FAIRBANKS — Bigfoot. Nessie. Spectral phantasms floating the Yukon Flats. Scoff if you will, but as Fox Mulder noted, “The truth is out there.”
That’s kind of the approach Mike Esordi takes when researching myths, monsters and creatures from the cryptozoological world — he doesn’t know if they exist, but for Esordi and his team of researchers, it’s a whole lot of fun to explore and try to find out.
Esordi and his team of three researchers will be in Fairbanks on Sept. 4 presenting their findings on and querying the public about those things that go bump in the night, be they bigfoot, UFOs, sea creatures and even monster-type myths native to Bush Alaska.
“Research is just one thing we do,” Esordi said. “We’re also adventurers and crypto adventurers. We do a little bit of everything. We cover five major categories: the paranormal, cryptozoology, extraterrestrial, folklore and monsters. We throw folklore and monsters in there to cover anything out of the ordinary.”
Esordi and his team arrives in Anchorage today from Connecticut, where they will dive right in to all of the bizarre that Alaska has to offer. Plans include visiting the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage to connect with Native storytellers to check out stories of Native legends of sea creatures and sasquatches roaming the Alaska wilds. From there, the group will travel across the state in an RV and visit Denali, Fairbanks, Valdez and several Bush villages all in search of the things that may or may not exist.
“We’re trying to get to as many locales as we can with reports of sightings of bigfoots and UFOs,” Esordi said.
In Fairbanks, Esordi has a lecture and presentation set up at Barnes & Noble Booksellers, where he will present findings and even a cast that he claims is a footprint of a sasquatch. And it’s not just a footprint, he has a bonus, too.
“I’m actually bringing a knuckle print, and you can see a thumbnail in the cast. It’s a cool thing to look at,” he said.
By trade, Esordi is a graphic designer. A work-related trip art directing a photo shoot in the redwoods of Northern California in the early 1990s piqued his bigfoot interest. In between photo shoots, Esordi was exploring the town he was in and came across a chainsaw artist with a studio full of sculptures. One sculpture, an ape-like creature, stood out among the others.
“I kept poking at him, and finally he told me it was a bigfoot he saw,” Esordi said. “I was hooked at that moment as far as this guy actually saw one. It made it come to life for me. The way he told the story was so detailed and so exact. I went back every long weekend and vacation I could to Northern California and kept talking to people about it.”
It was that conversation with the chainsaw artist and his repeated visits that solidified Esordi’s admiration of the unknown. He started investigating sightings, but didn’t stop at sasquatches — he looked into paranormal events, extraterrestrial sightings, even folk tales and legends.
“In traveling around, I’ve noticed all these stories are connected,” he said. “Bigfoots, UFOs, ghost stories. I’ve always thought the stories were fascinating and that led to creating something that explores legends and stories. I now travel around the nation exploring sightings, legends and tales.”
Given the nature of the research, Esordi is not without his detractors who scoff at the thought of an ape-like beast wandering the wilds of the nation. But, he said, don’t immediately put your guard up and block out what might be out there.
“I tell people to look at things differently and open your mind and listen to the stories before you make up your mind,” he said. “If you look into history and see all the reports of strange things as a whole, what a fun thing to look into and research — from bigfoot to ghost stories and monsters. It’s definitely not a hobby. It’s beyond that.”
What is cryptozoology?
Cryptozoology is the study and search for animals and beings whose existence has not been proven. This includes looking for living examples of animals that are considered extinct, such as dinosaurs; animals whose existence lacks physical evidence but which appear in myths, legends, or are reported, such as Bigfoot and Chupacabra; and wild animals dramatically outside their normal geographic ranges, such as phantom cats. The animals cryptozoologists study are often referred to as cryptids.
If you go
What: Believe It Tour, a presentation on cryptozoological creatures, myths and legends.
When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 4
Where: Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 421 Merhar Ave.
FYI: Host and researcher Mike Esordi will have casts of footprints and even a knuckle print from a sasquatch on display.
Contact Features Editor Gary Black at 459-7504 or on Twitter: @FDNMfeatures.