Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bigfoot on Ice

[Bigfoot lies in the freezer as Matt Whitton, Tom Biscardi, and Rick Dyer pose for the media]

Okay, this ain’t robbery or rape or murder. On the scale of crime, it might rate a two. But I gotta say it’s one of the funniest things I’ve seen in years.

Not long ago, a coupla good ole Georgia boys with some time on their hands and a video-camera thought they’d have a little fun. Matt Whitton, 28, and Rick Dyer, 31, of rural Clayton County decided to stake out a claim as “Sasquatch detectives.” They started by setting up a website called Then they began video-taping forays into the wild purporting to search for Bigfoot. Finally, they claimed to have found Bigfoot’s corpse.

Their YouTube appearances eventually attracted millions of viewers. In one segment, the two interviewed the alleged killer of a Bigfoot. An ex-con whose face was shaded from the camera called himself Robert. He stated that he was illegally hunting in the north Georgia woods when Sasquatch happened by. Since he was a convicted felon, he wasn’t supposed to have a gun. On top of that, it was out-of-season. But here was Robert sitting in a deer stand somewhere in the north Georgia woods when he fired a shot and watched Bigfoot high-tail it into the woods. “I don’t know whether I hit him or not,” he said.

After the interview, Whitton and Dyer claimed that they rushed to the spot where the ex-con shot at Bigfoot. And lo and behold, they found the corpse of a primate. According to them, he had a “thirty-ought-six bullet” in his body. Step right up, folks, here’s real-live proof that Sasquatch actually exists.

This was so obviously a spoof it’s hard to believe anyone took it seriously.

But lots of people did. By this time, the alleged Bigfoot trackers were starting to garner loads of publicity. They began advertising their services: for $ 499 they would book “tracking expeditions” into the north Georgia woods. And they were selling tons of t-shirts and caps on their website. They even had a 24-hour tracking hotline. Things were looking up. Off-camera, the good old boys were snickering and trying to come up with new ideas.

They shot a couple pics of Bigfoot lying in a freezer and released them to the world. The photos created a sensation. Suddenly the national media was proclaiming that Bigfoot was the real deal. Notwithstanding that the face of the creature shown in the pictures was obviously a dime-store ape-mask.

Whitton and Dyer were really having fun now.

Their tracking dog “Duce,” which looked to be a cross between a mini-German shepherd and a flea-bitten mongrel, was featured on YouTube. He wouldn’t hurt Bigfoot, they claimed. He’d “take him down but not kill him.” In another segment, they said Duce “would take [Bigfoot] down and get him to submit so we can get him in the net.” Duce looked like he might weigh 20 pounds if the scales were skewed. Since most Sasquatches are said to weigh 400-500 pounds, it’s amazing that some people were still snookered.

Whitton claimed that the Bigfoot they’d found was a male. According to him, that meant there were Mama Bigfoots and Baby Bigfoots and other Papa Bigfoots. (Kinda like the Three Bears.) Since no one else had yet been allowed to see the actual corpse of Bigfoot, Whitton claimed that he and Dyer were keeping the dead creature on ice until scientists could examine it.

By now, other Bigfoot websites were becoming skeptical (or maybe jealous) of the fantastical claims that were making Whitton and Dyer famous. So the good ole boys upped the ante by interviewing a noted scientist that nobody else had ever heard of. Dr. Paul Van Buren flew into the Atlanta airport from Texas. This interview was so obviously a hoax that it’s difficult to believe anyone took it seriously. Dr. Van Buren stumbled over a few words like “cryptozoology” and “biological comparison,” all the time trying to keep a straight face. After viewing the supposed corpse, the doc stated, “It’s not like anything I’ve ever seen before.”

If Whitton and Dyer had shut down at this juncture, there would have been no crime. But by then they’d made contact with a real Bigfoot tracker named Tom Biscardi. The CEO of Searching for Bigfoot, Inc., he had a less than sterling reputation, even among Sasquatch true believers. He’d once been accused of faking a film that supposedly showed a real Bigfoot in the wild.

But Biscardi sincerely wanted to find a real Sasquatch. Through an intermediary, he raised $ 50,000 and handed it over to Whitton and Dyer in exchange for the remains of the primate they claimed to have found. In return, the two trackers forked over a freezer that held the body, appeared with Biscardi at a nationally-televised press conference, then promptly disappeared.

When the corpse turned out to be a rubber ape costume stuffed with road kill, Whitton and Dyer were suddenly wanted men. A couple of days later, they reappeared and admitted the whole thing was a hoax. There’s little doubt that they’ll soon be charged with fraud. Here’s hoping they plead the charges down, repay the fifty grand, and walk away with smiles on their faces and a great story to tell their grand-children.

I’m not quite sure what to make of this farce.

All I know is it kept me laughing for a few days.

No comments: