On November 18, cryptozoologist Loren Coleman wrote: ‘Fortean friend, ufology humorist, and writer James W. Moseley, 81, died Friday night, November 16, 2012. He passed away at a Key West, Florida, hospital, several months after being diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. Upon hearing of the death of Moseley, Anomalist Books publisher and editor Patrick Huyghe said: “He was one of the last remaining old timers from the golden age of flying saucers. Goodbye, Jim.”’
The long-time editor of Saucer Smear, a highly-entertaining, self-published fanzine-style affair that Jim wrote right up to the very end on a typewriter (yes, a typewriter!), and the co-author with Karl Pflock of Shockingly Close to the Truth (a hilarious biography of his life in Ufology), he was undeniably quite a character, too.
Jim believed there is a genuine phenomenon, but probably not of extra-terrestrial origins, and likely far closer to John Keel’s ultra-terrestrials in nature. Jim had no time for Roswell as a Fortean event, however, and he took much glee in poking fun at certain very serious, stern and humour-free characters that populate Ufology. I say, good for him. Moseley was also a self-confessed, and very proud, hoaxer of numerous UFO-related events and incidents – some of which, I suspect, we’ll never fully get to the root of.
So, with that all said, I thought I would offer my own obituary for Jim. But, in keeping with his flair for all-things alternative when it came to Ufology, I have decided to do something a bit different to what usually passes for an obit. I’m going to share with you a few memorable quotes Moseley made to me over the years – when I did my very best to interview him over the phone on everything from the Contactees to the Men in Black and his flair for faking.
In terms of how he got involved in the UFO controversy, Moseley told me: ‘In 1953, I got interested in saucers and met a professional writer who basically said: “If you go around the country and do all the work, and interview these people who have made various claims about seeing saucers and meeting aliens, then I’ll put it together and we’ll co-author a flying saucer book.”
‘So, I did that; but the book never happened, until I used my notes in my own book, forty-nine-years later. But, in ‘53, I had time and money; so I took my car around the country for several weeks: from New York, by a southern route, to California. Then I came back through the middle of the country. I interviewed at least one hundred people on that trip who had been mentioned in the early saucer books: military people, scientists, and George Adamski.’
The next quote comes from a 2009 interview I did with Jim and focuses on his words (highly insightful words, I think it’s fair to say) on the aforementioned controversial Contactee George Adamski. I’m pretty sure those words got close to the truth about the man who (allegedly!) encountered a certain long-haired Space-Brother called Orthon back in the early 1950s.
‘When I met him, Adamski was in his classic mode of the great guru. You could go to him at Palomar without an appointment and he would be sitting there, holding court, and talking to all the people that came in. He seemed like a pleasant sort. He couldn’t prove anything: you had the choice of believing him or not.
‘Now, whether he was genuine or not, he did have a background with the Royal Order of Tibet. Then he wrote his science fiction story, Pioneers of Space, which turned out to be very similar to his later UFO book. I don’t think he literally believed everything he said. But I think what he said was in-line with a personal philosophy that he may very well have taken seriously.’
‘I think with Adamski it was like this: if I say “I’m Jim Moseley, and I believe in world-peace, love and saving the environment,” people won’t care. Why should they? But if I say that a spaceman called Orthon told me that we should love each other; well, that certainly gives it more meaning. I think that is one of the big things behind the Contactee movement. They believed in what they were saying; but they needed a higher authority to get it across. Like in religion, you need God. Adamski needed Orthon.’
Moving on, back in September 2010, I interviewed Moseley about his views on Albert Bender’s now-legendary claims to have been visited by the notorious Men in Black in the early 1950s. As the interview progressed, Moseley practically shouted down the telephone to me that: ‘This is funny: there’s something wrong with the phone here! The longer I talk the more static I get!’
As I noted in my book, The Real Men in Black, regarding this odd case of phone interference:
‘…Perhaps the souls of [Gray] Barker [a legendary UFO author who died in 1984 and a good friend to Moseley] and [John] Keel decided to turn the tables, and duly partook in a few tricks from the other-side on Moseley. Or, maybe, the Men in Black – so oddly keen on playing disruptive games with our telephones – were engaging in a few Trickster-like shenanigans of their very own on Moseley and me. Given that Moseley is skeptical of much of the MIB lore, possibly, in their own unique way, the Tricksters were trying to tell him that he should not be quite so skeptical, after all.’
And demonstrating his enthusiasm for creating hoaxes, Moseley told me: ‘Me and Barker pulled a couple of UFO hoaxes, and, I think, Barker pulled some hoaxes on Keel in the Point Pleasant context, too. The funny thing is that Keel liked Barker, but he hated me. But, Barker and me, we were pretty much from the same camp and close friends.’
Moseley revealed the details of one such cosmic caper to me: ‘There was one hoax where me and Barker took motion-picture of a UFO, which was about thirty or forty seconds of film that I used in my lectures when I went on the college circuit. This was really just a little toy saucer that was dangled out the window of the car. I was driving the car, Barker was dangling it out the window, and a third guy, who was a friend of his, was on the roof of the moving car taking film of it. So, you’ve got all this different motion that looked fairly realistic. This would have been about 1966.’
Enigmatic, entertaining, informative and witty, Jim Moseley courted controversy to the absolute end. And there’s nothing wrong with that!