Circus maximus! Coney Island Sideshow hosts reunion congress

The Brooklyn Paper
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This is one curious show.

For 10 days, Sideshows by the Seashore lives up to its name with the Congress of Curious Peoples, a festival of freaks, esoteric lectures, films and down-right bizarre performances from April 8 to 17.

With so much to choose from, what we’re most looking forward to is the April 9 and 10 variety show, starring Koko the Killer Clown (who’s a lot friendlier than he sounds — he makes balloon animals!); the fire- and pain-proof Nati the Patchwork Girl; bearded lady and machete juggler Jennifer Miller; and Li’l Miss Firefly, the world’s smallest fire eater. It’s classic sideshow acts, all in one night.

If you’re looking for more pyrotechnics, the God of Fire himself, Flambeaux, brings his flame-throwing act to the sideshow on April 11.

“I have always had a touching, almost supernatural relationship with fire,” said the artist. “From it comes all of my art. It burns inside me, and when it does, I always know what to do.”

And, for a blast from the past, the alumni of the Coney Island freak scene — including The Great Fredini, a sword swallower and human blockhead who was on the Sideshow stage from 1990-1995; fire eater Christine Hellish, who performed from 1992-1999; and snake charmer Satina, a veteran of the late-1980s — will perform on April 16 and 17. It’s Coney Island history, right before your eyes.

Congress of Curious Peoples at Sideshows by the Seashore [1208 Surf Ave. between Stillwell Avenue and W. 12th Street in Coney Island, (718) 372-5159], April 8-17. Tickets vary, but there is an all-inclusive pass available for $75 in advance. For info, visit

Updated 5:23 pm, July 9, 2018
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