After 14 years on Jones Walk, the windows featuring the life-size dancing doll “Miss Coney Island” and the miniature animated rides of “Coney Island Always” have moved to West 12th Street along with Skin the Wire and other whimsical games. Mechanical wonders like Chuckles the Clown and dancing cats can be found there as well. The location is just off the Boardwalk, under Deno’s Wonder Wheel and next to the Coney Island History Project.
“Miss Coney Island” spoke with ATZ–yes, she speaks via twitter!–about the big move and the marvelous makeover that has fans saying she looks 30 years younger. The shimmying mannequin received a complete re-do, including new wig, makeup, manicure, costume, jewelry and music. Her motto remains “Don’t Postpone Joy” and it’s still only “25 cents to fall in LOVE.”
You’d never know it to look at Miss Coney but she is well over 30. We’re not one to give away a woman’s age, but anecdotal evidence suggests the dancing mannequin may be a contemporary of the venerable Grandma’s Predictions, the fortunetelling automaton in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. Earlier in her career, “Miss Coney Island” was an Indian Princess automaton at a fairground exhibition, she revealed. “My best friend was ‘Little Egypt.’ After the fair closed, everyone and everything was put up for auction. And here I am.”
The post-modern “Miss Coney Island” is a visual jukebox. This season there’s an emphasis on Doo Wop and Reggae music at Miss Coney’s request. “Most of the songs are oldies that were ‘newies’ when I was young,” she said wistfully. There’s “Little Darlin’” by the Diamonds, “Come Go with Me” by the Del-Vikings and of course “Under the Boardwalk” by the Drifters.” The song in the video that we made is “This Magic Moment.” While we were there a group of twenty-somethings came over and and started dancing. They kept putting quarters in the machine. Apparently they’d never heard music from the 1950s and ’60s and were enchanted. “What is this music,” they asked. “Where can we buy it?”
The usually silent Miss Coney decided to speak up after a New York tabloid recently dissed Jones Walk as “a longtime seedy strip” and claimed that the City cleared everyone out because it “had been filled with rigged carnival games and ripped off beachgoers for years.” She was furious. “In 14 years on the Walk, nobody but nobody has ever accused me or my friends of being seedy! Win or lose, people left with a smile on their faces,” Miss Coney said.
ATZ can vouch for Miss Coney’s veracity. Having worked games of skill on the Walk, it pained us to see the reputations of all of the concession operators tarnished so casually. There was ONE bad apple among the tenants in the City-owned booths. The majority of the operators were legit and were therefore able to relocate to City-owned or private property in Coney Island.
“It costs ’25 cents to fall in LOVE’ and ’25 cents to smile,’ but quarters don’t pay the rent in Coney Island,” according to Miss Coney, who depends on income from Skin the Wire and other $2 games of skill to fund her retirement. Three of the games made the move to 12th Street, but two money-making water games had to be left behind in the dumpster. “We just couldn’t fit them into our new space,” she added sadly.
Be that as it may, Miss Coney Island says “I’m sooo happy with my new location. More people walk by than on the Walk.” Earlier this month, singing sensation Rita Ora, who was in Coney to shoot her new music video, stopped by to pose in front of the windows. “Fingers crossed I’m in the video too,” said the dancing doll, who asked us to mention that she and “Coney Island Always” are available for film and TV shoots. “What I’d really love is a cameo on “30 Rock” and a mention on David Letterman’s Top 10 List.”
Related posts on ATZ…
April 10, 2012: Up for Auction: Collection of Carnival Knockdown Dolls
December 7, 2011: Jones Walk’s “Miss Coney Island” Shimmies Over to 12th St
October 6, 2010: Traveler: Where You Can Play Fascination Year Round
July 14, 2009: Miss Coney Island on Jones Walk: 25 Cents to Fall in Love