There’s an undeniable fascination with the morbid, strange and unusual and while we’re not quite sure why, people tend to be drawn to the things that scare them. From shirts at teen clothing stores with the word “witch” plastered all over them to faux animal skulls in nearly every home goods store, it’s safe to say that embracing your inner creep is becoming part of the mainstream. It’s about time the squares caught up — Mike Zohn, co-owner of Obscura Antiques, has been dealing in the dark and macabre for decades.
“It’s a certain look, a certain aesthetic, a certain feel,” Zohn starts, surrounded by vintage medical books graphically depicting disease, tiny specimens preserved in blocks of resin, and massive jars filled to the brim with real human bones. “When you look at something and are like ‘what is this’ and ‘why is this’ and ‘how did this get here’ and ‘where has this been’ and ‘who did this,’ it starts stirring those questions, and that's the sort of stuff we like. Some people come to the shop and say, ‘I would never want any of this in my house but I find it fascinating.’ It’s that attraction-repulsion thing. No one wants to be in a car accident, but everyone slows down to watch it, to take a look.”
The folks over at Obscura are essentially doing what the circus once did. Waking up each day, surrendering to the daily routine — it can get old pretty quick. Before all of the distractions of modern technology, people looked forward to the day the circus came to town, a welcome break from the norm, a shock to the system,a “what the hell am I looking at?” moment to shake up the monotony of regular, everyday life. Thanks to Zohn and Michelson, however, this much needed escape from normalcy is now exceedingly more accessible.
If you’re in NYC and haven’t stopped by Obscura Antiques & Oddities, well, you’re simply fucking up. If you’re not in the area, you’re in luck, they’re no strangers to travel. “We do horror conventions, we’re not a horror shop, but we do horror conventions,” Zohn says. “We do comic cons, tattoo conventions. It's the audience. It’s the people who like this stuff even if it's not EXACTLY what they do.”