Film

Skunk Ape Confidential

The Infamous Patterson and Gimlin Photograph That Begat the Legend

From his humble roots as a woodland myth to his starring roles in several '70s monster movies, Bigfoot remains the Me Decades most misunderstood manbeast -- and most unlikely cultural icon.

He is truly a lost icon of the '70s, a celebrated figure who, along with his sea serpent buddy Nessie and that everpresent pack of ancient astronauts, helped define the era's obsession with monsters, myths and legends. For over a decade, he provided a kind of escapist excuse to focus on the environment while giving low budget filmmakers fodder for dozens of minor motion picture excursions. Today, he is viewed in the same slightly camp light as Earth shoes, space food sticks, and Avocado colored kitchen appliances. But in his day, nothing could compete with his humongous hair covered frame, elephantine shoe size, and infamous decaying cabbage stench.

Call him a figment of some mountain man's imagination or a Halloween costume gone horribly wrong, but this month, The Outré Oeuvre got a chance to sit down with Bigfoot, aka Sasquatch, aka The Fouke Monster, aka Funk-Master B-Footy, to get some insights into his career, his sudden rise to stardom, and his equally rapid decline into cultural obscurity. Seated comfortably in his home somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, our host was candid about his inadvertent celebrity, interspecies excesses and the legitimate professional missteps he made along the way.

OO: Tell us a little about how you got started in show biz?

BF: Well, I was always around, you know? Hanging in the forests, minding my own prehistoric bee's wax? Sure, the Native Americans had been singing my spiritual existence for eons, and I was frequently glimpsed by the surrounding indigenous population. But it was those biological buttinskis, Roger Patterson and Robert Gimiln. It's all their fault. They're the ones who permanently took my privacy and flushed it down the proverbial composting toilet.

OO: How so?

BF: The film, man! The film. You know, that clip of me from 1967? You see, I was just wondering around my favorite patch of forest, looking for some unexplored terrain to 'mark', when these two thrill seekers – Patterson and Gimlin – come barreling in, Bolex in hand, and start shooting. The paparazzi of today have nothing on these two. It was like they were stalking me, waiting for the right moment to capture my quintessence in its natural element. Next thing I know – there I am. Lumbering around like some opportunist in a fake animal fur. After that, the woods became crowded with such pathetic publicity hounds.

It's safe to say then that the mid to late 60s was the beginning of your reign as America's favorite unexplainable natural phenomenon?

BF: Well, the film definitely fueled my cult of personality. It got people's interest. Even as the experts were questioning its authenticity and skeptics were shrieking "HOAX", the curiosity surrounding a previously unknown creature called Sasquatch…

Or Bigfoot…

BF: Yeah, let me clarify that once and for all. I don't MIND being called Bigfoot. It's kind of a term of endearment. I get it. But the real name is Samuel S. Squath, or Sasquatch for short. Over the years, a lot of my brethren have taken issue with the whole 'foot' thing. I understand their point – it's like calling a deer "Antlerhead", or a squirrel "Nutstuffer".

Anyway, once my sexy shape was out there for the world to ogle, it wasn't long before the exploitation experts came calling. I remember talking to Robert F. Slatzer, the guy who directed one of my favorite drive-in movies, the biker classic Hellcats. He had this idea about featuring me, prominently, in another example of motorcycle mayhem. I was to kidnap some women – a favorite pastime, I might add and find myself challenged by a bunch of dudes on choppers. It sounded absolutely epic. Sadly, my schedule was full at the time and I couldn't do it. Without my input, what resulted was that horrid 1970's hatchet job Bigfoot. He turned me into a full blown b-movie monster. I told him – "I'm a lover, not a biter", but, you know…out of the loop…no control…

Writer/director Lawrence Crowley took a different approach with his 1971 quasi-documentary Bigfoot: Man or Beast?

BF: Crowley? Don't get me started on that guy. He never even tried to get my cooperation – "matter of public record" and all. Frankly, he got what he deserved. For Man or Beast and his insipid In Search of effort in 1976. I wasn't meant to be explained. I was meant to kick butt and look good doing it.

OO: So it's safe to say then that The Legend of Boggy Creek was your breakout effort?

BF: Absolutely! Look, it's about the only Bigfoot film from the era that people still talk about, and consider something of a classic. Clearly, my buddy Chuck Pierce knew how to combine fact with fiction. He took all those silly swamp legends from the Arkansas backwaters and bayous, tossed in a little humor, added some sensationalized shock value, and VIOLA! – instant cult classic.

OO: Pierce sure did understand the air of mystery surrounding your existence…or lack thereof.

