August 10, 2008

The Nantes Chameleon

Holy crap. Check out this fascinating New Yorker piece.

Serial missing child impersonator, 30 year old Frenchman Frédéric Bourdin, has hopped continents successfully pretending to be various missing or fictitious kids -- Benjamin Kent, Jimmy Morins, Alex Dole, Sladjan Raskovic, Arnaud Orions, Giovanni Petrullo, and Michelangelo Martini among them.

That is until, trying to escape yet another pinch, he decided to try to pass himself off as missing Texan teenager Nicholas Barclay. He arrived in Texas to be "reunited" with Barclay's family, having no idea that Barclay's family were also being deceitful -- pretending to be overjoyed by their returned lost loved one, who maybe hadn't "disappeared" after all.

At first I thought this was going to be a Christopher Rocancourt story (see the Vanity Fair story "The Counterfeit Rockefeller"), but this guy wasn't manipulating for profit, mostly for weird emotional reasons.

But back to the family of Nicholas Barclay -- imagine that you and your mother are responsible for the death of your brother. Three years after he dies, you get a call that says he's alive, and he's coming home. Then a total stranger lives in your house for five months. You know he's not your brother. And he knows he's not your brother. But if any one of you tells the truth, you all go to prison.

And yes, it was all I could do not to pair this piece up with a picture of Boy George with the rainbow dreads he had in the Karma Chameleon phase.


Mo said...

Woah. What the hell...?

Elizabeth McQuern said...

I know! You couldn't write a story that amazing.