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Miss Coney Island

Miss Coney Island with her dancing cats and her baby doll. West 12th Street. April 1, 2012. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

After 14 years on Jones Walk, the windows featuring the life-size dancing doll “Miss Coney Island” and the miniature animated rides of “Coney Island Always” have moved to West 12th Street along with Skin the Wire and other whimsical games. Mechanical wonders like Chuckles the Clown and dancing cats can be found there as well. The location is just off the Boardwalk, under Deno’s Wonder Wheel and next to the Coney Island History Project.

“Miss Coney Island” spoke with ATZ–yes, she speaks via twitter!–about the big move and the marvelous makeover that has fans saying she looks 30 years younger. The shimmying mannequin received a complete re-do, including new wig, makeup, manicure, costume, jewelry and music. Her motto remains “Don’t Postpone Joy” and it’s still only “25 cents to fall in LOVE.”

Miss Coney Island

Closeup of Miss Coney Island's Bejeweled Hand. March 23, 2012. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

You’d never know it to look at Miss Coney but she is well over 30. We’re not one to give away a woman’s age, but anecdotal evidence suggests the dancing mannequin may be a contemporary of the venerable Grandma’s Predictions, the fortunetelling automaton in Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. Earlier in her career, “Miss Coney Island” was an Indian Princess automaton at a fairground exhibition, she revealed. “My best friend was ‘Little Egypt.’ After the fair closed, everyone and everything was put up for auction. And here I am.”

The post-modern “Miss Coney Island” is a visual jukebox. This season there’s an emphasis on Doo Wop and Reggae music at Miss Coney’s request. “Most of the songs are oldies that were ‘newies’ when I was young,” she said wistfully. There’s “Little Darlin'” by the Diamonds, “Come Go with Me” by the Del-Vikings and of course “Under the Boardwalk” by the Drifters.” The song in the video that we made is “This Magic Moment.” While we were there a group of twenty-somethings came over and and started dancing. They kept putting quarters in the machine. Apparently they’d never heard music from the 1950s and ’60s and were enchanted. “What is this music,” they asked. “Where can we buy it?”

The usually silent Miss Coney decided to speak up after a New York tabloid recently dissed Jones Walk as “a longtime seedy strip” and claimed that the City cleared everyone out because it “had been filled with rigged carnival games and ripped off beachgoers for years.” She was furious. “In 14 years on the Walk, nobody but nobody has ever accused me or my friends of being seedy! Win or lose, people left with a smile on their faces,” Miss Coney said.

ATZ can vouch for Miss Coney’s veracity. Having worked games of skill on the Walk, it pained us to see the reputations of all of the concession operators tarnished so casually. There was ONE bad apple among the tenants in the City-owned booths. The majority of the operators were legit and were therefore able to relocate to City-owned or private property in Coney Island.

Miss Coney Island

Miss Coney Island Meets A Little Miss Coney Island. April 8, 2012. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

“It costs ’25 cents to fall in LOVE’ and ’25 cents to smile,’ but quarters don’t pay the rent in Coney Island,” according to Miss Coney, who depends on income from Skin the Wire and other $2 games of skill to fund her retirement. Three of the games made the move to 12th Street, but two money-making water games had to be left behind in the dumpster. “We just couldn’t fit them into our new space,” she added sadly.

Be that as it may, Miss Coney Island says “I’m sooo happy with my new location. More people walk by than on the Walk.” Earlier this month, singing sensation Rita Ora, who was in Coney to shoot her new music video, stopped by to pose in front of the windows. “Fingers crossed I’m in the video too,” said the dancing doll, who asked us to mention that she and “Coney Island Always” are available for film and TV shoots. “What I’d really love is a cameo on “30 Rock” and a mention on David Letterman’s Top 10 List.”

