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Posts Tagged ‘Kate Dale’

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

September 13, 2013: Coney Island Always: Visiting the Big CI Year-Round

October 18, 2010: Halloween in Coney Island: Snapshots of Luna Park’s Nights of Horror

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

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Timothy Haskell, the Off-Broadway theater director whose annual Nightmare Haunted House in NoHo bills itself as New York’s Most Horrifying Haunted House is coming to Coney Island for Halloween.  On August 11, Haskell tweeted: “got the gig to turn Luna Park in Coney Island into a Halloween wonderland. Opens October 15th. Pretty cool.”

Yesterday, Haskell had a meeting with Zamperla/Central Amusements International, the operators of Luna Park, according to his twitter feed:  “Going to Luna Park (coney island) to discuss my concepts for the haunted theme I will be implementing. It’s going to be scarecrows!”

Although Luna Park has yet to announce details of their Halloween festivities, the amusement park, which is open daily through Labor Day, will remain open weekends through Halloween, according to a recent post on the Luna Park NYC Facebook page. When reached for comment, Valerio Ferrari, who is president of both CAI and Zamperla’s United States branch, said in two weeks they’ll know for certain if the project is a go for Halloween 2010.

In October Coney Island USA will stage their annual Creepshow at the Freakshow haunted house tour of CIUSA’s building. The show is written and directed by CIUSA founder and Mermaid Parade creator Dick Zigun, who says this year’s theme is “The Ride Inspector’s Nightmare”! The Creepshow’s designer is Kate Dale, whose fabulous creations for the Mermaid Parade have won her “Best Mermaid” and “Best Float” more times than anyone else in the history of the parade.

Let the countdown till Halloween in Coney Island begin!

Happy Halloween!! From Coney Island Creepshow at the Freakshow. Photo © Norman Blake?Coney Island USA

Happy Halloween!! From Coney Island Creepshow at the Freakshow. The Scurvy Proprietor of the Grog Shop (Insectavora).Photo © 2006 Norman Blake/Coney Island USA

UPDATE September 7, 2010:

Luna Park Presents Nights of Horror…Here to Haunt You is set for Halloween 2010. This banner advertising the event was on display in Luna over Labor Day Weekend…According to a flyer, the event is scheduled for October 15- 31, on Fridays and Saturdays from 5 pm – 12 am, and on Sundays from 5 pm -10 pm.

Banner for Luna Park Presents Nights of Horror...Here to Haunt You, October 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

Banner for Luna Park Presents Nights of Horror...Here to Haunt You, October 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

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Related posts on ATZ…

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

September 13, 2013: Coney Island Always: Visiting the Big CI Year-Round

December 7, 2010: Art of the Day: Freak Taxidermy Skull by Takeshi Yamada

October 18, 2010: Halloween in Coney Island: Snapshots of Luna Park’s Nights of Horror

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Mermaid Kate Dale on Purple Sofa Float in 2008 Mermaid Parade. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Mermaid Kate Dale on Purple Sofa Float in 2008 Mermaid Parade. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

When I spotted this fabulous purple sofa in the staging area minus its mermaid at last year’s parade, I just knew it belonged to Kate Dale. I’m pretty sure Kate has won Best Mermaid more than any other mermaid in the parade’s history. She once won for her elaborate Girl on A Swing float inspired by a painting by Fragonard. Kate graciously took a few minutes from ongoing preparations for tomorrow’s parade for a quick Q & A. ATZ can’t wait to see what Kate and her crew have created for 2009! Oh, and best of luck to all of you last minute mermaids…

Q: Are you still head of the costume department at Juilliard?

A: I am the Prop Shop Supervisor at Juilliard, I’ve done so since 1990.

Q: Is it true that you won Best Mermaid more than any other mermaid in the parade’s history?

A: I have won Best Mermaid 3 times. I do not know if some one else has won more. There are a few good ones who’ve been in the game as long as I have. I have also won best float twice.

Q: What were some of your costumes and floats in the parade?

A: Sea turtle, hot air balloon with Gibson girl mermaid, giant silver coin, space mermaid, origami mermaid

Q: Which ones won Best Mermaid?

A: I won Best Mermaid first in 96 in a walking costume with a bustle style tail, 2000 in a Fragonard inspired swing and 2005 in the hot air balloon. My Best Float Winners were the space mermaid waterspeeder in 02 and the silver anniversary coin in 07. The ones that should have won were the champagne bottle in 02 (in a downpour) and the lobster car in 97, but I’m not bitter.

Q: How many hours or days do you and your friends typically spend in preparation?

A: Lots, though we’re dialing it back these days. It’s down to a 2 week build.

Q: Do you have any tips for last minute mermaids?

A: Get away from the computer and back to work!!!!!

2009 Mermaid Parade is Saturday, June 20th, 2PM! Rain or Shine!

UPDATE: If you’re curious to see Kate’s float in the 2009 parade, here’s my photo on flickr. This lovely “push pull float” was pulled by a team of clowns. Congrats to Kate and her crew!

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Related posts on ATZ…

June 16, 2011: Last Chance to See Mermaid Parade Before It Turns 30!

January 2, 2010: Photo Album: Coney Island Boardwalk, New Year’s Day 2010

July 6, 2009: Q & A with Zoltar: Coney Island Mermaid Parade’s Best Fortunetelling Float!

June 22, 2009: A Judge’s Photo Album of the 2009 Coney Island Mermaid Parade

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