He went on to give the reporter his background which involved both running and being an actor in a PORNOGRAPHY website based out of Cambodia he created called “Rape Camp”. That’s right parents, the Elmo that is on his knees embracing your children ran and acted in a website called Rape Camp.
So anyway…I just found it amazing how this creepy dude who was candidly talking about his disturbing past to a reporter was continually interrupted by parents so that he could be paid to hold their innocent little children. Hopefully the NY Times article gives you pause next time you see a random person waltzing down the street cloaked in a furry costume.