Coney Island animated toy window

Coney Island Always, West 12th Street. April 8, 2012. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

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April 10, 2012: Up for Auction: Collection of Carnival Knockdown Dolls

December 7, 2011: Jones Walk’s “Miss Coney Island” Shimmies Over to 12th St

October 6, 2010: Traveler: Where You Can Play Fascination Year Round

July 14, 2009: Miss Coney Island on Jones Walk: 25 Cents to Fall in Love

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In July, ATZ posted Circus Portraits: Photography by Kevin C Downs. Circus Vidbel was in Coney Island for an abbreviated run, but Kevin Downs photographs of the performers have a timeless quality that evokes the classic portraiture of the Golden Age of the Circus. You can view the complete set, including a few candids, on the photographer’s website.

Ambra Zerbini, Zamperla-Zoppe Riders, Coney Island July 12, 2011. Photo © Kevin C Downs

The 1927 film “IT” made Brooklyn-born Clara Bow a sex symbol. In August, Video of the Day: “IT Girl” Clara Bow in Coney Island featured anecdotes about Bow and this scene from the film. She plays a shop girl who goes on a first date with her boss to Coney’s Steeplechase Park, where the Human Roulette Wheel and the Barrel of Love help them get acquainted.

Brooklyn-born singer-songwriter Garland Jeffreys’ album “The King of In Between” has been called “as uncannily fresh and forceful as the songs on his debut record, from 1973″ by the New Yorker and it’s on plenty of year-end Top 10 lists. You’ll see why in this live performance of Coney Island Winter: Garland Jeffreys Live on Letterman

New York City hasn’t had any snow since the freaky October snowstorm dubbed Snowtober on the web. In addition to a snow-covered Coney Island Boardwalk, photographer Bruce Handy’s flickr slide show offers snow-dusted Halloween characters and the rare sight of the Wonder Wheel’s cars, which ordinarily have been taken down for the winter before the first snowfall.

As ATZ reported exclusively early this month, Miss Coney Island and Coney Island Always, along with Skin the Wire and two or three other games, are moving from Jones Walk to booths on West 12th Street. Their location is next to the Coney Island History Project. Bring a roll of quarters because it will still be “25¢ to Laugh,” “25¢ to Smile,” and “25¢ to Fall in Love” with the famed mannequin, who is expected to debut a new outfit and new music this season.

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December 27, 2011: Amusing the Zillion’s Top 10 Coney Island News Stories of 2011

November 15, 2011: Coney Island 2012: What’s New on the Boardwalk

January 1, 2011: Amusing the Zillion’s Top 10 Coney Island News Stories of 2010

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Miss Coney Island

Miss Coney Island: 25¢ to fall in LOVE. Photo © Charles Denson. All Rights Reserved

Get ready for the Summer of Love in Coney Island! ATZ has learned exclusively that Jones Walk’s legendary “Miss Coney Island” will be dancing more than ever in 2012 at a brand-new location on West 12th Street. The shimmying mannequin’s vitrine will be next to the Coney Island History Project’s exhibition center, near the entrance to Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. The price is the same: “25¢ to Fall in Love.”

“I love staring into Miss Coney Island’s eyes,” said Charles Denson, director of the Coney Island History Project, which is expanding its exhibition center into a second storefront that will be Miss CI’s neighbor. “She’s also my favorite dance partner and having her next door is a dream come true.”

Miss Coney Island

Miss Coney Island: 25¢ to fall in LOVE. Photo © Charles Denson. All Rights Reserved

As we’ve noted previously, Miss Coney Island does not receive a salary. Her only way of paying the rent on her vitrine is your spare change. When you visit next season, we recommend bringing a whole roll of quarters to spend on Miss CI and her neighbor, Coney Island Always, an animated diorama of Coney Island attractions that will be expanded to include 15 rides, a tightrope walker and a unicyclist. As the signs say, “25¢ to Laugh,” “25¢ to Smile,” and “Don’t Postpone Joy!”

