Shoot the Freak is a multimedia and documentary film project that aims to explore and preserve people's memories of Coney Island. Check out out some of our promo videos, interviews, and sights and sounds of Coney Island. If you have a memory you would like to contribute to the project, please email or contact us via our Facebook group.
Feltman's Beer Garden: My uncle's recollection of women driving street cars, visiting Feltman's Beer Garden, riding bumper cars and carousels, eating at Nathans, Lundy's.
Bowery Street: My uncle's recollection of the Bowery Street arcade games.
Bathhouses: My uncle's recollection of his father's trip to the bathhouses.
The Beach: My uncle reminisces about the signs on the Coney Island beach that said you couldn't do anything, and switching loyalties to Manhattan Beach for cheap lockers and a shower.
My Uncle on Steeplechase: My uncle remembers the Steeplechase Horses and the moving barrel entrance to the park.
Subway Hawkers: My uncle and my father remember food sellers inside the corriders of the train station. Hawkers selling everything you could use on the beach, umbrellas, coolers, etc and their end of summer sale
The Schaeffer Barge: My uncle remembers the Schaeffer beer barge and their free fireworks.
Fireworks or TV: My father discusses the conflict in scheduling between the free Schaeffer fireworks and Milton Berle's TV show.
New Years at Nathans: My father on the two seasons at Nathans: Summer and New Years. The root beer from a faux wood keg and the french fries in a messy cone.
The Yellow Room: My mother, father, and uncle on Nathan's Yellow Room, and their the waiter service, clam chowder, and walk throughs by local homeless men. They also discuss the alley next to Nathans where people sold watermelon, corn, and frozen custard.
The Yellow Room, Part II: My dad on Nathan's Yellow Room, sit down service, soup, clam chowder, other denizens of coney island (cut off by car alarm)
The Yellow Room Denizens: My dad on Nathan's Yellow Room, using the men's room, smell of the men's room mixed with food. Buying from food vendors on the beach, canvas bags filled with dry ice and popsicles, ice cream cones. Eating his aunt's egg salad filled with sand.
Homogenized Hot Knishes: My uncle on knish sellers, greasy bags, calling out "homogenized hot knishes." Taking outdoor cold showers in a nearby house. Crowds of people in the streets, visiting relatives to change clothes or take a shower. A constant carnival in the streets off Surf Ave.
Taking the Bus: My father on taking buses and subways to Coney Island. Taking the bus without A/C in the summer. Afternoon thunderstorms forcing everyone on transit at once. Start of bathhouse story.
Bathhouses, Part II: My father on the bathhouses, combination lockers, showers, salt water pools, with handball and basketball. Going in past the heyday of the baths, mostly old people playing checkers and chess, run down building with naked old men. My uncle on the Brighton Beach baths, renting locker, everyone there was old and bronzy. Eventually it turned into a condo.
Under the Boardwalk: My father on the Coney Island boardwalk, sand piled up now, but you used to be able to walk underneath. People went their for shade, but also drugs etc. Beaches cleaner now because they're much less used.
Beach Scavengers: My father on the Coney Island boardwalk, sand piled up now, but you used to be able to walk underneath. People went their for shade, but also drugs etc. Beaches cleaner now because they're much less used.
Steeplechase Horses: My mom on Steeplechase, an amazing park along the boardwalk named for its greatest ride, the Steeplechase Horse Race. Wooden horses riding on the rooftops of the amusement park. When you came off the ride, you had to go through the "fun house." The clowns with tasers, the vents blowing up skirts, people watching the show.
The Parachute Jump: My mom on the parachute jump that used to be at the World's Fair. Description of the ride, slowly pulling you to the top, the spectacular views, the terrifying drop, no safety devices, how she heard that somebody died on the ride. It's like the Eiffel tower is to Paris. They'll never bring back the ride because of the insurance.
George C. Tilyou: Sign with George C. Tilyou's head on the outside of Steeplechase Park. My uncle on the interior of Steeplechase, just like an Airplane hangar. My mother on the mahogany slides a story high, undulating dips, wood burns, roulette wheel ride. My uncle on the rotating cylinder. My mom on the admission ticket, round with a string, holes punched as you went on rides.
The Thunderbolt: My mom and uncle on the Thunderbolt, not as high or as fast as the Cyclone, filming Annie Hall there. My uncle on the Cyclone, it could make your stomach go up in your throat.
Arcade Games: My mom on arcade games, throwing the ball to hit stuff, how she never won anything. My uncle on the Funhouse, sit in a little carriage on a track, go through a dark room, shrieks, ghosts, pretty tame. My dad on the arcades with barkers "Show your honey how strong you are." Throw at wooden milk bottles, Shooting game with water gun. My mom on prizes made of carnival glass, valuable now. Dolls with feathers and glitter. My dad on people walking around with prizes all day.
Bumper Cars: My uncle on the guy riding around on the cars, dodging around breaking up jams, and somehow he never got hit. My dad on the steering wheels that were too sensitive, spinning, sparks from the poles.
The Fortune Teller: My mom on the fortune telling game, woman in a glass case, gave you a fortune on a little ticket, gypsy with a crystal ball and long fingers, lights would go on. It was in Big. My mom remembers her being so realistic. She has a moppina (shmata) on her head.
The Draft Board: My father's visit to the draft board to get a draft card, getting his pre-induction notice during the Vietnam War.
The Draft Board, Part II: My father, if you had a draft card, you were 18 and could drink. Vietnam War needed more cannon fodder. My uncle on the Whitehall induction process, getting a physical. You carried your keys and wallet in your sock. My mother on the recruiting center being long gone. Coney Island Ain't What It Used to Be: My mom on going back years later, off season, the carousel. Seeing the writing that said "Coney Island Ain't What It Used to Be."
Other Parks: My uncle on Luna Park, Dreamland, elegant resort destinations, this was a second incarnation. Older parks elegant, this was more honky tonk, democratic, working class. My father on the other New York beaches, Rockaways, Orchard Beach, Palisades Park. My uncle on the public service bus announcements for Palisades Park. My mother on Palisades Park being a death knell for Coney. My uncle on Rye Playland, still a destination.