Save NYC street culture — Filmmaker Nicolas Heller’s No Your City web series celebrates the city’s larger than life characters, who are being threatened by ongoing gentrification of the Big Apple.

“I don’t think this type of behaviour would be tolerated elsewhere,” explains filmmaker Nicolas Heller. “Honestly, I think New Yorkers are just used to it at this point. It has been okay to be a wackadoodle in NYC for decades. Even Wendell the homeless fashion designer rarely gets second glances anymore, simply because New Yorkers are used to that type of eccentric being.”

Nick created the No Your City video series to celebrate the eccentric characters who make up New York’s unique street culture. People like Washington Square’s Larry the Birdman, street performer Kalan, Jim “Mosaic Man” Power and the technicolour lawyer “from another planet” Ms. Colombia (above).

Growing up in the West Village, Nick has long been fascinated by these off the wall personalities. “[They] breathe life into the city,” he explains. “People watching is one of my favourite activities. Personally it keeps me inspired. Street culture is what makes a city unique.”

Unlike many other cities in the US, New York permits street performance and tolerates a much more democratic use of public space, which has allowed a vibrant street culture to thrive. But as gentrification takes its toll on the city’s cultural fabric, people on the fringes are feeling the pinch.

“The city is losing it’s charm, it is losing it’s characters,” Nick explains. “I want to make sure I have documentation of all the fascinating characters that make the city so unique before they no longer exist here. As rents increase and people lose their homes, jobs, etc, we are losing some of our greatest cultural icons.”

No Your City is an insight into New York’s disappearing local characters, revealing the fascinating stories and personalities behind some of the city’s most iconic residents.

New episodes drop every Tuesday, but we asked Nick to pick his favourite videos from the series so far.

Larry the Birdman

I met Larry the Birdman in Washington Square a couple of years ago. Sweetest guy you will ever meet with one of the most haunting pasts.


I grew up in Union Square, and I have seen Wendell around as long as I can remember. As he says, he is a “visual oasis.” He is a loose canon, but knew I had to share his story on video. It was the most difficult shoot of my life…

Don Ward, the best shoe-shiner in Manhattan

Don Ward is the most charismatic shoe-shiner in NYC. I met him on 47th st after he insulted my shoes.

Jim “Mosaic Man” Power

Vietnam vet Jim has been working on his mosaic trail in the East Village for 30 years. As they begin to remodel the area, the city is slowly getting rid of all of Jim’s light poles, and other works. The city seemingly doesn’t give a shit about the history. They don’t care that a man has gone in and out of homelessness just so he can beautify the streets with his artistic expression.

Check out the whole No Your City series. Subscribe to the Youtube Channel to make sure you never miss another episode.

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