God of Freaks
Takeshi Yamada

One of the things I appreciate about the explosion of reality-based TV is that I have found shows like “Oddities,” which indulge my love of weird, wacky and sometimes nauseating art and the places that dedicate themselves to it, like Obscura in New York and Loved to Death in San Francisco. One of the things I love best about these shops is their focus on taxidermy – through them, I have learned about these wonderful things called “gaffs” – where a “rogue taxidermist” creates the creature of their dreams by altering and combining the animals they are working with. The King of Rogue Taxidermists is Japanese-born, Coney Island-based Takeshi Yamada. While many gaffs are of the standard two-headed poultry variety, Yamada takes taxidermy to new heights of artistry, using mainly organic materials to create freakish visions of nature’s most strange creatures, such as my daughter’s favorite, Cinadora the eight-legged spider dog. His creatures are from a world where the normal rules of science don’t apply, where trees are the habitats of octopi and starfish, where gerbils and rabbits and human-faced fish roam the seas. He fashions realistic and terrifying alien skulls, things that would look at home in an ancient alien tomb excavation. He uses materials like horseshoe crab shells to sculpt hideous scuttling beetles and insects, like his NYC giant subway bugs. Anyone who has been in the dank depths of the New York subway system can imagine these mutant fuckers scurrying around in those dark tunnels. By far his creepiest collection of sculpture – in a kind cute way – is his baby series, where he immortalizes the corpses of various humanoid species in their larval stage – lobster baby, snake baby, lizard baby and my personal favorite, potato head baby. Yamada has his own showcase on Coney Island, Takeshi Yamada’s Museum of World Wonders, where his children roam the walls of their world together. After the jump, take a look at some of Yamada’s creations…

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The Author

Meghan

Meghan

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation webzine and clothing.