Since 2007 burlesque performer Angie Pontani has served diligently as Miss Cyclone, the legendary, Coney Island roller coaster's ambassador to the world. While her origins are clouded in mystery and her reign is uncontested, -- her work with preserving the historic district is priceless -- there remains a rogue element in her kingdom. The rebellion comes in the form of the self-appointed Miss Ghost Hole. Who was this rhinestoned upstart and what did she want? The brainchild of neo-burlesque pioneer, Little Brooklyn, Miss Ghost Hole simply ran up a sash, invited to herself to the opening of the Cyclone's summer season and marched shamelessly to the front of the line to take her place as amusement park royalty.
As an artist and entertainer, Little Brooklyn (a Kings' County native), describes herself as "borough famous" and treats the city itself and the working man's paradise of Coney Island in particular as a muse. More than just a cheeky attempt at publicity or crashing the party, she remains dedicated to keeping Coney Island alive with the kind of accessible art, performance and fun that have drawn generation after generation to its urban shores. Now, more than ever, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy's devastation, the anarchic queen of the haunted house has a message that New Yorkers need to hear.
Recently I had the opportunity to talk to Miss Ghost Hole and ask her some questions about her dizzying rise to power and her ongoing agenda.
The Lady Aye: What are Miss Ghost Hole's origins?
Little Brooklyn: I got it in my head that (Angie Pontani) needed a team of super, alter egos named after all the rides in Coney Island. In the past there have been pageants awarding women names of subway lines and boroughs, but never any for the powerful, fun and strong rides of Coney Island. I thought Miss Ghost Hole would be a nice contrast to her elegant Miss Cyclone. Originally I proposed the idea of a summertime competition at [Astroland] Park taking place once a week at the different rides. When this did not happen, I took matters into my own hands and proclaimed myself Miss Ghost Hole. My title is completely self-created, not governed, unendorsed, and comes with few perks. I have had the honor of riding alongside Angie Pontani on the Cyclone's first ride of the season. Miss Ghost Hole has also been a judge at the annual Coney Island Talent Show...
TLA: What's your platform?
LB: Self-entitlement. I literally mean self-entitlement. Right? Go give yourself a title. What's the correct word for "to give a title?" Self-title-ment?
TLA: What are her privileges and responsibilities?
LB: All of the Miss "Rides" are responsible for representing their ride in the best possible manner. In my case that usually means looking dark, mysterious and creepy. It is my goal to raise awareness for my individual ride.
TLA: Will she return or pass on the crown? Will your son Max inherit it?
LB: I am white knuckling that sash, but would be more than happy to pass it on to anyone who proves themselves worthy. Or... I suppose anyone can feel free to make their own sash, just like I did. An army of Miss Ghost Holes! I like the idea of that. We can dance up the boardwalk "Thriller"-style.
TLA: How do you think Coney Island will fare in its first post-Sandy season?
LB: Coney is one of the few neighborhoods in the world that is more than mere blocks, buildings and streets. There is a true real and genuine heartbeat. It is a loving thing and many people are deeply and dearly in love with this entity. I think Coney will do wonderfully, as people are not only eager to get out there and support the people and businesses, but are hungry for the fun and escapism that Coney offers, since Sandy left most people hurting in one way or another.
Between real estate development by Thor Equities and physical damage from Sandy, this season Coney will find itself struggling to maintain its own crown as the people's playground more than ever. Perhaps a "tourists and tiaras" program is in order, where visitors are encouraged to adopt and promote beloved rides, local businesses and attractions for themselves. If so, it would be the fulfillment of a dream and a goal fulfilled for the rogue beauty queen and a step forward in reviving the neighborhood. But her work with New Yorkers may be far from done. When asked if Miss Ghost Hole will return for the annual christening of New York City's oldest coaster, she answers with delightful ambiguity, "She will be wherever the wind blows her."