Miss Coney Island and Coney Island Always, along with Skin the Wire and two or three other games, are relocating from Jones Walk to booths on West 12th Street, which is City-owned property leased to Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. Last month, the City’s Economic Development Corporation issued an RFP (Request for Proposals) for the booths on the east side of Jones Walk, a 1,650 square foot space that was purchased along with a larger parcel in 2008. The RFP requires renovating or completely rebuilding the existing booths, some of which are in poor condition. Proposals are due January 6th.

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August 15, 2011: Games: Where You Can Play Vintage Pinball Year Round

April 10, 2011: Men in Black 3 Rescues Coney Island’s Oldest Building

October 6, 2010: Traveler: Where You Can Play Fascination Year Round

July 14, 2009: Miss Coney Island on Jones Walk: 25 Cents to Fall in Love

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Lefty Lucy

Lefty Lucy celebrating her win at the Miss Coney Island Burlesque Pageant. September 17, 2010. Photo © NY_Man via flickr

What’s it like to be Miss Coney Island 2011? ATZ asked Lefty Lucy, who won the title in September at the 8th annual burlesque beauty pageant and is halfway into her reign.  Her predecessors are such luminaries of the New York sideshow and burlesque scene as Bambi the Mermaid, Insectavora Angelica, Julie Atlas Muz, Ekaterina, Serpentina, Gal Friday and Gigi LaFemme. The Great Fredini, who runs Coney Island USA’s Burlesque at the Beach, explains: “Bambi carefully curates the Miss Coney Island Pageant herself. We usually have 8 to 12 competitors and I emcee the show with a band. It’s run in a classic beauty pageant format with segments for runway, talent, lineup, etc. The thing is you just never know who will take it because the audience in the theater votes to decide who the new Miss Coney Island will be. So it’s really about who the audience loves the most. It’s very Coney Island!”

Q: When you were crowned Miss Coney Island, you looked very surprised. What is the secret of your success?

A: I was surprised! While I’ve been a performer all my life, I’ve only been performing burlesque for just over 2 years. The Miss Coney Island Burlesque Beauty Pageant has been an inspiration to me for years now; it was THE destination for my birthday for almost all of the past 6 years! I think that helped, really, as far as the “secret to my success” is concerned. Since I have seen the pageant, I had a pretty good sense of what a Coney Island audience wants. Coney Island lovers tend to be funny, original, sincere, and full of joy. The competitors who stuck with me over the years (Minnie Tonka, Nasty Canasta, Trixie Little) each had strong gimmicks that reflected who they are, and by being themselves they reflected the Coney Island spirit. I just tried to be true to me and also entertain.

Lefty Lucy

Emcee Fred Kahl intros Lefty Lucy. Miss Coney Island Burlesque Pageant, September 17, 2010. Photo © NY_Man via flickr

Q: How has being Miss Coney Island changed your everyday life?  Are there any official duties or perks that come with the title?

A: I get to be involved in shows I haven’t been in before, like the big Spring Gala on Thursday, April 28. I also got a banner painted by Coney Island USA’s artist in residence, Marie Roberts, which is absolutely stunning. As for official duties, they primarily include producing a few shows at Sideshows by the Seashore and heading the Mermaid Parade as the Queen of Coney Island. I co-produced “Mr. and Ms. Coney Island Play Favorites” with the reigning King of Coney Island, Glenn Marla and we’re hoping we get to do a few more before my time is up! Beyond that, I’m working with Bambi the Mermaid to create a Wikipedia entry and Facebook page for Miss Coney Island, trying to coordinate some big press pushes for the season this summer, and making sure that New Yorkers know that Coney Island is still alive and kicking.

Lefty Lucy

Lefty Lucy as a Robot in Sweet & Nasty Burlesque at Coney Island USA. Banner by Marie Roberts. October 7, 2010. Photo © NY_Man via flickr

Q: Your costumes in the pageant were a knockout!  One photographer wrote on flickr: “I am really impressed by this girl. Three interesting costume changes and silver make-up put on and removed!” Tell us a little about the inspiration for and creation of the costumes. Did you make them yourself?

