Shoot the Freak has been reborn in Coney Island! A paintball game called Shoot the Clown opened on the Bowery this past weekend with a human target wearing a mask and body armor like the Boardwalk freak of yore. As you may remember, the game was
evicted bulldozed by Zamperla in 2010 and replaced by the entrance to Scream Zone. But it seems long, long ago because so much has changed in Coney Island since then, including the building of Coney’s first new roller coasters in nearly 40 years and the devastation of Sandy.
Just to be clear, Shoot the Clown is run by longtime Coney Island game operator Caesar, who had to come up with a quick replacement for the Derby Racer destroyed by Superstorm Sandy. Framing a paintball game in the space was more practical than buying a brand-new track derby. In fact, another Coney Island operator had also considered the idea. The operator of Shoot the Freak on the Boardwalk was Anthony Berlingieri, who also operated Beer Island.
It wasn’t until Shoot the Freak got evicted that we began to realize how intensely some people loved it and others hated it, including some of our close friends. There were even obituaries for the popular game like Gawker’s “Sad Things: America Loses A National Treasure: Shoot the Freak” and New York Magazine’s “Let Us Now Mourn the Loss of Coney Island’s Shoot the Freak.” They’re worth a re-read and so are the comments by people who called the game amazing, annoying or a dump. We like this one best: “How do you mention Shoot the Freak without mentioning the announcer? I always thought that getting told, “ya a freakin’ losah and my dead grammuddah could shoot bettah den ya, ya freakin’ freak!” by some grody carny was the high point,” says NYAARON in New York Magazine.
Shoot the Clown has a talker too, an unseen presence calling people in to play. Since the game had no customers when we passed by briefly on Sunday, we didn’t get to hear much talk or see any action yet. It’s 5 shots for $3, ten for $5, and 25 for a tenner.
Somebody needs to tell Amanda Burden. The City’s Planning Commissioner once said that she “loved” and “would put in a vote for” Shoot the Freak even though she hadn’t tried it. That was back in 2007 at a press conference hyping the rezoning of Coney Island. Here’s the vid of the Mayor, Burden and then Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff answering a reporter’s question about whether the new Coney Island was going to have room for Shoot the Freak and sword swallowers. The videographer is the late Bob Guskind of Gowanus Lounge, who was Brooklyn’s blogfather and the inspiration for Amusing the Zillion.
Update: The Shoot the Clown game on the Bowery has closed.
Related posts on ATZ…
May 16, 2013: Shooting Gallery Revival in Post-Sandy Coney Island
February 28, 2013: Coney Island Shooting Gallery from 1940s Makes Comeback
April 27, 2012: The Dancing Doll “Miss Coney Island” Speaks
October 28, 2010: Photo Album: Requiem for Coney Island’s Shoot Out the Star