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Posts Tagged ‘freak show’

Rutland Fair Sideshow

Rutland, Vermont Fair Sideshow, 1941. Photo by Jack Delano for the U.S. Farm Security Administration Collection, Library of Congress

Among the more than 200,000 images of rural life by photographers working for the U.S. government’s Farm Security Administration during the New Deal are hundreds of images of the American sideshow. Taken by Ben Shahn, Jack Delano, and Russell Lee at state and county fairs in Vermont, Ohio, Louisiana and Texas, the photos document the midway shows of the late 1930s and early ’40s and their glorious banners.

Millard and Bulsterbaum banner

Sideshow attraction, county fair in central Ohio, 1938. Photo by Ben Shahn for the U.S. Farm Security Administration, Library of Congress

The two banners seen above–Human Freaks and Personality Fat Girl are the work of the Coney Island studio of Millard & Bulsterbaum. The firm’s name and address — 2894 W 8th Street — can be seen in the lower right corner of the banners. “Just one more bolt of cloth will make it,” says a tailor depicted fitting the glamorous fat girl with a new costume. Algernon Millard and John Bulsterbaum, who were in business from 1915 though the Depression, were considered the best in the business.

cat with 6 paws

Rutland, Vermont Fair Sideshow, 1941. Photo by Jack Delano for the U.S. Farm Security Administration, Library of Congress

This banner for a 28-toed cat and a cat with six paws was part of a banner line also featuring sea gull ducks, midget mules, a pop-eyed cow, and a “Charlie Chaplin chicken.”

Ohio Fair Sideshow Attraction

Sideshow attraction, county fair in central Ohio, 1938. Photo by Ben Shahn for the U.S. Farm Security Administration, Library of Congress

In this nicely framed shot by Ben Shahn of a homemade front for the single-o “Ramo- 4 horns, 3 tails,” a weird, alligator-like creature appears on the bally stage.

Nudist Colony Banner

Sideshow attraction, county fair in central Ohio, 1938. Photo by Ben Shahn for the U.S. Farm Security Administration, Library of Congress

After a sideshow promoter made Zorine, Queen of the Nudists and the Zoro Garden Nudist Colony the sensation of San Diego’s 1935-1936 California Pacific International Exposition, imitators sprang up on carnival and fair midways. This banner for the “Nudist Colony” at a county fair in Ohio asks “Are they ever ashamed?” Shows featuring talkers and inside lecturers dressed as nurses and doctors helped explain the wonders and mysteries of medical science in the days before television and the Internet. Step right up to the College of Hygiene Science!

sideshow banner 1939

Sign at sideshow at Gonzales, Texas county fair, 1939. Photo by Russell Lee for the U.S. Farm Security Administration, Library of Congress

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November 7, 2013: Photos from the Glory Days of the Sideshow Banner June 27, 2013: Photo Album: The Front of the Show at Meadowlands Fair November 4, 2012: Up for Auction: Ringling Bros Circus Side Show Poster May 4, 2010: Rare & Vintage: Major Debert the Tiniest Man’s Sideshow Banner

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Crowd In Front of Freak Show Banners

Anonymous Photography. Crowd In Front of Freak Show Banners. Slotin Folk Art Auction, November 10, 2013

This weekend, a selection of vintage photos of carnival and circus sideshow fronts is up for bid at Slotin Folk Art’s fall auction. Though the photographs are black-and-white or sepia-toned, they convey how the flashy, spirited canvas banners entranced the eye and reverberated in the imagination.

Snake Dancing Woman

Anonymous Photography. Juanita Snake Dancing Woman. Slotin Folk Art Auction, November 10, 2013

When P.T. Barnum first brought itinerant entertainers together under one roof in his dime museum (which actually cost 25 cents), he had the building’s facade emblazoned with oval paintings and oversized banners. It boosted his ticket sales by $100 a day, or so he claimed. After the turn of the century, hundreds of circus and carnival sideshows toured the country, and long, glorious banner lines advertising a variety of popular entertainments competed with each other to attract customers.

