The Unlikeliest Franchisee

If you’ve been to Times Square in New York, you might have noticed an Old West-style showdown going on. On one side: The Naked Cowboy, aka Robert Burck, who has been a mainstay on the square since he started strumming his guitar in the (near) buff in 1997.

On the other: Sandy Kane, a former stripper and comedian who has been strutting her stuff as the Naked Cowgirl since 2008. Not only is Burck suing her for trademark infringement, he’s also trying to force her to sign a franchise agreement, reports Entrepreneur magazine.

That’s right, walking around in your underwear strumming a guitar is an actual franchise, registered in Tennessee by Naked Cowboy Enterprises.

The terms are fairly simple–a $5,000 per year franchise fee or $500 per month, plus a 20 percent royalty from tips and appearance fees, which start at $1,000. Franchise rights include an exclusive territory and coaching by the cowpoke himself.

Burck has had a handful of franchised clones–but at the moment the Naked Cowboy franchise has one lonesome, legitimate cowgirl: Louisa Holmlund, who strums in Times Square wearing a miniskirt, cowboy hat and pasties.

Entrepreneur asked her what it’s like to run a franchise in the (near) buff. I’m out there six days a week from 3 until 6 p.m., then from 7 or 8 to 11 p.m. I take Mondays off. I stand out there and I sing and play guitar, but it’s not so much about the music, it’s about the pictures. Robert the Cowboy is a showman, but my approach is completely different. I have to make people comfortable. I’m very sweet and nice, not too wild or crazy.

Photo by Entrepreneur.

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