the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: Coney Island


This is my Facebook update Saturday night after I came home from the Coney Island Mermaid Parade:

Everyone is sexy and beautiful if they want to be. And even if they don’t want to be, they can’t help others from seeing it. Been thinking about that all night. Even I’m kinda sexy.


Maybe I wanted to make it clear that I appreciated the “body positive” vibe of the event. People strolled up and down the boardwalk in various stages of undress, and they didn’t do it for my “male gaze.” The creative folk did it for themselves. They love the opportunity to wear outrageous costumes and paint their bodies in oceanic colors.

I’m a tame voyeur.  I never gawk at sunbathers at the beach. I have never visited a strip club.   But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit the pleasure I received from admiring the stew of bodies on view on Saturday in Brooklyn — the big bosomed and the flat-chested, the tight abs and the big guts, the fleshy asses and the large male packages balled into tight-fitting speedos. It was sexy and fun. If I had more chutzpah, I would have taken off my own clothes and painted my ass green.

Is it so wrong that I enjoyed being a blatant voyeur for a few hours? The Mermaid Parade, much like I imagine Mardi Gras or Carnival, allows for a safe and playful expression display of the body. I felt comfortable talking to parade participants and asking permission for photos. When it rained, a whole bunch of us took shelter under the awning of Nathan’s, and soon I was dancing in the downpour with half-naked women. What could be better than that?

It’s easy to connect photography with voyeurism. We like looking at people.

The Coney Island Mermaid Parade

I met Sarah from Sad and Beautiful World in Coney Island today for the Mermaid Parade.  We walked around in the extreme heat and took photos… and ate hot dogs.  I was a total dweeb because I wore a preppy, button-down shirt… to the beach.  I think I am turning into my father, who used to wear a suit and tie to a baseball game.   This time, I blame YOU.  You’re the ones who told me I should dress better in New York than Los Angeles.  I’m lucky I haven’t bought a Nehru jacket.  I would have fainted from a heat stroke.

But, for some reason, the girls at the beach, many who were wearing the shells for bikini tops lke Ariel from the Little Mermaid, seemed to dig the button-down shirt look I was wearing!  Perhaps it was better than the tight Speedos that some of the other men were wearing.   Brooklyn men are NOT shy.

Hi, Sarah!

Meanwhile, in Coney Island

If it’s fourth of July, that means in Brooklyn it’s time for Nathan’s Famous July Fourth International Hot Dog Eating Contest.  Can anyone unseat four-time winner Takeru Kobayahsi of Japan, who last year ate 53 1/2 hot dogs in twelve minutes?


Here are last year’s onlookers just seconds before Norwegian-born Steinar Andersen’s unsuccessful (and rather unpleasant) attempt to eat his 42nd hot dog.

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