November 25th, 2008 -
Up until this summer on the Coney Island boardwalk, you could shoot the freak. Some people aimed for the face. One father shot his freak son. The freak's domain was an abandoned lot filled with trash and thousands of decaying paintballs turning into mud. The freak's frontyard concealed an entrance to the strange world under the boardwalk, with long forgotten hamburger signs, picnic tables and strange lairs. Hidden in the freak's backyard was a concrete porch looking out on a vast empty plain that was once Coney Island's Go-Kart track, batting cage and mini-golf course. Beyond this empty lot lies the Wonder Wheel, which is now surrounded by the demolition of Astroland. The home of the freak, like the gritty spirit of modern Coney Island, may be gone by next summer, replaced by the promise of luxury condominiums.
Update: In December 2010, Shoot The Freak was demolished by its landlord. “They came like thieves in the night,” the booth's owner told The Brooklyn Paper. “Those little sneaks emptied out the place and there is nothing left.” For other photo essays from abandoned Coney Island, visit Coney Island Creek (2007), Under The Boardwalk (2009) and Abandoned Playland (2011).