Who is Jan Klement?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on April 14th, 2006

Who is Jan Klement? Is Bigfoot gay? How can asking questions get me in trouble and even have people leaving me "death threats" on my phone machine? Well, it seems rather easily, it turns out.

Was Klement an earth sciences professor? A biology professor? A high school science teacher? Is he still alive? Did he ever exist? Did he see what he says he saw happening between a cow and a Bigfoot?

I once wrote that Jan Klement is the "Deep Throat" of the Bigfoot field.

Jan Klement is listed as the author of a book surrounded by controversy. The name of that book, which is experiencing its 30th year of publication is The Creature.

First published in 1976, the thin volume, The Creature: Personal Experiences With Bigfoot is being republished in 2006 with the addition of "notes and sketches previously eliminated from the first edition."

The Creature by Jan Klement

The book, about close encounters of the Bigfoot kind in southwestern Pennsylvania, apparently is now also corroborated "with newspaper accounts," according to its new online descriptors. I will be interested to see what the book’s publishers have added to the text.

In my and Patrick Huyghe’s 1999 book, now revised and republished in 2006, as The Field Guide to Bigfoot and Other Mystery Primates , I discuss Klement’s case, which allegedly did happen within a context of an ongoing and active Bigfoot sighting flap:

Beginning in the summer of 1973, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, experienced a high number of encounters with 7-to-8 feet tall hairy upright creatures. Between July 1973 and February 1974, at least 50 individual eyewitnesses reported sightings of Bigfoot-like creatures in 22 different incidents. These sightings involved mostly single creatures, one involved two, and another involved three in an apparent family group. Most were dark colored, but one was white, another was one tan-colored, and another had a white mane. In three of the encounters, attempts were made to shoot the creatures. Blood was found in one case.

For those that have heard a couple of my lectures since 2003, or read my book, Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America, in the chapter "Sex and the Single Sasquatch," you are familiar with this book. For others, you may even be aware of how sharply people have reacted to me going beyond the mundane questions such as "how tall is Bigfoot."

Is Bigfoot Gay?

From a darkened lecture hall to the internet, my life has been changed, via death threats, lies, and smallmindedness by a casual remark I once made about this book.

Let me explain, with a summary from my book and some added new comments.

In 2001, I was speaking at a well-attended Ohio conference on Bigfoot. Some 225 interested people from throughout the Midwest and elsewhere were there. The audience included mostly people from surrounding towns, of course, including a few families of Bigfoot hunters. By the time my slide lecture began after 9 PM that cool spring evening, most of the families had left, and the crowd had decreased to probably less than 100 diehard researchers.

I talked for over an hour, showed 80 slides, and discussed a wide range of Bigfoot topics. One subject I dipped into for perhaps 30 seconds was the fact that little has been written on Bigfoot’s sexual life. I thought I would slightly challenge the audience, and I showed a slide of the illustration here by Harry Trumbore of what is on page 47 of the field guide (see a light copy here, below).

The Creature by Jan Klement

It shows Harry’s imagined view of what a Bigfoot seen by a Pennsylvania professor – the mysterious Jan Klement – in the early 1970s might have looked like. As it turns out, of all of the sketches in the field guide, this is the one in which Harry had unconsciously given a slightly effeminate stance to a clearly male Bigfoot.

I briefly – and I cannot state this too strongly – noted during my talk that it was curious that Harry would make this Pennsylvania Bigfoot appear this way, as it is one of the few instances where we had an eyewitness state that he had seen this Bigfoot having sex with a cow. I light-heartedly wondered aloud if 10% of the Bigfoot population, matching the figures we have for Homo sapiens, might be gay. It was a throwaway remark, a slight challenge intellectually, which I do in my lectures, but also in a context that is serious and culturally sensitive. I was thinking openly with the audience about why this is a question to be pondered. Then I moved on to the next slide. Or so I thought.

After the end of my lecture, the usual questions and answers touched on a variety of topics, but not this one. People asked me about what I had seen, what I “believed” in, what did I think about Bigfoot in Ohio, all the usual questions, but not one person asked me about the sexual activity of Bigfoot. Of the two families that were left in the audience, one mother even came over afterwards to say how interested her oldest daughter was in the research, and I gave the young woman my last, small, slightly damaged stature of Bigfoot from California, for her living room, with her mother’s permission and blessing.

You can imagine my surprise when I returned home a few days later, to find my talk had become the center of a vortex of internet-driven outrage. People who were not even in attendance at the conference, from the West Coast and the South, were claiming that I was “irresponsible” for having exposed families and their kids to my “disgusting” talk in which (according to these emailers) I had called “Bigfoot a homosexual” and that “Bigfoot and cows mate.”

