Friday, November 20, 2009

Fat-sucking vampire gang in Peru

You may have seen the AP story about a gang in Peru supposedly murdering people to sell their fat on the black market for cosmetics use.

I might be less skeptical if this wasn't directly in line with centuries of folklore in the region, of the fat-sucking pishtaco. Which of course the AP report does not mention.

Google turns up this volume which I have not read, on the subject

Cholas and pishtacos: Stories of race and sex in the Andes

Edit: This Peruvian story notes the mythological connection up-front, and also quotes a doctor who is highly skeptical, as fat is extracted all the time by plastic surgeons but it has no significant value, and the methods reported probably wouldn't work anyway.

Edit2: Unsurprisingly, this turned out to be untrue. The surprising bit is that it may be covering up something bigger. This is reminiscent of various governments using UFO reports to cover up more clandestine activities.

Edit3: Slate has a researched, long, somewhat meandering and in a mainstream media way, mystery mongering take on all of this, placing it in the larger context of the legends of organ-legging and in the reality of transplant tourism.

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