A: Thank you! I am an incredibly lucky girl. One of my best friends of all time, David Withrow (DW professionally), is a brilliant costume designer. He and I both like to have a narrative in costumes, and once I settled on doing a brand new robot act for the show, I decided I wanted all of my looks to be robot inspired. The robot act costume I made out of duct tape and tin foil. It is sort of an homage to the costumes I grew up seeing on the Twilight Zone. For the gown, DW suggested doing a take on the Metropolis robot, and we decided to use all of the iconic architecture of Coney Island to emphasize that concept. We built that headdress the day of the show using foam core, toothpicks, and silver sharpies! Glamorous, no? Then for the swimsuit portion of the competition, I decided to go 60s Fembot, which is why I’m all pink and gogo-tastic. What you don’t see are my bullet pasties under the bra!

Miss Coney Island

Bambi the Mermaid with the newly crowned Miss Coney Island Lefty Lucy. Miss Coney Island Burlesque Pageant. September 17, 2010. Photo © NY_Man via flickr

Q: Are zany costumes your trademark?  You portrayed the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters in Epic Win Burlesque, Lot’s Wife as the Morton Salt Girl in Storybook Burlesque’s version of the Bible. Tell us about the costumes.  Do you ever get any ideas that are too over the top?

A: hahaha yes, Mr. Stay Puft was a fun one, for sure. It’s made of this awful gummy insulated fabric that we found on discount. I don’t know what it is supposed to be used for, but it’s perfect for a marshmallow man. The first two times I did the act, I filled the costume with marshmallows so every time I tore a piece off, marshmallows flew in to the audience. It was a lot of fun. Morton Salt Girl was easy as she has such an iconic look; the hard part was figuring out what she would wear under the dress!

Lefty Lucy

Lefty Lucy as the Morton Salt Girl/Lot's Wife in Storybook Burlesque's Bible Show II. December 3, 2010. Photo © Eric Harvey Brown/dogseat via flickr

I wouldn’t say that zany costumes are my trademark, but zany concepts definitely are. As I’m getting deeper into burlesque, I’m becoming less afraid of dreaming big. I love burlesque, and I love when I see someone take something off in an unexpected way. There’s an inherent sense of playfulness to much of my burlesque, and I think having costumes that can be removed in unique ways helps engage the audience and lets them partake in the fun I am having on stage. It makes burlesque more like a magic trick, and why go to live performance if not to experience magic?

As for ideas that are too over the top, I have them all the time! Some we make come true, like Mr. Stay Puft and my wall costume. For Storybook Burlesque’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play within a Play within a Burlesque show, I played the Wall, and did an Elizabethan take on the look. I had “walls” sticking out of my hips as panniers, and a cage bodice with bricks framing it that are removed throughout the act. Other acts I dream up are not possible now, but I’m still trying to find ways to make them happen. I’d love to do an act using the sort of wheel that knife throwers use, but I would be a record. You wouldn’t see a person at all until pieces began being removed and I would be revealed, attached to this spinning upright record. These wheels aren’t the sort of thing you can find on Craigslist, though, so that will definitely have to wait.

Lefty Lucy

Lefty Lucy in Storybook Burlesque's Midsummer Night's Dream. July 29, 2010. Photo © Matt Bresler via flickr

Q: Your bio says that you made your burlesque debut in the New York School of Burlesque Showcase in January 2009 at the Slipper Room.  What was your favorite part of the curriculum?  What inspired you to enroll in NYSB?

A: The first class I ever took with the NYSB was a 4 week intensive covering all of the basics of burlesque: pasty making and tassel twirling, the glove peel, stocking peel, etc. with Jo “Boobs” Weldon as teacher. It was incredibly freeing and I learned SO much. I don’t have a dance background, and this class helped me become comfortable with movement and feeling sexy instead of silly or self conscious. But my favorite part was tassel twirling, hands down. I took to it like a fish to water, and Jo called me a freak for getting it as quickly as I did.

