Cuddly kittens, bikini-clad supermodels and hunky fireman all have been considered suitable subjects for publishers pushing calendars on us. But instead of cute or attractive images, one company has decided to produce a truly twisted time-tracker: The 2007 Serial Killer Calendar.
April features John Wayne Gacy, convicted of killing 33 young men and boys, while May is for Jeffrey Dahmer, who ate 17 men. June features Satan worshipper and murderer Richard Ramirez, the "Night Stalker."
The calendar depicts some of the world's most notorious murderers as painted by "the vampire of Paris," Frenchman Nico Claux, who himself served seven years for murder.
Purple Inc., the Bangor, Maine-based company that produced the calendar and distributes it through specialty retailers and on the Internet, said initial response has been so strong that the company is planning a sequel and a line of posters.
"A lot of people are titillated by serial killers," said Lana Wachniak, a sociology professor and associate dean of Kennesaw State University in Georgia. "I call them serialphiles. Some people want insight into that kind of depravity. Others get a kind of vicarious thrill. And others see it almost as a kind of talisman, a way to keep violence away," she said.
"It stimulates in all of us a simple version of the dark side," said Kristopher T. Saunders, Purple's chief executive.
More than 30 states have so-called "Son of Sam" laws that require criminals to donate any money made on book, movie or other deals relating to their crimes to victims or the state, but such rules often do not cover "murderabilia" items like the Serial Killer Calendar.
In Massachusetts, a bill proposed by state Rep. Peter J. Koutoujian, a Democrat, would prevent criminals from profiting excessively from the sale of memorabilia that exploited their own notoriety.
But something like the Serial Killer Calendar would be excluded since Claux's portraits are of other criminals, Koutoujian said. "This is an area of free speech and commerce," he said. "And you can't legislate taste or integrity."
That's a good thing for the sellers of this "product," which is completely absent of both.
- Forget the quintessential image of the British butler as the epitome of discreet decorum — a U.K. company has decided to ask Jeeves to get naked.
- A theme park in Japan has introduced its latest stomach-turning frozen treat — rattlesnake ice cream.
According to Canada's Edmonton Sun, Namjatown, in western Tokyo, is known for its offbeat ice cream flavors including cow's tongue, Indian curry, wasabi, shrimp, and saury, a type of fish. "I tried the saury ice cream," one park attendee was quoted as saying. "It was disgusting. But you should really try it." These flavors are odd even for Japan, a country where seaweed-based snack chips and sea urchin sushi are popular. One cashier said most people who buy the ice cream don't return for seconds. But it's not entirely clear whether the nausea you may feel is due to the terrible taste or the product's $10.20 price.