Wonderland

Simmer Studio Wenatchee. Mason’s Wonderland A Circus In Itself. Black and white photography. Slotin Folk Art Auction, November 10, 2013

The above photo shows half of the banner line from a 17-inch wide photo for “Mason’s Wonderland – A Circus In Itself – Living Wonder of Air, Land and Sea.” A Giant Devilfish, Baboon Dog, Kangaroo Goat, and Mouse Circus were among the attractions in this sideshow, which toured the West Coast in the 1920s when carnival midways consisted of a dozen different sideshows and just a few rides.

Kay Bros Menaerie

Kay Bros. Sideshow & Menagerie. Black and white photo. Slotin Folk Art Auction, November 10, 2013

Professional banner painters working for canvas companies and private studios in New York, Chicago and other cities vied for commissions. “It’s the FRONT! of the show that gets the dough” was the catchy slogan that Caldwell’s Banner Studio in Los Angeles stencilled on the back of their canvases and trumpeted in trade magazines.

Bandit King Banner

Anonymous Photography. The Bandit King. Black and white freak show banner postcard. Slotin Folk Art Auction, November 10, 2013

By the 1950s, Billboard reporter Tom Parkinson was not exaggerating when he wrote that sideshow banner lines had “stopped more people than all the art museums in the nation and set more jaws ajar than surrealistic art.”

Slotin Folk Art’s live auction will be held at Historic Buford Hall in Buford, Georgia on November 9 and 10. Absentee, phone and online bidding are also available on auction days.

Tintype Bull Banner

Anonymous Tin Type Photograph. Group In Front of Bull Banner. Slotin Folk Art Auction, November 10, 2013

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On Friday night after a visit to Luna Park’s Nights of Horror, we made our way to Coney Island USA for the first Creepshow at the Freakshow of the season. Started by CIUSA artistic director Dick Zigun in 1998, the annual Halloween event takes the audience on a haunted tour of the 1917 Childs Restaurant Building which is the art organization’s home. “To be honest, this show, ‘The Ride Inspector’s Nightmare,’ is the best of them all!,” Zigun tells ATZ. “Other notables were ‘Phantom of the Presidential Wax Museum’ two years ago. Also Scott Baker playing a frozen Walt Disney… not to mention the first Creepshow about Childs Restaurant cooking the bodies of children.”

After purchasing tickets and drinks at the Freak Bar, guests are ushered into the sideshow theater for the chief ride inspector’s retirement party. Coked up and drunk, the zombie-like chief and his garrulous assistant reminisce about gory ride accidents and share the blame around. “No more reports!,” the chief barks repeatedly before sleepwalking us down a back stairway to the basement and then up another back stairway to the museum, where he is put on trial for negligence. Since this is an interactive show, the jury is the audience. Along the way, we’re treated to a series of macabre tableaux by Creepshow designer Kate Dale and spooky murals by artist-in-residence Marie Roberts. Photography is not permitted, but we did a Q & A with both artists, who give us a behind the scenes peek at the show…

We’ve been a fan of Kate Dale’s work ever since her homage to Fragonard’s Girl on a Swing in the 1999 Mermaid Parade. The Juilliard prop shop supervisor has won “Best Mermaid” and “Best Float” more times than anyone else in the history of the parade. For the past five years, Dale has been the Creepshow’s designer.

ATZ: Kate, how many sets or tableaux did you create this year?

Kate: Some of them bleed into each other, but I’d say there are 7. They vary in terms of complexity.

ATZ: Which one (or ones) is your favorite?

Kate: I have some favorites… I think I’ve been dreaming of the one I call the doll room the longest. It’s inspired by Disney’s “It’s a small world after all” and also Barbarella with a nod to Chucky. The dolls of the world have gone berserk and murdered a hapless family. The happy dolls always seem menacing. And the basement room’s water feature is one of the most inspiring parts of the building for me in for sheer weirdness. My other favorite was an afterthought, we built it in 20 minutes opening night. I won’t spoil the surprise.

