A Sunnier Day at Coney

Photo by Cashel Stewart. That’s younger son Charlie on the right.

With Coney Island being evacuated, and my own show now officially closed, time now for a few words if you please about our own trip out to Coney Island earlier this week. Orange Day at Luna Park drew us out there, a two-for-one special on four hour wrist bands, which quickly had us coming out ahead after a few spins by the boys. They also got their first peek at the Scream Zone, and took a ride on the Screaming Eagle (no one was about to get on the Sling Shot). My favorite rides are at Deno’s (the titular Wonder Wheel and the Tilt-a-Whirl, which officially is only a kiddie ride, but to quote Tanguay: “I Don’t Care”).

We also went through the Ghost Hole (vastly superior to the Spookarama, although I’m not sure I need to see diarreah pouring out of a man’s ass), as well as the seedy, ghetto “Bump Your Ass Off” which has a surprising amount of strict rules for an institution run by guys wearing prison do-rags.

Then, the event I’d been waiting for — the sideshow. I’d skipped seeing it last year and it was late in the season, but I wanted to see what changes (if any) had been made in the face of the recent transformations out there. As it turns out, almost none! Except for Insectivora, the cast was entirely new to me, but other than that the show is pretty much its same, dependable self. (Interestingly Insectivora didn’t eat any insects, but she has widened her repertoire, including not only fire-eating, but a charming and funny medicine show style magic act that doubles as an advertisement for the beer on sale at the Freak Bar.) Princess Pat (a.k.a. Mrs. Dick Zigun, an actual Nigerian Princess) did a charming straight jacket escape, doing it the way I like it done (i.e., making it look hard, however she couldn’t resist the urge to simultaneously dance to the peppy music that was playing at the same time). Serpentina is the best snake charmer I’ve seen out there, mostly because somehow or other they’d gotten her albino python partner in a perky mood — maybe it was the punk music that was playing. But the creature was definitely moving around on his own and that added a feeling of danger that isn’t always there. At the end of her act, she sticks out her tongue — which happens to be forked. I hope she doesn’t alarm any Fundamentalists in the audience. The one bona fide “freak” was Nati the Patchwork Girl and I loved her. What her real backstory is, I don’t know, but she says in her patter that she was stitched together from pieces — her face may well be some sort of surgical restoration. But I like how the metaphor extends to her costume and even has a connection to The Wizard of Oz. She is funny, sweet, and clearly very smart, radiating a positive spirit that feels like someone is holding your hand. You feel far from uncomfortable. And furthermore, she lies on a bed of nails. Now, that’s uncomfortable.

Back out on the midway, we ran into our old friend Miss Saturn who was entertaining the throngs in Luna Park. And guess who couldn’t resist getting into the act?

Photo by Cashel Stewart
At any rate, it’s shuttered today on what should be one of the busiest days of the season. It shouldn’t happen to a dog!

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