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August 23, 2003

Shoot the Freak

One of those truth is stranger than fiction things from the NYTimes.

Step Right Up, Live Human Target


Aiming a ball at a target to drop a clown into a tub of water is old school at the Coney Island Boardwalk. Now people eagerly shoot the Freak.

The Freak, as signs and the barker say, is a live human target.

Coney Island has seen a lot, from real-life crime to the Painproof Rubber Girl. But even in a place where trouble and cheap spectacle are the norm, "Shoot the Freak" has been turning heads.

Up to six customers at a time can stand on the Boardwalk, a few yards from Stillwell Avenue, and aim their rifles down an alley filled with trash and concrete bits. There, one finds the Freak, darting and dodging.

He is dressed in a combination of hockey, baseball and bicycling protective gear, making him look like a creature of some post-urban nightmare. Periodically, he stands still and takes one in the chest, or the forehead. The customers are firing paint pellets, and as they hit the Freak, there's a short snapping sound and a small spray of mist. Think of it as a video game come to life.

Prices range from 5 shots for $3 to 75 shots for $20. No stuffed animals — the thrill of the pursuit is the only prize. [New York Times]

Imagine having that as a summer job.

Posted by snooze at August 23, 2003 12:45 PM