People (again, ones that were not in the audience in Ohio) were stirring the firestorm by writing in with these kinds of comments: “Loren – Did you really say that Bigfoot is homosexual and likes cows? Sorry, kiddo, but I’m rolling on the floor laughing my head off at that one.” Or this one from an angry writer: “Talking about anal sex with cattle by an unclassified creature when there are children in the audience who may view Bigfoot as a monster anyway, isn’t a subject YOU as the speaker, arbitrarily have the right to inflict upon other families. You are NOT God Loren.”

Another person forwarded this: “The most important point is you have NO credible evidence that Sasquatch have anal intercourse with cattle. What stupid illiterate speculation!!!!!!!!!!!” Or this: “Come in out of the rain Loren. You live in fantasy land.”

A couple of wags tried to put a different spin on what happened. One wrote: “What information I gleaned from Loren’s presentation, specific to this question, was Bigfoot was basically a happy fellow, who likes an occasional steak. Which also, may be the reason he is a happy fellow.” Another sent in this: “Actually, if Bigfoot was gay, he wouldn’t be having sex with cows, he’d be having sex with bulls!” A Washington State emailer clarified this old joke by writing that, no, “…if Bigfoot was gay, he’d be having sex with
another Bigfoot, not a bull.”

The internet exchange about this was getting silly, but still people continued to write in with vigor asking: “Did you really say Bigfoot was gay‚ and was observed having sex with cattle?” Years later, on the internet, the only thing that people can remember about my talk in Ohio is the twisted reality that I said “Bigfoot is gay” and “Bigfoot has anal sex with cows” – neither of which were noted exactly that way.

Trying to defend yourself online is often an uphill battle, especially against misstatements from folks who hear things about you secondhand. Add to the mix the emotionally laden melodrama when it is assumed you are undermining the youth of all of middle America. Did I get pulled into sounding defensive back then? Of course I did. That’s the way I was feeling at the time, and I got caught up in the battle – as my life has always revolved around education and keeping kids safe.

Upon reflection, I see now, what happened to me, post-Ohio, was an indication of what has occurred with almost all the sexualized data that has ever surfaced related to Bigfoot. Instead of science, emotions creep in too easily. If one’s ideas on Bigfoot, the animal, and its sexual life are brought forth, such an approach is usually quickly attacked, silenced, or ignored.

Since then, although there was hardly any reaction when I gave a very specific talk on the subject of being open to talking about the sexuality and full biological nature of Bigfoot in London, when I gave the talk in Washington State, I was met, once again, with the emotional reaction. The same has occurred on forums and lists where people start telling "f*g jokes" instead of dealing with the fact that if Bigfoot is real, we should be talking about its mating habits and its sexuality (reports of roaming alone juveniles, why are human males kidnapped, what do Bigfoot do with other animals) just like we talk about its migration habits, what it eats, where it sleeps, and other biological functions.

My argument that this one issue is too close for some humans to apparently discuss, because Bigfoot is seen by them as so human, has been proven again and again. The issue is just too emotional for some people to extract themselves from it, and to talk about this calmly.

Do Bigfoot, like bonobos, ever display homosexual activity? Of course I don’t know, but it is remarkable what a firestorm I started by merely asking the question.

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.

10 Responses to “Who is Jan Klement?”

  1. tpeter responds:

    Dear Loren–I of course quite vividly remember this whole story from your _Bigfoot!_ book. As for the purported “Bigfoot sex with cows” witness “Jan Klement,” I have two thoughts. First, “Jan Klement” is a very distinctly Czech name, so it’s rather unlikely to be a pseudonym, since I think most people using a pseudonym in the US would pick a WASP name. So, I think Jan Klement is or was a real person, probably a Czech refugee, using his real name. Secondly, I wonder if anybody has tried to trace him, e.g., by writing to colleges, universities, and high schools in Pennsylvania, or even trying to look him up in Pennsylvania phone books or in http://www.switchboard.com? Likewise, has anybody ever tried to search for scientific papers or journal articles written by Jan Klement? Have any cryptozoologists ever gotten mail or e-mail from people claiming to have personally known Jan Klement? Such corroboration would be most helpful in establishing the truth of such an explosively controversial story!–Cheers, T. Peter

  2. SCorrales responds:

    Not much to contribute to this discussion, but I read “The Creature” some 10 years ago and was intrigued at J. Klement’s seemingly intimate knowledge of certain parts of Pennsylvania that are not normally associated with Bigfoot sightings, but from where reports have emanated upon occasion. Clearly anyone with a map can do the same, but there was a ring of truth to his affirmations. I guess we’ll never know.

