While it was shut down with a Denial of Service attack by the German authorities in late 2002, the website for the Cannibal Café can still be viewed online thanks to the Wayback Machine. Nine years is an eternity when it comes to the Internet and, suspended there in history, the website is a time capsule of early website-design features and flourishes, down to a .gif of dripping blood and the flashing "WARNING" sign. Its forum messages also carry the whiff of a different era; written at a time when people, unaware and unafraid of consequences, were more open with their identities online.
On the Café's forums were men looking for men, men looking for women (the ideal: short, buxom, thin redheads) and women looking for men—very few posts, if any, were for women looking for women. There were people who wanted to be eaten and people who wanted to do the eating. There were stories, artwork and users seeking advice on the best to way to cook someone. “I am ready!” announced that the poster was prepared for slaughter. Entire threads were devoted to “human meat for sale fresh frozen.” Email addresses were freely exchanged, with posters using handles like “Pigslut” and “Masochist Mr. Waye.”
Here is how one notable, but still typical, conversation at the Café ran. The creatively titled “your next meal” wrote, “if anyone wants to eat an 18 yr old gorgeous male by any means you wish, then just tell me how you would feel whilst devouring my horny flesh into ur belly and i will reply to you so we can discuss real arrangements, please eat me!” A few hours later, a response: “Hi, i am Franky from Germany, i will eat you,” followed by an e-mail address.
Perro Loco started the Cannibal Café in 1994—and when, in 2002, one of its posters, that same "Franky from Germany," was arrested for killing and eating another man, the Cannibal Café was shut down.
"Perro Loco" is a pseudonym, of course, one Loco uses for all of his online activity. I spoke to him over the phone last week from his home in California. He described himself as an "average looking guy" who is "well spoken and fairly well educated." Now semi-retired, he worked for many years as an EMT before going to work at a fly-fishing store. On the phone, he speaks slowly and with confidence. Given his history I expected some measure of paranoia, but found little. Although he tries to keep a private lifestyle, anyone wishing to know him will face no difficulties, which is why it wasn’t hard for me to contact him.
Even before the notoriety the Meiwes-Jürgen case brought him, Loco already enjoyed some celebrity in certain corners of the Internet. In the '90s, he began to post the work of Dolcett, the mysterious artists famous for his depictions of bondage, torture and cannibalism. Today Loco refers to himself as "the Mayor of Dolcett" and claims he was "the first person to scan any Dolcett stuff." Dolcett's work grew more popular and, when Loco asked for no financial compensation, the artist was so pleased he gave Loco full permission to post his material online and even the rights to make money on it. Loco asserts that he was “probably the guy who popularized the whole concept of Dolcett-ism… as I used to say at the time, at the One Holy Church of Dolcett, I was the One True Prophet.”
But Loco's online celebrity would really spread in December 2002, when Armin Meiwes was arrested for eating a man named Bernd Jürgen Brandes.
When Meiwes Met Brandes
This is what happened: A little over ten years ago, on March 9, 2001, 39-year-old Meiwes, a computer technician living in the German village of Wüstefeld, brought home, had sex with and killed 44-year-old Brandes, a Berlin man who lived about 250 miles away. Meiwes then ate 44 pounds of his flesh over a period of ten months. While that may sound like murder, there’s something else that should be mentioned: Brandes wanted it all to happen.
Meiwes and Brandes first communicated in February 2001, when the soon-to-be cannibal responded to Brandes’ online ad looking for someone to eat him alive—“no slaughter, but eating.” Soon they were sending daily emails to one another describing explicitly what would happen when they met. Brandes, writing as “Cator,” wrote to Meiwes, a.k.a. “Antrophagus,” on Feb. 5, saying, “I hope you’re really serious about it, because I really want it and have already met enough cyber-cannibals.”
Meiwes was serious: After turning on a video camera to record the entire process, he cut off Brandes’ penis around 6:30 p.m. If the scene hadn’t been so horrific, it could have been something out of a Three Stooges short. Meiwes’ first attempt at castration didn’t work, so he went to find a bigger knife, which did the job. Brandes, who had taken cold medicine and sleeping pills to lessen the pain, picked up half of his severed penis and attempted to bite into it, a fantasy of his for years. It didn’t work because the meat was too thick, so Meiwes boiled the halves and seasoned them with salt, pepper and garlic.
