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Freak Baby Museum of Dr. Takeshi Yamada at Feast of San Gennaro, Little Italy. September 16, 2010.  Photo courtesy of Takeshi Yamada

Freak Baby Museum of Dr. Takeshi Yamada at Feast of San Gennaro, Little Italy. September 16, 2010. Photo courtesy of Takeshi Yamada

At last year’s Feast of San Gennaro, ATZ photographed quite a few Coney Islanders who’d decamped with their games, sideshows and food stands to top off the season in Little Italy. One of the strangest sights at this year’s feast, which runs through September 26th, is Dr. Takeshi Yamada and his freak baby museum from Coney Island. The Neptune Avenue resident, whose studio is known as the Museum of World Wonders, has quite a family: There’s a Two-headed Baby, Mermaid Baby, Octopus Baby, Lobster Baby, Penguin Baby, and Three-headed Baby. “His” is not just a figure of speech–the six rogue taxidermy infants are made from Yamada’s own skin!

Yamada, who has an MFA in fine art from the University of Michigan School of Art and was Grand Champion of the Minnesota Association of Rogue Taxidermists in 2006, considers his artwork “specimens” rather than examples of self expression. He uses a variety of natural materials to create his curiosities including some that might be considered controversial.

When we wrote about the babies last year, readers inquired how the artist collected his skin. Yamada replied: “During summer months, I shed skins multiple times, and I carefully remove them from my body, save them, and preserve them as ‘specimens’ for my Cabinet of Curiosities. I mounted my own skin specimens on the super-realistic replicas of freak human babies, which I created. In this way their body surfaces look really real, [more] than ones replicated in other materials (rubber, plastic, fiberglass, clay etc.). In loose terms, my freak babies are my clones.”

Yamada’s full explanation, titled “Creatures as Art Supplies,” can be read in the comments section of a post written last year, “Thru Dec 31 at Coney Island Library: Artist Takeshi Yamada’s Cabinet of Curiosities.” It remains one of ATZ’s top 25 posts, thanks to curiosity about such curiosities as a mummified six-fingered witch’s hand and a three-eyed human skull. The free exhibition of oddities and rogue taxidermy artwork is currently in its fifth year at the Mermaid Avenue library, a six-minute walk from Stillwell Terminal. But if you want to see the freak babies, head over to San Gennaro or pay a visit to the nursery at Coney Island’s Museum of World Wonders.

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November 29, 2012: Coney Island Taxidermist Takeshi Yamada in AMC Reality Show

December 8, 2011: Takeshi Yamada’s Jersey Devil Set for Bell House Taxidermy Contest

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

September 24, 2009: Photo Album: Coney Islanders and Carnies at San Gennaro

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Floss & Apples at San Gennaro. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Floss & Apples at San Gennaro. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Last Friday marked ATZ’s first weekend away from Coney Island and first weekend off since Memorial Day! After winding up the season at the People’s Playground on September 13, we soon began to miss the noise and the crowds. We headed over to the closest carnival—the 82nd Annual Feast of San Gennaro.

Strolling along Mulberry Street from Houston to Canal, we met quite a few Coney Islanders who’d brought their games, sideshows and food stands to Little Italy. In fact, the stand where we finally stopped for calamari because it looked the most appetizing turned out to be owned by the proprietors of Gyro Corner on Coney Island’s Boardwalk. Different menu in Little Italy, thanks to Mama’s sauce.

Carnival Rides on Grand Street. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Carnival Rides on Grand Street. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Hit the Hammer, Ring the Bell. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Monica from Dreamland. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Lucys Fabulous Marquee. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Lucy's Fabulous Marquee. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Lucy’s Palace is famous for their sausage sandwiches, but I was struck by the fabulous hand-painted marquee on their vintage trailer. A lot on Mulberry was filled with game concessionaires from Surf Ave and Dreamland and a trio of single-o’s direct from Coney Island. Kima “The Elephant Woman” made her sideshow debut this summer in Coney at John Strong’s Strangest Show on Earth. A ten-in-one sideshow with some former Coney freaks including Eak the Geek was there early in the week. You just never know who or what will turn up at this 10 day extravaganza in the narrow streets of Little Italy. This is the place where Coney Island’s world famous Shoot the Freak got its start!

Direct from Coney Island! Stephen was the talker at the Elephant Woman's single-o.  Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Direct from Coney Island! Stephen was the talker at one of the single-o's. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Toy Store Amusements Festival Wheel at San Gennaro. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Toy Store Amusements Festival Wheel at San Gennaro. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Toy Store Amusements’ Festival Wheel and three kiddie rides nudged up against the apartment buildings on Grand Street. In the increasingly gentrified streets of New York City, amusement rides at street fairs are becoming a rare sight. As far as carnival games, water race fun and one ball in wins were it.. The iPod Touch was the most hyped prize. The complete Photo Album: Coney Islanders and Carnies at San Gennaro can be viewed on flickr.

Lights at Figli di San Gennaro. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Lights at Figli di San Gennaro. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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