Alejandro Dubois fled his straitjacket like a bat out of hell, bouncing and rolling around the Boardwalk a couple of times before easing the garment off with a gruesome grunt.
“UGGHHHAARK!” exclaimed the self-described “illegitimate son of Harry Houdini,” liberating himself with a final lunge to a rash of applause and whistles.
Dubois’ fantastic feat was among dozens of mesmerizing acts, from contortionist The Amazing Amy to ferocious foodie Will “The Champ” Millender, who drew a packed house to the People’s Playground for the second annual Coney Island Talent Show, presented over the weekend by Thirsty Girl Productions and hosted by burlesque queens Miss Saturn and The World Famous Bob — the latter a Marilyn Monroe look-alike drag queen famous for her own unique talent — mixing martinis with her cleavage.
The place where stiltwalker Archie Leach entertained crowds before he became Hollywood legend Cary Grant turned into an oceanfront vaudeville hall for a bunch of wild ‘n’ wacky entertainers, who reminded us of Coney’s prized spot in history as the birthplace of lovable oddballs — among them, carnival marvels Violetta the Armless Legless Wonder, Princess WeeWee and Ajax the Sword-Swallower, all of whom once vied for attention with preemie babies in incubators on the Riegelmann Boardwalk.
Saturday’s show revisited that iconic heyday with its own extraordinary line-up, including daredevil dance troupes, a costume contest, and categories for “circus freaks and sideshow geeks,” plus a crop of happenin’ kids who showed us that Coney’s creative mantle is ready to be passed down to a kooky new generation.
“It’s really great to bring the entertainers together with people from the community to celebrate the tradition,” said Gin Minsky, a Bushwick-based dancer who banged the planks with a 1940s-style swing routine.