Last month, we received an email from a reader in Michigan, in response to our article debunking the "black eyed children" phenomenon, which links these so-called "paranormal" entities to recreational drug use. The reader, whom we will call Onizuka in order to protect his identity, claims that not only is he familiar with BEKs- but that he was one. "Onizuka" agreed to speak with JOTB via Yahoo instant messenger. Ironically, this conversation took place on 4/20, a date which is embraced by those who are part of the drug culture.
JOTB: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us. In one of your previous emails, you stated that you were a "black eyed kid". What did you mean by that?
Onizuka: Last November I was driving late at night at turned on the radio and came across an episode of Coast to Coast AM and the topic of the show was black eyed children. It convinced me to do some research on the topic, and that's how I found your article. As someone who has been a recreational atropine user for years, I felt compelled to write in order to say that you are on the right track.
JOTB: How involved are/were you in the drug culture? You don't have to say anything that may incriminate yourself, but our readers would probably like to know how knowledgeable you are on the subject.
Onizuka: LOL, are you asking me if I'm a dealer?
JOTB: Well are you?
Onizuka: Let's just say that I know my way around a chemistry lab, and let's just leave it at that. But my day job is that of a tattoo artist and body piercer.
JOTB: Alright. So back to atropine... what does that have to do with "black eyed kids"?
Onizuka: Well, in your article debunking BEKS, you theorize that these beings are just kids who are messed up on drugs, and you listed some drugs that cause mydriasis, which makes the pupils of the eyes appear really big. Where I come from, the big recreational drug right now is something we call "cherry bombs". Are you familiar with them?
JOTB: Can't say I am. Please enlighten us.
Onizuka: It's a shot made out of Lomotil and Red Bull. It's popular with youth because it produces hallucinations, and the user becomes very giddy and excited. It's the most bizarre feeling, like, imagine taking LSD and shrooms and then washing it down with two pots of coffee. That's what it's like.
JOTB: Lomotil? Isn't that an anti-diarrheal pill?
Onizuka: Yes, but it's also available in liquid form, and the liquid is cherry-flavored, thus the name "cherry bombs". It's also popular with young people because it's not addictive, and it's very hard to overdose. Lomotil is diphenoxylate and atropine, both are drugs that dilate the pupil. Diphenoxylate is very similar to Demerol. And then you have the Red Bull, which has caffeine that further dilates the pupil. That's where the "black eyes" come from.
JOTB: But in stories about BEKs, it is said that the eyes are completely black, even the sclera. Surely "cherry bombs" can't make the entire eye black, can they?
Onizuka: True, but you'd be amazed at just how much the pupil expands. Ever see those Japanese anime cartoons, where they all have big black bulging eyes? It's been said that "cherry bombs" first originated in Japan, and then became popular in the late 90s and are still popular now. That's why you don't hear of any BEK sightings before anime became popular.
JOTB: Our theory is that most people who claim to have seen a BEK have only caught a fleeting glimpse, usually from an interior room that's illuminated. When your lights are on inside, everything looks darker outside. Do you think that's why the eyes look completely black?
Onizuka: Makes sense to me.
JOTB: Now, those who believe in black eyed children claim that some of the children are as young as five or six. How do you explain that?
Onizuka: Maybe there are some "real" BEKs out there somewhere, but I believe 99% of BEKs are, like you said, kids hopped up on atropine-Red Bull cocktails. Also, you have to understand the type of people who use cherry bombs. These aren't inner city kids or rednecks. These are gamers and geeks and nerds who are obsessed with anime, cosplay, and comic books. Have you ever seen kids with J-pop haircuts? (J-Pop is a pop culture trend originating in Japan) They look like they're all ten years old!
JOTB: What about the claims that black eyed people often wear clothes that are described by some as "old-fashioned" or "home-made"?
Onizuka: Again, that's all part of the anime and J-pop subculture. These kids are into the "lolita" look, in which girls intentionally try to look like 10-year old schoolgirls. (Of) these people who think BEKs are real, I bet 95% have no knowledge of anime, J-pop, harajuku, shibuya-kei, or visual kei. Take visual kei, for instance. It's a trend characterized by androgynous make-up, weird hair styles and flamboyant costumes. I'd bet my left arm that, to an average person in a place like Missouri or Kentucky, an American kid following the harajuku trend would probably look like an alien from outer space.... especially if he's been taking cherry bombs. It would be like trying to explain the dubstep genre to your grandma. Unless you're part of the scene, you just don't get it.
