Author Archives: Napoleon Martinez

The Sioux Falls Bikini Lady

Background: My informant was a young adult who was born in the Watertown and raised in the nearby city of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, one of the larger metropolitan areas of the Midwest and the largest city in South Dakota. He continued to live there for the last 20 years and is very much a Sioux Falls resident.

Main Piece: My informant told me about a well-known urban legend in the Sioux Falls area known as the Sioux Falls Bikini Lady. She is this mysterious woman that frequents the downtown area and runs up and down the streets doing exercise while in a bikini. It is somewhat of a landmark of the city and its culture, because despite the common cold weather, she continues to do this. It is of such fame that many people engage with this local legend by creating websites, twitter accounts and taking photographs. No one really knows why she does it as she doesn’t explain it herself publicly, but it is something that has spread throughout the town, to the point of becoming common hearsay and rumor.

Performance Context: According to my informant, he learned about the story from someone on the bus. He said he could be mistaken, but he isn’t sure. The story seems to be one that comes around the community through rumor and speculation.

My Thoughts: I think it is interesting because it talks a lot about how we look for interesting stories not only in old tales, but in the people around us. We often talk about how our communities build and how they are constructed, and a large part of that is the stories that connect us with one another. We look for not only the strange and the potentially dangerous through the unknown or the creepy, like the house on the hill. We also look for it in our everyday lives and in everyday objects. When we see something that is just a bit off, but yet so normal, we like to imagine what gives it that quirk. When we can’t find out, we begin to discuss it with others, forming conspiracy and theory. This kind of thing can cross generations. What will happen when she passes? Will someone take on the mantle of SF Bikini Lady? It remains to be seen, but these types of things are the precedents for traditions. What if one day there was a SF Bikini Lady 4K run with everyone dressing in bikinis? That would be amazing to see happen.

The Manananggal of the Philippines

Background: My informant was a Filipino immigrant who came to America when she was 12. She was born and raised in Manila before coming to America, her father seeking out new opportunities. She then got married and moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota and currently works as a Denial Analyst for the Sanford Health Network, the largest hospital network in the Siouxland area.

Main Piece: The Manananggal is a vampiric creature that leaves half of its body and flies in search of its victims. The only way to kill it is to find the other half of its body, and kill the creature by putting salt inside of it. It is a hideous female that flies around one hunt after another preying on pregnant women. It will land on top of that hunt and use its long tongue that falls down the side. With its tongue it will go through the abdomen and eat the fetus of the growing child by sucking its heart. It hunts from village to village like so until it is killed. This story is told mainly through horror films in the informant’s experience, but it is quite well known because of this.

Performance Context: According to my informant, the story originates from the area of the Philippines known as the Visayas. It is one of the three major groups of islands of the Philippines, being in the center.

My Thoughts: I think it is interesting because this is another example of how horror really shapes the perception of people. This story itself may be older and written into older text, but it gains a lot of effect out of its pop culture nature. This is evidenced even more so by the fact that it is not really a story that originates from the entirety of the country, but from a specific portion. Thus, it gains attention through multimedia that does not know borders, so to speak.

Slender Man

Background: My informant was a young American male. He is a game design student studying at the University of Southern California and currently works as a VR Design Intern at Gadget-Bot.

Performance Context: According to my informant, he came to learn the story through viral media. Enough people had talked about it on platforms such as YouTube that he grew interested and looked into the story himself.

Main Piece: In 2009, a comedy website called Something Awful launched a Photoshop contest to create the “biggest creepy pasta”. Creepy pasta is a internet term for scary short-form horror tales that originate and spread on the internet. As part of this contest, some people photoshopped an original creature into some old photographs from a newspaper. The newspaper articles make reference to several children who have disappeared or vanished. My informant says that this is so that the creature could be passed of as even more real. Because of the use of the newspapers, people of the internet started to believe in this creature who became known as Slender Man, for his tall, skinny figure.

Slender Man has now become a legend about this mysterious creature with tentacles who comes, preys and steal children. He is a tall, slender figure with no hair, no face, and white skin. He is often depicted wearing a suit, appearing almost like a man in a morph suit with a business suit over that. Nobody knows why he does so as the origin comes only from photographs. Because people believed in the story so much as real, it spread as a viral internet phenomenon. Also, as a result, people began discussing ways to commercialize and spread the idea of Slender Man. Movies, games, short stories were produced en masse to explain this creature and his behaviors. One of the most famous of these is Slender: The 8 Pages, a horror game that became very popular on the internet through the game platform Steam. Sequels to the games and short films have also been produced and there are “even talks of a full-length feature film”. According to my informant, these derivative works are all a part of a large movement to “cash in” on the idea of this character. To them, they believe he was became so popular not just because people believed he was real, but also because to teh creature’s believers, how genuine and original he seemed. They said it was refreshing to see a story where the character seemed not only frightening, but also “genuinely original”. My informant says that people come up with myths all the time, but that a genuine modern myth that isn’t a rehash or remix of something else was interesting and made it all the more real.

