Tag Archives: conspiracy theory

Subterranean Lizard People of Los Angeles


“My mom is really into conspiracy theories. One of them that she’s into is the one about the lizard people that live in the tunnels under LA. I don’t know if she actually believes it or not, I think she just watches a lot of YouTube videos about them. She sends me Instagram DMs about it, just memes and TikToks.”

When asked to explain what the lizard people are, DS responded:

“Okay, basically they’re these shapeshifting aliens that have been around for thousands of years and control everything. Like, if you dig into any scandal with the government or celebrities, the idea is that they’re probably behind it.”

When asked if his mother had any stories of personally encountering the lizard people, DS responded:

“She talks a lot about this YouTuber she watched a few years ago who was filming himself walking around the tunnels and he said that he had seen the lizard people down there during a previous visit. I don’t think he actually caught them on tape in the video though.”


DS is a 20 year old student studying political science at UCLA. He grew up in Los Angeles in the Sherman Oaks neighborhood. In this entry, he is referring to the network of tunnels that span roughly 11 miles that were used as speakeasies during the Prohibition Era.


This entry from DS demonstrates an intersection of city history and internet conspiracy theory in the creation of folklore. The idea that the rich and powerful are secretly lizard people is not a conspiracy theory unique to Los Angeles, or even the United States. This notion, arguably, can only be sustained through global internet communication via comment sections, discussion sites, forums, etc, where such notions can be entertained without being realistically challenged. Yet, despite the global appeal of the reptilian conspiracy theory, it has taken on its own special iteration within the context of Los Angeles, particularly within the tunnels that span underground. Already mired with mystery and a reputation for secrecy as they were used to host speakeasies during the Prohibition Era, the tunnels become the ideal location for hiding lizard people. Additionally, Los Angeles is considered the home of many powerful and influential people, which helps to contribute further to the idea that they may be lurking beneath us. Folk communication, as described by DS, as memes and Tiktoks add a social layer to the conspiracy, a means to connect with another person through shared anxieties about the “elite.”

The Mud Lady

Text: “In my town, there was a woman we called, the mud lady. She was a homeless woman, who wore so much makeup that it made kids scared of her and made it look like she was covered in mud. Even our parents would tell us to stay away from her whenever we went into town. If she was on the same side of the street as you, you would cross the street so you didn’t have to pass her. Everyone had different conspiracies of how she became the mud lady. I remember one kid said that she would steal people’s dogs, kill them, and bury them in the mud near the lake, others stated that she’ll stab you if you walk by her. Whenever you did walk by her, she had a very scary smile, every time. It didn’t look like a friendly smile, it looked like a psychopathic smile. Looking back on it now, she was just a poor old homeless woman trying to live her life. However, it was kids being kids, making up stories about her that had no factual evidence. I don’t believe she ever did anything bad, but as a kid, I was terrified of her.” – Informant

Context: The informant is from a small suburb in New Jersey, that probably didn’t have many homeless people, most likely why these stories were made up about her. The informant was about 10, and he would see the mud lady almost on a daily basis. This woman did make him very aware of his surroundings, starting as a child and even the parents of these children told them to stay away from her.

Analysis: This is definitely an interesting piece of folklore because although this woman never did anything truly bad, it was the conspiracy theories made up about her that truly made her scary. I think this is definitely something that occurs in small suburbs with little homeless populations because even in my town, there was this one homeless man named Joe who was the kindest man ever. But as a kid, all of us were told to stay away from him and we would gossip about potential stories of his life. One was that he comes from a very wealthy family but did so many drugs that he refuses to live a life where he isn’t homeless. Someone said that his parents offered him money but he refused to take it. We were told to always stay away from him, but as we grew up, we realized Joe was no threat. He was a homeless man just trying to live his life, without any harm to others. It is also upsetting that as children, we use the stereotype that a homeless person is dangerous or on drugs, when in reality they are just trying to live their lives.

The Head of Eli Broad

Informant Information – AL

  • Nationality: American
  • Age: 20
  • Occupation: Student
  • Residence: Los Angeles, California
  • Date of Performance/Collection: April 20, 2022
  • Primary Language: English

The informant has experience working in a lab at USC’s medical school that was next door to the Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine. 


So if you don’t know Eli Broad he was like a billionaire real estate developer and insurance magnate in California, moneymoneymoneymoney, very very rich. Also, the namesake of the Broad museum downtown, which now of course houses his art collection. 

Now I, and a few of my coworkers at the lab, are of the very firm belief that– well you can take this escalator up from the bottom to the top floor of the Broad, and you get a little window where you can see into the big middle floor, which is where they store the art is stored under very, very careful temperature and humidity control I might add. 

So you’re telling me that Eli Broad, that when Eli Broad signed that check to establish that lab– in his name– to conduct stem cell research at USC, you’re telling me that that grant didn’t have any strings attached? Absolutely not. I’m sure that, in the Center for Regenerative Medicine, there’s a little room with a live feed that’s playing video footage from an abandoned corner of the art museum art storage room, where the cryogenically frozen head of Eli Broad is being monitored by USC physicians and just waiting for the moment when the Regenerative Medicine Center advances to the point where they can bring that motherfucker back! It’s sitting there! I mean it’s like– The Broad is a pyramid, a literal pyramid! 