At 8 p.m., Meiwes ran a bath at Brandes’ request so that his guest could pass away peacefully as the blood drained out of his body. Brandes fell asleep in the tub as Meiwes sat in another room reading a Star Trek novel. A couple hours later, he called out for Meiwes, climbed out of the tub, and collapsed. Meiwes supported him to the bedroom. He lived a few more hours. Then, at 3:30 am, he attempted to rise out of bed and again collapsed. It was his last physical action; his whispered last words were "I have to piss.”
Forty-five minutes later, Meiwes began the dismemberment of Brandes' body. He slashed the throat, then hung the body from a hook. As he removed pieces of flesh, he would address Brandes’ corpse, saying things like, “Shall I cut you in half, my darling?” He seasoned a piece of Brandes’ back with salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary and green pepper sauce (later he would state that the meat tasted like pork). He would continue to eat Brandes’ flesh until his December arrest.
In January 2004, Meiwes was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to over eight years in prison. The sentence caused an uproar. Some thought Meiwes should only have been sentenced to five years, the maximum sentence for Killing on Request. Others thought he should be put away for life. The latter group was victorious. After a second trial, in May 2006, Armin Meiwes was convicted of murder and sentenced to a life in prison. He now resides at the Kassel Penitentiary.
What does this have to do with Perro Loco? He was the source many news organizations, including the UK’s ITV, went to for information, even though he and Meiwes had never spoken or met. Although it’s widely been reported that Meiwes and Brandes first “met” one another via the Café, that’s not true; they met in a separate newsgroup. But because Miewes posted as "franky" at the Café that was enough of a connection. His last post was September 17, 2002, a few months prior to his arrest.
I asked Loco if he felt any guilt about everything that happened. He said, “No. I was, quite frankly, not surprised, though. He is no different than so many other people, but at least he has a sense, to some degree, of social responsibility.”
He’s referring to the fact that everything that happened between Meiwes and Brandes was entirely consensual ("consensual" is one of Loco’s favorite words). He elaborated: “Everything he did, he did completely consensually. It’s not like the guy was a fucking serial killer. He didn’t sit there and invite Jürgen over for dinner and sneak up behind him. They discussed it; Jürgen wanted to be killed and eaten. To me, that’s assisted suicide at worst.”
The Brandes-Meiwes case was not the first time Loco was implicated in a case involving one stranger agreeing to kill another. In 1996, 35-year-old Sharon Lopatka searched on the Internet for a man who would torture, strangle and kill her. She found Robert Frederick. The two met at Frederick’s house in North Carolina and enacted the agreed-upon scenario: Lopatka was sexually tortured, strangled and buried in Frederick’s backyard, only three feet below the ground. Needless to say, police found the body and Frederick was sentenced to jail. Two weeks before his release, Frederick died in prison of a heart attack. Loco, who was investigated as a material witness in the case, knew both Lopatka and Frederick and considered them both "very nice people."
Loco now spends about four hours a day on the boards, down from the twelve of his earlier days. He makes very little money from his work online. In return he's been questioned by organizations ranging from the FBI to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, so it’s natural to wonder why he does it. He said, “To a great degree, it’s because I’m a proselytizer. It’s fun. But it used to be more fun. I’m getting older, and I’d just as soon assume close up shop sometimes.”
The eHow Of Cannibalism
His current website, Dolcett Girls, is dedicated to “covering a full range of graphic sexual fantasy." The site, which has been around since August 2003, has over 40,000 members, is split evenly between males and females (Loco tells me that for “every 1.1 males, there’s 1 female”). It gets over a million hits every month. The forum viewers include “at least one U.S. congressman,” as well as politically connected family members, and the average user age is somewhere in the 40s.
