Coney Island puts a freaky spin on holiday gift market

Brooklyn Daily
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Forget sidewalk sales — this is a sideshow sale!

Coney Island USA, home to Sideshows by the Seashore, is throwing a freaky holiday market on Nov. 29. And the vendors are promising some surprising stocking-stuffers.

“I make Siamese Barbies — that’s a new adventure,” said Stephanie Torres, a snake-charmer who performs in the sideshow as Serpentina. “I cut them in half at the crotch, and I’ve been melting them together for the last two days.”

The performer said creepy creations are right up her alley.

“I like crafting and making different things that you can’t get in the store, and I’ve worked in sideshows since ’98, so I figured I’d keep it in the realm of what I know and like,” she said.

Other goodies will include vintage Coney Island postcards, African-inspired jewelry, murals, and fine art, said Coney Island USA artistic director Dick Zigun.

Coney Island USA’s own assistant house manager Kate Wirth is bringing keepsake boxes hand-painted with comic book characters and video games like “Bioshock” and “Portal.” But despite their inspiration, the boxes painted for “Portal” — a game where players create rifts in space to solve puzzles — are not bottomless.

“Well, the stuff would have to come out the other end, wouldn’t it?” Wirth said.

In addition to one-of-a-kind crafts, a former Bloomingdales Santa will visit with kids, and Miss Coney Island USA — Betty Bloomers — will make her debut ahead of her January coronation, Zigun said.

And the market is the tip of the iceberg for Coney Island USA’s wintertime programming now that the headquarters finally has a functioning heater, Zigun said. The art organization threw a Thanksgiving variety show on Nov. 26, and it is planning December and January burlesque shows and a Black History Month installation in February, he said.

The holiday market is charging a small table fee to vendors, and the revenue will go to support programming at Coney Island USA, he said.

And if you’re looking for something a little more Christmas-y, they will have that too.

“I also made shadowbox Christmas ornaments with ‘spidera’ [a spider with a woman’s head] in them since, ya know, it’s the holidays,” Torres said.

Coney Island USA 2014 Holiday Gift Market at Coney Island USA (1208 Surf Ave. between Surf Avenue and Bowery Street, Nov. 29 at 1 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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