Terry "Coyote" Murphy, 45
Broadway between 10th and 11th Sts
Thu Nov 8 2007
"I braid my hair every day. It takes me about 15 minutes because I try to get it so each strand is exactly the same size. I wouldn't want it to look off-center."
Photograph: Jay Muhlin
Coyote, huh? Why? Years ago, I rescued a coyote out in the woods upstate. He was stuck, and my wife and I freed him.
That sounds very rugged. So when you're not saving wild animals, you parade around New York without a shirt? [Laughs] I often do. Especially when there's a winter heat wave. It looks kind of unusual, but I like being in the limelight.
Are you Native American? Yes, but I'm not full-blooded, and I grew up in a middle-class household in Florida. I'm half Cherokee and half Irish.
But you cultivate the look. Definitely. And I keep in touch with the land.
Do people comment on your appearance? Quite a few. I'll be walking around in the city and hear, "Tonto!" I take it with a grain of salt. I can see where they're coming from—they got their image from a movie or something, and it's the first thing that comes to mind.
So what do you do? I work part-time as a park ranger in upstate New York. And I'm not a professionally trained actor, but I was in a short film called "Native New Yorker" that won Best Documentary Short at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Oh, yeah? What's the film like? We went around the city, from Inwood Hill Park, where the island was traded for beads in the 1600s, all the way down to the Staten Island Ferry. It's basically me, often with my shirt off, walking through different historic neighborhoods in Manhattan.... Coming out of the subway at Wall Street with my shirt off...walking around Grand Central with my shirt off...
So it's a movie about New York...and your abs. [Laughs] Yeah, kind of.--Kate Lowenstein