Creepshow at the Freakshow 2010.  Photo © Laure Leber via Coney Island USA

Creepshow at the Freakshow 2010. Photo © Laure Leber via Coney Island USA

ATZ: Wherever did you find all those mannequins that were in the museum’s ride cars? They look like antiques!

Kate: They come for various sources, some were hanging around the museum already, some are loaners from friends. I’m always on the lookout for dummies and body parts. I got the little boys from Build it Green. Thanks Build it Green!

ATZ: Which one of Marie’s paintings is your favorite this year?

Kate: Well the stairway is pretty epic in scale, and repeated viewings really pay off. You discover different details each time.

ATZ: Which Creepshow was your favorite and why?

Kate: I loved the Phantom of the Presidential Wax Museum because I think it told a great story and the Presidential shooting gallery where patrons shot a cutout Kennedy with ping pong balls was probably the sickest most wrong thing I’ve ever been personally responsible for.

Creep Show at the Freak Show

Creep Show at the Freak Show Banner by Marie Roberts. Photo © janquito2 via flickr

For more than a decade, Coney Island USA’s artist-in-residence Marie Roberts has painted the banners for the Coney Island Circus Sideshow. Her canvas advertisements, including one for Creepshow at the Freakshow, adorn the CIUSA building 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

ATZ: Marie, tell us about some of the murals that you painted for this year’s Creepshow.

Marie: My task was to turn the back staircase into a surreal nightmare roller coaster disaster, none of which I would choose to paint on my own. I studied paintings at the MET and MOMA for ideas and made drawings. I consciously put in homages to a couple of favorites. St. Sebastian pierced by arrows became the head of the stairs person impaled on rails. My two uncles who were at Dreamland the night of the fire are painted as little kids with zippered mouths, a nod to Magritte. I didn’t realize till I was laying the mural out there that there are elements of Picasso’s “Guernica” as well.

Conversely or weirdly, I saw the abstract expressionist show at MOMA before I painted the welcome to Dreamland sign at the head of the stairs in the basement, and the Hellgate devil burning the Creation angel are probably the most expressionist thing I have ever painted.

I love how the three dimensional ticket booth works with the staircase murals.

It is all too fresh for me to have any perspective all I can think of is how to make them better.

ATZ: Which one is your favorite of Kate’s sets or tableaux?

Marie: I love the way Kate transforms the building. This year I am amazed at how she transformed the basement. Every viewpoint in the first room hangs together, and there are surprises in every cut out and nook. The second room is also together visually, not an easy task. I am amazed at how she can think so three dimensionally. I can only think in terms of flat planes.

Coney Island USA, 1208 Surf Ave. Corner of Surf Avenue and West 12th Street, Coney Island. Creepshow at the Freakshow runs nightly from Friday, October 22, through Halloween. Check website for hours. Tickets are $10 at the door. On Saturday, October 23, CIUSA will host a party and the first-ever Sleepover at the Freakshow after the last Creepshow Tour. Tickets for the fund raiser are $40-$75.

One of the creepy characters in this year's Creepshow at the Freakshow.  Photo © Laure Leber via Coney Island USA

One of the creepy characters in this year's Creepshow at the Freakshow. Photo © Laure Leber via Coney Island USA

Related posts on ATZ…

October 10, 2013: Art of the Day: Creepshow at the Freakshow Is Back

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

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Banner

John Strong Worlds Finest Shows Banner © John Strong

The on-again, off-again, on-again, off-again saga of John Strong’s Freak Show returning to Coney Island for a second season is on again! Or so we’re told…

After losing his bid to rent Thor Equities’ Grashorn Building and Stillwell lots, Strong says he’s now made a deal to set up on the north side of Surf Avenue across from the Cyclone. The lot, which is not owned by Thor, is next to the West 8th Street subway exit and was cleared at the beginning of the 2010 season for parking cars. Having met John last summer and covered this story since January, we can’t say we’re surprised by his unstoppable efforts to make a Coney Island comeback. It’s telling that the logo of his show is Atlas carrying the globe on his shoulders. It’s quite a burden since Strong will have to travel all the way from Bossier City, Louisiana, where he is playing the fair at Harrah’s Lousiana Downs.

