MDP tall halucination

On the boardwalk Mermaid Parade 2009

Last Saturday was the Mermaid Parade at Coney Island. Every news outlet in New York covered the parade, so I won’t rehash it here. Though I will throw some of my personal pix in the mix for your viewing pleasure.

A couple of things to note: The parade is still keeping it real by letting almost anyone walk. It is still the sexiest parade in NYC (sorry Irish and Puerto Rican day parades), and the esprit du corps on the boardwalk after the parade was delicious. It seems there is always a party at Ruby’s in the early evening after the marchers congregate on the boardwalk, but Saturday was especially fun despite of — or because of — the foul weather. It still includes vintage muscle cars, which is a feature that made the parade seem very Coney Island and unique to me the first time I saw it just over a decade ago.

The evolution of the parade has been almost as interesting to watch as the parade itself. When I first saw it in the late 90s, muscle cars were the main attraction, enhanced by topless women reclining on their hoods. The topless part was a big draw. A court ruling in 1993 had made it legal for women to go topless in the city, and Mermaid Paraders took full advantage of the opportunity. (A mermaid was busted in 2003 for being topless at the parade, and lawyer Ron Kuby won $10,000 for her in a settlement with the city.) The toplessness shows the fun, funky grit of New York from the 70s and 80s, some of which has been lost under Guilliani and Bloomberg, the Disney-i-fication of Times Square, and the massive, two decade long gentrification of the city. But like everything else, it seems like the parade has grown up some. It’s a “family friendly” event these days, where mermaids of all ages are welcome.

Yeah, kind of. Check out the picture below of the little girl in white walking with two older women who are topless save for pasties. One of the women, who I guess might be the girl’s mother, has had some obvious breast enhancement surgery. I classify this as a different kind of funky grit, more along the lines of Living Lohan.

In an apartment above the parade route, complete with bars across the windows, a man nude at least to the waist was recording the show with a hand held video camera. He looked to be in his late 50s. It was just pervy enough to be fun; but safely tucked away behind the bars, he didn’t offer a serious threat.

The digital revolution has made everyone a reporter or documentarian. (I plead guilty.) That is to say, you couldn’t spit without hitting a hipster with a giant, three thousand dollar DSLR camera with a three foot lens. I’m sure that was reassuring to the other half of the crowd: hotties in gorgeous outfits looking to peacock in front of a million admirers. And there were plenty of those. NYC will never lose its allure as long as the young and beautiful flock here to see and be seen. It also helps if they’re poor and from the provinces. Hotties born with a lot of cash like to hide behind velvet ropes in VIP rooms. The strivers and skivers take it to the streets.

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