NEW YORK : Tourists are flocking to a flight of stairs in the Bronx area of New York that Joaquin Phoenix dances down in an iconic but controversial scene from hit film Joker.

Film buffs even 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 film,'' Tasula Ceballos, a young Russian living in Miami, said, 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 fill in studios like Warner Brothers but this is a real place. We can come and we can touch the floor.''

Before Joker hit theatres 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 on Instagram or create hilarious memes to share online.

''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 peodophile 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 n 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. ''It's my neighborhood and I have to what I can to defend it,'' he stated. adding it was a ''shock'' that his area was sudden under the microscope.

''The film came out and with a week, people came to visit one of the worst neighborhoods in the borough. There's a trend in New York City that when a neighborhood 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 neighborhood. It makes it more exciting,'' he said. [AFP.]


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