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Sideshows by the Seashore

An ode to the weirdo heartthrobs of the Mr. Coney Island pageant.

Sideshows by the Seashore booth
Real-estate developers may be trying — rather aggressively, lately — to cover up the inherent freakiness of Coney Island, 	[Corner of main drag by Nathan's, with the giant, brand new It’Sugar Store across the street] mashing it out with the stomp of some big-footed buildings by the shore. 	[Glass buildings along the shoreline] But don’t despair
The pageant took place on a Friday night at Sideshows by the Seashore on Surf Avenue,  and, unlike the Miss America Pageant, there’s still a swimsuit portion of the evening.
It’s a celebration of queer identities, [Jacques Le Strap, contestant in the talent competition, sitting at a table eating Nathan’s hot dogs in his underwear; two babes come out and squeeze ketchup and mustard on them] or whatever. And Glenn Marla took us masterfully into the night. [Glenn with drag king Lee VaLone in a red suit with a white racing stripe up the leg, already wearing a  crown: “He believes the gender revolution is upon us.”] The crowd went wild for drag king Lee VaLone. It was obvious at that moment that he would win.
But my favorite contestant was Wilfredo. [Wilfredo, contestant in the talent competition, with his pants pulled up to his neck, a snaggletooth, and a bob] [Wilfredo: “People often ask me why I’m sexy. And the only answer is, it’s cuz I feel sexy. The more candles I have on my cake, the hotter I become. Some people say I’m like a young Che Guevara. What a range I’ve got, no problem!” He threw a rose into the audience and it hit me right in the face. [Me getting smacked in the face with a rose, sketchbook open on lap]
Cornelius Loy played the theremin, 	[Cornelius Loy, contestant, standing shirtless in fishnet tights, playing the theremin] the sounds of which were so transcendent, it felt like he had hitched the tiny theater to a UFO and towed us up and out of Coney Island altogether. [aerial drawing of audience in their seats at the theater, floating above Coney Island in the sky like a UFO, the rides and Wonder Wheel below]
Contestant Darrell Thorne could have been a hitchhiker from outer space in the swimsuit competition, serving one body/two looks with intergalactic glamour.  [Two drawings of Darrell Thorne, contestant in the swimsuit competition. One is the right side of his body, the other his left. Each side is made up as a different character. Glenn says: “Kelly Ripa told America he was amazing.”] And he is. Glenn Marla brought us back to Earth. 	[Close-up of Glenn: “Are we concerned that there’s a little bit of wig left on the stage?”]
Next, we rode a roller coaster with Gigi Bonbon, reigning Miss Coney Island, who made a cameo bopping and bouncing around in a costume that was meant to look like the front seat of the Cyclone.  	[Drawing of Gigi Bonbon on stage] And then, after the audience cast their votes, Lee VaLone took the title, 	[Lee looking fabulous receiving crown and sash] like we all knew he would.

Katie Fricas is a cartoonist and illustrator in New York City; she enjoys long walks on the beach.