Thursday, July 29, 2010

Coney Island's got talent

Fire breathers and vaudeville-esque dancers will be put to the test this Saturday in the first annual Coney Island Talent Show.

“I’ve wanted to do this event for a couple of years. I was surprised there wasn’t a Coney Island talent show already, it seemed like a natural thing to do,” said Jen Gapay, the producer of the talent show, to be held on the Boardwalk.

With burlesque notables as Miss Saturn and The World Famous Bob leading the festivities as the hostesses, participants will compete in such categories as Best Drag Performance of Celebrity Impersonator; Dance Your Pants Off (not literally — but then again…); creative kids ages 9-12; and, for those on the opposite spectrum, sassy seniors (the latter two are open to anything from magic acts to jokes).

And this wouldn’t be a Coney Island-based talent show without a Circus Freaks and Sideshow Geeks category.

“Anything goes in this one,” said Gapay. “We have everything from sword swallowers to magicians to a contortionist.”

The Bushwick-based Minsky Sisters (pictured) will be showing off their 1920s-inspired dance act in the Dance Your Pants Off category.

“We’ve never performed in Coney Island and figured why not, we love Coney Island,” said Jen Minsky, who, along with her sister, Kristen, make up the duo, which has been tap dancing across Brooklyn in flapper dresses at places like Williamsburg’s Public Assembly, Galapagos Art Space in DUMBO and the Montauk Club in Park Slope.

The sisters hope to hold their own against the evening’s other acts, which include step teams and break-dancers.

“We will certainly be unique,” said Jen, who plans on doing the duo’s fan dance, which involves the use of two large white feather fans, for the performance. “Especially in New York nightlife, tap dancing is a little bit of a rarity.”

The Minsky Sisters and other contestants are vying for $200, a season pass to the amusement park, and future performance opportunities in Coney Island if placing first in their category. Deciding in that will be judges Dick Zigun, who’s seen it all as the man behind Coney Island USA, burlesque performer Ms. Ghost Hole and musician Don Undeen.

“They’ll be judging on who has the most talent, and also what’s the most entertaining act,” said Gapay. “Somebody can be a great singer and have no stage personality.”

Because in Coney Island, it’s all about the personality.

The Coney Island Talent Show on the Boardwalk (between W. 10th and W. 11th streets), July 31 from 4-8 pm. Free. For info, visit


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