  3. Scarfe responds:

    I am very amused by the reactions Loren’s comment occasioned. It really points out how, to a large degree, the notion of Bigfoot is constructed as male, heterosexual, and masculine – those exact signifiers that our culture obviously privileges and places at the centre of social existence as the classification of normal. When these views are made visible when they are challenged, all sorts of stuff breaks loose.

    I am, however, troubled by the gender discourse operating in your discussion of Bigfoot’s stance in that image as “effeminate.” First, I believe in theories of sociality and sexual politics that suggests that there is no inherent link between one’s sexuality and one’s behavior. As Judith Butler argues, (and I quote from wikipedia here just because it is early and I am lazy), “gender” is a kind of repeated, largely “forced” (Foucault’s “discipline”) enactment or “performance” that in that very repetitive performance produces the imaginary fiction of a “core gender,” as well as the distinction between the surface/exterior of “the body” and the “interior core.” Paradoxically, it is a kind of forced, repetitive “doing” of gender that itself produces the fiction that an individual “has a” stable “gender” that “she/he” is just “expressing” in “her/his actions.” And this imaginary fiction crucially produces an equally fictive distinction between an “interior” of “the body” and an “exterior” of “the body.” All identify, but, especially sexual identity, has meaning in a social context that privileges different sexual signifies. One’s “sex” is their sexual orientation, one’s “gender,” contrasted to biological sex, is the constructed and social and cultural norms by which masculinity and femininity are signified. Being homosexual does not make one “effeminate,” which is a term related to notions of delicacy, luxuriousness, and weakness because “female” is seen as the Other to the normative state of masculinity. Men can possesses traits commonly derided as “effeminate” without being homosexual, but society reads notions attached to women (which are equally mythic and gender biased) as weakness.

    What I am trying to get at is in interpreting the image as an “effeminate stance to a clearly male Bigfoot,” you are still projecting a gendered discourse onto the creature that posits masculinity as normal (no one ever questions or assumes the depiction of Bigfoot in “masculine” poses is unusual or unconscious, or that the normative behavior of a masculine Bigfoot would be unlike that of a human’s) and equates female stereotypes with homosexuality. There’s very little in that image to suggest the creature is “effeminate”, except perhaps the turning in of the leg, and isn’t it curious that such a minor and perhaps coincidental signifier suddenly resounds with our cultural frames of reference to suggest effeminacy and all those abstract notions attached to womanhood?

    What’s more, is it even productive to speak of homosexuality or heterosexuality in a creature that is not human when these ideas are clearly informed and shaped by human perceptions of social relations and how gender should be divided (i.e. heterosexual men = dominate and heterosexual female = passivity, therefore homosexual men = passivity)? I am willing to see that humans and other simian mammals with complex social relations display instinctual sexual behavior related to their sex, and in homosexual activity among primates – such as Roy and Silo, two male chinstrap penguins at New York’s Central Park Zoo, who display heterosexual pair-bonding behavior such as the entwining of necks, mutual preening, flipper flapping, and sexual intercourse – homosexual activity takes on a gendered context. However, homosexuality has also been documented in other mammals and non-mammals where there is less evidence of social understanding and pair-bonding, but we wouldn’t assume homosexual beetles act out human social gender stereotypes. A homosexual male dolphin, which may engage in sexual contact with other males of its species, does not swim like female dolphin. My female cat does not walk or act much differently from a male cat.

    I suppose, I resist the anthropomorphization of Bigfoot in the assumption that if the creature existed it would act (carry itself) similar to human conceptions of sexuality, gender, and subjective identity which themselves are predicated on myths and stereotypes and social structure that privileges certain performative signifiers of sexual identity as normative and others as deviate. Although I can see that Loren was trying to challenge the status-quo related to the gendering of Bigfoot, in going about it this way, I still think it doesn’t challenge the anthropomorphization of the creature or go far enough to point out the gender myths we project onto this creature which may not exist and of which we have little concrete evidence of how and to what extent its social behavior looks like.

  4. Loren Coleman responds:

    I appreciate the insight, intelligence, and interest within these posts, thusfar, about my blog today and how much they convey.

    Clearly, even I gave forth with bias, as such is culturally impossible sometimes to not do, in the form of communicating with other humans, despite my best efforts to do otherwise. During my attempts to intellectually and, sometimes, with humor, challenge others, I too act human. I’ve tried to overcome that, but sometimes I fail. 🙂

    The underlying theme – of cultural and biological ethnocentrism of humans as projected on Bigfoot – is certainly underlying what I am attempting to discuss here.