BF: Precisely! He got it. He knew people responded better to insinuation than illustration. Why over-expose your featured fiend when simply a glimpse of arm, a hint of a muscled torso would do. He was like a Jaws-era Spielberg in that sense – suggest the beast, but don't show it. Everyone else was using Patterson and Gimlin as the standard for Sasquatch, but not Pierce. He shrouded me in an aura of tradition and heritage that allowed me to then settle in perfectly with the surrounding rural region. I was a part of everyday life for the people of Fouke, Arkansas and, that made me all the more powerful. And dangerous. Pierce really knew how to make Bigfoot dangerous…and as a result, sexy.

OO: In a skunk ape kind of way…

BF: Yes, in a skunk ape kind of way.

OO: When fans remember the movie, one of the first things that comes to mind is the blood curdling shriek that begins the narrative. You know, the moment over the dropping sunset where we learn that something…sininster…may be living in the vast wetlands on the horizon? Was that you?

BF: Sadly, no. Pure ADR. You know, a little post-production 'Additional Dialogue Recording'? Pierce and I had a lot of discussions about that. It is an effective little yowl, isn't it? Anyway, we talked for hours about how best to capture my overpowering presence amongst the townsfolk. At first, I suggested chasing some scantily clad co-eds around a camp grounds for a few minutes, but for some reason, Pierce didn't see me as a sex farce kind of creature. No, he wanted the scream. But I'm something like 8' 11", 790lbs of overdeveloped biped machismo. Screeching like a Shesquatch during courting was completely foreign to me. So we left that signature sound to someone – or something – else. It is, in my opinion, the movie's defining aural cue.

OO: And what about the climatic cabin attack? Did you do you own stuntwork?

BF: Does a Foot fart in the woods? OF COURSE I did my own stunt work. Pierce had promised that this would be the movie's main setpiece, a conscious culmination of everything that I, as a supposedly primitive manbeast living on the edge of extinction and fighting for my right to survive, would stand for. And I have to give him credit, he choreographed it beautifully. Just watch the scene today and tell me if it doesn't hold up. You've got the unknowing victims hanging out, having a good time. You've got the stifling sense of dread. The typical bait and switch shock tactics. The final animalistic frenzy. Heck, it ain't Hitckcock, but for audiences in the early '70s unsure of what to make of the entire Bigfoot concept, my little lesson in fear sure was successful.

OO: Creek was indeed a hit, and with it, you were a superstar. How did that feel?

BF: Fan-friggin'-tastic, that's how. Remember, just a decade before, I was battling my continental cousin The Abominable Snowman for a little name recognition. Sending out props to my strong Yeti peeps! (Flashes an empowering salute) Beast Power! Beast Power! Sorry…right, stardom. It was intoxicating. Everywhere, people knew your name. I got the standard treatment – face on a lunchbox, iron-on t-shirt transfer, my own Match Game question – "Bigfoot's feet are so big, they make Martha Mitchell's mouth look like 'BLANK"" While it lasted, it was sensational. It was the sweet life on easy street. Key to the Playboy Club. Mentions in the legitimate – and tabloid –press.

OO: Yet as quickly as it came, it was all…

BF: Yep, by 1977 it was all over. I should have NEVER agreed to play myself alongside that wooden waste Lee Majors on The Six Million Dollar Man. I mean, ME? Controlled by ALIENS? Come on. Anyway, I was cocky. I was pissing away my money like it was warm near beer. And trust me, no one could get me to stop. Soon, I was desperate, and that's when those pathetic Pufnstuf boys – Sid and Marty Crap…I mean Krofft (wink) approached me about a show of my own. Bigfoot and Wildboy – all adventure, all action. It ended up being all AWFUL! It destroyed me.

Even worse, I couldn't shake the kiddie thing once it took hold. While The Kroffts crucified me, some hack named Tom Moore took my Boggy Creek cred and buried it. They turned me into some kind of hirsute babysitter. It was just one flop after another – Return to Boggy Creek, Snowbeast, Sasquatch, The Legend of Bigfoot, The Creature from Black Lake, The Curse of Bigfoot, The Capture of Bigfoot…it's too painful to go on.

OO: Need a moment?

BF: No, no. I'll be fine. I'm still learning to live with the shame.

OO: In retrospect, why the 70s? Why do you, someone who was involved right up front in the cultural dialectic, think that phenomenon like Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, the supposed Chariots of the Gods were so popular – and more significantly – so important to the era?

