Showin' Some Skin: Say Hello to the 2016 NYC Taxi Driver Calendar's Mr. July

We all know that New York City is full of some of the most interesting and diverse people in the world.

How can we not? Everywhere we turn, the city is teeming with life. On the subways, on the streets, even within our apartment buildings, people from all walks of life are existing together, usually in quarters closer than we'd prefer.

But it's this proximity to diversity that makes New York what it is, right?

Well, filmmaker Rolf Leer is on a mission to take it one step further.

Rolf, originally from Norway, has come to NYC to explore the lives of New Yorkers and get to know them on a deeper level - and inside their homes.

His website and YouTube channel, WELOVENYC, feature a series of three-minute, one-take interviews that tour the homes of New Yorkers and offer unique insight into their lives and routines.

Leer had previously been working as a television reporter in Norway and incorporated these types of interviews into his broadcast. He found that people responded very well to the raw, unedited nature of the videos.

But in Norway, it could only go so far.

"Norway is very homogeneous, and I've always been fascinated by the diversity of New York. So I thought, 'Ok, now let's try this concept in New York', because it's the city with the biggest diversity."


Leer had been intrigued by the culture of NYC for some time, so it was the perfect opportunity for him to pack up, move to New York, and continue his project in a place where it could thrive even further.

Once he arrived, a mutual friend introduced him to Marianne Fjortoft, who was interested in working in television production. They quickly began working on the project together, taking Leer's ideas and running with them.

Leer describes the project as simply, "New Yorkers are crazy. In the most positive sense of course. No city in the world has a broader diversity- which makes it a lunatic. Through 3 minute speed interviews, WELOVENYC invites you backstage, as they are visiting many of the spicy characters in the city. One-take interviews. Three minutes. No manipulation. Lots of inspiration."

Their videos offer a peek inside an incredibly wide range of New Yorkers - from a finance guy in Midtown, to a pole dancer on the Upper West side, to a model in Williamsburg.

This isn't by accident; Leer's made a point to interview subjects with a wide variety of backgrounds and lifestyles, so as to get as complete a picture of New York's diversity as possible.

Take Gary, for example. He's a part-time taxi driver living out in the Bronx who, if you've recently turned the page on the NYC Taxi Driver Calendar, you'll notice he's Mr. July.

But what has struck Leer the most about New Yorkers so far? He says, "Everyone is educated to sell themselves... we're never afraid that they're not going to deliver. Everyone wants to elaborate."

Fjortoft, who has since left NYC to return to Norway to work on a television show, added, "Everyone seems to have a lot of confidence in what they do and it's very much in the culture to be allowed to be good at something."

Both are also stricken by the fact that every New Yorker considers themselves to hold several different titles - AKA a part time bartender who also temps, pursuing a dual career in DJing and street performance.

We're not surprised by any of this. Everyone here is on a hustle; sometimes to the point that we seem rude or uninterested in those around us. On the streets or in a crowded subway car, it may seem that we're all antisocial, but really, that's just a survival technique.

Leer knows this, and knew that once he passed through the boundary of a New Yorker's front door, the stigma would fall flat. "When you step inside their apartments, there's a lot of soul and friendliness", he says of his interactions thus far.


So, prepare to step inside the homes of some of the city's most fascinating people, through the eyes of someone falling in love with New York for the first time. You definitely won't be disappointed.

They're helping us introduce the strange and fascinating lives of some of New York's finest and most intriguing. Check out the 9th installment of these interviews above!

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[Feature Image Courtesy New York Daily News] 

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