This weekend is a look at the Men in Black phenomenon. My previous article was a look at how the origins of the Men in Black began. This second article reveals something that many people may not know: it's the issue of there being two types of M.I.B.This is one of the most misunderstood issues within the UFO subject. Almost certainly, that explains why UFO writer Gray Barker saw the Men in Black as government agents, while Albert Bender (the guy who began the MIB mystery) saw them as something akin to high-tech, multi-dimensional demons. One of the groups originated with the U.S. government. The other, however, had – and still has - very different origins. Over the years, I have come to realize just how weird this two-pronged phenomenon is. Now, you will too. The FBI, at the order of J. Edgar Hoover, opened a file on Barker in the Ffties. The CIA’s “Robertson Panel” recommended keeping a secret watch on UFO groups – in the event they had “Red” leanings – in the 1950s. Clearly, some visits to UFO witnesses and researchers were from one or more of the various “ABC” agencies of the U.S. government. And those visitors were not beyond intimidating some of the early figures in Ufology. They did so by flashing ID cards and ordering those same figures to walk away from it all. Those who came calling and knocking loudly on front-doors in the post-Second World War era wore suits and fedoras – and often black. It just so happens, though, there was that other group of black-suited characters. They wore fedoras, too. These are what we might justifiably call the real M.I.B. And they were not human.
It must be said this second group of Men in Black were far removed from the world of government. They were pale, skinny figures who looked like they would have been at home in an old, 1930s-era, black-and-white horror movie – and with Bela Lugosi at the helm. To this day, they still look like that: sickly and zombie-like. It gets weirder. Witnesses to the M.I.B. (and to their comrades, the Women in Black) tell of feeling sick and ill in their presence: as if they are being drained of energy. “Crashing” would be a good word to use. Yes, the vampire parallels are easy to make in M.I.B. world. Those unfortunate enough to encounter the Men in Black report poltergeist activity in their homes and in the wake of the confrontations. The real M.I.B. are far less like Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith, and far more like the menacing characters-in-black in the 1998 movie, Dark City. You want to see what the M.I.B. really look like? Check out Dark City.
It’s not clear which group of M.I.B. came first – the government ones or the much stranger ones. Most of the data, however, suggests the supernatural group were first on the scene – in the late 1940s. By the early 1950s, however, government agencies knew enough of this weirder side of Ufology. And, as a direct result, government agents “hijacked” the real M.I.B. phenomenon for their own purposes. When they needed to cover their tracks, those in the intelligence world, and/or those in the military whose job it was to intimidate people who had seen UFOs, would put on the black suits and the black fedoras. They became the Men in Black. Essentially, they were playing a role that was inspired by a much stranger mystery. Documentation declassified via the terms of the U.S. Freedom of Information Act makes it clear that, in the 1950s and 1960s, the U.S. Air Force and the FBI were on the trail of the M.I.B., but had no real idea of who or what they were. This didn’t stop the world of officialdom from pretending to be the M.I.B., however, when the time and the place was deemed appropriate.
So, yes, the Men in Black are indeed all too real. In the early years of the Cold War, a genuine enigma of a supernatural – possibly extraterrestrial - nature was carefully, and brilliantly, mimicked by intelligence agents to ensure their real identities were never known. Those same government agents may actually not have had any real idea of what, or who, it was they were copying. Even up to today, they probably still don’t know. But, here’s the important thing in all of this: that lack of understanding of what the M.I.B. are has not stopped spies, agents and experts in the fields of surveillance and intimidation from passing themselves off as M.I.B. Meanwhile, in the background and in the shadows, the real, non-human Men in Black continued to lurk, waiting for their next target. Now, I'll give you an example of just how weird that other group of MIBs was - and still is. The late Brad Steiger very generously gave me the following story that took place in the 1960s. In Brad's own words:
"A friend of mine was traveling in England before starting on an around-the-world junket with a layover in Vietnam to visit his son in the armed forces. He was walking near a railway station in London when he noticed three men dressed completely in black staring at him. When my friend returned their collective stare, they approached him and asked him which train they should take for such-and-such a city. My friend calmly pointed out that he was a tourist, and it made a good deal more sense for them to ask at the information booth just a few feet away. My friend turned on his heel and walked away from the odd trio, but a glance over his shoulder told him that they were still standing there staring at him, unmindful of checking with the information booth. Suddenly ill at ease, my friend hailed a taxi and went directly to his hotel. When he got to his room, an uncomfortable sensation prickled the back of his neck and he glanced out his window. On the street corner, looking up at his room, were the three men. Baffled, he tried to push the incident from his mind."
Then, things got weirder, as Brad demonstrated: "A day or so later, though, he was confronted by one of the men who told him straight out: 'You are a friend of Brad Steiger. Tell him we shall visit him by Christmas.' My friend had only a peripheral knowledge of the UFO can of worms, but he returned to his hotel room and wrote me a long letter with the above details. Not long after I had received his letter, I visited a friend in another city and told him about the bizarre experience my correspondent had encountered in London. 'Humph!' Jim snorted over the lunch we were sharing. 'If those monkeys come to see you this Christmas, send ‘em down to talk to me. I'd love to get one of those characters in my hands. I would solve this man-in-black mystery you've been telling me about!' I laughed and warned him that he had better be careful or he might get his wish." We're not quite done. Brad's story continues on:
"I had not returned from my trip by more than a few minutes when the telephone rang. It was Jim calling. Wondering if I might have left something at his place of business, I was informed that I had indeed left a most peculiar something behind me. Jim told me that I had no sooner started my homeward journey than he was told that a gentleman wished to see him. A secretary ushered a man of average height into Jim's office. But my friend said that his visitor was the thinnest human being he had ever seen. 'He was cadaverous, Brad,' Jim told me. 'He looked like those World War II photographs of someone in a concentration camp. But he seemed alert enough, and so involved in his quest that he ignored my proffered hand of greeting. In fact, I tried to push shaking his hand, but he refused to touch me. 'I hear you want to be the head of UFO’s in Iowa,' he said quickly. 'He took out a wallet, flipped it open, then shut, before I could see any identification. I can’t really recall anything else he said, because it was all so damned nonsensical. Soon he was gone, and I was still sitting there dumbfounded.'"
Brad finished his story with Jim's words: “I jumped to my feet, though, when I heard his car starting. I got a good look at his automobile and I wrote down its license number. I can't tell you what make of car it was. It looked like a combination of three or four different makes and models, but it didn't really look like anything I had ever seen before. And the license number didn't check. The Highway Patrol said there was no such Iowa plate registered. A friend in another branch of state government, who owed me a favor, said the plate wasn't registered to any government agency, either.” The MIB were gone.