BF: Why?…that's a tough one, me being so close to the subject and all. Still, I would have to say that, in a world gone wild, we mythical beings made some surreal sense. See if you can understand my logic. The '60s was a dicey time, man – a social period that simply exploded with uncertainty and distrust. For all the peace and love that was floating around – and believe you me, I got my share of both, if you catch my drift – it was citizen vs. citizen, ideology vs. ideas, with a generational divide growing wider and wider…damn! What a downer!

Anyway, the '70s was like the bad taste of dead monkey one has in their mouth after a night of binge drinking. The focus shifted from politics to the problems of the planet. Overpopulation, ecology, preservation became big things – and there was me and my fellow prehistoric pals just waiting to be discovered. We represented lineage, a link back to the Earth's earliest times. If we could be explained, and embraced, perhaps our poisoned planet could be saved. At least it might stop that stupid Indian – sorry, Native American – from weeping all the time.

OO: So your popularity was nothing more than a response to environmental activism?

BF: Yes and no. Any look back at genre cinema sees a direct link between monsters and the movies. In some ways, we were just the new beasts on the block. But it is interesting to note that, in an era where all film was becoming more realistic and artistic, a big hairy dolt like me could become an instant celebrity. Yeah, the treehugger crowd helped. It gave us a legitimacy that otherwise might not have existed. Still, why something like Bigfoot became synonymous with the era that gave us Watergate, Jimmy Carter and disco is still something of an entertainment enigma.

OO: Any plans for a comeback?

BF: Ever since that horribly hokey Harry and the Hendersons back in '91, I've been keeping my profile as low as possible. I lost the rights to my name and image back in '83, when that stupid monster truck took me to court. After that, the home video floodgates have more or less kept my mangled myth alive. Every month a few residual checks arrive in my mailbox. I have my friends, my macramé, my two weeks a year in Branson. I can't complain.

OO: Still, don't you long for the days when your image inspired fear and folklore, not snickers and sneers.

BF: Look, I had my time in the public eye. I enjoyed my elongated fifteen minutes of fame. Boggy Creek is still out there for anyone interested in revisiting my creative canon. Hollywood is a young man's game, and I am no longer young – nor am I really a man. I'll disappear back into the underbrush and live my life, happy. I am holding out for one thing though – my dream project. If they ever make a biopic of Robin Williams, I am so there.

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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Music

The Best Dance Tracks of 2017

Photo: Murielle Victorine Scherre (Courtesy of Big Beat Press)

From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

In June of 2016, prolific producer Diplo lambasted the world of DJ's in an interview with Billboard, stating that EDM was dying. Coincidentally enough, the article's contents went viral and made their way into Vice Media's electronic music and culture channel Thump, which closed its doors after four years this summer amid company-wide layoffs. Months earlier, electronic music giant SFX Entertainment filed bankruptcy and reemerged as Lifestyle, Inc., shunning the term "EDM".

So here we are at the end of 2017, and the internet is still a flurry with articles declaring that Electronic Dance Music is rotting from the inside out and DJ culture is dying on the vine, devoured by corporate greed. That might all well be the case, but electronic music isn't disappearing into the night without a fight as witnessed by the endless parade of emerging artists on the scene, the rise of North America's first Electro Parade in Montréal, and the inaugural Electronic Music Awards in Los Angeles this past September.

For every insipid, automaton disc jockey-producer, there are innovative minds like Anna Lunoe, Four Tet, and the Black Madonna, whose eclectic, infectious sets display impeccable taste, a wealth of knowledge, and boundless creativity. Over the past few years, many underground artists have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight and lost the je ne sais quoi that made them unique. Regardless, there will always be new musicians, producers, singers, and visionaries to replace them, those who bring something novel to the table or tip a hat to their predecessors in a way that steps beyond homage and exhilarates as it did decades before.

As electronic music continues to evolve and its endless sub-genres continue to expand, so do fickle tastes, and preferences become more and more subjective with a seemingly endless list of artists to sift through. With so much music to digest, its no wonder that many artists remain under the radar. This list hopes to remedy that injustice and celebrate tracks both indie and mainstream. From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

10. Moullinex - “Work It Out (feat. Fritz Helder)”

Taken from Portuguese producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist Luis Clara Gomes' third album Hypersex, "Work It Out" like all of its surrounding companions is a self-proclaimed, "collective love letter to club culture, and a celebration of love, inclusion and difference." Dance music has always seemingly been a safe haven for "misfits" standing on the edge of the mainstream, and while EDM manufactured sheen might have taken the piss out of the scene, Hypersex still revels in that defiant, yet warm and inviting attitude.

