coney island comes to life: congress of curious peoples!

13 04 2011

coney island’s recent history has been filled with the kind of highs and lows that have always been a part of its legend – fun and exciting developments (like the new luna park and scream zone) sharply contrasted with tragedy (developer scum joe sitt’s demolition of three historic coney buildings before they were landmarked; see them all here – 3, 4 & 7 are gone) and drastic change (boardwalk stalwarts like ruby’s and cha cha’s nearly being evicted but kept on for one final season).

it’s been a tumultuous fall and winter, but now – it’s spring. the new season is upon us. the cyclone, deno’s wonder wheel, luna park, and scream zone are getting ready to open to the masses this coming weekend, and the good folks at coney island USA are still doing what they do best – bringing old coney back to new coney in original ways and keeping the true spirit of the people’s playground alive – and super-freaky.

coney island is and always has been meant to be a SPECTACLE. take for instance the congress of curious peoples. it kicked off last weekend and has been running all week with special lectures and shows on a myriad of topics (check out the full schedule here). it also included the colonnade of curiosities in the freak bar, located in the coney island USA building on surf ave.

what did we see this past weekend?

mini skeletal sculptures made of finger & toenails and tiny teddy bears made of bellybutton lint, from rachel betty case

lush little terrarium worlds with curious figures and scenes inside, from twig

an amazing melding of science, art, and graphic design through fascinating hyrtl simulacra portraits from jeanne kelly..

awesome coney handiwork from huckster fabrication, including scrapped boardwalk wood fashioned into authentic souvenirs like frames with vintage amusement tickets, a spaceman mouse (..made of a real mouse), and – our personal favorite – sideshow beds of nails, and an electric charge platform.. when you place your hand on it you can light a bulb if it’s touched to you, as eric & chris demonstrate below!

and MORE! we also picked up reel to reel copies of tom jones & frankie valli albums from the mayor of coney himself – because that’s just.. what we do.

in any case – we’re pretty much here to tell you to check. out. what. coney. has. to. offer. this weekend is going to rock because aside from the aforementioned amusements opening for the season, the colonnade will be back, in addition to alumni weekend at sideshows by the seashore AND a 2-day symposium of curious peoples!

what else are we excited about?! the great coney island spectacularium at the coney island museum, which “aims to explore, celebrate, and evoke turn of the 20th century coney island as the pinnacle of this kind of pre-cinematic immersive and spectacular amusement” – but that will have to wait till another post..! in the meantime check their PDF for more.

it just goes to show that even through its setbacks and hardships.. coney always prevails.

freaks unite!

– da leopard

*funny faces, parachute jump & eric getting lit up photos by audrey leopard; all others by their respective owners – they’re awesome, pay them a visit!




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