As someone who does a lot of TV shows on the world of the paranormal, I thought I would do something a bit different today. Namely, share with you one of many examples of what goes on behind the scenes. It doesn’t always go as smoothly as you might think. For example, in June 2008, I flew to Monterrey, Mexico for just one day of filming. The domain of television was paying my way to investigate what, I was told, was a chupacabra attack. It turned out that, back in 2006, a large number of lambs had been killed on a farm somewhere on the fringes of Cadereyta Jimenez, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, the origins of which date back to the 17th Century. There were the usual stories of savage mutilations and drained blood. This time, however, there was something significantly different: the presence of a large, beaked, winged monster that was presumed to have been the culprit behind all the bloody carnage. The word was it was a chupacabra, even though, to me, it hardly sounded like one.
The production company knew the case was valid because they had found a story about it on the Internet, as if that somehow legitimized it with 100 percent certainty. In light of all this, I assumed that I would be on-site to interview the farmer, check out the scene, and offer my thoughts. Not so. Things turned out to be very different. Try as they might, the team couldn’t find the ranch – at all. So, it was time for a bit of improvisation.
We drove out to a suitably appropriate place for the filming. It was an old, rundown – and clearly long-abandoned – building about fifteen miles outside of the city, in a definitive desert setting. The crew set up the equipment and the main researcher outlined what my role was to be. I would pretend that this was the real ranch, where the attacks occurred. I would pretend that I had spoken with the rancher. And I would pretend that I had examined the dead lambs – although not a single thought was apparently given to why the farmer might still possess the rotted remains of his animals, a full one and a half years after they were killed, no less!
As the researcher continued to tell me what I was to do, I interrupted with words that, working from memory, went very much like this: “I’m not pretending anything. I don’t lie for the cameras. I’m not saying anything about this being the right farm, I haven’t interviewed anyone, and where is the lamb?”
The researcher then had the complete and utter nerve to tell me this was reality television and, for that reason, no one would ever know or even care. Well, I knew and I definitely cared! She even tried her very best to make me feel guilty by inferring that the shoot was now in jeopardy and it was all my fault! That was when the proverbial you know what hit the proverbial fan. The only thing I was prepared to do, I said was to talk about the chupacabra in generalities: the history of the phenomenon, the alleged mode of attack and killing, the blood-draining allegations, and so on. It was that – and that alone – or nothing at all. The woman grudgingly agreed to my terms. So, for the next two hours, or thereabouts, I spoke before the camera on the subjects of my treks around Puerto Rico and Texas, and my thoughts on the nature of the beast.
That was not all: they had actually brought with them a silver cross, a wooden stake, and even a bag containing cloves of garlic! Would I be willing to talk about how those particular items had become ingrained into vampire lore? Well, that was not a problem. I was, however, very careful to point out that while a carefully sharpened stake would obviously take out a chupacabra – in just the same way that it might take out any animal – garlic and a silver cross were unlikely to have any effect whatsoever. And isn’t silver supposed to take out a werewolf and not a vampire? The researcher asking the questions wasn’t happy: couldn’t I be a bit ambiguous on the garlic and silver angle, and leave the controversy a tad open? No, I could not leave things a tad open, nor was I prepared to be a bit ambiguous. Garlic and silver are fine for television, movies, and novels, but not in the real world. The woman actually pouted at that. It was not, I should stress, a sensual, sexy pout, but a screw you pout. I thought: well, screw you, too!