A Blast from the Past… 1990’s Coney Island

The world is all abuzz about sideshows and freak shows this week with the debut of American Horror Story: Freak Show so I thought I’d follow up by posting some images I just came across from my first season in the Coney Island Sideshow. Recognize anyone?

Christine was straight from Hell and positively fire proof!

Christine Hell,  straight from Hell and positively fire proof!

Ladies, I'll show you now how I shave my legs!

Ladies, I’ll show you now how I shave my legs!

Christine Hell and Casper. the albino python

Christine Hell and Casper. the albino python

A young Todd Robbins

A young Todd Robbins

Cutting his teeth on a lightbulb an hour

Cutting his teeth on a lightbulb every hour

Michael Wilson, the Illustrated Man

Michael Wilson, the Illustrated Man

Showing off his Ma Kali backpiece

Showing off his Ma Kali backpiece

Getting tattoos is like eating potato chips, you can't have just one!

Getting tattoos is like eating potato chips, you can’t have just one!

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Ladies, if your sick of your man’s tongue waggin’ telling you what to do, here’s a sure fire way to do something about it!

Its Hammer Time!

Its Hammer Time!

Tongue impalement!

Tongue impalement!

Helon Melon- She's so big it take four men to hug her and a boxcar to lug 'er!

Helon Melon- She’s so big and so fat it takes four men to hug her and a boxcar to lug ‘er!

Helon resting backstage in her Dolly Dimples dress

Helon resting backstage in her Dolly Dimples dress

Yours truly as a young magician!

Yours truly as a young magician!

Dick Zigun and "Pookie" Valerie Haller

Dick Zigun and “Pookie” Valerie Haller

The first sword swallower I ever saw- Todd Knight, who later punctured his stomach after a fight with his girlfriend!

The first sword swallower I ever saw- Todd Knight, who later punctured his stomach after a fight with his girlfriend!

Todd Knight

Todd Knight

The Thunderbolt Rollercoaster

The Thunderbolt Rollercoaster

The Parachute Jump

The Parachute Jump

Boardwalk Fortune Teller

Boardwalk Fortune Teller

The B&B Carousel before it was destroyed by renovations.

The B&B Carousel before it was destroyed by renovations.

Sunset over Coney Island

Sunset over Coney Island

Man against the arm wrestling machine

Man against the arm wrestling machine

The Wonder Wheel

The Wonder Wheel

Laurel and Hardy at Spook-a-Rama

Laurel and Hardy at Spook-a-Rama

Neon Funny Face sign I designed for Coney Island USA and made with Chris Clark

Neon Funny Face sign I designed for Coney Island USA and made with Chris Clark

Coney Island

In the 1980’s I discovered Coney Island. It was a magical time when pieces of old New York were still visible. Coney Island was decrepit and lawless. Magical. I began staging performances at Dick Zigun’s Coney Island USA– a nonprofit arts center on the boardwalk. By the early 90’s my stage persona The Great Fredini was born- Sword Swallower, Human Blockhead and World’s Worst Magician. I became a full time cast member of the Coney Island Circus Sideshow until 1995, at which point I founded Burlesque at the Beach, a cornerstone of the burlesque revival sweeping the world today.

Enjoy some images from my archives here, and here:

Speaking & Teaching

Since 2011, I have been exploring the intersection of art, technology and entertainment using the tools of the third industrial revolution- computers, 3D printers, CNC, virtual and augmented reality, among others. All of these tools are causing a seismic shift in the world and I’m interested in how tech has historically been seen as magic. I often use this as a lens for envisioning the future as I teach, lecture and conduct workshops for audiences of varying ages.

Masthead Photo by TED / Ryan Lash, 2017

5 figure print plate

I tried ganging up five full body scans on one print plate on the new Replicator. Printing Katie alone at high quality (.1mm layer height at 144mm tall) took close to 6 hours to print. This gang of 5 has been going for over 26 hours now, but it took over 12 hours to just slice the model for printing. In the future I don’t think I would gang them up more than 2-3 per print. I prefer shorter printing times.

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