The informant is a 20 year old female college student at USC. The performance took place in her dorm room.
Informant: About 10 years ago, there was a girl who died in a hotel right around here in downtown LA. The footage of her acting weirdly in the elevator was all over the Internet. Some people said that she was possessed by demon and other said that she’s crazy. Her body was later found in the water tank at the hotel couple months later. I don’t really know if they’ve figured out what happened to her, but people said that the hotel has been haunted ever since.
The death of Elisa Lam is one of the famous unsolved mystery that happened in Los Angeles. The legend of haunted places often occurred after peculiar death or suicide. Because of the Internet, the legend has spread worldwide. The building has been renovated into affordable housing complex to help the local unhoused population, though most of the rooms remain empty (https://www.latimes.com/california/cecil-hotel-housing-vouchers-latt-123). The history of the hotel is extremely bothering, see link https://thecrimewire.com/multifarious/Los-Angeles-Cecil-Hotel. The video mentioned by informant, see link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TjVBpyTeZM (trigger warning: unsettling scene)
S, a 19-year-old from Houston, Texas, says her fourth grade teacher, Ms. Q, told her about the Urban Legend of the Goat Lady. Ms. Q detailed her own experiences with the Goat Lady, having encountered her in the woods with a couple of her friends during childhood. Ms. Q recalled seeing the Goat Lady stand on her hind legs and stare with lifeless eyes, before barreling rapidly forth towards Ms. Q and her friends. S remembers being absolutely horrified by the retelling of the Goat Lady encounter. S’s family planned a hike in the woods for Easter weekend, but having just heard the story of the Goat Lady, S was terrified to go on the hike with her family. For a while, she was extremely hesitant to go into the woods at all.
According to legend, the Goat Lady is a woman resembling a goat-human hybrid that inhabits the woods of Eastern Texas and eats wandering children who trespass onto her territory. The legend is usually, as is in this example, shared by word of mouth.
Notably, the Goat Lady is said to live in the woods and eat children, which is a common theme in cryptozoology. The woods are often viewed as a liminal space, where fear of the unknown easily takes hold and strange encounters are likely. Often, especially in many early American towns, the woods were viewed as the boundaries of civilization, and beyond civilization, is the perception of savagery. In many cultures, especially Native American cultures, the goat is viewed as a symbol of fertility and sexuality. Therefore, it would make sense for the figure of a woman to be crossed with a goat, given that women are primarily viewed as potential mothers and the bearers of offspring. Additionally, women tend to be inherently more sexualized for these abilities. The Goat Lady’s practice of eating young children could be an obscure depiction of backwards behavior, which juxtaposes the accepted norm of women mothering children in a civil society. The opposite of bearing children is eating them; therefore, the Goat Lady could represent the backwards and savage antithesis to the expected status of mothers in women. Given that the liminal space of the woods is often considered a backwards realm beyond civil society, the Goat Lady can viewed as an emblem of female dissent in opposition to societal norms.
The 27 Club
B first heard about this urban legend when she was in high school during her forensics class. They had done projects on celebrity deaths and the urban legend became a discussion topic.
The context of this piece was during a movie when one of the well-known “members” of the 27 club had a song used in the film.
B: “The 27 club creeped me out at first when we first started talking about it during forensics. I mean I don’t really like English songs like that so I never really knew about the club at first until they brought it up in the presentation. I would of thought it was just a coincidence you know? But I feel like its weird that so many celebrities joined the club. I remember it being like a mysterious death type of thing. I know it was a bunch of famous people that died from stuff like OD’ing or alcohol poisoning, but they all died at 27. I remember being shocked that they died so young, I think that’s why I remembered about the club. It was people like Cobain and that one Wine something girl.
Me: “You mean Amy Whinehouse?”
B: “Yeah that’s her name. I think I remember some people saying they thought they made some kind of devil pact or something to get famous so that’s why they all died at 27.”