I mean, come on. I don’t think it’s a huge piece of logic. I kind of, 5%, think it’s true. 


This piece of folklore is particularly interesting as a developing legend that speaks to many prominent themes of today’s society. Mortality– and the potential of immortality– have always been popular themes of folklore but are now especially relevant due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Similarly, cryogenic treatments have recently become a popular offering at wellness clinics and spas for those able to afford these treatments. This legend also captures the current disparities in quality and access to healthcare. Given that the costs associated with medical care are prohibitive for a large portion of our society, it is reasonable that legends would speculate on the treatments available to the ultra-wealthy. 

I really enjoyed learning about this legend, and it will be interesting to find out whether or not it will continue to gain popularity. 

Eli Broad and Living Forever


Informant (L) is a neuroscience major at USC double-majoring in art history.

L: This is a folk tale that’s very important to me, um, that I am convinced of is a fact. So, let me set the scene. I used to volunteer at a neuroscience research laboratory that was in one of the two newest buildings at the USC Health Science Campus. Um, and those two buildings are: the Zilka Neurogenic Institute and the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine. Now, Eli Broad, for the unfamiliar, large, like real estate insurance magnate in California, billionaire billionaire, who just passed away in like, April of last year, I think. And so, is there like any more stereotypical, like on his deathbed, billionaire thing, to like write a giant grant for, then for like a fucking STEM cell research, like make-me-live-forever research institute, right? So I’m convinced that when like Broad wrote that grant, there were strings attached. It was not just to build the building. Like there is definitely a couple of USC doctors that are taking care of the body. And here’s the scene: If you go to Grand Ave., to downtown LA, which is like, Broad’s whole mission, was to like make that area upscale, which it is now, you can go to the Broad Museum, which is where his whole collection is. And part of the appeal of it is that you take this miniscule elevator that goes up from the ground floor to the top floor, and you can see through this little window, the large middle one, the large middle floor, which is where they keep all the art that’s in storage, under temperature and humidity control. Now how convenient to have all that temperature and humidity control technology laying around with a reason for it to be there? Is it possible that maybe hidden between all the sculptures, there’s a little case with the cryogenically-frozen head of Eli Broad? Is it possible that this museum is actually a pyramid to this dead man where they keep his corpse and there’s a little live-feed at the end? A video camera or two, sensors, and you got people in the regenerative center that are monitoring that feed and doing their research and just waiting for the day where they can bring the man back?

I: So like the Walt Disney thing?

L: Completely!


Informant was discussing a tale that he claims is true and intends to spread it to as many people as he can.


Fascinations with the mystery surrounding the elite upper echelons of society have been deeply embedded into our culture thanks to media and entertainment news. My informant tells a story about Eli Broad and his supposedly cryogenically-frozen state (which I relate back to Walt Disney). This conspiracy theory is somewhat similar to a memorate, taking observed experiences (the Regenerative Medicine Center, the Broad Museum, and the fact that Broad was extremely rich) and relating it to a traditional narrative belief system (cryogenic state and moderation of Broad). While this tale may be utterly false, my informant’s delivery of the story is particularly interesting—it first uses personal relation to the topic as ethos, then pieces together information in such a way to prove his point, then ends on rhetorical questions to his audience. Such a performance moves the audience emotionally to potentially believe in this theory. In general, the concept of living forever is also a point of fascination to humans, with objects like the Philosopher’s Stone supposedly being able to bring about eternal life. Such a fantastical element is also a compelling point of the narrative.


Description: Poybius is a possibly fictional arcade game that was created during the 90s. There are people who recalled that such a game cabinet existed but no physical copies exist. There are those that believe the cabinets were a part of the MK ULTRA secret experiments 

Background: The informant obtained the information through internet videos.


DT: The supposed creation of an arcade cabinet during the 90s called Polybius. Someone thought it existed, and it spread from there like a Mandela effect, of people remembering something that didn’t actually exist but potentially vaguely similar to it. It’s an urban legend that lasted for a while, and even got assumed it was a part of the MK ULTRA secret experiments. With conspiracy theories coming up that the cabinet was created by the government to give people nightmares as a way to test stuff that leaked from MK ULTRA.

Me: So it(the cabinet) didn’t really exist?

DT: It’s still kinda unclear if a cabinet of the like actually existed or not, but the video I saw concluded that it most likely wasn’t real. I forget the specific evidence to prove this but it’s still kinda up in the air. But regardless of its existence, the crazy effect it had on if people remembered it or not was what really got people involved with it.

My thoughts:

The 90s were a time where rumors about digital media were abundant. Things that come to mind were numerous video game rumors such as the Mew under the truck in pokemon. At the time, the internet was still in its infancy and information was not easily accessible nor entirely accurate. The coupled with the introduction of new technology gave rise to many rumors and theories. Polybius is an example of a product of that time, when people didn’t have ready access to information and when any kind of information can be spoken from anywhere.