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Naked Cowboy Wrangles an M& M In Times Square

Robert John Burck has filed a trademark-infringement lawsuit against Mars Inc. for using his likeness in an ad.Video by David Segal/The Washington PostEdited by Kelly Martini/

"I want the determination of Caesar the Great, Napoleon, Honda and all the 'greats' together in one monumental man. I want to absorb all the great qualities of kindness, charisma and grace."

Also, he will be "the most celebrated entertainer of all time."

Where does all this intensity come from? Anthony Robbins, is the short answer. A book by the self-help king, called "Unlimited Power," is the long answer. It's all about focus and goals, judging from Burck's summary description. Those were two essential ingredients when Burck dreamed up the Naked Cowboy in 1998, a day after busking, fully clothed, on Venice Beach in California.

"I sucked," he says. "And this photographer who had been shooting me for Playgirl said, 'You should play in your underwear.' "

Soon, Burck was crisscrossing the nation in his new persona. He'd arrive in a city, look in the phone book for all the local TV stations and call in a tip: There's a guy playing guitar in his underwear at such and such place.

"It worked every time," he says.

He has Naked Cowboy-themed saloons in mind, a chain of them. Plus a recording career, which he's already kick-started with an album of frat rock. He pops the CD into the car stereo, cranks up the volume and sings along with himself.

"Best song ever!" he shouts.

The lyrics are a little too racy for this newspaper.

Country music isn't his style, but his performances aren't really about singing, anyway. Mostly, he's flirting with the ladies who gingerly approach for photos.

Mars won't comment about the lawsuit, though it released a brief statement implying it'll pay the guy something. "As a good corporate citizen," the statement read in part, "Mars will handle this matter accordingly." It already pulled the Naked Cowboy-like M&M off the video billboard. But watch the guy coo at the ladies and you figure: If the company melts in his hands, it will hardly be a first.

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