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Posts Tagged ‘1980s’

Rcihard Eagan Photo by Hazel Hankin

Richard Eagan, the outside talker for a shark show in Coney Island, 1987. Photo © Hazel Hankin

“You’re going to meet Miss Atlantis, the daring young lady who will defy the devil and swim with three killer sharks,” says Brooklyn artist and performer Richard Eagan, recalling his spiel as an outside talker for the Florida Shark Show. His 1987 gig managing the Coney Island attraction is among the midway experiences that he relives in “Alive on the Inside,” on Thursday, January 28th at City Lore.

Eagan has performed the one-man theater piece since the late ’80s at venues from the Lower East Side to Coney Island, where it was last seen in 2007 as part of the Coney Island History Project’s folklore program. “Most of what I talk about is gone, so it is a memory piece,” Eagan tells ATZ. “When I was developing and performing it in earlier days, it was the last days of the old Coney Island hanging on by a thread. The characters were still there plying their trade. There’s so few of them left.”

Among the characters Eagan brings to life in the show are Buddy Cook, who is actually Norman Kaufman, owner of the Jumbo Jet coaster, whose Stillwell Avenue amusement park was evicted by Thor Equities in 2006 to make way for “redevelopment.” “I refer to him as ‘The Buddha of the ticketbox,'” says Eagan. Ronnie D is Ronnie Guerrero, the late owner of 12th Street’s famed Polar Express, which was located on Stillwell Avenue in the 1980s. Jake Fein is concessionaire Jack Merr, who operated a basketball game across from the Spookhouse.

Eagan co-founded the Coney Island Hysterical Society with fellow artist Philomena Marano in 1981 because they were “hysterical” at the rate that the amusement rides and attractions were shutting down. One of their projects was the transformation of the disused Dragon’s Cave ride on the Bowery into the Spookhouse, which they operated until 1984. Their visual art is on view in the exhibit “Boardwalk Renaissance: How the Arts Saved Coney Island,” at City Lore Gallery through March 13.

“Alive on the Inside,” January 28th, 7:00pm. Tickets are $11.49 via Eventbrite. City Lore, 56 E 1st St, New York, New York 10003. 212-529-1955

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Coney Island Hysterical Society

Artists Richard Eagan and Philomena on empty Steeplechase Park site, circa 1982 Photo © Coney Island Hysterical Society

On Sunday, November 18th, artists Richard Eagan and Philomena Marano, who have been collaborating for over 30 years as the Coney Island Hysterical Society, will give a slide talk about their “Hysterical/Historical” work. The above photo from 1982 documents “Souvenir Views of Coney Island,” a “traveling show” that they brought to the then-empty Steeplechase Park site. The free event is at 4:40pm at 440 Gallery, 440 Sixth Avenue, in Park Slope. Eagan and Marano’s exhibit “Art of the Coney Island Hysterical Society,” is on view at the gallery through November 25.

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October 4, 2012: Art of the Day: Coney Island Hysterical Society

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October 26, 2010: Studio Visit: Philomena Marano of the Coney Island Hysterical Society

October 26, 2010: Studio Visit: Richard Eagan of the Coney Island Hysterical Society

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Now that Coney Island is slated to lose its funky Boardwalk attractions, this old school vid from 1982 seems especially apropos. Thanks to ModernJim, one of our readers, for sending us the link. “The Clash’s video for ‘Overpowered by Funk’ has a lot of Coney Island in it,” he writes. Sure does. You’ll catch sight of Coney’s vanished Trabant as well as a Himi and lots of games and their operators: basketball, derby race, dunk tank, even Astroland’s shooting gallery. The video winds up at the Eldorado’s “Bump Your Ass Off” Bumper cars where Mick Jones buys a ticket to ride. Watch for the dancing girl in red and her cotton candy mom. Funkpower over and out!

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March 15, 2011: Hail, Hail Garland Jeffreys! Coney Island Has a New Anthem

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August 27, 2010: Video: Coney Island Dancing by Jim McDonnell

July 19, 2009: Coney Island Hip-Hop Anthem: AMO1’s Fight for Your Right to Save Coney

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