Seaside Stories

VIII. The Brooklyn Riviera

Growing up near Coney Island, a good tan was a key ingredient of popularity among white kids. Because I didn’t have one, people called me a vampire from Transylvania—an insult back then. Yet one needs to be extraordinarily devoted to tanning in order to achieve a year-round glow in New York City. Those who are able to often stick together and cultivate a vitality that seems even tougher than their skin. While the rest of us go into hibernation as winter approaches, the hearty few who sport bathing suits year-round gloat over their ownership of the sun.

Johnny Corona, Harry D., and Frankie Oil bring their beach chairs to sit outside Ruby's Bar in Coney Island, and have been known to drink out there with snow on their heads.

Danielle says her great aunt used to own "all of Coney," and although they've had to give it up she still walks the boardwalk as though it's her living room. When a woman wearing a "Brooklyn Sucks" t-shirt walked by, Danielle's serene state gave way to fury.

The water may be getting colder, but this guy is always ready for a dip.

Andy got berated by his greased up and golden comrade after revealing to me his Jewish last name. Apparently, Andy had been passing as Italian.

"If you want to be strong, you should take tan," says wise Solomon, 74.


Saskia Kahn

SASKIA KAHN is a photographer from the coast of Brooklyn (