Five years after a video of a New York City rat carrying a slice of pizza on subway stairs went viral, performance artist Jonothon Lyons also known as ‘Buddy the Rat’ startled many and raised a few eyebrows by re-enacting the ‘Pizza Rat’ in full-body costume.
At the time, the iconic video became a big piece of popular culture in New York as it combined the city’s love for Pizza, a heritage that has been nurtured by the city’s long-established Italian American community, and the commonly-sighted presence of rats.
The popular comic and cartoon series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles builds on this narrative, in which New York-based anthropomorphic mutant ninja turtles with a deep love of pizza and martial arts are trained in Ninjutsu by their sensei, Splinter, a rat figure, in their quest against evil villains.
On Thursday, ‘Buddy the Rat’ was on the move again as Lyons donned his large pink tail and rat face mask to crip up on unsuspecting New Yorkers on streets, parks and his usual habitat the underground platforms.
When asked about his plans for where he’d like to take his one-man rat show next, Lyons hinted at the subways in Europe but his belief that people are the same anywhere has served as motivation to potentially take the performance further: “My dream is to travel the world, doing this in every country I could possibly come to because I have a feeling people are the same pretty much anywhere, you know, and they would respond the same to this kind of a character.
It’s a very New York thing and we talk about… you see the videos and that’s how New Yorkers respond. I can’t wait to see how, you know, people would respond in Barcelona, or in Berlin or Paris. Like, I would love to really go, go and do it everywhere.” Lyons also commented: “If you live in New York you’ll understand that even what I’m doing is not the weirdest thing happening on the street” (ruptly.tv)