What brought me to the NYSB was really what got me in to burlesque. It’s a long story, but it’s partially inspired by Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog and an application I was filling out to become a member of the Evil League of Evil. I needed an outlet, and burlesque was a perfect fit. My friend Dave had a huge crush on Jo and told me about the school, so I looked online and signed up immediately.

Lefty Lucy

Lefty Lucy in Storybook Burlesque's Midsummer Night's Dream. July 29, 2010. Photo © Eric Harvey Brown/dogseat via flickr

Q: How did you come up with your stage name “Lefty Lucy”?   What is your background and how does it inform your personality as a burlesque performer?

A: Before I took my first class, I knew I was going to need a name. I was going in a totally different direction, basing my ideas off of my muggle name, but Dave (the one who had a crush on Jo) pointed out that all of the options I was coming up with sounded more drag than burlesque. I made a list of who I wanted to model my performance style after, and I immediately thought of all the time I spent watching I Love Lucy as a kid. I also have a background in theater, from on stage to being a techie, and I would be nowhere without “Lefty Loosey, Righty Tighty”! I Googled the name and (at the time) only found a band with the name, so it seemed ok for me to use it. I got lucky considering how much I didn’t know at the time about burlesque names. A lot of people pick a clever name they love, only to discover there are 10 other women around the world with names that sound similar, and it can be very frustrating. But Lefty Lucy is unique to me, and I love that.

Lefty Lucy

Lefty Lucy as Mr Stay Puft in Sweet & Nasty Burlesque at Coney Island USA. October 7, 2010. Photo © NY_Man via flickr

Q: Your comedic flair and range of facial expressions reminded me of Lucille Ball.  Is Lucy one of the inspirations for your stage persona Lefty Lucy?

A: That is an incredible compliment! Thank you! And yes, she is absolutely an inspiration.

Q: What’s your favorite episode or scene from I Love Lucy?

A: I think my absolute favorite is the one Harpo Marx is on. The Duck Soup mirror bit is classic and hilarious! I also love when Lucy tries to make the apartment feel like Cuba for Ricky, and does a great Carmen Miranda bit. I pay homage to that scene in one of my acts.

Q Who are some of your other heroines?

A: The two icons who got me through high school were Lucille Ball and Marilyn Monroe. They are still huge inspirations for me today, along with Goldie Hawn, Debbie Harry, Cyndi Lauper, and Ann Margaret. As for real-life heroines, Little Brooklyn is my all-time favorite performer. Her comedic timing and command of an audience is unbelievable, and her ideas are brilliant and spot-on. I also really admire BB Heart, who is one of my friends and co-founder of Storybook Burlesque. Her work is incredibly inspiring and uniquely her, which is fantastic.

Q: You’re a founding member of Storybook Burlesque, which is described as “literary burlesque” inspired by storybooks, including tabloids, the Bible, Shakespeare and Doctor Seuss. Which stories do you find inspiring and why?

A: I love Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and Peter Pan the most. I love the imagery and fanciful elements of Alice, not to mention all of the satire and social commentary involved. Peter Pan has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid; I always dreamt of being able to fly (and playing the part Mary Martin made famous!). Both books really get you out of the everyday and into your own imagination which is one of the most important things you can be in touch with as a performer. They make me want to be extraordinary, and to help others do it too. My favorite novel is Chuck Palahniuk’s Rant. He is one of very few authors who takes advantage of the uniqueness of books as a medium, and introduces you to characters that you only later discover look differently than you had imagined. I love this because it pushes me to reconsider the assumptions I make and why I make them, and also because it’s something any visual medium simply can’t do. I love artists who take advantage of what makes their medium special.

Lefty Lucy

Lefty Lucy in Storybook Burlesque's Dr Seuss Show. Banner by Marie Roberts. February 10, 2011. Photo © Eric Harvey Brown/dogseat via flickr

Lefty Lucy is Miss Coney Island 2011 and a founding member of Storybook Burlesque, which will be presenting Grimm’s Fairy Tales in Summer 2011. She is a member of Epic Win Burlesque, which is debuting their newest show, Rated R for Violence, on April 22nd & 23rd at the Tank, and will be performing as part of Nerdapalooza in Orlando on July 16. She also co-produces Drive Thru Burlesque with Sizzle Dizzle. Drive Thru Burlesque is a monthly 5 hour burlesque extravaganza one Friday a month at the Parkside Lounge.

