About Coney Island USA
Calendar of Events
Coney Island Museum
Lectures and Walking Tours
Coney Island Circus Sideshow
Booking Info & Sideshow School
Gift Shop
Tourist Information
Mermaid Parade
Film Programs
Burlesque at the Beach


Learn Ancient Skills from the Very Best in the Business!
Have you ever dreamed of running away with the circus? Did anyone ever call you a freak? Well, now's your chance to become one! At Coney Island USA's Sideshow School, you can learn how to hammer a 20-penny nail right into your skull, how to shake and shimmy like a professional, and then paint a banner trumpeting your new career!

Sideshow Skills and Banner Painting sideshow skills are held in spring, summer and fall, while the Burlesque Master Class will be held in our new summer session.school10

Sideshow Skills - you'll work with Professa Adam Rinn and some of the greatest talents in the business to learn the ins and outs of the working acts of the sideshow- Fire Eating, Snake Charming, The Human Blockhead, Sword Swallowing, Magic and More!!

Burlesque Master Class -Jo Weldon, New York's "Best Burlesque Teacher" according to the New York Burlesque Festival, will help you create a costume, persona, and full burlesque act.

Banner Painting - you'll work with our artist-in-residence Marie Roberts, Coney Island Legacy and the only traditonal banner painter working in Coney Island today, and discuss in the history and theory of Sideshow banners, while designing and executing your own.

Summer Photography Seminar & Workshop - During this workshop conducted by Photographer Kevin C. Downs, students will be documenting the changing conditions of this historic and magical place. Students will be shooting during the day and night, the icons of Coney Island: the Cyclone, Deno's Wonder Wheel, the Mermaid Parade, and the personalities that inhabit the Boardwalk and the surrounding areas, from the water to Mermaid Avenue, developing their powers of observaton and their techniques.

All students must sign a "hold harmless" agreement to be distributed at the start of the first session. Please see each course description for details.

Sideshow Skills Testimonials:
"I have been so void and sick without your class, and ever since I left, my Tuesday life has no purpose. The sideshow by far and forward will be the most interesting thing I will do with my life! So somewhere you can find it in your heart to know, you’re responsible for giving me such the cool outlook, and what a time we had. I’m also thinking of taking the class again. I’ve been doing the human blockhead amazingly; it’s the most progressive act I’ve gotten into. For a brief period in my life, you've shown me the best, most interesting way I could be a hell of a lot powerful by being all-knowing of a craft. And people, people like me, do not forget that!!" Ariel K.

"Big thanks to you, Adam for being an amazing teacher! My only complaint about the class is that it has to end." Holly N.

"The class was so awesome. I had a great time; I pushed my limits, stretched my boundaries and really was inspired. You are a really terrific teacher. If I were your boss I would give you a raise. Thank you for giving so much of yourself to us all." Maxinne L.


Sideshow Skills 102
Tuition: $800.

2013 Dates TBA

This is the only place in the world where students can learn traditional sideshow acts from practicing masters of the arts in a safe and controlled atmosphere. Students will learn the following feats: Fire Eating and Breathing, Human Blockhead, The fundamentals of Sword Swallowing, Bed of Nails Stunts with various Traps, Glass Walking, Strait Jacket Escape, Blade Box, Electric Chair, Snake Charming, as well as brief history of Coney Island and sideshows in general.

For more details, please contact Professa Adam Rinn directly at Professa.adam@gmail.com


Banner Painting 102
Tuition: $700.

2013 Dates TBA

A basic, hands on workshop demonstrating how to paint a sideshow banner, from initial concept to finished art. Each student will be furnished with one 5' x 4' blank, and the use of materials to execute it. Traditional banners will be discussed, sideshow banners from the collection will be on view for reference, instructor will be present at all sessions. Emphasis will be to help the student achieve his/her own large format composition, using the instructor's years of painting experience. Professor Roberts will paint along with students to demonstrate method. Limited to six students.

For more details, please contact Professor Roberts directly.


Coney Island: Different Perspectives

Tuition: $300.