I found this interview really interesting because the urban legend of the 27 club had become a cultural phenomenon with a big following in recent times. I think it was interesting to see how someone like B, who by her own admission recognizes her lack of experience with English-speaking musicians or members of the club, would know about this urban legend. It’s also interesting to see how fast an urban legend can gain traction in the media. I think B’s knowledge of the urban legend goes to show how lore is constantly being spread to different types of people. I also think its interesting how the cultural phenomenon evolved into this urban legend as more and more celebrities are joining the list of 27 club members.
The following Argentinian urban legend was told by my old high school history teacher:
“There are many urban legends in Argentina, my favorite being El Familiar. According to the legend originating in the sugar plantation in Salta, Tuchman, and Jujuy, the Argentinian government was struggling economically which meant the sugar industry would take a big hit. However, the titans of the sugar industry found a way around their economic misfortune, by partnering with the Devil. The Devil promised to protect the sugar industry from the failing economy in return for a yearly human sacrifice. The sacrifice would be selected by the sugar industry and then dragged to the Devil in Hell by a decapitated black, rabid dog dragging a chain around its neck. Legend has it, the dog still rabidly wander the sugar plantations searching for its next victim”
Analysis: Although this is only a legend, it has increased religious practices of protection in the northern areas of Argentina. The eminent threat of the Devil leads Argentinians to use rosaries or blessed crucifixes for protection. This is one of my favorite pieces of folklore because I am very interested in urban legends. Although they are never true, they have a great impact on the communities and culture around them. In this case, the old urban legend has decreased unwanted activity in sugar plantations and increased religious faith in northern Argentina.
The following urban legend was told by a Hawaiian native that she learned from her auntie:
“Theres this creepy looking haunted house on the corner of 8th and Harding that they just tore down last summer but they’re trying to rebuild….they shouldn’t. It’s home to a kasha. A kasha is a demon that feeds on human corpses and there’s one probably still living on that plot of land. The kasha first started inhabiting the house after a man killed his wife, son and daughter in his house and buried their bodies on the property. The bodies of the wife and the son have been found but the daughter’s body is still missing…because she’s now the kasha that haunts the Kiamuki house. She tried to claim her first victim in 1942. The police received a desperate phone call from the woman who lived in the house in 1942 claiming that her children were being strangled by a ghost. The police responded to this call and were terrified at what they saw at the house. According to police reports, they witnessed the two children being thrown around and strangled by an unseen entity. After about an hour and a half the policemen were finally able to save the children from the kasha and evacuate the family from the house never to return…but that did not stop different people from moving in. After the family moved out, three women moved into the house and one night the kasha violently grabbed one of the women’s arms. They quickly called the police and they responded and offered to escort the women to another house for the night. On their drive, the kasha reappeared and started choking one of the women. The car pulled over and the two other women struggled to get the kasha off of their friend. The policeman also pulled over and tried to help the women but was restrained by what he describes as a ‘large calloused hand.’ Finally he was able to break free and get the kasha off of the woman. He offered to drive the women to the house but when they got into his car it wouldn’t start so the women returned to their car and all of a sudden both cars worked again. As they drove down the road the policeman recalls seeing the car door get ripped off of the car and thrown into the road by an unseen entity which then continued to drag one of the women out of the car and strangle her to death while her friends and the policeman watched helplessly”
Analysis: This terrifying ghost story might be more than an urban legend with detailed police reports that are still unexplainable, after all how do you explain someone being choked to death by thin air? The informant sounded utterly terrified of this house and claimed she will always take a longer driving route if it means avoiding that neighborhood. The common ghost story motifs are all present in this chilling story because the kasha is a young girl who was tragically murdered who’s purpose is now to inflict harm to others. However, this goes further than a common ghost story because there are detailed police accounts and multiple accounts of attacks on the property. This story has been passed down to generations of Hawaiians as a tale of caution to always avoid the Kaimuki House.