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Sunday, 17 April 2016

A little box of Bigfoot relics

Pictured above is a rather unusual Bigfoot-related item I happened to spot on an episode of Baggage Battles on the Travel Channel last weekend. It appears to be some kind of sideshow gimmick or stage prop (it’s too deliberately phony to call it a “hoax”). There are a couple more pictures below, but first I’ll explain the context.

I hardly ever watch TV these days, and when I do it’s often low-budget “factual” programmes on high-numbered channels that most people never bother with. Baggage Battles is a case in point. It features a group of people who attend auctions around America (and sometimes elsewhere) buying up the oddest items they can find, and then getting them independently valued. There used to be a similar show on British TV, and it was rubbish. The antique dealers were real antique dealers, the auctions were real auctions, and the end-customers were real end-customers. Boring, boring, boring. If I wanted real-life, I wouldn’t switch on the TV, would I? Baggage Battles is fake from beginning to end, but it’s really good escapist entertainment – which is exactly what TV should be.

This particular episode (season 5 episode 5, called “Burial Expenses”) was set in Providence, Rhode Island – and was even more “fake” than usual. All the auction lots were horror-related novelties, from sideshow items to movie props. The weirdest item was a small framed object that appeared to be a tattooed human nipple. You can see it on YouTube if you want to (and I bet you do): just click here.

At the start of that clip, you can just see one of the buyers, Valérie-Jeanne Mathieu, winning a lot at $275 (actually that figure is meaningless, since the under-bidder was fellow cast member Billy Leroy trying to give her a hard time, rather than a genuine bidder). Although you can’t see it in the video clip, that particular item is the “Bigfoot kit”. At the end of the show Valérie gets it appraised by a local Bigfoot expert, Dina Palazini, who puts its value around $400 – although she doesn’t explain what it is (other than confirming the obvious fact that it’s not real).

The label inside the lid has a still from the Patterson-Gimlin film, together with an inscription saying “Cryptozoologist Roger M. Allen, Chief Investigator, has found long sought after evidence that a so-called Bigfoot (Gigantopithecus) does in fact exist. New DNA, a small finger digit and hair samples conclude positive results.” There is also a date, 1999. Inside the box there are two small glass jars, one labelled “hair sample – human/animal hybrid” and the other, containing what appears to be a finger, labelled “unknown being – possible human hybrid”.

I deciphered those inscriptions from a set of HD screenshots that Paul Jackson was kind enough to send me. One of them was shown above, and here are two more. First, a clearer view inside the box:
… and a close-up of the “finger”, when Billy was inspecting it earlier in the show:

4 comments:

Colin Jones said...

I never watch TV either - for me now it's mainly Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra (I've got a digital radio). BBC 4 has some very interesting programmes which I watch using iplayer...on my laptop or tablet so I don't know if that counts as "watching TV". Nowadays I only use my actual TV for watching DVDs - and that's only around Christmastime.

Andrew May said...

Yes, by far the biggest proportion of time my TV gets watched goes on DVDs. In these days of downloads and streaming they seem a little old-fashioned, but they are often cheaper than the online equivalent, and I like to have something nice and solid to show for my money!

Colin Jones said...

I'm still using the DVD player that I bought in 2002 - it still works fine. I paid about 170 quid for it but I recently saw a DVD player in Tesco for 15 pounds !!

Andrew May said...

You're luckier than me, then. The first one I bought, around that time (a combination DVD-VCR, though I don't think it cost quite as much as yours), started getting cranky after 6 or 7 years, so I bought a much cheaper DVD-only which lasted until about 6 months ago. When that broke I went back to the original, which struggled on for a few months but then broke completely. So I recently splashed out on another replacement (with upscaling to HD) which cost £32.99 - let's see how long this one lasts!