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Liberty look-alike flaunts statuesque bearing

Statues of Liberty July 3, 1997
Web posted at: 7:14 p.m. EDT (2314 GMT)

From Correspondent Mary Ann McGann

NEW YORK (CNN) -- For most Americans, commemorating U.S. independence is a once-a-year thing marked by a big cookout and a fireworks display. For others, like Jennifer Stewart, every day is Independence Day. She marks it by painting herself green and standing on a Manhattan street corner.

Stewart won a Statue of Liberty look-alike contest in 1986 and eventually decided to take her act out on the street. Now, she makes it her full-time job to pose as a human-size Lady Liberty.

CNN's Mary Ann McGann reports
icon 2 min., 47 sec. VXtreme streaming video
video iconLady Liberty takes us through her morning routine.
Small version: 1.4MB/35 sec. QuickTime movie
Large version: 2.6MB/25 sec. QuickTime movie

"My family was saying, Jennifer, you can't do this as a job. And I never intended to," she said. "It was really a big plunge to say I'm going to be the Statue of Liberty full-time."

"I just went to a deli and got a pint container and went and set up in Washington Square Park and felt silly, silly, silly," she said of her first day as a New York street performer who -- unlike most -- doesn't do anything.

"And the first person to come up and give me money was a homeless man. And then before I knew what was actually happening, there were people on either side putting bills in my bucket and doing photographs."

Statue of Liberty

Stewart's street act eventually led to lucrative corporate clients, including Macy's.

Lest you think this is an easy job, try standing for several hours straight with a torch in your upraised arm. Her arm, surprisingly, doesn't get tired, she says -- but her back does, and her hips get "very tired."

Then there are the workplace hazards -- some people have the nerve to actually tickle the symbol of the nation's independence while she's trying to work.

Elvis & Lady Liberty

And the caked-on makeup is no piece of cake. Stewart paints her arms and neck -- the paint on her arms is so heavy that people often mistake it for gloves, and humidity makes the paint on her neck run. Taking it off is equally hard. "I use a liquid Castile soap -- and just pour it on. I have to wash my face about three times," she said.

However, audiences agree that as far as looks go, Stewart is ideally suited for the job. Jennifer thinks she's got Liberty's nose, but that Liberty's mouth looks more like Elvis'.


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