This Side of the Pond
Notes from an Uprooted Englishwoman
May 30, 2019
Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory, but sometimes the truth is more bizarre than the hoax could hope to be. Such appears to be the case with a piece of “proof” that we are not alone in the galaxy, which turns out to have been entirely cooked up by one of my neighbors in London.
I am referring to the footage of a supposed alien autopsy that caused uproar in the mid 1990s. If you don’t recall the film, it appears to show government pathologists dissecting an extra-terrestrial.
The reason I assumed it was an American-made scam is that it was said to have been filmed by an American military cameraman in 1947 and the alien was meant to have crashed in Roswell. As Roswell is definitely located on this side of the pond, it never occurred to me to look for outside influence.
In a documentary I stumbled across last week, it turned out that the person who claimed he had been contacted by this shadowy figure from the U.S. military was, of all things, a record producer from London. Why would this person choose to reveal their biggest secret to some random bloke in another country whose biggest achievement appears to be that he produced The Birdy Song?
Actually, that’s not even the most obvious clue it was a hoax, though Mr. Birdy Song (actual name Ray Santilli, and I’m also told you guys know his claim to fame as the Chicken Dance) is still claiming to this day that the whole thing was real. I assume he doesn’t want to go to jail for scamming the Fox network out of the millions of dollars they paid to be the first to screen the footage.
For a while there, everyone seemed to think the video really did show footage of government agents prying apart an alien being. When it aired on Fox, its authenticity was given some shine by narration from Jonathan Frakes, known at that time for having the best facial hair on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and interviews with “experts” including the legendary Stan Winston.
Now, Stan Winston was a genius, that’s beyond dispute, but his area of expertise was special effects in movies such as Jurassic Park and Terminator. Apparently, he was brought in to take a look at the alien body and declare it authentic, which does seem an abuse of his good nature.
Winston shrugged and said that, if it was fake, it was a very well made fake and would have needed more than a tub of molding plaster and some stickyback plastic to achieve. Of course, all that really tells us is that the culprit has a few pound notes to rub together.
Despite Winston’s endorsement, a lot of people remained unconvinced – not just because the alien body was all wobbly, but also because the actual autopsy bore no relation to the procedures usually followed. But almost a decade after he started making money from the footage (being a producer, he knew to retain the rights to pretty much everything it was ever used for), Mr. Birdy Song came up with another stroke of genius.
He said that, actually, the footage we’d all been shown was a remake of the real footage he’d been given, because it was badly degraded by the time he’d raised enough money to buy it from the cameraman. He claimed he’d used about 50 frames from the original reel but refused to say where they appear, presumably to give everyone a reason to watch it again and earn himself more royalties.
Santilli called it a “restoration” and said it was no different to the work we do to restore classic pieces of art like the Mona Lisa. He then wheeled the original cameraman in front of the world’s media and had him verify that he’d been present at the autopsy in 1947, except we later found out he’d hired a random homeless guy from the streets of Los Angeles.
In the documentary I watched, the gentleman responsible for making the alien dummy explained how he did it in the sort of tone that implies he’s been asked about it so many times that he can no longer find the energy for a decent set of excuses. Why did he give the alien six fingers? Oh, well, that just seemed like…well it was because that’s what he thought he saw in the original footage, that’ll be it.
To make the dummies, he used casts containing sheep brains in raspberry jelly, chicken entrails and other delicious ingredients from a local butcher. The body was taken to a small apartment in Camden Town, a part of London best known for its enormous street market full of merchandise to suit Goths, hippies and other assorted counter-cultures, as well as for providing the setting for cult classic movie Withnail and I.
The director of this “restoration” – who is perfectly happy to discuss how the hoax was pulled off, leading me to suspect he never saw a penny of the profits – said the alien body had to be smuggled into the apartment. I’m assuming it was rolled in a carpet, because that’s how they do it in the movies.
Once filming was complete, they needed to get rid of the evidence. They did this in about as sensible a manner as you might imagine. After chopping it up into manageable pieces, the team was dispatched in different directions to sneak into back yards and hide the parts in residents’ trash cans.
It’s just as well this happened in Britain, really. If anyone did open their trash can before the garbage truck arrived, only to find an otherworldly collection of chicken guts they were certain didn’t come from last night’s supper, they would simply have shaken their heads, quietly tutted and failed miserably to alert the rest of the world.
All evidence considered, I think it’s safe to say the jelly-filled corpse had nothing to do with outer space and a great deal to do with Mr. Birdy Song’s bank balance. The same could be said for the promise he has made: one day, when the world is “ready”, he will release the original footage in its entirety. I doubt we’ll have to wait long – CGI is getting more advanced by the day.