Throughout its history, Coney Island has drawn many famous photographers: from Walker Evans to Weegee; Lou Stettner to Bruce Gilden. All have come to document this part of Brooklyn that is full of energy and creativity. During this workshop, students will be documenting the changing conditions of this historic and magical place. Students will be shooting during the day and night, the icons of Coney Island: the Cyclone, Deno’s Wonder Wheel, the Mermaid Parade, and the personalities that inhabit the boardwalk and surrounding areas, from the water to Mermaid Avenue, developing their powers of observation and their techniques.

Students will be asked to think of a specific documentary essay that is a combination of art and journalism to focus on for the entire 8 sessions. The class will work on a narrative essay that will focus on telling a story through a sequence of events or actions. They may follow an individual or activity over a period of time and present this story in chronological order. A thematic photo essay focuses on a central theme (e.g. homelessness, the environment, Amusements, The Economics of Coney Island, etc.) and presents photos relevant to that theme. The theme you choose will need to be approved by the instructor.

Students will present their work every week, (only in-class participation will be allowed) where the instructor and students will review it for guidance and feedback. Students will gain insights into staying focused on the theme and how to improve upon the body of work. Although some technical support will be offered, this is neither a technical nor darkroom course.

Students should have a working knowledge of their equipment and a willingness to engage in discussion, the book for the class is Photojournalism, Sixth Edition: The Professionals' Approach by Kenneth Kobre.

All Sessions except June 23 (Mermaid Parade) begin with a review at noon in the Coney Island Museum (1208 Surf Avenue). Come and document what is left of the real New York! The Real Brooklyn! Registration will be ongoing.

Click here to see a photo pool of pictures from prior classes.

For more information please contact Kevin directly via email or by phone at 917-607-3935.


Dates TBA
Tuition: $700.

LEARN the Art of Magic at the place where Sideshow Magic began! Professional, Practicing, Masters of Magic will teach a comprehensive program of Magic Skills from beginning concepts to professional routines. Students will be taught Vanishes and Appearances, Magic with and without Apparatus, Magic with coins, cards and ropes, Mentalism, Mind Reading and Psychic skills as well as Close-up, Stage and Illusion effects.

Gary Dreifus, with his staff of World-Class, Award-Winning Magicians will teach routines gleaned from their actual performance repertoires.

Gary Dreifus has been performing magic, mentalism and hypnosis for over 35 years. He has been teaching Magic classes at Kingsborough Community College for over 10 years. An accomplished entertainer, lecturer, motivational speaker, his clients have included some of the top corporations and non-profit organizations throughout the tri-state area.

Gary is founder and director of Magical Promotions, a company that places world-class magicians in specific venues throughout the country. He has several instructional DVD’s taped and distributed internationally for professional magicians and has been a consultant for some of the top illusionists and magic companies in the world. He is the 2012 recipient of both a prestigious SPARC award and a Community Arts Fund award from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and Brooklyn Arts Council.

Gary is the producer of “Magic at Coney!!!”, a magical variety show highlighting world-class, award winning magicians. It is a full length program featuring illusionists, mentalists and close-up magicians from around the world. Gary is one of the select few individuals to receive the coveted degree of Doctor of Magic from the International Magicians Society.

This comprehensive workshop will enable the participant to entertain audiences of ALL ages. Supplement your Sideshow Skills… Develop complete Magic Routines… Entertain clients… Impress your friends… Read peoples minds…

Coursework will conclude with a performance on the Coney Island Circus Sideshow stage!

For more details, and a complete syllabus, please contact Gary Dreifus directly at GaryMage@aol.com 


Tuition: $295.

Dates TBA

Get into Burlesque with the Coney Island Master Class Series! You’ll start with a bang and have the opportunity to begin workshopping your act from day one. This series will feature New York's most acclaimed performers.

The series culminates in a performance September 12th on the famous Coney Island USA stage!

Coney Island USA and the New York School of Burlesque brings you a master class worthy of the name! Get in on the feathery, fringey, glittery fun! Learn how to put together a dazzling and entertaining burlesque act from some of the most recognized performers in the world in a series produced by Jo Weldon, author of The Burlesque Handbook! Coney Island is historically relevant to the history of American burlesque, with legends including Tirza, Sally Rand, and Gypsy Rose Lee gracing its stages and tents. More recently, Coney Island USA has been a crucial force in establishing and maintaining a venue for innovative neo-burlesque, helping to establish not only a style but a name for that theatrical movement. This establishment has contributed to the ease with which burlesque performers are now able to go to venues and start their own shows, referring to articles about and photos of what's blossomed here in order to prove that burlesque is back and has an audience. Viva burlesque!

The Coney Island Sideshow School Burlesque Master Class features additional instruction and input from working professionals and other performers who have made a career about of being fabulous, glamorous and funny. Past instructors have included Amber Ray, Angie Pontani, Bambi the Mermaid, Billie Madley, Bunny Love, Dirty Martini, Michelle Baldwin, NYU Professor Dr. Lukki, Gal Friday, Jonny Porkpie, Julie Atlas Muz, Kate Valentine, Lefty Lucy, Nasty Canasta, Tigger, World Famous *BOB*, and more.

In addition to hands-on training in movement, costuming, inventing a stage name and persona, idea generation, and music selection, students will discuss the history of burlesque and receive shopping and research guides. Readings and assignments will be provided. Attendees will workshop their number before a panel of burlesque experts, receiving supportive yet honest critiques.

Students are expected to bring to class a copy of The Burlesque Handbook, available in the Coney Island USA gift shop (1208 Surf Ave.), and on the Coney Island USA online gift shop on this website. Click here for updates about which teachers are participating.

Bio of Jo "Boobs" Weldon, Master Class coordinator: Jo is the Headmistress and Founder of the New York School of Burlesque, and is one of the most recognized burlesque instructors in the world. She has been interviewed for or mentioned in countless major press articles, films, documentaries, news items, and television shows. Internationally renowned as burlesque personality Jo Boobs, she's rounded her heels on stages from Coney Island to Sydney Harbour. Garo Sparo named her one of the Top Ten Badass Burlesque Babes, and she was recently voted one of the Top 3 Burlesque Performers in the World. She's taught thousands of women (and men!) to twirl tassels, and has conducted performance workshops producing some of the most respected new performers in burlesque. She recently taught burlesque to disabled performers at DaDaFest in Liverpool.

She's the winner of such exotic titles as Best Bump N Grinder, Best Teacher and Mentor, and Biggest Cougar in Burlesque! She has worked with performers from Leonard Cohen to Spinal Tap, and has been featured on television shows from CBS Sunday Morning to Gossip Girl. She's taken it off in the grimiest strip clubs and at the most esteemed venues, including being the first burlesquer to ever strip down at The New York Public Library, and has performed and headlined at dozens of festivals all over the world, including The Vancouver Burlesque Festival, the Toronto Burlesque Festival, and the New Zealand Burlesque Festival. She is Co-Director of Education at The Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, Co-Curator and Director of Programming at Burlycon, and has produced the Master Class in Burlesque at Coney Island USA since 2006. She has released three acclaimed how-to burlesque DVDs, and her book The Burlesque Handbook, with a foreword by Margaret Cho, was released by HarperCollins/ItBooks and is the first-ever book on how to create burlesque routines. She is also the founder of Pink Light Burlesque, a program that produces free burlesque classes for breast cancer survivors and patients.

Register online with a credit card. To pay by check or money order please contact Debi Ryan in advance at 718-372-5159.
Please Note: You will be required to sign a Hold Harmless Agreement.

For students coming in from out of town, Coney Island USA does not recommend specific accommodations. For a list of local lodging establishments, see our Tourism Page


You may now become a member through our online giftshop page! CLICK HERE!

email :info@coneyisland.com

post : 1208 Surf Ave. Brooklyn NY 11224-2816     phone: 718 372 5159 fax 718 372 5101

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