As with the Cannibal Café, Dolcett Girls only has two rules: no spam and nothing featuring underage kids. But it's more rooted in fantasy than the Café was. The interest is less directly transactional (i.e., trying to find someone to cook and eat); instead the site seems more a place for people to discuss and fantasize about their kinks and fetishes—as well as drop frequent references to Ke$ha’s “Cannibal."
And someday Dolcett Girls will be as much a time capsule of 2011 Internet culture as the Cannibal Café is of 2002. Recent forum topics include:
• Cooking temperatures: “I like a low heat around 250 degree for a long slow cook. I start the out with the meat being tied to the grill alive and kicking. After the meat pass I remover her from the heat and gut her, and then back to the grill for several more hours after about a 10 to 12 hour cook the meat just fall off the bone. I shred the meat and mix it with BBQ and red pepper flakes very tasty.”
• Celebrities: “[Miley Cyrus] needs to be hung upside down from a meathook, have her throat slit, and be sliced into chunks of meat. It's not like she has a remarkable music career or anything."
• Pregnancy announcements with the requisite belly photos
• Lots of fan fiction: “Angeline reached one hand down her pants and stroked herself with a rising passion as she suckled on the redhead's ample bosom…”
• Fake CNN stories: “Dolcett Girl Who Fled Is Caught in Mexico”
• Yahoo! Answers-type advice-seeking: "How one would dispose of a head?"
That last question was posed by “tinylittlefeet," and the responses run the gamut. Some responders make light of the situation (“roadrunner50” Photoshopped “tiny”’s head into a picture of the cast of Futurama), while others are chilling in their specificity. One user responds: “First, I would prefer to remove you head from your body myself. For this I would have you place your neck on a block and with a hard swift chop with a sharpened machete, your head would be severed from your body…” It goes on from there.
Photoshop is another favorite activity. The thread, “Cannibalistic/Snuff captions and manipulations” shows a twisted form of something you might find on 4chan. Over a photo that the poster himself probably took, there are usually one or more nude ladies and then box lettering over the whole that says something like, “Forget spinach, eat man flesh!” One photo reads: “A cannibal usually eats one a week. That means roughly 50 people a year. The average cannibal stays active for about 40 years before switching to food normal people eat too at old age.”
Making Money & Other Challenges Of Internet Entrepreneurship
Dolcett Girls (also known as DGF) was originally set up to be a subscription-based commercial website operating out of Toronto. But after three lucrative months, a credit company clearance “cut us off at the knees,” said Loco. He added that the company that cut ties with them is “the same company that processes every kiddy porn site on the planet. We’re probably the only fetish group that the kiddy porn people look down on. I guess because they’re afraid we’re going to have kiddy snuff porn.”
The site runs now on donations, sent not through PayPal but by “snail mail.” The money takes longer to process, but the system bypasses outside interference. DGF also has “incredibly good security software… written by one of the best coders in the United States.” Makes sense when you consider the site’s under constant monitoring by the FBI, which is also why users, if they’re interested in a face-to-face meet-up, will use the forum’s personal messaging system to communicate, rather than publicly posting, “Hey, who wants to eat me?”
(Even then, the number of face-to-face interactions is small, according to Loco. “Out of every hundred women who come into DGF, there will be one who might actually extend herself to meeting with another human face to face for the specific purpose of beginning a 'Dolcett’-ish relationship. For every 1,000 of those people, there might be one who’d go all the way.”)
Loco maintains that if he saw something that he thought worth mentioning he would report it to authorities. I ask for an example. He said: “Let’s suppose I got a personal message from someone who I believe is fairly serious about the whole Dolcett thing, and this person told me that he was going to go to hang out at an elementary school and kidnap a couple of the girls who are students there.” He’d report that. But “if, on the other hand, he were to say, ‘Look, I was talking to this girl’s mom and she’s got a daughter who’s eight years old. If Mom and I get together and I take her down to Mexico and we do the deed, what do you think I should do about the kids?’ I wouldn’t report that.”
The distinction, again, comes down to consent. “Consenting adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to, up to and including killing each other," Loco said. "If they don’t consent to it, then it’s murder and not good. I have issues when it comes to consent.” Clearly, Loco is a big proponent of First Amendment—a really big proponent.
