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Meet the Rat Man of New York City

“What I do is performance art. I know the term performance art conjures up very different images in people’s minds than what I do, but it is."

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By Leo Black via SWNS

This street performer has taken NYC by storm after dressing up and leaping around as -a giant rat.

"Buddy the Rat" began to pop-up around New York during lockdown and the videos exploded all over social media instantly making him an iconic part of the City.

Ratman can now be identified as Jonothon Lyons, 40, an off-broadway actor, puppeteer and all-around performer.

Buddy the Rat shot to fame in October 2020, when Jonothon filmed a short art film with his friend Todd Schulson, a director.

He said: “We went out to shoot a short film, and we were in Washington Square Park and all through Soho all night.

“The next day when I woke up my friend sent me a link to Barstool Sports on Instagram, and a video that someone had taken of me was going viral, and another girl had posted something on TikTok, same thing, 3 million views.”

But Jonothon wasn’t content with being blown up online by other people:

He added: “We wrapped up the video in a couple of days, and that’s when I started going out and filming videos for my own platform, and within a week or so, that’s when my account started to grow."

Now Jonothon works full-time as Buddy, and the character has gained him enough success to have sponsors and a full-time videographer.

"It's really hard to fit other jobs around the time commitment," Jonothon said.

"Social media requires you to have the pedal to the metal the whole time.

“My first job out of college was mask theatre … and it’s exactly the work that I do with this rat character, big beautiful paper maché masks, really physical body positions and dynamic movement.

“What I do is performance art. I know the term performance art conjures up very different images in people’s minds than what I do, but it is.”

As a theatre professional and actor, Jonothon was always been a performer, but his rapid rise to fame was accidental, he explained how it felt to rise to prominence so unexpectedly:

Jonothon added: “In 2018 is when I started building the mask I use now … and I said to a friend at the time, if I go out with this I think it might go viral.

“Then when I went out to shoot the movie it was such a big opportunity that it was the last thing on my mind, but it did, without expecting it.”

It was a shocking moment for Jonothon, but it's led him to an amazing place, he explained that he's going to take it internationally.

He's already gone to Turkey, but he plans to take the act on a European tour soon.

"The project is designed to travel the world with," Jonothon said. "So get ready to see the Rat Man in a city near you."

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