Few people outside of Virginia’s 5th Congressional District knew who Denver Riggleman was until Sunday night, when it was revealed that the Republican candidate for congress was, according to his opponent, a “devotee of Bigfoot erotica.”
With a single tweet, Riggleman became semi-infamous, associated in the minds of Twitter-denizens with the picture from his personal Instagram account, depicting a nude Bigfoot with a large black bar with the word “censored” over the creature’s, well, penis.
But in an interview with The Daily Beast on Monday morning, Riggleman said that his Democratic opponent Leslie Cockburn had him all wrong. For starters, he said he did not draw the pictures and they’re the result of years-long joking with his military buddies.
More to the point, though, he wasn’t into Bigfoot erotica at all. He was merely involved in a years-long study into why people believed that the giant furry creature exists and, as part of that study, he is finishing a book about those beliefs that will be done in parody form akin to the style of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
“For me, the book really is an anthropological study on all the people who believe in Bigfoot and the different Bigfoot belief systems out there. That’s it,” Riggleman said. “This is a real subculture in the United States and it’s hundreds of thousands of people that believe.”
Tight congressional races often do break down on obscure issues or debates. But rarely, if ever, has Bigfoot and his genitalia been such a pronounced component of such a critical contest. Virginia’s 5th is a traditionally red seat including the city of Charlottesville. But the retirement of its incumbent, Rep. Tom Garrett (R-VA), who vacated his seat after revealing that he is an alcoholic, has left a wide opening for Democrats. And Riggleman’s odd professional interests has created an even wider opening for Cockburn, who seems intent on taking advantage of it.
“This is not what we need on Capitol Hill,” she tweeted on Sunday night, alongside the censored picture of Bigfoot’s Johnson, which had been taken from Riggleman’s personal Instagram account.
Another image, which she also posted, included the title of an upcoming book authored by Riggleman and called “Mating Habits of Bigfoot and Why Women Want him.”
The attack left Riggleman in the exceedingly odd place of having to either denounce work that was done under his name or allow himself to be associated with soft Bigfoot porn. He chose a third way: downplaying the eroticism with a touch of humor. “It has nothing to do with Bigfoot erotica which makes me laugh by the way,” he said. “I’m sure Bigfoot erotica writers are excited everywhere.”
Bigfoot erotica is an actual thing—a subset of pornographic literature that basically is depictions of monsters in sexual poses or acts. This, Riggleman insisted, is not even close to his bag. He says he doesn’t believe Bigfoot exists and was mostly relaying a bunch of running jokes from military pals. The headline of his work may leave a different impression. But he doesn’t care. He’s editing the work and hopes to release it in a couple of months, potentially prior to this very election.
“I’m not gonna change the title,” Riggleman said in a phone interview on Monday. “Absolutely not. It’s funny, I love it.”
Riggleman is an Air Force veteran and the owner of a distillery in Virginia and said that his national security background was actually helpful in his inquisitive research on the subject of Bigfoot. Prior to this upcoming book, he also co-authored a short story in 2006 called “Bigfoot Exterminators Inc: The Partially Cautionary, Mostly True Tale of Monster Hunt 2006.” In the short epic, written with Don Barone, a former writer for ESPN, there are passages including the narrator touching “Bigfoot Balls” with a walking stick; Denver getting an “ass massage;” a reference to baiting Bigfoot with “menstrual blood;” and an assertion that “Bigfoots like sex too.”
“When you interview people that have different belief systems, you start to see that there’s even different belief systems within the Bigfoot community,” Riggleman said of his work. “And it’s a little bit like politics.”
Barone told The Daily Beast that he had met Riggleman “on a bigfoot hunt ESPN sent me on,” the result of which was an article published in the mid-aughts.
“It wasn’t really a book just a short story featured back a decade or so ago on a thing called “Amazon Shorts,” he said of the short story. “I just wrote it for laughs and it had a recipe section on how to grill bigfoot and unicorns, but it was all just for laughs on the Amazon Short gig.”
The whole experience of the last 12-16 hours has been educational and humorous, the candidate said. But he realized that he had to address it after he was informed that the topic of Bigfoot erotica was trending on Twitter. He said that when people read the book, they will think Cockburn’s campaign was “maybe insane” for portraying it as erotic fiction. He also noted, tongue-in-cheek, that he didn’t “want to alienate Bigfoot voters in the 5th District.”