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Jersey Devil

Takeshi Yamada and his Jersey Devils at the Carnivorous Nights Taxidermy Contest in 2011. Photo © Takeshi Yamada

The last time Takeshi Yamada competed in the Secret Science Club’s Carnivorous Nights Taxidermy Contest was in 2011, when he won the “Shock and Awe Award” for his Jersey Devils. He also brought along a freak snake human baby and his constant companion the Sea Rabbit Seara. The Coney Island artist and rogue taxidermist will unveil his newest wonders and curiosities when the event returns to Brooklyn’s Bell House on Sunday evening. The contest was not held in 2012 and 2013 due to Superstorm Sandy, Yamada says.

Fiji Mermaid

Rogue Taxidermy by Takeshi Yamada via takeshiyamada.weebly.com

At the 2009 contest, Yamada was awarded “The Most Twisted Prize” for his family of freak show babies made from his own skin. There’s a Two-headed Baby, Mermaid Baby, Octopus Baby, Lobster Baby, Snake Baby, Penguin Baby, and Three-headed Baby. Yamada also won the Grand Championship of Taxidermy in 2006 for his 6-foot-long mummified Fiji Mermaid. She’s the one he tried to bring for a ride on the Cyclone roller coaster during the Mr. Cyclone Contest!

Yamada, who has an MFA in fine art from the University of Michigan School of Art, considers his artwork “specimens” rather than examples of self expression. His new website shows examples of his rogue taxidermy artwork for sideshows and amusement parks, as well as TV shows and museum collections. There are also links to fan videos like this one from 2009 in which Yamada is the outside talker for his Freak Baby Museum in Coney Island. Special today, $1.00!

The Secret Science Club’s Carnivorous Nights Taxidermy Contest, Sunday, April 6 at the Bell House, 149 7th St. (between 2nd and 3rd Aves) in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Doors 7:00 pm, show at 7:30 pm. This event is 21 and over. $12 advance, $15 at door. Subway: F to 4th Ave; R to 9th St; F or G to Smith/9th

UPDATE April 19, 2014:

Congratulations to Takeshi Yamada for winning the grandmaster’s prize in the Secret Science Club’s contest. He was awarded first prize for his “Five-headed Monster from Hell” and “Giant Space Alien Skull.”

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April 1, 2013: Sea Rabbits Swim Ashore in Coney Island, Up For Adoption

November 29, 2012: Coney Island Taxidermist Takeshi Yamada in AMC Reality Show

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

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This clip for AMC’s new reality show “Immortalized” introduces Coney Island artist Takeshi Yamada and his world of rogue taxidermy. It’s exciting to see our friend and his sea rabbit Seara, who are among the Boardwalk’s most recognizable eccentrics, on the cusp of TV stardom.

“People love freak show. People are attracted to freaks,” says Yamada as he shows off the taxidermied oddities in his Museum of World of Wonders. “I am one of the most famous freak show gaff masters. A freak show gaff master’s job is to make fake creations such as Fiji Mermaid, Chupacabra, Hairy Trout, those kind of things…”

In the unscripted series, Yamada is one of four “Immortalizers” who will face off against challengers in a taxidermy competition. “I had a great time creating truly monumental scale and spectacular rogue taxidermy monsters for this TV series,” Yamada told ATZ in an interview (“Coney Island Taxidermist Takeshi Yamada in AMC Reality Show,” Nov 29, 2012). “Immortalized” consists of eight, half-hour episodes and premieres on Thursday, February 14 at 10pm.

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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

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Coney Island Artist and Taxidermist Takeshi Yamada is one of the Immortalizers in AMC’s new series Immortalized. Photo via AMC

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.

Dragons, mermaids, and other wonders on display at public lecture of Dr. Takeshi Yamada at Coney Island Library, October 29, 2010. Photo © Takeshi Yamada via flickr

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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

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Takeshi Yamada Jersey Devil

Coney Island Artist Takeshi Yamada with his New Jersey Devil and Sea Rabbit

ATZ asked Coney Island artist and rogue taxidermist Takeshi Yamada what he’s bringing to Friday night’s Carnivorous Nights Taxidermy Contest at Bell House. He replied by sending his photo with the “Jersey Devil.” Can you believe it? For three centuries, New Jerseyans have been hunting the Pine Barrens in search of what Weird N.J. calls the state’s “oldest, most enduring, and important pieces of folklore” and it turns up in Coney Island’s Museum of World Wonders!

“It is a big winged lizard or dragon,” says Yamada of his Jersey Devil. “For over a century, this carnivorous animal has been a famous and very well-known cryptid called ‘Jersey Devil’ in the New Jersey area. Body parts of this taxidermy were collected in the woods of New Jersey. I also personally saw many unusual strange flying creatures (not birds or flying squirrels) in the woods for years in New Jersey.”

