Natural Born Celebrities

Let’s face it, in one way or another we all find morbid  and gruesome facts a bit (a lot for me) attractive, even if we don’t want to admit it. Believe it or not serial killers have always been part of the pop culture. From books to movies their stories inspired writers, directors and musicians. Cinema is the cultural space in which this phenomenon is perhaps most conspicuous, the Internet Movie Database (imdb.com) lists over 1000 films featuring serial killers and most of the contributions to this sub-genre have been made since 1990. Psycho, a novel written by Robert Bloch in 1959 is inspired by the story of Ed Gein an american serial killer. The novel was then adapted into a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1960. The film was a huge success that generated three sequels, spin-offs and a shot-for-shot remake by Gus Van Sant. Ed Gein has also inspired the creations of various characters as we can see in movies like Deranged, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Silence of the Lambs, The House of 1000 Corpses and its sequel The Devil’s Rejects.

Fan of the charming Dr Hannibal Lecter? The famous cannibalistic serial killer created by Thomas Harris in The Silence of the Lambs, was reportedly inspired by a convicted Mexican doctor who he met in the state prison of Nuevo Leon, Monterrey, Mexico, as a young journalist. During various discussions Harris had with “Dr. Salazar,” he discovered that, besides having a medical preparation, was also a murderer who ate his victims.

Of course, these are just a couple of examples otherwise I could go on and on, there are Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy, Albert Fish, Andrej Čikatilo and a lot more that with their atrocious acts became (in)famous and gave a lot of inspiration to those who have been created (and still creating) movies, books, series and songs… and that we all enjoy.

But the main point is: Why we “love” serial killers? Why we find them so interesting? In many ways, serial killers are for adults what monster movies are for children, that is, scary fun! However, the pleasure an adult receives from watching serial killers can be difficult to admit, and may even trigger feelings of guilt. As for me I’ve always been “fascinated” by their stories and I’ve always openly admitted it, but by “fascinated” I mean I’m interested in their background and what could have been the main cause that brought them to commit what they did. The serial killers represent a lurid, complex and captivating presence among us and there appears to be an innate human tendency to identify or empathise with all things, whether good or bad, including serial killers. Speaking of which, I still remember when I watched Dahmer a film about Jeffrey Dahmer’s life; somehow understanding his loneliness I started to see him more like a human being, but of course nothing changes with what he has done nor I’m saying -“Oh poor thing!”, what I’m trying to say is that with these films about serial killers lives, sometimes directors depict their most and more subtle human side that makes us reflect and think.

I’d love to know your thoughts and opinions about this topic. Do you feel fascinated, or at least, interested by these characters? What do you think about popular culture idolizing serial killers? Let me know!

Elle. x

P.S.: The Weirdo is now on Facebook!! Why don’t you give it a like? For an extra dose of weirdness into your everyday life! Click -here-

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Sourtoe Cocktail

“You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow,

but the lips have gotta touch the toe.”

What I find more intriguing than urban legends is weird traditions around the world.

The Sourtoe Cocktail is champagne seasoned with a mummified toe that has become an important tradition in Dawson City (Canada).

Estabilished in 1973, according to the story, Yukon local Captain Dick Stevenson found the toe preserved in a jar of alcohol while cleaning a cabin in 1973. After discussing it with friends, Captain Dick preserved and started serving the toe in a “Sourtoe Cocktail” at the Eldorado hotel bar. This is how the “Sourtoe Club” was formed. The first toe is said to have belonged to a miner and rum runner  who had his frostbitten toe amputated in the 1920s and preserved it in a jar of alcohol in his cabin, where Stevenson found it some 50 years later.

The first toe lasted only seven more years after its discovery. According to the Sourtoe Cocktail Club, “In July 1980, a miner named Garry Younger was trying for the Sourtoe record. On his thirteenth glass of Sourtoe champagne, his chair tipped over backwards, and he swallowed the toe.”

After that, seven more toes have been donated to the bar. Number two was given after an amputation due to an inoperable corn, number three was from a victim of frostbite (it was also swallowed accidentally), four was an anonymous toe, toes five and six were donated by a Yukon old-timer,  toe seven was an amputation due to diabetes and toe eight arrived in a jar of alcohol with the message, “Don’t wear open-toe sandals while mowing the lawn.”

Today you can still drink the Sourtoe Cocktail (which is still garnished with a real toe) and join the club, complete with a proper certificate. Of course the rule is slightly changed, instead of champagne you can have your favourite cocktail but the most important rule remains the same: “You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow, but the lips have gotta touch the toe.”

In August 2013 a customer came in, ordered the Sourtoe Cocktail, swallowed the toe (probably because of a bet)  and slammed down $500, the fine for swallowing the toe. Luckily the bar had a backup toe in waiting. The fine has since been raised to $2500.

Fancy a Sourtoe Cocktail now?

Body Farm

As you might know I’m attending a Forensic Science course and, honestly, this experience is becoming the most interesting experience in my life. I’m learning a lot and recently I discovered a weird side of this subject: BODY FARM!

I’ve always thought about body farms as something you can only see in a horror movie, an extended field all disseminated by body parts and decomposed bodies. I know, this is not a pleasant scene.

The term Body Farm indicates a ground on which are deposited various corpses for scientific observation. Inaccessible to the public who is not involved with the study of this topic, this place offers the opportunity to study the decomposition process in the most diverse conditions. The bodies object of the studies are provided from people who donate their bodies for science and medical research.

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Charlie, Charlie are you here?

