May 11, 2008

A Tale of Two Suits


I suppose the first Mother’s Day after one experiences the death of their Yeti-supportive mother is always difficult. Certainly, I can feel that and wish to pause to thank people who have sent along condolences and more, in the wake of my surprising and sudden loss, on this Mother’s Day 2008.

But life and cryptozoology move on, so what better way to deal with Mother’s Day than to talk about the “Mother” of all films dealing with Bigfoot and, indeed, the best footage around of a possible maternal Sasquatch: the Patterson-Gimlin film.

How about revisiting the old and trusted subject of the October 20, 1967 footage and whether or not it was made through the use of a suit? Er, well, two suits?


[The following is an enhanced version of my 2004 overview, first published in a British periodical, of Greg Long’s attempt to undermine the Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot film.]


A Tale of Two Suits

[Fortean Times’ opening] During the spring of 2004, a book appeared on the cryptozoology scene, which stirred up a micro-storm of controversy. But sadly for its promoters, it turned out to not create the media-driven excitement for which its author had hoped. Author of the bestselling Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America (NY: Simon and Schuster, 2003), Loren Coleman honors his overview of this melodrama by entitling his column with the pun-filled moniker for this book that is circulating throughout the ‘net.


Beginning in 1998, Greg Long of the Pacific Northwest USA started collecting the pieces of the manuscript he hoped would propel his theory that the Roger Patterson-taken Bigfoot footage of October 20, 1967, was a hoax. After many false beginnings, stops, side trips, late additions, and revisions because his actors in the suit changed, Greg Long produced, The Making of Bigfoot: The Inside Story. Quickly, however, the contents began falling apart, when even a quick reading of the book showed that Long said that the “suit” that he claimed was filmed by Patterson consisted of, first in his book, three pieces from the skinned hide of a reddish-haired horse, and then in a rapidly added last chapter, an artificially constructed six-piece suit from a gorilla costume maker in the Carolinas of the States. One online commentator of the book, Seattle Bigfooter Roger Knights captured the inconsistencies in Long’s book by happily dubbing it with a new title, A Tale of Two Suits. Against the prayers of Long and his associates, the discussion about the book has turned into one-star reviews about how nasty the text is and an exposure of the tome’s many shortcomings.


The new book was published by Prometheus Books, the notorious debunking press tied to the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP). First delayed from 1998 when the first claimed guy in the suit turned out to be not the right man, the book has gone through many changes. Next, it was suppose to come out in October 2003, as allegedly the “truth” behind “deliberate lies” projected on the world, supposedly by Bob Gimlin, Roger Patterson, and Bigfoot researchers like myself for decades. But it was delayed when the “suitmaker” supposedly contacted Long. The book is a comedy of errors.

Finally it appeared in March 2004, and was to have caused a frenzy. It has not.

While Long, Korff, and their partner-in-waiting television producer Robert Kiviat were hoping for an onslaught of press attention to the book, at the same level of the uncritical media treatments of the early 2002 Ray Wallace “claims,” it never came. A “major” news article that they flash-alerted through emails that would be appearing in the Washington Post, turned out, instead to be a balanced view in a media source column, “The Reliable Source,” by Richard Leiby on March 7, 2004. Leiby wrote: “Now it can be told: Bigfoot is Dead! So says Bob Heironimus, a retired Pepsi bottler from Yakima, Wash., who reveals to the Reliable Source that he donned a gorilla costume and appeared in the famous grainy film clip that helped fuel the Bigfoot craze in 1967.”


Leiby went on: “Heironimus, 63, makes his full ‘confession,’ as he calls it, in a just-published book by paranormal investigator Greg Long.” Leidy ended this Washington Post commentary with this: “Tom Malone, a lawyer in Minneapolis, called us Friday on behalf of Bob Gimlin, associate of the now-dead Bigfoot filmmaker. ‘I’m authorized to tell you that nobody wore a gorilla suit or monkey suit and that Mr. Gimlin’s position is that it’s absolutely false and untrue.'” This is hardly the way Long wanted to start out his massive media campaign.

Maybe Roger Patterson pulled off a hoax. Maybe we should ignore the Patterson-Gimlin film. No matter what, …Greg Long-authored book comes across so wrong-headed, so toxic than any hope of having a sane, level-headed discussion about the footage has been ruined for years by this book. Korff and Long have actually pushed the logical and reasonable type of skepticism that people like Ben Radford, the editor at the Skeptical Inquirer, Joe Nickell, and others have practiced back into the Neanderthal era.

Long would go on to insult Bigfoot researchers as often as he could, during the spring 2004, in Bigfoot forums, and in one talk he gave in Washington state. He was trying to stir it all up to sell more books – and yet his major criticism in his book is that Patterson (who died five years after the footage was taken) was wrong for wanting to make money.