JOTB: In his book on BEKs, David Weatherly states that BEKs have skin that is pale and clammy. Your thoughts?
Onizuka: The most common side effect of Lomotil is erythema (flushed skin). That just further proves my argument. Also, pale skin is a big part of the visual kei and anime lifestyle. Combine these two facts together, and there's your explanation. It also explains the monotone speech patterns.
|Example of visual kei eye makeup, not a BEK.|
|Visual kei inspired art|
JOTB: Why do you suppose BEKs always seem to want to be invited inside someone's home?
Onizuka: You really want to know? It's because they have to use the bathroom. No kidding. Doctors treat Lomotil overdose by administering charcoal and laxatives, since Lomotil is an anti-diarrheal. When I did cherry bombs, I took Ex-Lax to come down. All of us did.
JOTB: Lomotil is prescription only. How do kids obtain it?
Onizuka: Simple. They tell mom and dad that they can't stop sh***ing, mommy takes them to the family doctor, and the doctor writes out a prescription for Lomotil. Believe me, out of all the Schedule V drugs, none are easier to get than Lomotil.
JOTB: What about other forms of body modification? Some BEK reports mention sharp teeth.
Onizuka: Now you're dealing with my area of expertise, since I work in the body modification industry. The big thing in Japan right now is called the "bagelhead trend", in which kids inject their foreheads with collagen. Tooth modification is also big in Japan. Here, let me send you a picture, hold on one sec.
(Junior sends the following picture via instant messenger)
JOTB: Weird. Believe it or not, we were one of the first American blogs to write about the Bagelhead trend in Japan, so we're pretty well-acquainted with it. But the tooth thing, that's something I assumed would be limited to the "goth" genre.
Onizuka: The goth element is a big part of the visual kei trend, actually. We see a lot of it here in Detroit. And I believe that lends further evidence to your theory that recreational drug use is behind the BEK phenomenon. If you're an 18-year-old kid obsessed with anime, with a J-pop haircut and a lolita outfit and tooth modification, you're definitely the type of kid who likes to get f**ked up on cherry bombs. Like I said earlier, we're not talking about a drug like crack, which is big in the inner city. We're not talking about a drug like meth or bath salts, which are big with the hicks. We're talking about a very small and specific group. It's like the way that ecstasy is big with the raver and techno crowd... atropine is big with the harajuku and anime crowd. And to the average suburban housewife in Akron or to the typical trucker from Oklahoma, a trend like this is beyond their comprehension. What it all boils down to is ignorance, really.
JOTB: So your opinion is the BEKs are not demons or interdimensional beings?
Onizuka: That reminds me of something I stumbled across when I began to look into BEKs last year. Do you know Stephen Wagner?
JOTB: Of course. He's a well-known paranormal researcher. He writes about the paranormal for About.com. What about him?
Onizuka: He has a whole bunch of black eyed kid and black eyed people reports on About.com, submitted by readers. There are 20 of them, and most are just downright ridiculous. For instance, there are 4 separate sightings of these alleged BEKs... in Walmart! Another person claims to have encountered a BEK in Starbucks. Now, I'm no UFO researcher or demonologist, but why would a "demon" or "interdimensional being" need a frappuchino? Maybe their spaceship crashed and they needed to run to Walmart for spare parts? Seriously!
|Could the "Lolita' style explain the old-fashioned clothing worn by BEKs?|
JOTB: Point well taken. So, in closing, is it safe to say that you're a skeptic?
Onizuka: Like I said before, it's possible there might be a real BEK out there somewhere, but I highly doubt they're shopping at the local Walmart. I really do believe it's all a matter of ignorance, and I think you hit the nail right on the head when you debunked BEKs. For some people, it's easier to believe that they saw a demon from a different dimension than a J-pop fan high on atropine. It's like trying to explain any trend to someone who's "out of the loop". Either you get it, or you don't.
The sad part is that the "researchers" who claim to be studying BEKs are doing nothing more than collecting ghost stories from people who don't know Sailor Moon from Popeye the Sailor Man. Where's the actual "research"?
JOTB: We ask ourselves the same thing, all the time. Thanks, JR, and if you come across any additional information, I hope you'll keep in touch.
Onizuka: Thanks, I'll keep you posted.