ATZ has learned that Coney Island artist and rogue taxidermist Takeshi Yamada will be one of the stars of the new AMC TV reality series “Immortalized” premiering on February 14th. “My sea rabbit will be a household name,” said Yamada, who is one of Coney Island’s most recognizable eccentrics. He is frequently photographed clad in a black tuxedo strolling the Beach and Boardwalk with his sea bunny Seara, a taxidermied wonder with webbed feet and a mermaid’s tail.
In the TV show, Yamada will be one of the taxidermists known as the Immortalizers. According to the press release for the unscripted new series: “Each episode will feature one of four highly regarded ‘Immortalizers’ facing off against a ‘Challenger’ in a competition. Their task is to create a piece to be judged on three criteria: originality, craftsmanship and interpretation of the designated theme. Whether the artists are known for their classic or rogue creations, each week they will work to perfect this centuries-old art form in an unprecedented battle.”
Rogue taxidermy is the creation of oddities and curiosities using traditional taxidermy materials and techniques. “I hope more people will be interested in the art of taxidermy (traditional taxidermy) and rogue taxidermy (freak show taxidermy or sideshow taxidermy) by watching this television show,” Yamada told ATZ. “I had a great time creating truly monumental scale and spectacular rogue taxidermy monsters for this TV series.”
When we first met Takeshi back in 2004, he was creating these gaffed specimens for traveling sideshows and museums. He uses a variety of natural materials to create his taxidermy art, which includes Fiji mermaids, two-headed babies, dog-headed spiders, and a mummified six-fingered hand. Having seen Yamada defend his Grand Master title at the Secret Science Club’s annual Carnivorous Nights Taxidermy Contest at Bell House, we can honestly say his challengers are up against a formidable competitor.
Despite the fact that the first floor of Yamada’s home and studio on Neptune Avenue in Coney Island were devastated by five feet of sewage water during Hurricane Sandy, destroying most of his artwork, the artist remains stoic. “The show must go on,” he says. Takeshi was in the middle of producing two giant sculptures and a wooden crate to ship them to Los Angeles when the storm struck. “Some of the artwork was destroyed or heavily damaged. So, I stayed at my house with no heat, gas, land phone line or electricity for over a week after the hurricane for repairing them –some of my artworks were not saved– and finally FedExed them before the temperature dropped to 27 degrees.”
The AMC series “Immortalized” consists of eight, half-hour episodes and premieres on Thursday, February 14 at 10pm.
Related posts on ATZ…
December 8, 2011: Takeshi Yamada’s Jersey Devil Set for Bell House Taxidermy Contest
December 7, 2010: Art of the Day: Freak Taxidermy Skull by Takeshi Yamada
September 18, 2010: Photo of the Day: Takeshi Yamada’s Freak Baby Museum at San Gennaro
September 24, 2009: Photo Album: Coney Islanders and Carnies at San Gennaro