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This clip for AMC’s new reality show “Immortalized” introduces Coney Island artist Takeshi Yamada and his world of rogue taxidermy. It’s exciting to see our friend and his sea rabbit Seara, who are among the Boardwalk’s most recognizable eccentrics, on the cusp of TV stardom.

“People love freak show. People are attracted to freaks,” says Yamada as he shows off the taxidermied oddities in his Museum of World of Wonders. “I am one of the most famous freak show gaff masters. A freak show gaff master’s job is to make fake creations such as Fiji Mermaid, Chupacabra, Hairy Trout, those kind of things…”

In the unscripted series, Yamada is one of four “Immortalizers” who will face off against challengers in a taxidermy competition. “I had a great time creating truly monumental scale and spectacular rogue taxidermy monsters for this TV series,” Yamada told ATZ in an interview (“Coney Island Taxidermist Takeshi Yamada in AMC Reality Show,” Nov 29, 2012). “Immortalized” consists of eight, half-hour episodes and premieres on Thursday, February 14 at 10pm.

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

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

September 18, 2010: Photo of the Day: Takeshi Yamada’s Freak Baby Museum at San Gennaro

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

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Coney Island Artist and Taxidermist Takeshi Yamada is one of the Immortalizers in AMC’s new series Immortalized. Photo via AMC

ATZ has learned that Coney Island artist and rogue taxidermist Takeshi Yamada will be one of the stars of the new AMC TV reality series “Immortalized” premiering on February 14th. “My sea rabbit will be a household name,” said Yamada, who is one of Coney Island’s most recognizable eccentrics. He is frequently photographed clad in a black tuxedo strolling the Beach and Boardwalk with his sea bunny Seara, a taxidermied wonder with webbed feet and a mermaid’s tail.

In the TV show, Yamada will be one of the taxidermists known as the Immortalizers. According to the press release for the unscripted new series: “Each episode will feature one of four highly regarded ‘Immortalizers’ facing off against a ‘Challenger’ in a competition. Their task is to create a piece to be judged on three criteria: originality, craftsmanship and interpretation of the designated theme. Whether the artists are known for their classic or rogue creations, each week they will work to perfect this centuries-old art form in an unprecedented battle.”

Rogue taxidermy is the creation of oddities and curiosities using traditional taxidermy materials and techniques. “I hope more people will be interested in the art of taxidermy (traditional taxidermy) and rogue taxidermy (freak show taxidermy or sideshow taxidermy) by watching this television show,” Yamada told ATZ. “I had a great time creating truly monumental scale and spectacular rogue taxidermy monsters for this TV series.”

When we first met Takeshi back in 2004, he was creating these gaffed specimens for traveling sideshows and museums. He uses a variety of natural materials to create his taxidermy art, which includes Fiji mermaids, two-headed babies, dog-headed spiders, and a mummified six-fingered hand. Having seen Yamada defend his Grand Master title at the Secret Science Club’s annual Carnivorous Nights Taxidermy Contest at Bell House, we can honestly say his challengers are up against a formidable competitor.

Despite the fact that the first floor of Yamada’s home and studio on Neptune Avenue in Coney Island were devastated by five feet of sewage water during Hurricane Sandy, destroying most of his artwork, the artist remains stoic. “The show must go on,” he says. Takeshi was in the middle of producing two giant sculptures and a wooden crate to ship them to Los Angeles when the storm struck. “Some of the artwork was destroyed or heavily damaged. So, I stayed at my house with no heat, gas, land phone line or electricity for over a week after the hurricane for repairing them –some of my artworks were not saved– and finally FedExed them before the temperature dropped to 27 degrees.”

The AMC series “Immortalized” consists of eight, half-hour episodes and premieres on Thursday, February 14 at 10pm.

Dragons, mermaids, and other wonders on display at public lecture of Dr. Takeshi Yamada at Coney Island Library, October 29, 2010. Photo © Takeshi Yamada via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

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

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

September 18, 2010: Photo of the Day: Takeshi Yamada’s Freak Baby Museum at San Gennaro

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

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Banner painter Marie Roberts in her Studio at Coney Island USA. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Banner painter Marie Roberts in her Studio at Coney Island USA. January 1, 2010. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

This weekend, five of our artist friends who live, work or find their inspiration in Coney Island are opening their studios for the Brooklyn Museum’s “GO! Brooklyn” event. The crowd-curated art project asks visitors to register online, “check in” at least five studios in person and vote for three of them. The ten artists who win the most votes will have a shot at being in a group exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. With over 1,700 artists from 45 Brooklyn nabes participating, creating an itinerary is half the fun. To browse the studios and register, visit the project’s website. The open studio weekend is on September 8 and 9, 2012, from 11am until 7pm.

Let our portraits of the People’s Playground’s truly unusual and talented artists be your guide to “Go! Coney Island.”

Marie Roberts is a third-generation Coney Islander who grew up going to Steeplechase Park and listening to her family’s reminiscences of Dreamland. A professor of art at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Marie found her métier painting the vibrantly colorful banners advertising the Coney Island Circus Sideshow. You can view her work 365 days a year on the CIUSA Building at Surf Avenue and 12th Street. Her studio is located on the second floor of the landmark building.

ATZ first met sculptor, painter and performance artist Daniel Blake aka Africasso in 2007 when he exhibited his sculptural mashup of historic Coney Island rides at the Coney Island History Project. The lifelong Coney Island resident will be showing his giraffe sculptures at Marie’s studio this weekend. Marie Roberts, Coney Island USA, 1208 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11224

Daniel Blake

Africasso’s Art Guitar, Daniel Blake AKA Africasso. June 8, 2008. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

Coney Island resident Takeshi Yamada’s Neptune Avenue studio is his Museum of World Wonders. Among the Osaka-born artist’s curious creations are Fiji mermaids, two-headed babies, a dog-headed spider and other sideshow gaff art. The Grand Champion of Taxidermy at the Secret Science Club’s 2006 Carnivorous Nights shows his work in a variety of venues, from traditional art galleries and museums to midway sideshows. The portrait of Takeshi and his freak baby show was taken at Dreamland, the amusement park set up on the former Astroland site in 2009. One of Coney’s most recognizable eccentrics, Takeshi is frequently seen and photographed clad in a black tuxedo strolling the Boardwalk with his sea rabbit Seara, a taxidermied wonder with webbed feet and a mermaid’s tail. Takeshi Yamada’s Museum of World Wonders, 1405 Neptune Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11224

Artist Takeshi Yamada's Freak Baby Show in Coney Island's Dreamland, Summer 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Artist Takeshi Yamada’s Freak Baby Show in Coney Island’s Dreamland, July 12, 2009. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Brooklyn artists Richard Eagan and Philomena Marano co-founded the Coney Island Hysterical Society in 1981 because they were “Hysterical” at the rate that the amusement rides and attractions were shutting down. Joined by like-minded artists and friends the group restored and operated a Spookhouse behind Nathan’s and created an homage to souvenir cut out photo boards. Thirty years later, Eagan and Marano continue to make art “dedicated to keeping the spirit of Coney Island alive” (CIHS motto) in their Gowanus studio.

Richard Eagan AKA Kay Sera with Oceanic Baths at Coney Island Hysterical Society Studio in Gowanus. October 2, 2010. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

These portraits were taken in 2010, when ATZ visited Coney Island Hysterical Society’s studio on the Gowanus Artists Studio Tour. “The short hop to combining the Coney work with the exploding architecture was a no-brainer once I accepted that the Coney Island of my childhood was imploding, burning, and would never return,” Eagan said of “Oceanic Baths,” which is not an actual Coney Island place name.

Bensonhurst native Philomena Marano is known for her bold and colorful cut paper collages and prints of Coney’s amusement rides and signs. The Wonder Wheel, the Cyclone, and Parachute Jump as well as shooting galleries and bumper cars are all part of her iconography. Faber’s Fascination, which went dark in 2010, inspired the cut paper piece “Play Fascination” in the portrait.

Coney Island Hysterical Society, 62 18th Street, 3rd floor, Brooklyn, NY 11215

Philomena Marano

Philomena Marano with ‘Play Fascination’ at Coney Island Hysterical Society Studio in Gowanus. October 2, 2010. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ...

August 6, 2012: Art of the Day: Madame Twisto by Marie Roberts

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

October 26, 2010: Studio Visit: Richard Eagan of the Coney Island Hysterical Society

October 26, 2010: Studio Visit: Philomena Marano of the Coney Island Hysterical Society

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