Andrew Cuomo's Boyfriend Cliff

The governor of New York commissioned a truly strange, art history-inspired poster to canonize his efforts in flattening the coronavirus curve.

by Sophie Kemp
Jul 13 2020, 7:52pm

Here are some fun facts about Andrew Cuomo: He is the governor of New York State, he is Italian American, he might have both of his nipples pierced, and he is a patron of the arts. His love of the arts is well documented, both in the PowerPoints that appear in his regular press briefings, and in a recent poster he commissioned called “New York Tough.”


The poster, which is apparently inspired by 19th century art, is not in fact, a parody poster, which was our first reaction upon learning of its existence. In the center there is a large mountain, which represents the curve. Around the mountain is a rope being pulled by little sketches of New Yorkers, not limited to healthcare workers, essential workers, out of state workers, and his daughters Cara, Mariah, Michaela, and a dog called Captain who actually does not appear to be holding the rope perhaps because he has no thumbs. There are also many sketches on the face of the mountain (a.k.a. the curve). On one side of the curve see a crudely drawn bottle of hand sanitizer made by prison laborers, as well as a flame that says “New Rochelle Hotspot,” an octopus next to a cruise ship, and a sign that says “SORRY WE’RE CLOSED,” with text underneath letting the viewers know that this signifies the “NY PAUSE Shutdown.”

On the other side of the curve, we see joy. For example, there is a picture of Cuomo in his GTO, and a quote from a philosopher called AJ Parkinson who was invented by former Governor Mario Cuomo, a.k.a. Cuomo's father. The quote says, “Tell the People the Truth and They Will Do the Right Thing.” Then there’s the boyfriend cliff, which shows an image of a young man dangling off a cliff, apparently alluding to the boyfriend of Cuomo’s daughter Mariah. In the center of the curve we see the man himself, Andrew Cuomo a.k.a. “56” sitting at a long table featuring his top aides: "Dr. Knows Best" (Howard Zucker, the Commissioner of Health for New York State), "Smiling Rob" (Robert Mujica, Director of Budget for New York State), and "Magnificent Melissa" (Melissa DeRosa, Cuomo's Secretary). Above this table of friends are blue letters that spell “111 Days of Hell,” signifying, well, that the last 111 days have been hell. Then there is the sky and the sea surrounding the mountain. The sea in the poster is called “The Sea of Division,” and the sky features anthropomorphized clouds blowing the winds of fear and confusion. Fortunately, on the other side of the mountain, the sky is more placid. The sun shines brightly and appears to be smiling.

Believe it or not, this is not the first time Cuomo has commissioned a bizarre poster with a bit of a 19th-century nautical theme going on. In fact, earlier this year, the governor commissioned a poster that also prominently features “The Sea of Division,” as well as Cuomo’s various accomplishments. This earlier poster was designed by the artist Rusty Zimmerman, who replied to several Tweets on Monday afternoon to clarify that the new poster is not his doing despite its obvious similarities. It seems clear that the reason Cuomo keeps commissioning these posters is because he is obsessed with his own self-mythology. How else to explain the insane amount of personal elements in the rendering of this Work of Art? Looking at this poster there are so many questions left unanswered: chief among them, the name of the artist who made it, but also, why Cuomo felt the need to design and commission it, will he seek a career as a creative director after he's left office, and last but certainly not least what the hell is a "cliff boyfriend" anyway?

Andrew Cuomo