The Addictive, Mental And Social Eroticism Of Bigfoot
Mysteries are sexy. Especially when that mystery is an eight-foot tall, muscular forest dweller.
For people like recently elected Virginia congressman Denver Riggleman, there’s no hotter mystery. During his 2018 midterm campaign, Riggleman was accused of being a “devotee of Bigfoot erotica” by his opponent, Leslie Cockburn. She posted on her Twitter in July, exposing Riggleman’s “Bigfoot erotica collection” with a sketch of a censored, but obviously exposed Bigfoot.
While Cockburn might have been exposing Riggleman in an effort to dismantle his campaign, her accusations held some truth. Riggleman later denied having a Bigfoot fascination (saying that the fetish was a joke that his military friends played on him), but he isn’t completely free from the conspiracy. In fact, he co-authored a book titled Bigfoot Exterminators Inc.: The partially Cautionary, Mostly True Tale of Monster Hunt 2006.
Whether or not he believes in the creature, some part of the myth has caught his attention.
Indeed, some part of the myth has caught the attention of many people around the world. The idea of there being a creature, hidden within the woods, untouched and unfound by mankind is capital “R” Romantic. It’s exciting, it feeds our sense of adventure, and so it has become a cultural icon.
It’s not uncommon to see “I believe” bumper stickers on cars, air fresheners and stuffed animals made in replica of the creature. There are TV shows dedicated to its discovery (Finding Bigfoot) and movies parodying its existence (Smallfoot). The Bigfoot myth is largely popular in western, forested areas of America such as Colorado and Oregon and along the East Coast, while subgenres of the creature (like the skunk ape) exist in the swamped south.
For most, it’s a casual belief, but for others, it’s an obsession.
While studying my undergrad Hastings College in Nebraska, I’ve had the chance to study those wholly dedicated to Bigfoot, and I’ve found that for believers, there is a fine line between fascination and fixation.
I’ve become particularly close with an older woman who built her own Bigfoot museum out of her house. The museum itself has exactly what you would think it would have: maps with pins marking sightings, molds of hands, feet, bones, and skulls, and an old tape that plays conversations between two of the beasts (it’s a lot of grumbling and hollering).
In a back room stands two Bigfoot mannequins, homemade with hair my friend collected from the barbershop in town. She used devilish, taxidermy eyes to complete their faces and has affectionately dubbed them “Patty” and “Sassy”: mother and daughter.
Not only does my friend maintain her museum, but she hosts an annual Bigfoot Conference in Hastings every February. She invites believers near and far to share their proof and testimony with one another and with the larger public.
She also frequents to conferences all over the nation and has befriended believers from all over the world. She’s met a Russian anthropologist who wrote a book about Bigfoot in Russia, and personally knows Robert Gimlin, one of the men who took the original footage of Patty walking down Bluff Creek in 1967.
The belief has helped my friend find company. She has many friends who share her fascination to the same, extreme extent. She’s part of the first, all-women Bigfoot hunting group, and she travels with them to rural campgrounds all over the US in hopes of finding the creature.
One of her closest friends, who is also a believer, lives just on the other side of town. She is never alone, she will always belong among these people. Surprisingly, they are some of the most welcoming, friendly people I’ve ever met, despite the stigma surrounding their livelihood.
These believers are part of a community that thrives off the brink of discovery. They’ve dedicated their lives to the hunt, and prosper off its endorphins. They’ve found kinship in mutual interest and weather through the judgement together.
It’s an addictive, mental and social eroticism, rather than a sexual fetish.
But as far as Bigfoot sexual fetishes go, they do exist. Buzzfeed writer Katie Heaney confirms the existence of a hearty amount of Bigfoot erotica hidden among more accepted genres, with one author earning up to $30,000 per month on her 16-book series.
In fact, in all the time I’ve spent with believers, I’ve been certainly subjected to my fair share of suggestive comments about “the big, hairy man in the woods”.
Whether America now has a "devotee of Bigfoot erotica" walking the halls of its Congress or not, one thing is clear: the allure of myth remains a powerful force.