If the deal is indeed a go, the surprising thing is that Strong’s show would be the first amusement business on the north side of Surf since the B & B Carousell closed in 2004. The north side has long been considered the wrong side of Surf to make money since it gets very little foot traffic. People who’ve come for carnival fun aren’t about to cross the street for furniture stores galore. But John Strong intends to prove them wrong. Here is an excerpt from an email that he sent us yesterday…

It is with pride and pleasure to announce that the John Strong World’s Finest Shows will return to Coney Island and open across the street from the Cyclone on May 28th. Todd Robbins will warm them up and I’m going to take their money home. We have a giant 200 x 100 lot across Surf from the Cyclone. The bannerline will be the largest and the most beautiful in the world stretching from the Cyclone to Little Russia… 200 feet. I don’t give up too easily. I’m one of the very few in all of showbiz that has enough experience, flash and knowhow to get the people to cross in the crosswalk at the corner of Surf and 10th to our ticket box a mere 25 ft away on a lot that nobody else could utilize except me.

We may put a bellydancing snake charmer on the bally. We may put a live two headed cow on the bally or the six legged cow on display for free photos. We may have six live human oddities on display. We may have the Chupacabra breaking out of a crate….

Since I’m at a casino, I will be taking bets on how many people we can get to cross the street this summer. My show will turn heads and turn the tip into the greatest freakshow on earth.

Sincerely,
John Strong World’s Finest Shows
World’s Greatest Sideshow Showman
Savior of Coney Island
Director of the Coney Island Morale, Welfare and Recreation Center
Proud Producer of the Greatest Sideshows on Earth

todd robbins

Todd Robbins Banner by Johnny Meah via http://www.toddrobbins.com

If Strong’s sideshow returns, Coney Island will boast a trio of sideshow operators come summer. Coney Island USA’s world-famous circus sideshow starring Donny Vomit, Heather Holliday, and Serpentina will be operating 7 days a week with the addition of a new girlie freak show. Tickets cost $7.50 for adults, $5.00 for kids, and are well worth the price. New kid on the block Luna Park will feature two free sideshow performances on Friday and Saturday nights starring sideshow luminaries like Erik “The Lizardman” Sprague and Natasha Veruschka, the world’s only sword swallowing belly-dancer. The Lizardman, who performed at CIUSA as a guest artist last August told ATZ, “I’m just happy that reports of Coney Island’s death continue to be greatly exaggerated and I am looking forward to working there again this summer, both at Luna and Sideshows by the Seashore.”

The Luna Park shows are produced by Todd “Coney Island Wonder Worker” Robbins, former president of the board of CIUSA and current “Post-Modern Master of the Sideshow.” When Strong writes, “Todd Robbins will warm them up and I’ll take their money home,” he is referring to Robbins’s show in Luna Park. But we think a free sideshow is more likely to cut into the receipts of ticketed attractions than send them customers. Mom to kids: “But honey, we already saw the sword swallower!”

When Strong came to Coney last year, the media played up the Battle of the Sideshows angle, just as they did years ago when Strong’s stepfather Bobby Reynolds had his show in the bank building on 12th Street and the tabloids wrote about “dueling sideshows.”

The more the merrier school of thought is that a concentration of sideshow talent is good publicity for Coney Island. The new Luna Park is expected to draw bigger crowds to the amusement area, too. It will be fascinating to see how this friendly rivalry plays out on the bally platforms and at the cash registers this summer.

New sideshow banners by Marie Roberts on Coney Island USA’s Building advertise this summer’s special guest freaks. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

Sideshow banners by Marie Roberts on Coney Island USA’s Building advertise last summer’s special guest freaks. June 9, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

Related posts on ATZ…

May 4, 2010: Rare & Vintage: Major Debert the Tiniest Man’s Sideshow Banner

March 10, 2010: Coney Island Sideshow to Add Girlie Freak Show, Run 7 Days a Week

December 1, 2009: TLC’s Cake Boss Sweet on Marie Roberts’ Coney Island Sideshow Banners

May 29, 2009: At Cha-Cha’s of Coney Island, Squidling Rhymes with Ringling

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When the Coney Island Girlie Freak Show premiered last month at BB King’s, Dick Zigun announced that in Summer 2010, Coney Island’s Sideshows By the Seashore would run seven days a week instead of five. The schedule will be expanded in anticipation of a busier than ever season in Coney Island after Memorial Day’s grand opening of the new Luna Park.

Heather Holliday spits a bit of Fire on stage at Coney Island USA. © 2009 Norman Blake. All rights reserved. NB Photo Flash via flickr

Heather Holliday spits a bit of Fire on stage at Coney Island USA. © 2009 Norman Blake. All rights reserved. NB Photo Flash via flickr

From June 12 through Labor Day, there will be two completely different sideshows at CIUSA. “The rough schedule is up on our calendar of events,” says Zigun. “During that time period the CONEY ISLAND CIRCUS SIDESHOW will feature Donny Vomit and Heather Holliday and the CONEY ISLAND GIRLIE FREAKSHOW will feature Angelica and Serpentina.”

That means two different female fire-eaters will be in residence at Coney Island USA. It’s a double wow! Heather Holliday, who is known as the world’s cutest sword swallower and the Princess of Peril, added a stunning fire act to her repertoire last season.

We welcome back Anjelica, who took a break from the ten-in-one last summer. Her fire act is hypnotic, sensuous and lovely all at once. Not to be missed! These amazing shots by Coney Island photographer Norman Blake capture the wonder of the “blow out,” the most dangerous and difficult feat of the fire breather’s art.

Anjelica performing during the opening night party at the 2007 Coney Island Film Festival. © 2007 Norman Blake. All rights reserved. NB Photo Flash via flickr

Anjelica performing during the opening night party at the 2007 Coney Island Film Festival. © 2007 Norman Blake. All rights reserved. NB Photo Flash via flickr

The Coney Island Girlie Freak show at BB King’s featured Angelica, Serpentina, Kryssy Kocktail, Pain Proof Rubber Girls and guest artist Bearded Lady Jennifer Miller.

The Coney Island Sideshow opens for the season on Saturday, April 3rd, 1-8 pm. The sideshow cast will also perform at CIUSA’s 30th Anniversary Gala on March 25th in Manhattan. Advance tickets are available online.

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February 12, 2010: Presidents Day Weekend at Coney Island USA’s Hall of the Presidents

February 3, 2010: New in 2010: Coney Island Fun Phone Addition to CI Fun Guide

January 25, 2010: March 14-17: Coney Island Sideshow Banner Painting School with Marie Roberts

December 1, 2009: TLC’s Cake Boss Sweet on Marie Roberts’ Coney Island Sideshow Banners

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Thor Equities Shuttered Grashorn Bldg, Surf Ave & Jones Walk, Coney Island, August 15, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Thor Equities Shuttered Grashorn Bldg, Surf Ave & Jones Walk, Coney Island, August 15, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

ATZ has learned that sideshow operator John Strong has made a deal with Thor Equities to return to Coney Island for the 2010 season. In lieu of last year’s location in the former Astroland arcade, which was sold to the City, Strong’s freak museum will occupy Thor Equities’ owned 1104 Surf Ave at Jones Walk. Known as the Grashorn Building after Henry Grashorn’s Hardware store, which was in business in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the building is Coney Island’s oldest. The Texas-based showman flew into New York last week for a meeting with Thor Equities.

The building fronts Surf Avenue and extends along the west side of Jones Walk. Yet this prime location remained vacant and devoid of activity in 2009 (see photo above) due to Thor CEO Joe Sitt’s soaring rents. Last summer, a business owner who had leased a small stand on the Walk from Thor in 2008 told us the 2009 rent had tripled from $8,000 to $24,000. He declined the space and left Coney Island.

