Texas-based sideshow operator John Strong has launched a new website replete with photos to announce he’s booking his 2010 season. Coney Island is clearly at the top of his wish list. A one-page proposal on the site outlines Strong’s pitch to return to Coney Island in 2010 with shows similar to his “Strangest Girls in the World” ten-in-one circus sideshow and his Oddity Museum.
The flamboyant showman’s traveling museum boasts dozens of live and preserved freaks of nature, including Double Trouble the Two Headed Rattlesnake, a Four Tailed Iguana and a Five-Legged Puppy. Nope, it’s not the adorable-looking, headline-grabbing 5-legged Chihuahua mix that was “saved” from being sold to Strong’s freak show last year. It’s a Yorkie and she’s looking forward to being in Coney Island and written up in the New York Times.
Strong’s two shows were booked into Thor Equities-owned Dreamland Park on the former Astroland site in 2009. Now he hopes to be able to book the same locations with the City’s soon-to-be designated amusement operator. At the end of 2009, the City paid $95.6 million to purchase 6.9 acres of Thor’s property in Coney Island and issued an RFP for an amusement operator for the parcels. “Contingent on the award of the NYC Contracts and negotiation with the Amusement Operator, the current John Strong Shows Proposal for Coney Island 2010 has three primary components,” according to the proposal on Strong’s website.
The third part of Strong’s pitch is “A Cirque-style/Las Vegas class, choreographed, Circus Sideshow production…. with fire eaters, family friendly dance revues and similar live amusements with a definite plot and thematic development.” Strong and his friend Butch Butler of Butler Amusements jointly own the equipment (seats, lights, etc.) for the 2000 seat, 1-ring circus. Last summer Butler brought four rides all the way from California to Coney Island’s Dreamland, including Michael Jackson’s Dragon Wagon from Neverland Ranch.
The proposed site for the Cirque is Thor Equities tented property on Stillwell Avenue where “For Lease” signs went up last week. “Joe Sitt, Digna Rodriguez and Sam Sabin of Thor Equities have been very supportive of this use of Thor’s tents and properties on Surf,” Strong says in his proposal.
ATZ has already committed to hoping for rides and more rides and even more rides on Stillwell to replace the demolished Bumper Boats and bulldozed Go Karts and the long vanished Tornado roller coaster and Bobsled ride. But we do look forward to seeing John Strong’s drop-dead gorgeous Strange Girls and Mermaid and Giantess sideshow banners once again.
UPDATE April 29, 2010:
John Strong’s deal to rent the Grashorn is off! We’re sorry that rumors of Joe Sitt’s plans to demolish historic buildings which we reported in last week’s post “Thor’s Coney Island: Tattered Tents, Deathwatch for Historic Buildings” (ATZ, April 21, 2010) have turned out to be true. This is one time we would have preferred for the rumors to have remained just rumors.
Today, in response to a flurry of queries from reporters about Sitt’s still unleased empty lots and vacant properties, Thor Equities pr flack Knickerbocker SKD issued a press release announcing Sitt’s intention to begin demolishing the buildings and to replace them with other structures by May 2011. According to the release, “These structures will be replaced with more attractive, retail-friendly and up-to-code shops for the type of retailers Coney is famous for.” See “Thor’s Coney Island: Joey “Bulldozer” Sitt Is Baaack Playing Games!” (ATZ. April 29, 2010)
Translation: More Bull-Sitt from Thor Equities. More deliberately created empty lots.
Related posts on ATZ…
January 31, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Freak Museum to Lease Coney’s Oldest Building