I’m sure you have all seen at least one of the thousand videos on YouTube called the “Charlie Charlie Challenge” or “The Pencil Game Challenge”. A lot of YouTubers that I follow made this kind of video so out of curiosity I decided to do some research about this “spooky” situation.

Basically, this challenge consists in a some sort of a séance where one (or more persons) uses two pens and a piece of paper to create a makeshift version of the Ouija board. A grid is drawn on paper to make four panels, two of which are labelled “yes” and the other two “no.” The pens are then put on top of another, positioned like a cross. After that you can start to ask questions and “wait” a reply from the hereafter.

The main point here is: Where did this come from? Does this game have an origin or it was all created for (or from) the web?

From what I uderstood this game has a long history as a schoolyard game in the Spanish-speaking world, traditionally this version with the crossed pencils was called ‘Juego de la Lapicera‘ and ‘Charlie Charlie‘ was a distinct game, played with coloured pencils but in a completely different way (click here and see the difference). At some point the two games merged together and… well, the web did the rest, making it a viral phenomenon.

Thankfully is an harmless challenge, given that no one’s deforming their lips or suffocating themselves with cinnamon. Still, according to popular legend, Charlie haunts players who fail to say goodbye before they close out of the game. Better be polite if you’re thinking of playing this game!

Why did I write about this? Because I have a soft spot for urban legends.

Elle. x

La Pascualita, the corpse bride.

Hello you wonderful people! I’m so sorry for the lack of posts but this month I started a forensic science course that is keeping me busy. Not that I complain! This course is absolutely amazing and this week I’ve learned a lot about decomposing bodies, putrefaction, bones and blood. How cool does it sound? Speaking of decomposing bodies I’m going to talk to you about an interesting story that I’ve heard of a couple of months ago. Don’t worry it won’t be a gruesome story.

La Pascualita or Little Pascuala is a bridal mannequin that has “lived” in a bridal gown shop window in Chihuahua, Mexico for the past 75 years. It is believed that, according to legend, the mannequin is not really a model at all, but the perfectly preserved corpse of the previous owner’s daughter who had died on her wedding day after being bitten by a black widow spider.

Pascuala secretly took the body of the beloved daughter away from the authorities,  had her embalmed, and then brought the body to her  shop  where is used as a mannequin since March 25, 1930.

I think it might be pretty impossible to preserve a body, even if embalmed, in those perfect conditions, but, hey who am I to say otherwise? A lot of people said that her eyes follow them around the store or that she changes postion during the night. Sonia Burciaga, who’s in charge to change the dummy’s outfits twice a week, says: “Every time I go near Pascualita my hands break out in a sweat. Her hands are very realistic and she even has varicose veins on her legs. I believe she’s a real person.”

Well, my lovely readers, what do you think? Have you ever heard about this story before? I’d love to know your thoughts!

Elle. xx

Victorian Weirdness

Victorian era is absolutely one of my favourite time of the history and, aided by the fact that during these days I’ve been watching the second season of Ripper Street, I started a deep research about this time. I already knew most of the “weird” facts, but then I discovered that people from Victorian era had a very peculiar bond with death. They used to fear death but they also used to celebrate it, there were many superstions regarding death, for example it was bad luck to meet a funeral procession head on. If you see one approaching, turn around, if this is unavoidable, hold on to a button until the funeral cortege passes. Another one was to stop the clock in a death room or you will have bad luck or another example is if the deceased has lived a good life, flowers would bloom on his grave; but if he has been evil, only weeds would grow. Seriously, there were a lot of superstions back then.

Mourning was also a big “trend” during that time, as of course the quality of life wasn’t that healthy, even though there were some very “bizarre” death circumstances, a woman died because her corset was too tight, or a man died swallowing his false teeth (false teeth were made of teeth of recently deceased). People used to hire professional mourners for funerals. Yes, being a mourner was a serious profession. But if a lot of people used to fear death other people used to celebrate it. In Victorian Paris (Belle Époque) there was a nightclub death-themed called Le Cabaret du Néant (The Cabaret of Nothingness or Death) where people attended a proper “tour”.

First they were welcomed and served by waiters dressed as monks or funeral attendees who offered drinks named after diseases which were imbibed on top of coffins and caskets into the Salle d’Intoxication (Room of intoxication), then the monk led the audience to a second chamber (Caveau de Trépassés) where a volunteer was asked to step up on a stage and enter a standing casket. After the volunteer was wrapped in a white shroud the spectators gasped at an apparent “X-ray” effect (Pepper’s Ghost effect) as the man dissolved into a skeleton and then once again returned to plain sight as the skeleton disappeared. In the last chamber, using a similar optical effect, a live spirit appeared to walk around the audience.

There were other nightclubs “after-life” themed. There was Le Cabaret de l’Enfer (Cabaret of Hell) a hell-themed café which was very close to the famous Moulin Rouge in Montmartre. In this club people used to drink around a caldron while “red imps” served them drink and hopping within the caldron there were half a dozen devil musicians, male and female, playing a selection from “Faust” on stringed instruments.

And of course, what would Hell be without Heaven so right next to Le Cabaret de l’Enfer stood the Cabaret du Ciel (The Cabaret of the Sky). At this heavenly themed bar, patrons were greeted by Dante and Father Time, served drinks by ladies dressed as angels and were entertained by St. Peter himself.

If I had a TARDIS this would be exactly the time I’d love to visit and of course I wouldn’t miss a little tour of these stunning club, needless to say they were shut down a long time ago.