If you get abducted by aliens, they probe your butthole to learn things. Everyone knows that.
Do they, though? Do they really? It’s a bit of an odd thing to do — there are other body parts that would yield a lot more information, plus approaches like “asking” might be useful. Most of the time, your anus is fairly inert. For an alien to ignore your mouth, say, which is much more dynamic, moves in much more varied ways, has vastly more textures and colors and freely produces sound, in favor of a hole that does nowhere near as much stuff seems deeply strange. You can master interplanetary travel but go straight for the fartbox?
Still, it’s an inescapable idea. The pilot episode of South Park is called “Cartman Gets An Anal Probe.” Noted UFO enthusiast Tom DeLonge, when he was still in Blink-182, would introduce Aliens Exist with, “Here’s a song [about] when aliens fly into your butt.”
But again, what could aliens actually learn from going for it buttwise? Rectal exams are reasonably commonplace in medicine, as doctors use them to check for prostate conditions and appendicitis, to identify some digestive issues and evaluate hemorrhoids. Yet, is this really the kind of knowledge aliens are coming all the way to earth for?
“Anal probing wasn’t always a huge thing,” says Neil Nixon, ufologist and author of UFOs, Aliens and the Battle for the Truth: A Short History of Ufology. “One of the people who definitely promoted the idea was Whitley Strieber. Communion, the first of his two books about abductions, has references to that kind of thing in the account he gives. He wasn’t the first, but Communion was a massive-selling book, and that put rocket boosters under the whole idea really.”
Strieber was an established horror author when he experienced an unexplainable incident which, with the help of hypnotic regression, he concluded was an abduction. The book doesn’t dive too deeply into anal probes — hur hur hur — but nasal probes are described in some detail, and rectal pain is one of the things that suggests to Strieber that something strange has taken place. In the subsequent, Strieber-penned movie adaptation (a very odd film, starring Christopher Walken as Strieber in which he’s incredibly relaxed in tense scenes, yelling like a maniac in relaxed ones and showing off his famed dancing skills) the anal probing is made more explicit, with the probe resembling a microphone, leading Strieber to ask, “Can we talk this over? It looks like you’re going to sing White Christmas.”
While Strieber was arguably the first purported abductee to make explicit mention of anal probing, there were elements present in the canon of high-profile abduction cases that, when looked at with anal probes on the mind, certainly seem to be in that wheelhouse.
Barney and Betty Hill’s reported abduction in 1961 is sometimes seen as the blueprint for all subsequent alien-abduction stories. The pair were driving back from a vacation in Montreal to their home in New Hampshire when they experienced a chunk of missing time, traveling 30 miles with no recollection of it. Over the next few days, they discovered more and more unusual things — odd marks on their car which compasses reacted to, unusual residue and scratches on their clothing and shoes. Barney felt a strange compulsion to examine his genitals. Later, under hypnosis, they described being taken on board a spaceship and probed by aliens. Barney described a finger-like device pressing against the base of his spine.
In October 1973 in Pascagoula, Mississippi, 42-year-old Charles Hickson and 19-year-old Calvin Parker claimed to be abducted by aliens while fishing. They said they were taken on board a ship, conscious but paralyzed and examined by three creatures with “robotic slit mouths” and “crab-like pincers.” While they didn’t specify a rectal exam, Parker later told journalists, “They gave a thorough, I mean a thorough, examination to me just like any doctor would.” Hickson described a “football-shaped probe.” They were so shaken by their experience, in fact, that they had to have several shots of whiskey afterwards.
Again, it’s hard not to read anal probing into their stories if looking for it, and reading (probing) between the lines (cheeks).
Like Strieber, Nixon explains, the Hills, Hickson and Parker used hypnosis to piece together fragmented memories of their incidents, a common way of abductees recalling their experiences. “Researchers like Budd Hopkins and John E. Mack used hypnotic regression to get people’s stories, and [anal probing] occasionally cropped up there,” he says. “The strong belief in that period of abduction research was that there was a hybridization program going on — that the aliens had got to a point in their evolution where they needed genes from humanity. The anal probing was almost like a sideline. It clearly has sexual implications, as does the hybridization thing, as people were reporting having ova and sperm taken from them. There were even hypnotically regressed recollections of women who’d been taken back on board spacecraft to see their their hybrid children.”
One 1957 encounter, which Strieber retells in his book, concerns a man in Brazil who was taken on board a ship, stripped and washed. An alien disguised as a naked woman entered the room and, as Strieber tells it, “She made love to him, pointed to her belly and then to the sky, and left him. Later, he was taken into a room with some males and attempted to steal a clock.” (Strieber’s storytelling style is completely maddening.)
As Nixon explains, the more anal probing became part of the idea of alien abduction, the more people mentioned it. Tales of abduction are as trend-based as anything else, with a huge uptick in incidents in 1978, the year after Close Encounters of the Third Kind came out. “This was all fueled by two things,” he says. “Firstly the best-selling literature of the time kept repeating the general claims — Communion, Budd Hopkins’ Missing Time, John E. Mack’s Abduction. The more it was repeated and reported, the more a pattern seemed to be established in the media. And secondly, the newspapers could get sex in there without seeming to be deliberately salacious, and sex sells newspapers. Stories of intimate sexual hybridization, up to and including anal probing experiments, are very eye-catching.”
In the 1980s and 1990s, there was a lot of money in alien abduction stories, the saucier the better. While some were clearly grifters just trying to make a few bucks, there were also many that seemed to offer compelling evidence of something real, only to fall apart entirely when examined closely.
But today, our idea of what aliens might be has kind of moved on. We expect aliens to be, well, more alien these days — little green men in flying saucers have been left behind in favor of more complex ideas about what distant and advanced civilizations might resemble.
Anyway, has anyone actually been abducted by aliens and had their anus probed? And will we ever have genuine evidence of such a thing happening? Nixon is skeptical, his lifetime of research and seeing endless seemingly-convincing stories fall apart preventing him from ever getting too excited. Or as he tells me, “Part of the history of ufology is that you have amazing cases and eye-watering research that are just about to prove everything to everybody, and then it all goes to shit.”