Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 November 2019

'Joker' steps in The Bronx inspire a mass of Instagram photoshoots

The new tourist attraction is not popular with local residents

If you have seen the hit movie Joker, you will have seen the scene when Joaquin Phoenix's troubled character dances down a staircase in the Bronx, New York. The particular movie moment has caused controversy, but it has also sparked a flurry of interest in the neighbourhood.

Film buffs have had to queue before being able to snap photos of themselves recreating the character's pose that appears on the poster of the Todd Phillips-directed blockbuster.

"It looks even better than in the movie," Tasula Ceballos, a young Russian living in Miami, told AFP, slightly disappointed that the crowds meant her photos didn't come out quite as she had hoped.

"I love when directors shoot in real places. Usually they film in studios like Warner Brothers but this is a real place. We can come and we can touch the floor," she added.

Before Joker hit theaters in early October, the 132 steps between Shakespeare Avenue and Anderson Avenue were about as far away from the tourist trail in New York as you could get.

Now visitors are swarming to them from all over the world to upload pictures to Instagram or create hilarious memes to share online.

Where are the 'Joker' steps in The Bronx?

"I've been a huge fan of Batman since I was small and I'm really happy to come here," said French teenager Noa Angenost, who planned to post his photos on Instagram.

In the film, Phoenix dances down the steps – with a backdrop of streetlights and classic New York fire escapes – after transforming himself into the Batman villain.

Many reviewers were outraged, however, that the song he danced to was by convicted paedophile Gary Glitter. The former glam rocker is in a British jail for sexually abusing three girls in the late 1970s.

This is not the first time that a staircase featured in a film has become a tourist draw – the steep, narrow flight of 75 stone steps in Washington's Georgetown neighbourhood seen in The Exorcist have drawn crowds for decades.

In the Bronx, the sudden Joker craze is not appreciated by everyone.

Elliott Raylassi, carrying his white bike on his shoulder, tries to disrupt the photo shoots.

Elliott Raylassi, a local resident since 2001, carries his bike up the staircase in the Bronx, made famous by the movie "Joker," October 23, 2019 in New York. In the Bronx borough of New York, the 132 steps that connect Shakespeare Avenue to Anderson Avenue are usually rather quiet. But tourists from all over the world have flocked to them since they saw Joaquin Phoenix dancing on the steps in the blockbuster "Joker". / AFP / Don Emmert / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Juliette MICHEL, "The Bronx, the "Joker" steps attract fans from all over the world"
Elliott Raylassi, a local resident since 2001, carries his bike up the staircase in the Bronx, made famous by the movie 'Joker'. AFP

"It's my neighbourhood and I have to do what I can to defend it," he told AFP, saying it was a "shock" that his area was suddenly under the microscope.

"The movie came out and within a week, people came to visit one of the worst neighbourhoods in the borough.

"There's a trend in New York City that when a neighbourhoods garners a lot of tourists' attention, it sparks the interest of developers," he added.

Frankie Astacio, who lives on the other side of the street from the steps, welcomes the interest though.

"It's good for the neighbourhoods. It makes it more exciting," he said.

Updated: October 29, 2019 11:37 AM

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