My Thoughts: I think it is interesting because it not only comes across the originality of ideas, but also the canonization and commercialization of these stories as products. To tell stories not only encourages the spread of those stories, but also the ways in which those that hear it want to capitalize and market that story in one or many forms. The way the story was turned from a photograph that had been photo shopped into all sorts of other media suggests that not only is the story can be spread in any or all formats, but that it can also be warped and changed to suit those need and strengths of those mediums. That the story itself has no need for origin as long as it retains the sense of originality and outside of that scope, can be warped to become whatever it needs to be to those that wish to indulge in that media. I think it’s interesting to ponder whether the original form of a story is necessary or perhaps that it might be just a stepping stone for the true potential of a story to deliver an experience to its viewers. It’s a sort of idea that suggests that mutation is inherently a part of the story and that variation should be encouraged rather than discouraged, unlike some other stories that we suggest should have a “proper”, “authentic” or “original form.

The University of Minnesota Statues


Background: My informant was a young Filipino  girl who was born and raised in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She currently is a student at the University of Minnesota studying Double B.A. Global Studies and Cultural Studies.

Performance Context: According to the informant, the students talk about it a lot and spread it among the academic populace.

Main Piece: There are several student stories involving the stories of the statues around campus. One for example is that of the Platonic Figure. The students believe that if you walk under the Platonic Figure, you will not graduate in four years. Thus, the circle around the statue serves as a barrier that students walk around for fear of passing under the statue. Another statue that brings the opposite kind of luck is the Goldie Statue. The students say that if you rub the gold teeth and make a wish, it is good luck. A lot of students tend to come to this statue just before finals to give them a bit of extra good luck. Another time that they do this is before football games to “give the Gophers luck”.

To the informant, the stories are told because everyone wants to pass their classes. No matter the logic, everyone wants to cling to this mystic notion and give something as silly as making a wish in order to give them any edge that they can. The informant doesn’t believe in the Goldie myth as much as the Platonic Figure story. According to her, it’s less about believing and more about not taking the risk.

My Thoughts: I think it is interesting because it talks about how we form cultural ties within our own smaller communities, no matter how temporal they are. Even though college is a place of temporary establishment in our overall life cycle, a place for us to at some point leave and form new, different or join other communities, practices and rituals – by simply being a place of congregation it provides us an excuse to form connections with one another. Especially since school is also a place for business and professional connection, as well as social and (potentially) familial connection.

Bongcheong-Dong Ghost

Background: My informant was a young Filipino girl who was born and raised in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She currently is a student at the University of Minnesota studying Double B.A. Global Studies and Cultural Studies.

Performance Context: According to my informant, the story was told to her by her two friends who are of Chinese and Vietnamese descent. However, she claims that it is a fairly common and famous online example of Korean comics on the internet, especially in horror circles.

Main Piece: The story is based on the 2002 suicide of a woman in South Korea. It is a comic that tells a ghost story supposedly based on true stories about the ghost of this woman who haunts an apartment complex in Bongcheong-Dong. According to the informant and the comic, the woman supposedly killed herself because she was being separated from her daughter due to divorce. In the story, a young girl is on her way home as she heads to the apartment complex. Along the way she encounters a strange otherworldly woman whose joints seem “twisted every way”. The woman demands that the girl tell her where her “baby” is, upon which the girl, too scared to know what else to do, points a random direction to send the woman. The woman then goes off in the direction that the girl points. The girl tries to run away at this point, but soonafter hears a scream from the direction of the woman, having discovered that nothing was in that direction. The woman quickly rushes the girl, and the girl awakens to find out that her neighbors found her passed out.

The comic is interwoven with two jump scares and sound in order to complete the experience.

To the informant, she wonders whether this story is really based on true stories. It seems to be derivative, but according to her, the story was made for a contest. This puts into question the authenticity of the stories origin and whether or not it had actually come from oral traditions. The suicide is supposedly real, and the rumors of the spirit seem to be true, but if they were not, it would not be hard for my informant to believe.

My informant is mainly interested in the story because of how it is meant to be spread to others as a sort of game. It is a viral comic that you want to show your friends because then you can watch as they are horrified as well. It is a sort of bonding that is made by spreading the story. In some ways, the story works in the same regard as many oral campfire traditions in uniting and making connection with others through the oral act of storytelling.

My Thoughts: I think it is interesting because of the reasons that the informant explicitly stated. Storytelling is generally regarded as a form of communication and there is no reason that the discourse of that story cannot also be a way to communicate with others. The horror of the comic serves as a sort of initiation to a inner circle of those that have experienced it versus those that have not and whom can be spread to. There is a special bond formed through the esoteric knowledge of the experience.