John Strong was mum on the cost of his lease for the Grashorn but is said to be happy with the deal. His museum of live and preserved freaks and oddities will occupy a prime location between Zamperla’s new Luna Park on the former Astroland site and Coney Island USA’s Sideshow and Museum at Surf Ave and 12th Street. The extra added attraction for Strong and company is the apartment on the upper floors.

Grashorn Building, April 19, 2003.  Municipal Art Society via flickr

Grashorn Building, April 19, 2003. Municipal Art Society via flickr

As ATZ reported in “John Strong Sideshow Aims for Coney Island Comeback” (Jan 13, 2010), Strong also proposes putting his ten-in-one sideshow as well as a circus on Thor’s Stillwell property. But several carnivals and amusement operators, including the also rans for the City’s RFP, are vying to lease what remains of Thor’s lots on Stillwell. A decision is expected by mid-February.

In Coney Island: Lost and Found, historian Charles Denson writes that the building at 1104 Surf dates back to the 1880’s and the Grashorn hardware store served Coney Island’s amusement businesses for more than 60 years: “The clapboard façade, dormers, cast iron resting, chimneys and fish-scale shingles were removed when the building was renovated in the 1980s but the mansard roof retains its shape.”

Grashorn Building in 1969. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project

Grashorn Building in 1969. Photo © Charles Denson via Coney Island History Project

The Grashorn is one of six historic structures proposed for city landmark designation by Coney Island USA, the Municipal Art Society and Save Coney Island. In 2004, Coney Island USA received a grant from the JM Kaplan Fund to hire an architectural historian and research old buildings in Coney Island. The City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has delayed calendaring the buildings during the rezoning process.

MAS’s Melissa Baldock makes a plea for the Grashorn Building’s landmark designation: “The building could be restored to be a wonderful showpiece of Coney Island’s historic vernacular architecture. It is remarkable that this building, which predates Coney Island’s first enclosed amusement parks and was built around the same time as Coney Island (and America’s) first roller coaster, survives in 2009. However, without landmark status, there is no guarantee that this piece of Coney Island history will be part of its future.”

UPDATE April 29, 2010:

John Strong’s deal to rent the Grashorn is off! We’re sorry that rumors of Joe Sitt’s plans to demolish historic buildings which we reported in last week’s post “Thor’s Coney Island: Tattered Tents, Deathwatch for Historic Buildings” (ATZ, April 21, 2010) have turned out to be true. This is one time we would have preferred for the rumors to have remained just rumors.

Today, in response to a flurry of queries from reporters about Sitt’s still unleased empty lots and vacant properties, Thor Equities pr flack Knickerbocker SKD issued a press release announcing Sitt’s intention to begin demolishing the buildings and to replace them with other structures by May 2011. According to the release, “These structures will be replaced with more attractive, retail-friendly and up-to-code shops for the type of retailers Coney is famous for.” See “Thor’s Coney Island: Joey “Bulldozer” Sitt Is Baaack Playing Games!” (ATZ. April 29, 2010)

Translation: More Bull-Sitt from Thor Equities. More deliberately created empty lots.

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Related posts on ATZ…

March 9, 2009: Thor’s Coney Island: Wanna Lease Stillwell? That’ll Be $500K Up Front!

April 29, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Joey “Bulldozer” Sitt Is Baaack Playing Games!

April 21, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Tattered Tents, Deathwatch for Historic Buildings

January 13, 2010: John Strong Sideshow Aims for Coney Island Comeback”>John Strong Sideshow Aims for Coney Island Comeback

January 8, 2010: Coney Island 2010: Good Riddance to Thor Equities Flopped Flea Market, Hello Rides?

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Texas-based sideshow operator John Strong has launched a new website replete with photos to announce he’s booking his 2010 season. Coney Island is clearly at the top of his wish list. A one-page proposal on the site outlines Strong’s pitch to return to Coney Island in 2010 with shows similar to his “Strangest Girls in the World” ten-in-one circus sideshow and his Oddity Museum.

