by nycgo.com staff, 09/26/2012
Coney Island Circus Sideshow. Photo: Alex Lopez
Coney Island Museum
1208 Surf Ave., 718-372-5159, Coney Island, Brooklyn
Coney Island Circus Sideshow
Surf Avenue and West 12th Street, 718-372-5159, Coney Island, Brooklyn
Five bucks don't usually go far these days, but here they'll buy a worthwhile peek into Coney Island's rich amusement heritage. The ever-changing exhibition—reopening in April 2013 following renovations—includes a hand-carved Steeplechase Man figure, The Cosmorama of the Great Dreamland Fire (a huge cyclorama, or panoramic painting, commemorating that park's burning in 1911) and The Great Coney Island Spectacularium (an exhibit revolving around 1800s Coney Island attractions). The museum also hosts a full slate of lectures and film screenings, and as noted on coneyisland.com, serves as a visitor center to boot. The Coney Island Circus Sideshow, meanwhile, transports visitors to the old-time Coney Island of odd delights, freakish talents and "human curiosities." Also known as Sideshows by the Seashore, the performance season runs annually from April through mid-September. Audiences are treated to a 45-minute-long set featuring 10 shows for $10 ($5 for children under 12). The rotating cast includes such tattooed and apparently nerve-ending-free stars as Insectavora Angelica, Serpentina and The Great Fredini; acts include fire-breathing, contortionism, sword-swallowing, a guy who hammers nails into his face, electrocution and, of course, magic. Bring an open mind—and a cast-iron stomach.