Like a cheeky homage to Rick James and the late, great High Priest of Pop, Prince, this delectably filthy, sexually charged track with its nasty, funk-drenched bass line, couldn't have found a more flawless messenger than former Azari & III member Fritz Helder. As the radiant, gender-fluid artist sings, "you better work your shit out", this album highlight becomes an anthem for all those who refuse to bow down to BS. Without any accompanying visuals, the track is electro-funk perfection, but the video, with its ruby-red, penile glitter canon, kicks the whole thing up a notch.

9. Touch Sensitive - “Veronica”

The neon-streaked days of roller rinks and turtlenecks, leg warmers and popped polo collars have come and gone, but you wouldn't think so listening to Michael "Touch Sensitive" Di Francesco's dazzling debut Visions. The Sydney-based DJ/producer's long-awaited LP and its lead single "Lay Down", which shot to the top of the Hype Machine charts, are as retro-gazing as they are distinctly modern, with nods to everything from nu disco to slo-mo house.

Featuring a sample lifted from 90s DJ and producer Paul Johnson's "So Much (So Much Mix)," the New Jack-kissed "Veronica" owns the dance floor. While the conversational interplay between the sexed-up couple is anything but profound, there is no denying its charms, however laughably awkward. While not everything on Visions is as instantly arresting, it is a testament to Di Francesco's talents that everything old sounds so damn fresh again.

8. Gourmet - “Delicious”

Neither Gourmet's defiantly eccentric, nine-track debut Cashmere, nor its subsequent singles, "There You Go" or "Yellow" gave any indication that the South African purveyor of "spaghetti pop" would drop one of the year's sassiest club tracks, but there you have it. The Cape Town-based artist, part of oil-slick, independent label 1991's diminutive roster, flagrantly disregards expectation on his latest outing, channeling the Scissor Sisters at their most gloriously bitchy best, Ratchet-era Shamir, and the shimmering dance-pop of UK singer-producer Joe Flory, aka Amateur Best.

With an amusingly detached delivery that rivals Ben Stein's droning roll call in Ferris Bueller's Day Off , he sings "I just want to dance, and fuck, and fly, and try, and fail, and try again…hold up," against a squelchy bass line and stabbing synths. When the percussive noise of what sounds like a triangle dinner bell appears within the mix, one can't help but think that Gourmet is simply winking at his audience, as if to say, "dinner is served."

7. Pouvoir Magique - “Chalawan”

Like a psychoactive ayahuasca brew, the intoxicating "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique's LP Disparition, is an exhilarating trip into unfamiliar territory. Formed in November of 2011, "Magic Power" is the musical project of Clément Vincent and Bertrand Cerruti, who over the years, have cleverly merged several millennia of songs from around the world with 21st-century beats and widescreen electro textures. Lest ye be worried, this is anything but Deep Forest.

In the spring of 2013, Pouvoir Magique co-founded the "Mawimbi" collective, a project designed to unite African musical heritage with contemporary soundscapes, and released two EPs. Within days of launching their label Musiques de Sphères, the duo's studio was burglarized and a hard drive with six years of painstakingly curated material had vanished. After tracking down demos they shared with friends before their final stages of completion, Clément and Bertrand reconstructed an album of 12 tracks.

Unfinished though they might be, each song is a marvelous thing to behold. Their stunning 2016 single "Eclipse," with its cinematic video, might have been one of the most immediate songs on the record, but it's the pulsing "Chalawan," with its guttural howls, fluttering flute-like passages, and driving, hypnotic beats that truly mesmerizes.

6. Purple Disco Machine - “Body Funk” & “Devil In Me” (TIE)

Whenever a bevy of guest artists appears on a debut record, it's often best to approach the project with caution. 85% of the time, the collaborative partners either overshadow the proceedings or detract from the vision of the musician whose name is emblazoned across the top of the LP. There are, however, pleasant exceptions to the rule and Tino Piontek's Soulmatic is one of the year's most delightfully cohesive offerings. The Dresden-born Deep Funk innovator, aka Purple Disco Machine, has risen to international status since 2009, releasing one spectacular track and remix after another. It should go without saying that this long-awaited collection, featuring everyone from Kool Keith to Faithless and Boris D'lugosch, is ripe with memorable highlights.

The saucy, soaring "Mistress" shines a spotlight on the stellar pipes of "UK soul hurricane" Hannah Williams. While it might be a crowning moment within the set, its the strutting discofied "Body Funk", and the album's first single, "Devil In Me", that linger long after the record has stopped spinning. The former track with its camptastic fusion of '80s Sylvester gone 1940s military march, and the latter anthem, a soulful stunner that samples the 1968 Stax hit "Private Number", and features the vocal talents of Duane Harden and Joe Killington, feels like an unearthed classic. Without a doubt, the German DJ's debut is one of the best dance records of the year.

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