Wachikanoka-King of the Snake Men
While doing the morning show at WTIX in New Orleans I ran across an article in Variety magazine. It said, "Wahchikanoka, an Indian from North Dakota, has been bitten so many times by rattlesnakes that he is immune to their venom." I called his manager and asked him if he would be interested in doing a promotion for WTIX, in New Orleans. He said that he would and that's when the most bazarr promotion of it's kind started to unfold.
The plan was to bury Wah in a "Grave of Snakes" at a well known shopping center in New Orleans. Wahchikanoka was to vow that he would stay burried alive in the grave of snakes until WTIX doubled it's listening audience .................or THE SNAKES GET HIM.
A six foot deep grave was dug in the middle of the parking lot at Gentilly Woods Shopping Center. WTIX had also sold the promotion to the shopping center. We put up a tent over the grave of snakes and had it set up so that people could pass by and look at Wah in the grave with all of the snakes crawling over him. (50 cents a head to look).
The stage was set. We had been honking the promotion on the air for two weeks prior to the burial. I got in touch with a snake farm in La Place, Louisiana and made a deal with them to supply us with 32 rattlesnakes and 34 cotton mouths. We were ready to bury the Snake Man. Needless to say the whole city was talking about it. Our competition sat back stunned and amazed.
The night of the burial had arrived. The local newspapers and all of the area television stations were there to cover the event. One by one Wah took the snakes out of their bags and dropped them into the grave. The snake that you see in the picture turned and bit Wah in the arm as he was about to drop it into the pit. The right fang stuck in his arm and a stream of blood trickled down his arm. The Times Pickyune photographer caught the picture and it was on the front page of the paper the next day along with the story. You couldn't ask for better free publicity. That article along with the TV coverage and our talking it up on the air brought people by the thousands to see the Snake Man.
Wahchikanoka stayed buried with the snakes for almost three weeks. During that time his food and bathroom stuff was lowered to him. He didn't come out for anything until the promotion was over.
Special surveys (that we took) showed that our listening audience had doubled so it was time to loose the Snake Man. An equally impressive event was staged for his coming out party.
Years later I learned that Wachikanoka had killed himself.