Austin is weird, right? It’s how we’ve branded the city.
We’ve all seen the tie-dye shirts, but how weird is Austin really? Is it mermaid mummy weird? Is it shrunken head weird? The Museum of the Weird on 6th St. is that weird.
The Iceman Cometh
When Steve Busti was just a young lad, he went with his aunt to a K-Mart. In the parking lot was a man with a truck, taking money from a line of people as they peeked into the back of it.
Steve’s aunt paid the man and lifted Steve up so he could see into the back of the truck. He came face to face with the world famous Minnesota Iceman – an ape-man frozen in ice, of controversial origin, which has attracted the attention of the FBI, Smithsonian Museum, U.S. Customs and Vice President Walter Mondale. The world famous moniker is not hype. The Iceman has attracted the attention of international paleontologists and scientists.
First impressions are important. If Steve Busti had never met the Iceman, I may not be writing this story. “If I hadn’t seen the Iceman at such a young age, I’d probably be an accountant or lawyer or something and there would be no Museum of the Weird,” Steve said with a grin. It’s interesting how things work out.
Steve and his wife opened Lucky Lizard Curios and Gifts in 2005. “It’s a reflection of both our personalities,” he informed me. “She has locally made jewelry and I have my oddities.”
The museum grew from there. Steve took advantage of the extra space in the back of the store and above it, and he’s slowly amassed an impressive collection over the last eight years, with his most prized possession being the Iceman. Steve’s acquisition of the Iceman has gained the attention of national media outlets like The Huffington Post.
Swords, Light Bulbs and a Two-Headed Calf
The Minnesota Iceman is not the only attraction the Museum has to offer. Since Museum of the Weird is essentially an old school carnival side show, it stands to reason they would have side show acts. They do.
My particular group had the honor of seeing John T. Rex perform. John is one of a significant minority of people who do not feel the effects of electrical current. To prove this, he grabbed an exposed end of a thick electrical cord, turned on the power and lit a light bulb by having an assistant touch it to his skin. Afterwards, I went up and touched his skin, to which I was rewarded with the tingling sensation of electricity.
There is another act at the museum as well: sword swallowing. Juan Martinez, who has been with the Museum for three years (and told Steve Busti about the availability of the Minnesota Iceman), has been performing as a sword swallower for two years.
The sideshows and Minnesota Iceman showings are on something of a schedule, but there is plenty to see and read about while waiting for the next show to start. There is a display with a brief history of dime museums and sideshows, a two-headed calf, the Feejee Mermaid, and an assortment of other oddities and wax figures. I don’t want to spill all the beans here, but there are some very interesting exhibits.
Halloween is right around the corner and this is a place that should be on any family’s to-do list. Museum of the Weird is a cool place to visit. It’s located at 412 E. 6th St. and is open from 10 AM–midnight all week long (with the exception of certain holidays).
Tickets can be purchased at the cash register. To see the Museum and the Minnesota Iceman exhibit, adult tickets are $12.00 and kids under 8 are $7.00. I highly recommend this first option, but if you don’t want to see the Iceman, tickets are $8.00 and $5.00, respectively. There are other discount options available, so it’s best to call ahead or contact them via their website.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen?