Coney Island Gets Political With Waterboarding Demo

New sideshow installation protests torture
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2008 6:22 PM CDT
Coney Island is showcasing its political side with a new addition to its sideshow called "Waterboard Thrill Ride."   (Bloomberg News)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – Coney Island's politically charged addition to its sideshow lineup—two animatronic figures demonstrating how waterboarding works—"is disturbing in a way that journalistic accounts of torture can only approximate," writes Jeremy Gerard of Bloomberg. "It left me wrecked." For $1, spectators can peer through a barred window and watch a bound and gagged figure seemingly gasp for air as another pours water on his face.

"For 100 years, Coney Island has been a funhouse mirror that reflects and refracts America,'' said the creator of the installation. "I wanted to get people thinking about this issue, and I did it in a way that's completely Coney Island—it's frightening but irreverent.'' Writes Gerard: "I found myself responding to it as one does to a too-real dream, or in this case, nightmare. My heart was racing and I could feel the blood drain from my face."