Posts Tagged ‘Shoot the Freak’

Shoot the Clown

Shoot the Clown on Coney Island’s Bowery. March 31, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

Shoot the Freak has been reborn in Coney Island! A paintball game called Shoot the Clown opened on the Bowery this past weekend with a human target wearing a mask and body armor like the Boardwalk freak of yore. As you may remember, the game was evicted bulldozed by Zamperla in 2010 and replaced by the entrance to Scream Zone. But it seems long, long ago because so much has changed in Coney Island since then, including the building of Coney’s first new roller coasters in nearly 40 years and the devastation of Sandy.

Just to be clear, Shoot the Clown is run by longtime Coney Island game operator Caesar, who had to come up with a quick replacement for the Derby Racer destroyed by Superstorm Sandy. Framing a paintball game in the space was more practical than buying a brand-new track derby. In fact, another Coney Island operator had also considered the idea. The operator of Shoot the Freak on the Boardwalk was Anthony Berlingieri, who also operated Beer Island.

Shoot the Freak on Fourth of July. July 4, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

Shoot the Freak on Fourth of July. July 4, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i

It wasn’t until Shoot the Freak got evicted that we began to realize how intensely some people loved it and others hated it, including some of our close friends. There were even obituaries for the popular game like Gawker’s “Sad Things: America Loses A National Treasure: Shoot the Freak” and New York Magazine’s “Let Us Now Mourn the Loss of Coney Island’s Shoot the Freak.” They’re worth a re-read and so are the comments by people who called the game amazing, annoying or a dump. We like this one best: “How do you mention Shoot the Freak without mentioning the announcer? I always thought that getting told, “ya a freakin’ losah and my dead grammuddah could shoot bettah den ya, ya freakin’ freak!” by some grody carny was the high point,” says NYAARON in New York Magazine.

Shoot the Clown has a talker too, an unseen presence calling people in to play. Since the game had no customers when we passed by briefly on Sunday, we didn’t get to hear much talk or see any action yet. It’s 5 shots for $3, ten for $5, and 25 for a tenner.

Somebody needs to tell Amanda Burden. The City’s Planning Commissioner once said that she “loved” and “would put in a vote for” Shoot the Freak even though she hadn’t tried it. That was back in 2007 at a press conference hyping the rezoning of Coney Island. Here’s the vid of the Mayor, Burden and then Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff answering a reporter’s question about whether the new Coney Island was going to have room for Shoot the Freak and sword swallowers. The videographer is the late Bob Guskind of Gowanus Lounge, who was Brooklyn’s blogfather and the inspiration for Amusing the Zillion.

Update: The Shoot the Clown game on the Bowery has closed.


Related posts on ATZ…

May 16, 2013: Shooting Gallery Revival in Post-Sandy Coney Island

February 28, 2013: Coney Island Shooting Gallery from 1940s Makes Comeback

April 27, 2012: The Dancing Doll “Miss Coney Island” Speaks

October 28, 2010: Photo Album: Requiem for Coney Island’s Shoot Out the Star

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Beer Island

The End of Beer Island. November 6, 2011. Photo © Bruce Handy’s Coney Island Photo Diary via flickr

Coney Island’s Beer Island is no more. The popular bar that sold a wide variety of beer on a sandy beach adjacent to the Boardwalk was trashed yesterday as you can see in the above photo. ATZ called Anthony Berlingieri, the bar’s co-owner, to ask what happened. “I wouldn’t say it’s trashed, it’s scrapped,” he said of the bar. “I told people, take whatever you want.” On Saturday and Sunday treasure hunters were combing through the ruins, picking up signs, plastic trophies and other souvenirs. The bar was one of the Boardwalk businesses evicted from City-owned property that had until November 4th to vacate the premises.

“The last thing I wanted to see was them use that bar that I built with my own hands,” said Berlingieri, who believes that Zamperla USA, the company that leases the City’s property in Coney Island is “looking to copy it and not give me a chance to run it. They would not even sit down to talk with me.”

After hearing the news that fellow evictees Ruby’s Bar and Paul’s Daughter were offered leases when a Miami restaurateur suddenly pulled out of a deal to develop the Boardwalk, Berlingieri phoned to pitch his proposal. But he says Valerio Ferrari, president of Zamperla, replied that it was time for him to move on. “If he would have said it in front of me, you would have read about it in the paper,” says Berlingieri, noting that he and his partner offered to pay for a redo of Beer Island, conforming in every detail to Ferrari’s “vision.” “I told him, just send me the blueprints. We will go partners, 50-50, on the gross. Not a dollar out of your pocket.”

Beer Island was launched in partnership with the owner of Cha Cha’s and a local arcade in 2008 on the site of the miniature golf course evicted by Thor Equities. When ATZ wrote about the bar last month in “Butterflies and Beer Island,” we discovered some reviews on Yelp that entertainingly convey its appeal. More than a decade ago, Berlingieri created another original, Shoot the Freak, which was evicted last year to make way for the new Scream Zone entrance. At the time of last year’s evictions, Zamperla issued a statement saying “We look forward to creating an incredible new experience on the boardwalk, while continuing to honor Coney Island’s magnificent past.”

