Scenes From Coney Island's "Super-Freak Weekend"

Ali Kenefick

This past weekend, the Congress of Curious Peoples at Coney Island USA hosted a brief engagement called Super-Freak Weekend. What made it any freakier than usual is anyone's guess, but with a lobby full of various local artisans featuring things like Rachel Case's miniature teddybears made of navel lint, or sculptures of figures from human fingernails, things were definitely curious to say the least. Among such creations were also booths draped in creative taxidermy; foxes sewn together with antlers, and rabbits with raccoon tails, and others lined with small mason jars accommodating shards of Coney's original boardwalk circa 1860 selling for $10 a pop.

Witnessing this special weekend was a decently-priced $10, and an extra buck down if you wanted to meander the adjacent Coney Island Museum (which generally consists of a couple interesting black and white photographs, some old lightbulbs and more taxidermy). Past the Colonnade of Curiosities, where the lint-teddies and boardwalk bits were being sold, was the weekend's piece-de-resistance: the Super-Freak Show. Here, four self-professed "natural-born freaks" displayed their skills in a small, musty auditorium for anyone brave enough to watch. First up was a tiny woman aptly named Lil' Miss Firefly, who upon making two respective appearances, managed to escape from a ludicrous tangle of buckles and straps, and swallow a balloon twice her height -- without popping it! (Where she put it was anyone's guess.) Following was Koko the Killer Clown, an expert on animal balloons and makeup artistry better suited for Insane Clown Posse than pleasing children, and Jennifer Miller, a machete spinning lady with an impressive beard (not, according to her, a "bearded lady"). Lastly, and certainly not least, Nati the Patchwork Girl, a cute but decidedly lopsided woman awed the audience with a graceful dance while holding two fists of fire.

Despite the extensive development and increasing dilution of the belovedly weird Coney Island, it's nice to see that they're still letting their freak flags fly.


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