Joe Piazza, 77

Times Square

Joe Piazza

Joe Piazza Photograph by Imogen Brown

"These were white leather shoes. I used four bottles of green nail polish and four of red. It's a lot of work because the polish chips. I paint them two or three times a week. I buy a dozen bottles at a time if I find the color I'm looking for."

I hardly know where to start...nice shades. People love them, they go crazy for 'em. It's because of the wipers.

Are you always so festively dressed? Every time I go out. I have a different outfit for each holiday. On the Fourth of July, it's red, white and blue shoes; on Easter Sunday I really look great—or that's what people tell me. Last year they took 2,000 pictures of me at the Easter Parade.

Wow. What's your motivation? All I want is to make people smile. A lot of folks offer me money, but I'm very insulted by that. In New York everything is about money, but I don't want no money. I could use it, don't get me wrong. But you gotta do something with your heart.

Is it mostly tourists who want to take your picture? Tourists, locals, whoever—from little babies to grown men. There have been over 38,000 pictures taken of me, by at least one person from every country in the world.

What's that around your neck? A clock that I made. This one is shaped like a teakettle and covered with Christmas stickers. I've got 82 clocks in my house.

Any affiliation with Flava Flav? No! Shit, I've been doing this since before he was born.

So, a special outfit for every holiday of the year....What do you dress for in, say, June? Father's Day, of course! I have a straw hat and a cane.

Do the getups go over well with the ladies? Oh yeah. I get offers a lot.They want to take me home; they wish their husbands would dress like me—invitations, all the time.

Where are you from? Staten Island. Been there all my life, 77 years—which is long enough!

You're retired, I'm guessing? For 20 years. I used to be a manager with Off Track Betting—used to book horses. But I stopped gambling and I don't drink no more. So I had to do something to keep myself out of trouble. —Kate Lowenstein