A 100-pound rat munching on straw versus the human blockhead hammering spikes into his skull, or the world’s smallest woman versus a tattooed fire-eating lady.
These are just a few of Coney Island’s summer match-ups, where for the first time in years Coney Island will feature not one, but two carnival sideshows, a.k.a. freak shows.
“He’s [Thor Equities owner Joe Sitt] having what we in the sideshow world call ‘Single O’s,’ which means a single attraction that people can continually grind through,” said entrepreneur Dick Zigun, whose long-running Sideshow by the Seashore is located on West 12th Street and Surf Avenue.
“Each one will cost a separate admission where you just stare at the attraction and there is no show. Not to degrade it, but you can’t confuse it with a show,” he added.
Zigun’s sideshow includes such acts as the Black Scorpion from Texas, who has lobster or scorpion-looking hands, MC Donny Vomit, the human blockhead and chain saw juggler, Serpentine the snake charmer, and the lovely Angelica the fire eater.
All the acts are in one show and cost $7.50 for adults and $5 for kids.
Not to be outdone, Sitt’s sideshow acts that will run on a limited basis throughout the summer include the world’s smallest horse, the world’s largest alligator, the aforementioned 100-pound rat and the world’s smallest woman.
“Coney Islanders and visitors who appreciate the strange, the unusual and the bizarre cannot pass this by,” said Stefan Friedman, spokesperson for Thor Equities. “This sideshow will be a must-see for the entire family.”
Zigun, who has long supported the Coney Island Development Corporation’s (CIDC) original plan to take most of Thor’s amusement district property and turn it into city-owned parkland, alleged that Sitt’s acts are just a ruse for destroying Coney Island as it is known.
Zigun said Sitt’s bringing any amusements or sideshows to Coney Island this summer plays to the CIDC’s recent change of heart in allowing Thor to develop part of his amusement area for indoor amusements and hotels.
“It [Thor’s sideshow] is a smokescreen for what Thor is all about, which is destroying Coney Island as we know it. I still believe the CIDC’s current compromise sucks,” he said.
Still Zigun did say he plans on seeing Sitt’s freak show.
“There was a time when there were six sideshows in Coney Island,” said Zigun, explaining further that PT Barnum first began them in lower Manhattan in the 1840s.
“There’s been sideshows here since the 1880s. The home base for all the freak shows in America was in Coney Island,” he added.