Cliff Barackman of 'Finding Bigfoot' -- 'Bigfoots live right outside of Portland': TV Press Tour
Published: Friday, August 03, 2012, 10:42 AM Updated: Friday, August 03, 2012, 11:01 AM
By Kristi Turnquist, The Oregonian
Barackman, who lives in Portland, and his fellow bigfoot researchers, James "Bobo" Fay, Matt Moneymaker and the show's resident skeptic/biologist, Ranae Holland, take their investigations into bigfoot sightings around the country seriously. But the critics and reporters on hand were, at least initially, not what you'd call on board.
Getting things off to a bumpy start were questions like this one, directed toward an executive from Animal Planet: "What's made Animal Planet concentrate on bigfoot, have they run out of real animals?"
On Twitter, critics were making snarky comments. But midway through, the tone started to change, as Barackman and his cohorts made a sincere case for keeping an open mind about the existence of bigfoots -- we also learned that's how you refer to bigfoot in plural. (Don't call them bigfeet.)
Also, there's not just one bigfoot, as Barackman believes, based on eyewitness sightings, photos and footprint evidence. He theorizes that bigfoots are primates, a form of ape that may also be very "human-like."
Before the panel, Barackman told me that his interest in researching bigfoot partly accounts for why the Long Beach, Calif., native wound up moving to Portland, about four years ago. "I"m kind of a weird guy, so I feel at home there," Barackman said as we sat in the lobby of the Beverly Hills Hotel, site of the TCA tour.
And, he added, "Bigfoots live right outside of Portland," citing reports of bigfoot encounters in the Sandy River area, and Clackamas County, for example. Not that they're limited to the Northwest, Barackman added, as he and the "Finding Bigfoot" team have so far visited 22 states for the show.
Barackman, 41, first got intrigued by bigfoot, or Sasquatch, investigation when he was in college, and came upon scholarly reports discussing the possibility of bigfoot-like creatures. Though he has a degree in jazz guitar, and has been a schoolteacher (at Cascade Heights Public Charter School, among others) Barackman is now working fulltime on Sasquatch research.
"Finding Bigfoot," which debuted in 2011, has been a hit for Animal Planet, ranking as the cable network's third-most watched show, behind "River Monsters" and "Whale Wars." The new season of shows begins in November, with 11 new episodes.
Barackman, who is single, said that as much as he feels at home in Portland, his Sasquatch travels keep him on the road so much he hasn't been able to spend much time in the Rose City, even though he just bought a house.
And he's not concerned by skeptics who think searching for bigfoot is a rather eccentric, shall we say, calling. "It doesn't matter to me," he said. "When you're right, you don't have to prove it to anybody."
As to whether he's personally seen a bigfoot, Barackman cites the "Finding Bigfoot" episode shot in North Carolina. It was the middle of the night, in the woods, but Barackman thinks the creature he saw wasn't a human, but could very well have been a Sasquatch.
His conclusion: "I might have seen one. But I can't be sure I saw one."