Mystery Guest

May 12, 2017
Originally published on August 11, 2017 7:31 am

Our Mystery Guest, Dick Zigun, founded a popular New York City event in 1983. Ophira and guest house musician Julian Velard work together to figure out this secret by asking "yes" or "no" questions.

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While Jen and Brian get ready for their final round, it's time for Julian Velard and myself to play a game. This is called Mystery Guest. A stranger is about to come on stage. We have no idea who this person is or what makes them special, but our puzzle guru, Cecil Baldwin, does.

CECIL BALDWIN: That's right. So Ophira and Julian are going to work together as a team to figure out our mystery guest's secret by asking yes-or-no questions. All right, Mr. Guest, could you introduce yourself?

DICK ZIGUN: Hello, America, My name is Dick Zigun and in 1983, I founded a very popular New York event.

BALDWIN: All right, Ophira.

EISENBERG: A New York event. Was it an event for people with incredible, iconic voices?



JULIAN VELARD: Is this an annual event?


EISENBERG: OK. Does this event involve eating?


VELARD: Is it still happening, this event, every year?


EISENBERG: Is this event something that I could compete in?

ZIGUN: Absolutely, yes.

EISENBERG: So it's for very good-looking people?

ZIGUN: Yes, and others.


BALDWIN: And their friends.

EISENBERG: And their friends.

VELARD: Does this event take place somewhere very iconic in New York?


EISENBERG: OK. Does this event take place in Coney Island?


VELARD: Did you start the Mermaid Parade?

ZIGUN: Yes, I did.



VELARD: That was teamwork. That was teamwork, Ophira. Teamwork makes the dream work.

EISENBERG: Julian Velard is so quick at this. OK. Dick, for people that don't know what the Mermaid Parade is, how would you describe it? Someone's like, I want to go...

ZIGUN: It's the world's largest art parade. And we do it because it's a wacky way for New York City artists to self-express themselves.


ZIGUN: Yeah.


EISENBERG: And people dress up as mermaids but also other nautical-themed beings?

ZIGUN: They dress up as oil slicks sometimes.

EISENBERG: Sure. What was the first Mermaid Parade?

ZIGUN: There were more people in it than watching it.


ZIGUN: And now it's bigger than Boston, they say.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) The amount of people.

ZIGUN: The population...

EISENBERG: Is bigger than Boston?

ZIGUN: The whole Mermaid Parade is bigger than Boston.

EISENBERG: And why did you decide - what was your inspiration to say that you know what we need? We need the Mermaid Parade.

ZIGUN: Because I'm one of those people who think that clothing and glitter are clothing.

EISENBERG: I agree. I love...

ZIGUN: And the streets of Coney Island are literally named Mermaid Avenue and Neptune Avenue. The idea of mermaids marching without feet struck me as funny


EISENBERG: And so you - you just decided that artists - are you - are you an artist?

ZIGUN: I'm an artist. I have two degrees in theater, but instead of aspiring to Broadway, I had this really stupid idea that Coney Island could be a staging ground. I'm also the founder of Coney Island USA, a nonprofit arts organization that runs the Coney Island Freak Show.

EISENBERG: Oh, yeah.


EISENBERG: How many years has the Mermaid Parade been going on now?

ZIGUN: Thirty-five years.

EISENBERG: Thirty-five...


ZIGUN: This is our Coral anniversary, and we're so psyched that Debbie Harry and Chris Stein from Blondie are king and queen.


ZIGUN: June 17.


EISENBERG: Who are other memorable king and queens from prior years?

ZIGUN: Well, our rock 'n' roll heritage includes Lou Reed, David Johansen, David Byrne, Moby, Queen Latifah. Harvey Keitel not so long ago was King Neptune.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) Yeah. Oh, my God. I - I'm very proud to meet you. I love your work.

ZIGUN: Thank you.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) And I look forward to being part of the 35th anniversary of the Mermaid day Parade, one of the best things about New York City in the summertime.

ZIGUN: All right, thank you.

EISENBERG: Thank you so much.

VELARD: Thank you.

EISENBERG: Give it up for our mystery guest, Dick Zigun.

(APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.