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

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Calling all contestants! Among the Coney Island 2010 Season’s “first annual” events are the Miss Luna Mermaid Pageant, the Searching for Mr. Cyclone Contest and the Coney Island Talent Show. These brand new competitions join quirky favorites like the Mermaid Parade, Nathan’s 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest, the Miss Coney Island Burlesque Beauty Pageant, the Coney Island Beard & Moustache Competition and the Tattoo & Motorcycle Show. Now all we need is for someone to bring back the Most Beautiful Baby Contest!

Miss Luna Mermaid Pageant, Luna Park NYC
Entry Deadline: June 12. Pageant: Wednesday, June 16, rescheduled for Thursday, June 17, 7 pm

Coney Island’s new Luna Park is staging its first-ever Miss Luna Mermaid Pageant on Wednesday June 16th Thursday, June 17th, at 7pm. One queen will be crowned Miss Luna Mermaid and along with four runners up will ride on Luna Park’s float in Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade on June 19. Contestants must be age 21-30 and will be judged in two categories, swimwear and talent. Be demure! “Please refrain from any talents or swimwear that is explicit and/or not appropriate for the viewership of all park guests.” Entry form and pageant rules on Luna Park’s website. Contact: kventre@caiparks.com, 718-373-LUNA (5862)

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The Mermaid Parade, Coney Island USA
Saturday, June 19, 2 pm; Register online or on site on the day of the parade starting at 10 am

Chief Justice pours first bribe of  Mermaid Parade. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Chief Justice pours first bribe of Mermaid Parade. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

If you’re a mermaid planning to join the parade, we recommend that you first read the FAQs on CIUSA’s site. Do not underestimate the importance of bribing the judges if you hope to win a prize. As a former Mermaid Parade judge we’ve received beer, vodka, more beer, chocolate cake, beer, lubricants, play money, glow in the dark octopus toy, more beer, more vodka, lemonade, the Book of Mermon, rum balls, and finally more beer. The most unusual bribe that we know of was the wooden boat with no engines and in need of structural repair. It was offered by the Rude Mechanical Orchestra who said show up with a tugboat and it’s yours. Last year’s thread on the CIUSA Message Board about Traditional Bribing of the Judges is required reading. Or you could splurge on a judgeship, sit back and enjoy the parade. Happy Mermaid Day!

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Searching for Mr. Cyclone Contest, Cyclone Roller Coaster
Entry deadline: June 26 July 11. Pageant: Saturday, August 7, 12-3 pm

Miss Cyclone Angie Pontani on Coney Island's beach looking for Mr Cyclone. Photo © Charles Denson

Miss Cyclone Angie Pontani on Coney Island's beach looking for Mr Cyclone. Photo © Charles Denson

According to the contest guidelines, “The Cyclone knows no fear and neither should you in your quest to become the first ever MISTER CYCLONE in the history of the free world!” Contestants will be judged on strength, endurance, Coney Island wits, creativity, talent, style and romance.

To compete for the title of Mr. Cyclone, applicants must fill out an application on the contest webpage by June 26July 11. Contestants will be selected by a team of “Cyclone experts” to have a profile posted on the Cyclone roller coaster’s homepage, where the public will be invited to vote for their favorite and send the top 7 to the live competition in Coney Island on August 7th.

