I'm a freelance writer/photographer living in the East Village neighborhood of New York City.
Calling all geeks, freaks, and closet collectors: The Secret Science Club is hosting its fifth-annual Carnivorous Nights Taxidermy Contest at the Bell House in Gowanus, Brooklyn. No longer considered the strange doings of a fictitious psychopath (i.e., Norman Bates), taxidermy is actually making a comeback, thanks to the popularity of institutions such as Philadelphia's Mütter Museum. If you've been keeping your hobby secret from the world or if you are just a collector of the strange or absurd, this is your moment to seek the spotlight, though pre-registration is required (see website for details).
Any taxidermy (bought, found, or homemade) is eligible for entry including articulated skeletons, skulls, and even jarred specimens (ewww!). Last year's entrants took in a goat-skull and crystal chandelier (cooler than it sounds), a freaky homemade double-headed rat, freak show "babies" made from actual human skin, several insect dioramas, and much more. Besides getting up close and personal with the "still life" on display, guests will be treated to music and videos centered on a wildlife theme, a lecture on taxidermy, and drink specials based around—you guessed it—things that are stuffed. Judges include Robert Marbury of the Minnesota Association of Rogue Taxidermists, Dorian Devins, co-founder of the Secret Science Club and former producer and host of the WFMU radio program, The Speakeasy, "Beast Mistress" Melissa Milgrom, author of Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy, and Mike Zorn, star of the Discovery Channel Show, Oddities.
The Secret Science Club is an intellectually curious group of like-minded New Yorkers in search of stimulating entertainment. In regular monthly meetings complete with lectures and demonstrations they tackle a wide range of scientific subjects from anthropology and molecular biology to organic chemistry and neuroscience, bridging closet scientists with those who have superior academic credentials and experience. Check out the Secret Science blog for more information on past and future events as well as plenty of interesting videos. Come out and share your taxidermy tale with the world, because, just like Mary said to Norman in the film, Psycho, "Every man should have a hobby." And come early, as last year's event sold out.