Tag Archives: three

Bloody Mary (or Candyman)

Information about my Informant

My informant grew up in Hacienda Heights where he went to high school, and received his bachelor’s degree from USC. He is a game designer and is currently working for a social mobile gaming company based in Westwood.


“If you, like, look into a mirror, and you say…something three times, usually like ‘Bloody Mary’ or ‘Candyman.’ Those are like two. Um, you like summon them. And it’s very bad. Uh…”

Collector: “Why is it bad? Do they…”

“I don’t know. It’s one of those like you don’t wanna do it, and it’s kind of scary and then you never never do it, I guess? ‘Cause you’re too scared.”

Collector: “So you don’t know what happens when they appear?”

“No, like, there could be presents. I don’t know. They could hurt you horribly; I don’t know.”


The Bloody Mary legend is famous among children of many cultures, although it is mostly associated with young prepubescent girls and not boys. The reason being, it is conjectured, is that the Bloody Mary legend in its traditional form is a representation of the onset of menstruation that is in the future for these girls (with the constant concept of blood and with the ritual being performed in front of a mirror that reflects the girls’ own images, meaning that when Bloody Mary does appear in the mirror, she is replacing the image of the girl herself). It is unusual then that in this version that my informant provided me with, it is not only a boy who learned about this but that his version included the possible substitute of a figure called the Candyman. I myself had heard of Bloody Mary but never this male figure. The ritual is very similar, with a candle being lit and the name of Candyman being chanted  a number of times while looking into a mirror. The classic version of Candyman though, as far as I can tell, before the movie called Candyman came out in 1992, was that the Candyman when summoned would either glare at the summoner through the mirror with  his glowing red eyes before vanishing or would kill the summoner with a rusted hook. There is also now a version, which I’m not sure existed before the movie came out, where the Candyman would romantically pursue a female summoner and kill her if she spurned him. It’s interesting that the classic versions of Candyman seems to involve more malevolence (staring, killing) than the classic versions of Bloody Mary (staring, scratching perhaps), but it’s difficult to tell as both figures have been prominently featured in mass media now and their portrayals there have filtered back into the folklore.

For more information about the Bloody Mary and Candyman legends, see:

Dundes, Alan. “Bloody Mary in the Mirror: A Ritual Reflection of Pre-Pubescent Anxiety.” Western Folklore 57.2/3 (1998): 119-135. JSTOR. Web. 1 May. 2014. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/1500216>.

Tucker, Elizabeth. “Ghosts in Mirrors: Reflections of the Self.” The Journal of American Folklore, 118.468: 186-203. JSTOR. Web. 1 May. 2014. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/4137701>.

Ritual – American

When at the free throw line- 3 dribbles and a deep breath then shoot

My informant grew up playing and watching basketball, so it would make sense that he would play for his middle and upper school basketball teams.  Since my informant grew up watching basketball, he saw many different players approach the free throw line every game and do something before they let the ball out of their hands for the shot.  After watching basketball for many years, my informant developed his own technique.  It is common for players to dribble the ball and then shoot, but my informant added his own touch, “the deep breath.”  He said the reason for this method before shooting a free throw is to “give me a method before each shot to get a rhythm and make sure all free throws are consistent.”  Moreover, it is obvious that this method is done while the informant gets fouled and goes to the free throw line.

The reason why this ritual is so important in my informant’s world today is because he loves basketball.  Whether it is going outside on a warm day to play a pick-up game or just watching a game on ESPN, my informant just loves being a part of the game of basketball.  He grew up as a huge fan of the NBA, so it makes complete sense that basketball means so much to his life.  Even though his favorite hobby is music, he loves doing anything involving basketball.

When I interview my informant, I asked him what he thought of this free throw ritual and he said “it works and as long as it keeps my head in the game I will continue to use it.  My view on this ritual is that it is an extremely good idea, because basketball is such a complicated sport that one needs a certain ritual on a free throw.  If one doesn’t have a set ritual, it makes the game that much more confusing.  The free throw is the one part of the game that allows one to pause for a few seconds and take everything in.  You are standing at a line to shoot two free shots with no one guarding you, and because of this it helps to have a ritual to make this situation a calm one.