Gaff Chupacabras and the Montauk Beast

By | January 18, 2009

Takeshi Yamada makes great gaffs, like this Chupacabra:

About the artist:

ty-newphoto1At the sideshow, I was particularly fascinated by the series of “specimens” of mythic creatures on display, which are called “gaffs”. Gaffs are a form of highly specialized hyper-realism sculptures simulating artifacts of curiosities and oddities (some are completely fictional, such as Fiji Mermaid and Jackalope) displayed at the pay-per-view sideshows behind large, vividly painted large banners. Historically, gaffs have been a vital part of the “Cabinet of Curiosities” (also known as Wunderkammer or wonder-room). The cabinet of curiosities was a collection of natural history specimens kept and often displayed in cabinets by many early practitioners of science (and they were symbols of wealth, social status and power by international trade merchants) in the early 16th century in Europe, and were precursors to today’s natural history museums. With these in mind, I have created over 500 post-super-realism and neo-taxidermy artworks simulating the treasures of the cabinet of curiosities. Examples of them are 6-feet Fiji Mermaids, 5-feet Chupacabra, 31-feet giant sea serpents, dragons, two-headed babies, shrunken human heads, fossilized fairies, nuclear radiation giant stag beetles of Bikini Atoll, Canadian hairy trout, New York City giant subway bugs, king tarantulas, Mongolian giant death worms, two-headed snakes, four-legged turkeys, vampire monkeys, Chinese flesh-eating mushrooms, two-headed and six-fingered alchemist, human-faced insects, artifacts of the Dreamland Fire of 1911 in Coney Island, relics of ancient civilizations, sea rabbits of Coney Island, giant prehistoric horseshoe crabs, alien specimens collected by the Area 51 US military base, and Coney Island brand exotic canned foods, among many others. With my collection of curious, odd and mysterious specimens, artifacts and artworks at Takeshi Yamada’s Museum of World Wonders, I want to celebrate one of the primal desires of human nature, which seeks the mystery and wonders of the universe. – ssw

Here is a smaller Chupacabra, also well done. This “Mummified Chupacabra” gaff is from

About the artist:

Artist and naturalist Sarina Brewer recycles the natural into the unnatural, breathing new life into the animals she resurrects. While earning a BFA in 1992 from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, she worked predominantly with oil paint and found objects, most of which were animal remains. Early works were shrines to the animals they incorporated, creating final resting places for them. Preparing animal remains for use in her sculpture and abstract paintings slowly evolved into taxidermy over the course of a decade. Sarina is now a licensed taxidermist as well as a prolific artist. She volunteers her skills in the biology department of the Science Museum of Minnesota and is also engaged in various natural history related projects for other educational institutions and museums. She is a strong proponent of wildlife conservation who also participates in wildlife rescue and rehabilitation.

None of the animals used in Sarina’s work were killed for the purpose of using them in her art. All animal components are recycled. She utilizes salvaged roadkill and discarded livestock, as well as the many animals that are donated to her. Donated animals are often casualties of the pet trade, destroyed nuisance animals and pests, or animals that died of natural causes. A very strict “waste not, want not” policy is adhered to in her studio – virtually every part of the animal is recycled in some manner. … – cct

A gaff is so far the best explanation I have found for the Montauk Beast.


Leslie Lee on the Telegraph web site wrote this comment:

it’s a typical sideshow gaff. looks like the body of a cat with it’s natural top and bottom jaw removed and replaced with a squid beak or a crab claw, either look like a beak with jagged “teeth”. a good rogue taxidermist could create this “beast” fairly easily.

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