This past weekend, amid a sense of impending doom and passionate protest, the mermaids paraded once again through Coney Island, many of us wondering if it would be for the last time.
You couldn't miss the message. T-shirts at Lola Starr's and Ruby's urged "Save Coney Island." There was an odd requiem or two here and there. Through a fence bannered with the words "The Future of Coney Island," you saw a view of flattened earth and digging machines. And in a window on Surf Avenue, sailor girls prepared a place for Queen Mermaid, Savitri D, to hold a hunger strike to rescue Coney from the "gentrifying apocalypse of retail entertainment hell."
She and King Neptune, Reverend Billy, led off the parade, following the big drum of Dick Zigun, the former unofficial Mayor of Coney, recently resigned in protest. One troupe sent evildoing real-estate developers in yellow hardhats, with money spilling from their stuffed shirts, running down the boardwalk while the good guys tried to capture them in nets. The onlookers booed and hissed. Thor pulled a luxury high-rise inviting people to the June 24 Community Scoping Meeting.
The rest of the parade was a swirl of glittering jellyfish, topless mermaids, and other people who love any excuse to get dressed up in some crazy outfit--proof that New York is still New York, at least once a year, in places like Coney Island.
After the parade Billy and Savitri gave their King and Queen speeches to a small but rapt crowd. Billy urged us to save Coney. Savitri spoke of her deep-sea sorrows and planned starvation. The rest of us crossed our fingers and prayed for a miracle.