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.
#1 Jim (Guest) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 at 10:36am
They never had me fooled when it was in the news, but I was slow in figuring out *why* they were doing this. Then I heard about the website and realized it was just an ordinary money-making scam. Bozos indeed.
#2 DoctorAtlantis (Guest) on Wednesday January 28, 2009 at 2:06pm
I’m reading Sanderson’s “Things and More Things” (2 book omnibus) for some research I’m doing on “Mokele-mbembe” and I’m surprised at how many surprising things he found plausible. I mean having an open mind is a good thing for creatively evaluating ideas, but Mr. Sanderson seems at times to take that mode of thinking to absurd levels. I’ve read Loren Coleman take position as apologist for Sanderson, and in some ways I’m torn about the man’s legacy. On the one hand he promoted absurd mysteries as plausible scenarios. On the other, he presented wondrous ideas in interesting travelogues that capture the imagination.
But in the end, so did E. R. Burroughs - and I don’t find myself arguing with people about whether we should be funding expeditions to Barsoom to help get those poor people some water from the ice-caps. I think Mr. Burrough’s approach to writing about the fantastic may have been the better one.