He tells me a story about a man in Ontario who made his living by producing “very well faked” snuff videos, complete with air-soft pistols, blood squibs and believable special effects. “Some local constable who was a member of a fundamentalist church got wind of what he was he was doing and made it a crusade to shut this guy down. He was buddies with the local attorney, and they arrested him, confiscated all his stuff, and put him in jail without bail. He ended up going to trial and he won, but in Canada, the Crown can appeal and the Crown attorney belonged to the same church as the constable. They kept appealing the lack of conviction. This guy was tried three times and basically impoverished by his legal bills. Had somebody pulled that with me and jeopardized my entire financial career and caused my wife and kids to leave me because I couldn’t support them anymore, I would have tracked these motherfuckers down and shot them – for real. No air soft guns. I would have come to their house, I would have tied them up in a chair, I would have killed their entire families in front of them, and then I would have killed them. You wreck my life, I’m going to wreck yours. I’m a person of extremes that way.” After a few seconds of silence, he adds, “Now, I wouldn’t have killed the family dog, by the way, because I have a soft spot for pets… but I would have no problem killing their five-year-old kids.”
When I question the extremity of such a statement, Loco responded, “Sure, it’s a little extreme, but I don’t have any moral problems about it. Millions of people every day die. Hundreds of thousands of small children die of starvation every day. Personally, I think killing some folks is beneficial to society. But I’m not going to go out there and do it. It’s easy for me to talk. But my own personal moral feelings about it, I don’t have any. It’s for the same reason I don’t have any moral objections to what Armin did.”
Today, most DGF members don't seem interested in doing what Armin Meiwes did, only in talking about it. In September 2004, Loco began a thread called “Would You? Really?” that now has 1,484 replies and over 91,000 views. In it, he posed the hypothetical question: “If presented with an opportunity to Eat a Female in a ‘Dolcett-ish’ fantasy fulfillment…would you?” The response of "t'Sade" is typical: “In the end, I think I would probably avoid it in real life. Nice to think about, wonderful to see animated or made into a movie, but I've seen enough blood and other really nasty things in my life (some of them done to me) that I really don't want to feel the rest of that blade.
He added, “Won't stop me from writing about it, though.”
There are exceptions. One user recently posted a new thread to tell everyone that he’s ready to meet up with someone who’d be interested in cannibalizing him. When I contacted him by email, the 26 year old responded: “I have played before at being dressed up as meat ready for the oven. I have had women and men do this, although I am straight but as meat I don’t mind who eats me as it’s not really sexual.” He says the desire has been with him since he was a “very small boy,” and that he used to “dream about [being] barbequed or sold to the butcher.”
I asked, how would you go through with it? He wrote back: “Now that’s quite a question, LOL. Well, what I would like is to be collected and tied up in back of van or car and taken to the home or, even better, their farm. Then, when there, shaved and cleaned and maybe kept for a bit in a pen or cage so they can fatten me up if they want, etc. I don’t really mind how I am processed. Maybe spit roasted or just hung up and butchered. I would like my genitals removed first or eaten off me…”
We might recoil from this guy's fantasy, but keep in mind, he hasn't actually done anything wrong (and probably won't). Like Armin Meiwes, he’s not a killer, pedophile, rapist or any other kind of criminal that preys on the non-consenting. He's someone with a kink and the only way he knows how to fulfill it is by, well, being eaten. In a way I almost feel sorry for him—I can't imagine it's easy to find someone to satisfy that lust. But the Internet has surely made that easier, which brings up the question: How did would-be cannibals arrange meetings in the 1980s? (Probably on giant cell phones.) Of course the case can be made that the Internet is encouraging potential cannibals by giving them a safe place to plan their misdeeds, but would you rather have a set-up meeting between two consenting adults—or bring someone new home from the bar and have him wait till he was in your living room to ask, “Would you mind if I bit your dick off?”
Josh Kurp will never listen to the Dirty Projectors’ “Cannibal Resource” the same way again.
Image taken from 1918 edition of Gray's Anatomy, via Wikimedia Commons.