“Mr. Cyclone 2010” will take part in the Cyclone’s 2011 Opening Day Ceremonies, the Mermaid Parade, receive a season pass to the Cyclone Roller Coaster, throw out an opening pitch at a Brooklyn Cyclones game and revel in the glory of being Mr. Cyclone. Contact: misscyclone2010@gmail.com, 718-265-2100

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Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest, Nathan’s Famous
Event: Sunday, July 4th, 12 noon, pre-show at 10:30 am

This summer will mark the 95th year of the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest, It’s too late to register for Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest qualifiers around the country, but on the Fourth of July you can join the crowd watching the contest live in Coney Island instead of on ESPN. Contact: International Federation of Competitive Eating

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Coney Island Talent Show, Thirsty Girl Productions
Entry deadline: July 7 July 16. Talent Show: Saturday, July 31, 4-8 pm

The first-ever Coney Island Talent Show on the Boardwalk has posted an open call for performers in five categories: Best Drag Performance or Celebrity Impersonator; Circus Freaks and Sideshow Geeks (including all variety, novelty acts); Dance Your Pants Off (including soloists, troupes & step teams); Creative Kids, 9-12 years; Sassy Seniors, 60 and up. According to the contest guidelines: “The sub-category in each level is Best Costume, so be sure and dress with pizazz to this Coney Island affair. Singing is encouraged for all categories!”

1st prize in each category will receive a cash prize of $200,  a season pass to participating Coney Island Amusements and an opportunity to perform live before a Brooklyn Cyclone’s Baseball Game, The 22nd Tattoo & Motorcycle Festival, or The 8th Annual New York Burlesque Festiva.l   2nd prize in each category will receive a cash prize of $50, and day passes to participating Coney Island Amusements.   3rd prize in each category will receive day passes to participating Coney Island Amusements.   The Best Dressed person in each category will receive a special mystery prize. The Best Dressed person in each category will receive a special mystery prize.

Contestants are asked to fill out an application on the website and post a video of their performance on YouTube or Vimeo. Seven contestants in each category will be selected by a panel of top secret Coney Island talent scouts and be asked to compete in the live event on July 31.
Contact: coneyislandtalent@gmail.com, 917-770-8559

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The Miss Coney Island Burlesque Beauty Pageant, Coney Island USA/Burlesque at the Beach, Friday, September 17, 10-11 pm

Miss Coney Island 2007 Ekaterina & Bambi. Photo © Norman Blake via coneyislandusa's flickr

Miss Coney Island 2007 Ekaterina & Bambi. Photo © Norman Blake via coneyislandusa's flickr

Gigi LaFemme is the reigning Miss Coney Island. Her predecessors have included Gal Friday, Serpentina, Ekaterina and Bambi. The Great Fredini, who runs Burlesque at the Beach, responded to our request for info on this year’s pageant: “Bambi carefully curates the Miss Coney Island Pageant herself. We usually have 8-12 competitors and I MC the show with a band. It’s run in a classic beauty pageant format with segments for runway, talent, lineup, etc. As far as this year… I can confirm that Angie Pontani will be competing, so the competition is going to be steep! The thing is you just never know who will take it because the audience in the theater votes to decide who the new Miss Coney Island will be. So it’s really about who the audience loves the most. It’s very Coney Island!” Contact: www.coneyisland.com

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June 23, 2011: Casting Call for Second Annual Coney Island Talent Show

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

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

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Miss Coney Island, 25 cents to fall in love. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Miss Coney Island, 25 cents to fall in love. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

This family paid their way, but you’d be surprised how many people who snap photos of Miss Coney Island are too cheap to drop 25 cents in the machine. If they happen to see the mannequin come to life and wiggle her hips, it’s on someone else’s quarter.

Remember, Miss Coney does not receive a salary. Her only way of paying the rent on Jones Walk is your spare change. Next time you visit, I recommend bringing a whole roll of quarters to spend on Miss Coney Island and her neighbor, Coney Island Always. As the sign says, “Don’t Postpone Joy!”

Coney Island Always, 25 cents to have fun. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Coney Island Always, 25 cents to have fun. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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December 7, 2011: Jones Walk’s “Miss Coney Island” Shimmies Over to 12th St

August 15, 2011: Games: Where You Can Play Vintage Pinball Year Round

April 13, 2011: Coney Island Arcade Debuts Cobra, Braves Loss of Arcade

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