Influencers have been swarming the gritty stairway from DC blockbuster “Joker” — but back in the day, even locals did their best to avoid the seedy Bronx steps, according to one of its most famous natives.
“When I was growing up, everyone would tell us to stay away from those steps or go with a friend,” Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told TMZ Tuesday on Capitol Hill.
The stairs, which run along West 167th Street, are listed as 1165 Shakespeare Ave. on Instagram. Users have been flooding the app in recent days with photos of their takes on the Joker’s strange romp on them.
They’ve rapidly become so iconic, Google Maps has changed the spot’s name to “Joker Stairs” — much to the chagrin of locals. AOC now counts herself among those critical of The Bronx’s recent tourism surge.
“The Bronx is much safer now and I’m happy to say that,” AOC says. But she’d be happier if the tourists didn’t take their selfie sticks to her home borough. “I think the way a lot of us feel is, listen, like, keep your Instagram posts outside of the Boogie Down. Like, this is for us.”
The stairs were featured prominently in the hit film. In a scene highlighted in the movie’s trailer, Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker dances down them after his notorious transformation. Enough people have seen the real thing to want to re-create the scene now, apparently. Deadline reports that “Joker” is on target to become the highest-grossing R-rated US release of all time, and looking at a potential $900 million in global ticket sales. All of this despite well-publicized concerns that the movie could inspire mass shootings and other incel violence.
Now, it’s unlikely the stairs will remain an exclusively local haunt. “That’s how it works, right?” AOC quipped. “We gotta own it, though. We can’t let anyone take [the stairs] away from us.”
The steps, she says, do capture an iconic essence of The Bronx: its steepness. “It’s classic precisely because they’re so long,” she says. “People try to skate on them, they try to slide on them.”
And a note to all you posers out there — Phoenix was far from the first to do a jig on them, AOC says.
“People been doing that dance a long time is what I gotta say,” she says.
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