  5. Jeremy_Wells responds:

    I can’t help but wonder if framing the comment in the context of bonobo activity, or cross-species bonding (such as that seen recently between an orphaned hippo and a large tortoise) would have made a big difference in perception? Regardless, it is a shame that sensitivies are so high that an attempt at a humorous aside distracts from serious discussion.
    It is also intriguing that discussion of sexually titillating material is fine in the context of “wildmen” kidnapping women or Almas of “loose reputation” becoming impregnated by men of their adopted village, but not when these images differ from our male gender stereotypes (as Scarfe notes in his/her comment).
    What is most intriguing though is that while these tales of intermingling, while acceptable in most literature I’ve seen on the subject, are assigned to the bawdy fringes of serious cryptozoological study (often referenced as “folk tales” relating to interaction with actual biological entitites). Conversely the field of Ufology and the study of the abduction phenomenon are rife with examples of sexual interaction (albeit more sanitized in American accounts, students will remember that Antonio Villas Boas, the first modern abductee, had actual intercourse with a growling “feral” female), and indeed it seems to be the “meat” of most of the research there.
    Odd, the double standard here.

  6. Scarfe responds:

    I just realized that I called Penguins primates. Now that would be a real cryptid. In my previous post, I accidently deleted stuff about chimps and didn’t edit it out the reference to primates.

  7. greywolf responds:

    Loren: I have read “The Creature” on a web site called Bigfoot Fact or Fancy. I don’t know who Jan Klement is but getting a bigfoot in his car now that is fancyful or Scotch (ie) to much of the latter..Now I know why he had a problem with his wife! But it was a great yarn…and perhaps some of it was true….Greywolf

  8. jayman responds:

    Greywolf, I found and read “The Creature” on the website you mentioned. Evidently this is an abridged, bowdlerized version though, since it doesn’t include “Kong’s” notorious sex scene with a cow. Also I’m pretty sure Klement said he went back to the creature’s gravesite a year or two after it died, and found it had been dug up… not mentioned here.

  9. superpap responds:

    I live in hopwood pa.at the base of chestnut ridge. I believe that this jan klement must have been deliberately skewing distances and other info to help hide his i.d. And he did so very well.

    For instance the story states He once told the wife he was in the county seat of Washington Pa at the Holiday Inn to give a lecture. He isn’t clear whether it was the county seat of the county where he taught ,or where he lived with the wife. However he does say that he once walked from his home to the diggins a distance of 8 miles,which earlier he had said that he had driven north of the diggins entrance road -to north of dunbar to hide the whereabouts from a friend-during which account he mentions a tributary that flows into Dunbar Creek.

    That leads one to think that the cabin was somewhere in or around the Dunbar mountains-part of Chestnut Ridge–6-8 miles from where i live. All of this in Fayette County.

    Now if he lived in Washington County and not Fayette, it is impossible to reach the Dunbar area -let alone the surrounding mountains in 8 miles -even if taking the nearest less traveled road.

    So that leads one to believe he worked in Washington County-and lived in Fayette County-and only 1 University is situated in Washington County that would be somewhat in the logical area for reasonable commute from Fayette County daily and also allow the home, if in Fayette county, to be close enough to comfortably walk to the Dunbar area.This would be California University of Pa. at Califronia Pa. in Washington County just across the river border from fayette County-and taking backroads does dramatically reduce mileage from there to the Grindstone , Smock and Liesenring areas which gets you relatively close to Dunbar.

    All of this is in Fayette County -county seat is Uniontown.

    I believe the man has deliberately misrepresented this type of stuff to throw off those of us who are curious as to his identity

  10. doubtingthomas responds:

    I’m sure you all realize, by now, that there are those out there in “the world” who live specifically to attack we who study the fringe topics. Those weak, mercenary people whose lives revolve around attacks on the character of others will seize on anything and everything they find which can be sensationalized and turned into a seemingly negative trait of those who investigate the mysteries of the world.

    Crying “Loren Coleman thinks Bigfoot is an anal-sex-loving homo(sasquatchsexual?) sexual freak-montster!!!” is a means of attacking the very foundations of cryptozoology with sensationalist garbage. The skeptics, cynics and naysayers will seize on *every* opportunity to degrade the general public’s interest in these subjects.

    It’s important to respond patiently to any accusations. But it’s equally important to remember that these people have a very specific agenda in sensationalizing any possible statement. There is nothing to be gained by worrying about this sort of thing. Say your piece and ignore it. It will go away, eventually.

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