July 2, 2009: John Strong Sideshow in Coney Island. ©2009 Norman Blake. All rights reserved by NB Photo Flash via flickr

July 2, 2009: John Strong Sideshow in Coney Island. ©2009 Norman Blake, All rights reserved by NB Photo Flash via flickr

The flamboyant showman’s traveling museum boasts dozens of live and preserved freaks of nature, including Double Trouble the Two Headed Rattlesnake, a Four Tailed Iguana and a Five-Legged Puppy. Nope, it’s not the adorable-looking, headline-grabbing 5-legged Chihuahua mix that was “saved” from being sold to Strong’s freak show last year. It’s a Yorkie and she’s looking forward to being in Coney Island and written up in the New York Times.

Strong’s two shows were booked into Thor Equities-owned Dreamland Park on the former Astroland site in 2009. Now he hopes to be able to book the same locations with the City’s soon-to-be designated amusement operator. At the end of 2009, the City paid $95.6 million to purchase 6.9 acres of Thor’s property in Coney Island and issued an RFP for an amusement operator for the parcels. “Contingent on the award of the NYC Contracts and negotiation with the Amusement Operator, the current John Strong Shows Proposal for Coney Island 2010 has three primary components,” according to the proposal on Strong’s website.

Night Shot of Banner Painted by Jorge Rivero and Takeshi Yamada for John Strongs Strange Girls Show. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Night Shot of Banner Painted by Jorge Rivero and Takeshi Yamada for John Strong's Strange Girls Show. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The third part of Strong’s pitch is “A Cirque-style/Las Vegas class, choreographed, Circus Sideshow production…. with fire eaters, family friendly dance revues and similar live amusements with a definite plot and thematic development.” Strong and his friend Butch Butler of Butler Amusements jointly own the equipment (seats, lights, etc.) for the 2000 seat, 1-ring circus. Last summer Butler brought four rides all the way from California to Coney Island’s Dreamland, including Michael Jackson’s Dragon Wagon from Neverland Ranch.

The proposed site for the Cirque is Thor Equities tented property on Stillwell Avenue where “For Lease” signs went up last week. “Joe Sitt, Digna Rodriguez and Sam Sabin of Thor Equities have been very supportive of this use of Thor’s tents and properties on Surf,” Strong says in his proposal.

ATZ has already committed to hoping for rides and more rides and even more rides on Stillwell to replace the demolished Bumper Boats and bulldozed Go Karts and the long vanished Tornado roller coaster and Bobsled ride. But we do look forward to seeing John Strong’s drop-dead gorgeous Strange Girls and Mermaid and Giantess sideshow banners once again.

UPDATE April 29, 2010:

John Strong’s deal to rent the Grashorn is off! We’re sorry that rumors of Joe Sitt’s plans to demolish historic buildings which we reported in last week’s post “Thor’s Coney Island: Tattered Tents, Deathwatch for Historic Buildings” (ATZ, April 21, 2010) have turned out to be true. This is one time we would have preferred for the rumors to have remained just rumors.

Today, in response to a flurry of queries from reporters about Sitt’s still unleased empty lots and vacant properties, Thor Equities pr flack Knickerbocker SKD issued a press release announcing Sitt’s intention to begin demolishing the buildings and to replace them with other structures by May 2011. According to the release, “These structures will be replaced with more attractive, retail-friendly and up-to-code shops for the type of retailers Coney is famous for.” See “Thor’s Coney Island: Joey “Bulldozer” Sitt Is Baaack Playing Games!” (ATZ. April 29, 2010)

Translation: More Bull-Sitt from Thor Equities. More deliberately created empty lots.

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Related posts on ATZ…

April 29, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Joey “Bulldozer” Sitt Is Baaack Playing Games!

April 21, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Tattered Tents, Deathwatch for Historic Buildings

January 31, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Freak Museum to Lease Coney’s Oldest Building

August 24, 2009: Coney Island-O-Rama: John Strong Packs Up, Geren’s Rides “Sitt” It Out

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