Yamada is also planning to bring one of his freak human babies. At the 2009 contest, he was awarded “The Most Twisted Prize” for his family of freak show babies made from his own skin. There’s a Two-headed Baby, Mermaid Baby, Octopus Baby, Lobster Baby, Snake Baby, Penguin Baby, and Three-headed Baby. Which one would you like to see? Yamada also won the Grand Championship of Taxidermy in 2006 for his 6-foot-long mummified Fiji Mermaid.

The Secret Science Club presents the 6th-annual Carnivorous Nights Taxidermy Contest, Friday, December 9 at Bell House, 149 7th St. (between 2nd and 3rd Aves) in Gowanus, Brooklyn. “Doors open at 7:30 pm. Please bring ID: 21+. $7 cover.” Subway: F to 4th Ave; R to 9th St; F or G to Smith/9th.

Snake Baby

Snake Baby Copyright All rights reserved by MUSEUM OF WORLD WONDERS , Dr.Takeshi Yamada

UPDATE December 10, 2011…How did it go at the contest? Takeshi Yamada writes: “I had a great time at the taxidermy contest. I showed my 3 jersey devils on 3×4 feet Victorian picture frame, and the freak snake human baby (surprisingly, you have chosen the right one. I thought I might bring both the 3-headed baby and snake baby up until 1 hour before leaving my house.) I received the “SHOCK & AWE” award and trophy for them.”

Jersey Devil

Takeshi Yamada and his Jersey Devils Won the Shock and Awe Award at the 2011 Carnivorous Nights Taxidermy Contest. Photo © Takeshi Yamada

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Related posts on ATZ...

November 29, 2012: Coney Island Taxidermist Takeshi Yamada in AMC Reality Show

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

November 7, 2009: Thru Dec 31 at Coney Island Library: Artist Takeshi Yamada’s Cabinet of Curiosities

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ATZ asked Coney Island artist and rogue taxidermist Takeshi Yamada what he is bringing to tonight’s 5th Annual Carnivorous Nights Taxidermy Contest presented by the Secret Science Club at Bell House. Last year, Yamada was awarded “The Most Twisted Prize” for his family of freak show babies made from his own skin. In 2006, he won the Grand Championship of Taxidermy for his 6-foot-long mummified Fiji Mermaid.

“I am planning to bring several freak skulls for the contest,” Yamada confided to ATZ. “Here is an example. I do not want to spoil the fun by showing all of them.” If you plan to go to cheer on Coney’s very own rogue taxidermist, get there early and bring your camera. Later this week, we’ll update this post with links to photos of Yamada’s collection of alien skulls.

The Japanese-born artist and Neptune Avenue resident is one of Coney Island’s most recognizable eccentrics. In the summer, you’re apt to find Yamada clad in a black tuxedo and Mardi Gras beads strolling the Beach and Boardwalk with his taxidermied sea bunny Seara. If you haven’t seen Yamada’s long-running “Museum of World Wonders: Cabinet of Curiosities” yet, the exhibition is on view through Dec. 31 at the Coney Island Library.

The Secret Science Club presents the 5th-annual Carnivorous Nights Taxidermy Contest, Tuesday, December 7 at Bell House, 149 7th St. (between 2nd and 3rd Aves) in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Doors and Pre-show at 7:30 pm, Taxidermy contest at 8:30 pm. $5 cover charge. 718-643-6510. Subway: F to 4th Ave; R to 9th St; F or G to Smith/9th.

UPDATE December 8, 2010:

From Nadia Chaudhury’s flickr set of last night’s contest…

Takeshi Yamada with Freak Taxidermy Skull at Secret Science Club's 5th Annual Taxidermy Contest. Photo © mysticchildz/nadiaChaudhury via flickr

Takeshi Yamada with Freak Taxidermy Skull at Secret Science Club's 5th Annual Taxidermy Contest. Photo © mysticchildz/Nadia Chaudhury via flickr

Yamada steals the show in City Room’s entertaining report. He took home the prize for “Best Bones”…

Mr. Yamada of two-headed-baby renown was a heavy favorite for this year’s top prize. He strutted on stage to James Brown, wearing a black suit and felt beret, his neck heavy with Mardi Gras beads, and displayed his collection of meticulously fashioned, Hollywood-caliber “space alien skulls,” which he called a “creative interpretation of rogue taxidermy.” The crowd roared in approval.

Backstage, while the judges were making their decisions, Mr. Yamada, 50, revealed that he keeps a cabinet of curiosities and taxidermy in his two-family house in Coney Island. “I have an eight-legged dog, a four-foot centipede and a 32-foot sea snake,” he said, laughing. He added that his sense of humor came from being raised in Osaka, the “comedy capital of Japan.”

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Related posts on ATZ...

November 29, 2012: Coney Island Taxidermist Takeshi Yamada in AMC Reality Show

December 8, 2011: Takeshi Yamada’s Jersey Devil Set for Bell House Taxidermy Contest

September 18, 2010: Photo of the Day: Takeshi Yamada’s Freak Baby Museum at San Gennaro

November 7, 2009: Thru Dec 31 at Coney Island Library: Artist Takeshi Yamada’s Cabinet of Curiosities

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