January 28, 2009
On tour in carnivals in the late 1960s, a sideshow exhibit featured a remarkable Bigfoot-type creature. Kept in a freezer-like tank, it was billed as a “Sasquatch—safely frozen in ice” and rumored to have been discovered in the Bering Sea. Cryptozoologists were impressed: Ivan Sanderson and Bernard Heuvelmans thought it an authentic corpse of a supposedly extinct Neanderthal hominid. Apparently because of the creature’s pug nose, Sanderson dubbed it “Bozo,” a name for a clown or dunce.
Alas, the creature was a fake. I saw it on the midway at the 1973 Canadian National Exhibition and, some of the ice having melted away and the lid open, I found it distinctively rubbery. It had been crafted by a Disneyland model-maker named Howard Bell. Some of those fooled by the hoax suggested the model had been switched for the “original” creature, leaving one to wonder who were the real bozos.
Indeed, speaking of bozos, the sophisticated hoax was crudely imitated in 2008 by a couple of Georgia men who were soon described as “idiots” and “clowns.” The duo, Matthew Whitton and Rick Dyer, claimed to have an 8-foot-tall Bigfoot carcass, killed by a shot from a .30–06 rifle, and—you guessed it—frozen on ice. They supposedly scammed Bigfoot huckster Tom Biscardi (who previously claimed to have captured a Bigfoot) and others, although the duo maintain Biscardi knew all along that the “creature” was a fake. It consisted of an ape costume filled with animal parts.
Now, on their Web site the hoaxers are as unrepentant as they are semiliterate. Indeed, they are calling themselves the Hoax Hunters, and they (reportedly like Biscardi) are looking to tell their story on television. “Calls are pooring [ sic ] in,” say the bozos.