Remembering Michael Wilson: The Illustrated Man

I get the birthday for the late Michael Wilson (1952-1996), Coney Island USA’s famous Illustrated Man, from this photo spread of his 1989 birthday party by John A. Moser. Wilson was one of the stars and linchpins of Coney’s sideshow cast circa 1987-1996, and brought a bit of grunge-y rock star glamor to the show. These were the years before EVERYONE had a tattoo; he was one of the people who made it fashionable in the modern era in the first place. He was also one of the performers during the same years I first discovered Coney and the sideshow, so I’ll always have nostalgic pangs when I look at photos of him from this period. There is a very moving website devoted entirely to Wilson here, with tons of photos, videos and articles about the man; he was clearly widely loved and is fondly remembered. He was only 44 when his life-long diabetes took him at the height of his fame. Today Michael Wilson is immortalized in Coney Island USA’s Sideshow Hall of Fame.