Sunday, January 24, 2010


Coney Island is full of surprises. Visiting this once magical New York hotspot is like taking an almost archeological-like expedition to a time and place where one side of the street is a devastated, dirty wasteland filled with open lots and questionable characters (like the very same sleazy developers that own most of that land) and the other is this colorful, still magic-filled portal to a by-gone era teeming with young modern day hipsters, performance artists, burlesque hotties, tattooed characters and curiosity seekers. If you walk through some of these streets at night, you can distinguish where the bright lights are: Nathan’s Famous Frankfurters with its long lines of hungry patrons waiting to eat those crunchy, almost perfect overstuffed hotdogs, The Coney Island Cyclone Rollercoaster offering its late night rickety rides, the Coney Island Cyclone stadium and without doubt, Sideshows by The Seashore, home to THE BEST FREAKSHOW in all of NYC and probably the entire Northeast!

Now, in all fairness to other freak shows out there, I’ve only really visited Sideshows by the Seashore and none other (I don’t know of any other). If someone out there has any line on any other freak shows in NYC, I’d love to hear about it. But I’ve been to this particular sideshow on several occasions (for both the freak shows and the burlesque) and it is one really memorable experience! Snake charmers, sword swallowers, whip crackers, strongmen, glass eaters, fire eaters, contortionists, and all sorts of acts can be found at the Sideshow at any given performance. It’s a little bit bizarre but always very funny and entertaining. You could even say it is a bit disturbing and even politically incorrect. But that duality is what I love! Like I said, THE BEST!

The venue itself is like stepping into some bygone era. Hand-painted, with brightly colored signs all over the place, it houses a small, almost thrown together stage and bleacher style seating that on a good night packs it to full capacity so that you can barely move. The building is home to the Freak Bar, one of the few cool hangouts in this part of Coney Island, where you can actually meet and talk to some of the performers pre and post show. It is also home to Side Show School, The Coney Island Museum and a gift shop. The place is a NY institution.

Freak Show performances can be seen all over the city too. On February 1st, they will play at BB Kings in Times Square, Gotham Comedy Club on February 24th and leading up to the Summer months, there will be tons of activity announced. Check out their website and let me know what you think:

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