Our fave photo of Gyro Corner Clam Bar on the Coney Island Boardwalk is this night shot of the 12th Street side by silversalty. It’s lit up like a Chelsea art gallery waiting for reception-goers on a Thursday night. The photographer’s Coney Island set on flickr is rich with night images of such vanished wonders as Faber’s Fascination marquee, Astroland’s Breakdance and M & M Gyro’s signage. Gyro Corner Clam Bar will close and its hand-painted signage will become part of Coney’s vanished landscape after November 4, 2011.
If you live too far away to visit, check out the hundreds of photos on flickr as well as several in Roadside Art Online’s fascinating Gyros Project. We’ll miss these whimsical depictions of anthropomorphized clam waiters serving up plates of clams and “The Gyros Sandwich glorified.” Coney Island’s vernacular signage is widely appreciated as Art and Americana, though it doesn’t fit Luna Park operator Valerio Ferrari’s Europeanized “vision” for the new Boardwalk.
The 12th Street side of Gyro Corner is where the clam bar of “Hey Joey!” fame resides. When the mural was painted by L.A.-based Gents of Desire for Steve Powers’ Dreamland Artist Club in 2004, it won acclaim from art critics. “Combining F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tragic 1920s glamour with the tough stylings of L.A.’s Mexican street gangs,” wrote Andrew Hodges in The Brooklyn Rail. The real-life “Joey Clams” was interviewed by The New York Times:
Joey Pesca, the manager of the popular clam bar, also known as the Gyro Corner, at the Boardwalk and West 12th Street, said the wall sign painted for him by the Gents of Desire – otherwise known as Jonathan Bleser and Alexis Ross – has made his business a destination for art lovers and has given him a new appreciation for artists.
“They were actually a joy to be around,” Mr. Pesca, also known as Joey Clams, said of the Gents. “And at the end they added this little thing that says, ‘Hey Joey!,’ which has made me a little famous around here.”
Alas, we must now say goodbye to “Hey Joey!,” as we already did to Steve Powers’ Shoot Out the Star signs at the Henderson Building and Rita Ackermann’s mural on the Feltman’s Building. Goodbye to the flashy front-of-the-show vernacular signage at Gyro Corner and Paul’s Daughter and Steve’s Grill House. The new Boardwalk storefronts will be branded with Luna Park’s trademark orange and blue colors. We expect the facades and signage to look more uniform as well. It’s a harbinger of the City’s vision of a single operator Coney Island.
We’ll post photos of Gyro Corner’s Boardwalk signage before this series ends when the seven Boardwalk Mom and Pops vacate the premises on November 4th. ATZ is saying goodbye to old friends with a favorite photo (or two) a day. Click the tag “Countdown to Corporatization” to see all of the photos. Many thanks to Adrian Kinloch, who frequently photographs Coney Island, for this close-up of “Hey Joey!” from his superb Coney Island Design set on flickr.
Related posts on ATZ…
October 20, 2011: Reversal of Fortune on the Coney Island Boardwalk
October 8, 2011: Photo of the Day: “The Chief” of the Coney Island Boardwalk
October 28, 2010: Photo Album: Requiem for Coney Island’s Shoot Out the Star
January 25, 2010: Bruce Handy’s Photo Album: Doomed Dreamland Artist Club Mural