An American cannibal in Bangkok
(That's him in my avatar)
Bunglumpoo: January 2003 around 6pm
'm a cannibal", he says casually in the manner of a stranger introducing himself as a teacher or an estate agent.
I continue to chew in an attempt to look unfazed and place my falafel back gently on the plate. "But I don't kill people, I only eat the dead, I've only ever killed in self defence"
He reassures me, and I'm not quite sure what expression I'm supposed to have on my face, much the same as when faced with a naked, gyrating pole dancer, smiling seductively and pouting at me in a Soi Cowboy
bar - how is a whump supposed to react?
What had bought me to Bunglumpoo that night is none of your god damned business, but my rumbly-tumbly had lead me to a small soi near Kaosan Road where I had been told there was a small Israeli cafe that was worth a visit. I had chosen a vacant seat outside, opposite this gaunt looking shaven headed figure dressed in a sarong and a tatty old black vest, old tattoos covered his skinny arms and from what I could see his skull had let go of all but three of his teeth.
I suppose many would have taken his introduction as a cue to make that falafel 'to go', but cannibal or not, that would have been rather rude, and to be honest I was curious... I was intrigued as to why anybody would present such a revelation just moments after saying a friendly hello and gesturing that the seat opposite was not taken.
If he thought he could shock me then he would be disappointed, if he was a bullshitter then I would smell it and if he was mad then he could be telling the truth, and judging by his appearance (and I've seen some pretty odd characters over the years) I had no reason to disbelieve him, and besides - it was a new experience for me so I was in no rush to finish my falafel.
Gary Stevenson was born in Texas and had endured a heartbreakingly sad life under this name, and I couldn't help feel a smeg of sympathy as he casually revealed more and more about his childhood and how his wife had treated him and I began to understand just how far the cruelty of our own culture can go and where it can take a man, but to take a man this far out of sanity? To cannibalism?
Out of a satchel he then produces an old tattered photo of his daughter that appears to have been taken in the late 70's... He also produces a mobile phone which he can't figure out, some human finger bones and a tin cup before going on to tell me cheerfully that he lives in India but he's in Thailand to meet an author who is writing a book about his life.
Nearby a couple of young Thai children play with toy cars. He seems agitated by this and "Fuck off!"
at them - clearly this man has done his fair share of drugs in his time.
How he ended up in India is something the son of a bitch never revealed but it was here that he found the cult religion known as aghori and changed his nameto 'Kapalnath', which means 'skull cap'. I have since discovered that aghoris , followers of a radical sect of Hinduism, wander the jungles and cremation grounds of India, some of them eating human flesh and practicing gruesome, cannibalistic rituals.
As if it were ordinary as socks, he tells me that he is wanted by the FBI in connection with missing backpackers in Hawaii but reassures me that this is just hype and speculation before coughing and shouting again at the children in the street, holding his walking cane, did I forget to mention his cane? ...Holding his cane threateningly above his head.
There are concerned looks from the other tables and from the locals but they soon go back to their falafels and their business and Gary, (Kapalnath), continues his story, showing me photos of himself, a different looking heavily dreadlocked self, holding charred meat over a pile of ash somewhere near the Ganges river. He describes to me how a charred skull cracks open easily and how he juggles the hot globes of the brain between each of his hands until they are cool enough to eat.
I feel that to act surprised at this stage may come over as sarcastic, so instead I ask him what he does for money and he tells me he makes sex movies, which nearly makes me laugh - and if you were sat opposite this man you would understand why this was a rather comical statement to come out with. He goes on to explain that these are not ordinary sex movies. He’s talking about necrophilia and that one can purchase the body of a dead girl after a road accident for about 6,000 rupees. “Some people are so sick in their head that they buy this stuff.” A couple of Swiss women at a nearby table stand up and leave.
I struggle to believe that I have heard him right and, again, I can’t think of anything to say but he fills the silence by reassuring me that it’s legal; it’s not rape neither is it phaedophilia as the body is dead, and by that same rationale, eating a dead body isn’t murder.
Aghoris consume human flesh in order to gain the spiritual energy that is found in every human being. They also meditate over bodies in an attempt to control the spirit of the dead person, however necrophilia isn't something that I have found to be connected with this cult, but I did later discover the aghori believe they should embrace what is considered to be repulsive to society, to which 'Kapalnath' had enlightened me. "It's just a way of making money, it's sex with meat that's all"
he says as he places the tin cup under the table and I see him lift his sarong.
Later I also learn that the religion of aghor is complex with an unknown number of variations. Customs from one individual aghori to another may differ wildly and that, like some other religions, they accept people who have been rejected by society because of bad habits or lifestyles.
With a slight wobble of the wrist he produces the tin cup, full of his own freshly passed urine, and I - still not quite rid of the mental image of him screwing some Indian's dead daughter in front of a camcorder - ask him why he doesn't go back home to his family.
He downs his piss in a couple of glugs and slams the empty mug on the table, wincing, before replying; "My family don't want to know me".
"Yeah, funny that",
I replied as Gary Kapalnath Stevenson stood up and limped toward the toilet looking rather unwell.
***Before I left Kapalnath, the fucked up eccentric bugger possibly detected a hint of doubt in my eyes, and I have to admit that it all seemed a little too bizzare, even by Bangkok standards, and that this was surely just some messed up guy who’d done too much acid and got lost along the way.
“Google me” He said as he shook my hand.