In a talk in which Greg Long read from a text, sweat profusely, on March 27, 2004, to the International Bigfoot Society, he continued his book’s rampage. When asked about being sued for slander and defamation, Long told his audience: “Bring it on! It will just sell more books!”

The emails sent around the Internet give more idea of what these guys were up to, as well.

“…the [Greg Long] book is already on its way to becoming a bestseller, and at this rate, the BESTSELLING Bigfoot book of all time. TRUTH has a tendency to do this…eventually rise to the top and bury darkness and bulls–t and myth.” – – KK, his emphasis, March 3, 2004

[Actually, throughout March and April 2004, more people continued to buy Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America, which appeared in May 2003, than would end up buying Long’s.]

“…The media blitz has yet to really begin. Also, a lawsuit would put the book ON THE FRONT PAGES and of course TV networks love that.” – KK, his emphasis, March 3, 2004

While the media blitz never materialized, the online “hate” did continue. The book itself was full of it, as, for example, when Long keeps characterizing Roger Patterson using the phrase “little man,” fourteen times in the first nine pages of chapter one. Some of the depictions are extremely mean-spirited, e.g. “the puny little man on his little white horse,” p. 22. The dynamo of Korff and Long were nonstop in this warfare online, as per…


But the book was only part of what seemed to be in the mind of them. Long, Korff, and Kiviat were so obviously trying to make money off their tale (on television) that the book seemed to have been thrown together too quickly in the five years that it took Long to write it – and appeared as an afterthought to create controversy. It is very telling that neither Korff nor Long appeared on MSNBC to talk about this book in March 2004, but Kiviat did. Robert Kiviat, through his specials on Fox TV, it will be remembered, gave us first his “documentary” on the reality of the Alien Autopsy film, and then the special on why the Alien Autopsy footage was faked.

Kal Korff gave more insights into their future thinking with the Long book when he emailed me the following early in March 2004:

“FOR THE RECORD: I AM GETTING NO MONEY FROM THE BIGFOOT BOOK. THERE IS NONE AGREED TO, NONE IN ANY CONTRACT, NOTHING. TRUTH IS MY PAYMENT. Since I have been involved heavily, in ways you would not believe until THAT book comes out, and ONLY Kiviat, Long and myself could write it, with PERHAPS an introduction by Michaela Kocis, .. I am certainly at the forefront. What comes forth now is world coverage, I do not know how many reporters will be beating down Gimlin’s door unless he seeks HONEST safe shelter via Kiviat, and TV special, and TV SERIES. We are also BLOWING OPEN THE ALIEN AUTOPSY CASE, WE HAVE THE MAN WHO MADE THE SPECIAL EFFECTS DUMMY.”

But, despite insults, the triad of Long, Korff, and Kiviat vastly undersold the intelligence of the Bigfoot and cryptozoology reading public. In his book, Greg Long launched into giving forth with all his bias and objections about Roger Patterson from the beginning, and then stacks his interviews in such a fashion as to create a non-thinking character assassination, while never looking into the backgrounds of the ones giving the testimonies. Long’s arguments are more ad hominem attacks than effective evidence.

Long’s inclusion of the two entirely different stories on what kind of suit was used turned out to merely be the tip of the iceberg. The suit maker has changed his story a few times. The book has the wrong info on locations, and so many large holes exist in their case that if there ever was any reality to the hoax story, no one could see it now.

In years to come, the Long book will be remembered for what it was not, more than what it was. At 475 pages, it is a long and boring book, badly in need of less about when Greg Long eats those little chocolate donuts (p. 354), and tighter editing. Some sections are just pure torture, enough to give anyone a stomach ache. Long feels he must tell us every thought that pauses through his mouth, moment to moment, as if he is involved in some great intellectual feast. The reader hardly cares about what Long is eating or drinking on the road, or even about what Long is really cooking up for the reader. Long tries to convey some passion but where is it? Instead, the book is boring and full of so many nasty roasts of Roger Patterson that it is devoid of its sting early on, and quickly fits the definition of nothing more than an unappetizing exercise to sell you sour grapes.

After a little bit of sampling, one just wishes Long would not be so long. A more refined, sharply edited tome would have made the case with less pain. But maybe that’s part of the design here. The case is so thin itself, based on testimonies that are edited to extract what Long wants out of them, seasoned with theories that don’t match, sprinkled with little factual evidence of this “hoax,” that in a shorter book, the inconsistencies would be more glaring. Boiled down, the book leaves an acidic, bitter taste in the mouth, and the palate is neither satisfied nor treated with any surprises – despite our being given a detailed menu of what Greg Long loves to snack on the road.

You walk away from this book wondering if the hat Long will have to eat someday shall be made of horsehide or a synthetic polymer.

Bon appétit.


Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

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