Odd men in! Dudes compete in first Mr. Coney Island Pageant

Risqué revue: The Evil Hate Monkey is one of seven scantily clad performers competing for the title of Mister Coney Island.
Brooklyn Paper
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They’re looking for the right Mister!

Seven bawdy kings of the circus ring, the art world, and burlesque stage will compete for a spot among Coney Island royalty at the first ever Mister Coney Island Pageant next weekend. The risque revue, at Sideshows at the Seashore on May 13, will feature anything-goes performances that will keep pageant-goers on the edge of their seats, said the organizer of the spangled spectacle.

“It’s kind of a free-for-all to be as crazy and creative as possible. I imagine it will be very eye-popping and exciting,” said Bambi the Mermaid, who somehow hails from landlocked Bushwick. “The boys are looking forward to going to extremes.”

The extravaganza follows in the glittery footsteps of its sister show, the Miss Coney Island Pageant, celebrated since 2003, and the dude display will have just as much skin, sparkles, and salacious entertainment as its feminine counterpart.

The contestants for the crown include Hovey Burgess, a 76-year-old circus veteran who teaches his craft at New York University; Velvet Crayon, a self-described “crippled song and dance man”; Machine Dazzle, a gender-bending costume designer behind some of the outlandish looks of Taylor Mac; pulchritudinous primate Evil Hate Monkey; carnival barker Mr. Strange; drag king Vigor Mortis; and athletic avian Eric “Baby Bird” Schmalenberger.

“We have big names on the scene and a lot of variation — burlesque performers, unicycle riders, experimental musicians — the boys are going to kill it,” said the siren behind the show.

The gents will vie for votes in a series of kooky showcases, including Coney Island-style evening wear and swimwear competitions, and a talent portion where performers can really let their freak flag fly. For that segment, Burgess plans to navigate the stage on a unicycle, while wearing the head of a polar bear mascot and juggling. The circus performer is so pumped for the show that he flew all the way to Paris, France to pick up an extra-special prop for his routine, according to the organizing mermaid.

“That’s how extreme this is going to be. People are flying to other countries for props,” said Bambi. “It’s going to be crazy — God knows what to expect.”

The master of masculine magnificence will be crowned by the reigning Mister Coney Island, Glenn Marla — a transgender man who earned the title while competing in the 2009 Miss Coney Island Pageant.

“I asked Glenn to get involved with Miss Coney Island and then thought it might be awkward if we crowned him Miss Coney Island,” said Bambi. “So we made a Mister Coney Island sash and crown and he got the title when he won. Now he’ll finally pass down the torch.”

Mister Coney Island Pageant at Sideshows at the Seashore [1208 Surf Ave. at W. 12th Street in Coney Island, (718) 372–5159,]. May 11 at 10 pm. $15.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Updated 5:59 pm, July 9, 2018
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