“We kept Coney Island a place people came to all these years,” says Berlingieri. “The City gave it to a bunch of people who never stepped foot in Coney Island.” He is bitter that Zamperla pays only $100,000 rent and a small percentage of receipts for all of the City property they lease in Coney Island. Each of the Boardwalk businesses has been paying $100,000 per year rent, plus a $10,000 surcharge initiated this year. “Where do we go? It’s like a death sentence,” he says. “It’s not like there’s twenty amusement parks to move to. You’ve heard of the American Dream. It doesn’t apply in New York.”

Beer Island

The End of Beer Island. November 6, 2011. Photo © Bruce Handy’s Coney Island Photo Diary via flickr

The current tally is 7 out of the 11 businesses that were Hy Singer’s or Astroland’s and then Thor Equities tenants before the Boardwalk property was bought by the City of New York in 2009 are now goners–closed, moved, put out of business. Four businesses closed and moved out by the deadline of November 4th: Beer Island, Cha Cha’s, Gyro Corner Clam Bar and Coney Island Souvenir Shop. Steve’s Grill House has to move out within ten days. In addition, John’s Deli, which subleased from Steve’s, and Maritza’s Souvenir Shop (formerly in the now-demolished Henderson Building) on the Stillwell side of Cha Cha’s had to move out. Pio Pio Riko did not join the Coney Island 8 in contesting last year’s evictions and its location became the site of Coney Cones. Four Boardwalk businesses were invited back, but lease deals cannot be confirmed: Nathan’s, Lola Star Boutique, Ruby’s Bar and Paul’s Daughter. Some deals are still being negotiated and could go either way, according to the Coney Island Rumor Mill.

Asked if he planned to relocate his two businesses, Berlingieri said Beer Island is over because Zamperla plans to copy it. As for Shoot the Freak, he would reopen it if he could get a lease that wasn’t year to year. “I took two empty lots and turned them into the coolest things in Coney Island –Shoot the Freak and Beer Island. I can’t build it and not see it stay.”

Another casualty of the eviction of the Boardwalk businesses is the L.A. based Gents of Desire’s famed mural “Hey Joey!” A couple of days ago, Hey Joey’s face and plate of clams were scraped off and made into ghost signage by persons unknown. We expect that this sad but apt transformation will make it less painful when the mural is inevitably painted over to make way for the new. Many thanks to photographer Bruce Handy for these photos from his Coney Island Photo Diary.


The Ghost of the Famed Hey Joey!. November 6, 2011. Photo © Bruce Handy’s Coney Island Photo Diary via flickr


Related posts on ATZ…

December 9, 2011: Paul’s Daughter Signs 8-Year Lease for Coney Island Boardwalk

October 11, 2011: Photo of the Day: Butterflies & Beer Island by Bruce Handy

October 10, 2011: Photo of the Day: Coney Island’s Famed “Hey Joey!” Doomed

December 22, 2010: Photo of the Day: Shoot the Freak Is Boarded Up

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Screenshot of DOB webpage on Dec 30, 2010

Has Shoot the Freak won the latest skirmish in the Battle of the Boardwalk? Last week, Zamperla began constructing the entrance to Scream Zone after razing and boarding up Shoot the Freak without warning. The paintball game’s owner Anthony Berlingieri vowed to take the matter to court and have further construction stopped.

ATZ has learned that on Thursday the City’s Department of Buildings issued a stop work order at the Boardwalk property leased by Zamperla from the City’s Economic Development Corporation. The address is 1213-1223 Boardwalk West, between 12th and 15th Streets.

“This property has 1 open DOB ‘Work Without A Permit’ Violations and may be subject to DOB civil penalties upon application for a permit.

Received: 12/30/2010 10:18 Block: 8695 Lot: 104 Community Board: 313

Last Inspection: 12/30/2010 – – BY BADGE # 2369
Disposition: 12/30/2010 – L1 – PARTIAL STOP WORK ORDER
DOB Violation #: 123010BS13GI01
ECB Violation #s: 34875289N

Along with Ruby’s and Paul’s Daughter, Shoot the Freak is among the eight small businesses being evicted from the Boardwalk by CAI/Zamperla. The Coney Island 8′s court date for the eviction proceeding is scheduled for January 10. The property is owned by the City’s Economic Development Corporation and leased to CAI/Zamperla, which is allowing only 2 of 11 existing businesses to remain.

UPDATE… 9 am

This morning’s NY Post and Daily News report that the City fine for the violation is a whopping $5000! A DOB spokeswoman told the Post that the case is under investigation.

Formerly know as Shoot the Freak

The new boardwalk entrance to Scream Zone (Formerly know as Shoot the Freak). Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr


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