This is an unprecidented third Shavertron interview with James W. Moseley. True, it's been 20 years since his last interview, but who knows? Something big must have happened in the meantime, or has it? We try to get to the bottom of saucerdom's deepest darkest secrets, and peddle our own pet peeves. Moseley is credited as editor of the world's oldest published flying saucer zine, and has been a central figure in saucerdom since he jumped into The Field back in 1953. He and fellow traveler Gray Barker came up with some infamous ufo hoaxes during their checkered careers. Moseley resides in Key West, Florida.

RT: By all accounts, your book "Confessions of a Grave-Robbing Ufologist" is one of the best insider accounts of the early flying saucer scene. And even better, it's highly entertaining!

JM: That's what everyone who's read it seems to feel, but it never got enough publicity so it didn't sell well.

I had a co-author [Karl Pflock] who was savvy with computers and contacts, but he's dead; the agent resigned some time before that so - ha! - there's not much of a trail there I can hook into. The publisher was Prometheus, and they do mostly skeptical books, so we were both amazed at the time that they accepted this one. It's not totally skeptical at all.

What happened was they lost money on the book. I never got any royalties other than the advance. Then when I wanted to do my grave-robbing book, which is even more off the skeptical line, they seemed like they might want it and kept it dangling for a long time, until they finally turned it down. I'm sure it's because they lost money on the first one.

I was so devastated that Pflock died. I think we could have found some way to get the grave-robbing book done. The way it is now, it'll never happen.

RT: Maybe Shavertron can help you sell 2 more copies.

JM: I only want to sell one more copy, otherwise I'll have to go through my records and find the address of the Prometheus warehouse, where I assume they have five million copies stored somewhere, and then you know, get them to send me a few.

I was on an Internet radio show two or three weeks ago with Dennis Crenshaw. He has a book coming out on this guy Dellschau, from the 1890s airship flap, which is a fascinating story. But anyway, he has this little Internet radio show.

Now I knew it wasn't too big a deal, because I had to call them at the right time - they wouldn't call me. I was on for two hours and gave out my address several times, and they were very nice about it, but guess how many replies I got?


RT: A lot?

JM: Not...a lot. As I say in the next issue (Saucer Smear's March 2009 ish - Ed) it was somewhere between minus one and one. There's a range in there, if you can just pin it down.

Real radio is something else, but even that isn't what it used to be. If you get on [George] Noory's show, that's it. Actually, that ruined me with my saucer book. I knew Whitney Strieber, and he was a guest host [for Noory] at the time. I called [Strieber's] wife to see if they would bill me. She said no, you're too negative. And that was it - no review and I never got on that show. That would have sold a few.

RT: In researching a recent article on Ray Palmer, I found that saucer fans of the 1940s and 50s and science fiction fans of the same era, were very similar in how they organized themselves. Both formed clubs and held conventions, for instance.

JM: That's very interesting. Even more so because - I know this from the 50s, and it probably still goes on - science fiction writers hated the saucer believers. They were in totally different camps, no matter how similar they might have been. Science fiction writers felt very superior, and in a way they were. They had a background in real science, and as you can see from reading any of the contactees, they didn't have a clue.

You know who I met around 1953? Hugo Gernsback. I went to his office one day to interview him. I didn't realize what a legend he was at the time. I think he had an office in New York. Isn't he considered to be sort of the founder of science fiction?

RT: He bought Ray Palmer's first science fiction story. It's interesting to me that the saucer mythos emerged from the science fiction publishing scene of the early 50s; science fiction was losing popularity at that same time, and many sci-fi writers got desperate and turned to soft-core porn writing.

JM: I don't know about that part of it, but I knew Lester del Rey. He was a regular on Long John Nebel's radio show. He was rabidly anti-saucer, and so were a couple other writers, I cant think of their names now.

RT: Ray Palmer was the exception; a science fiction editor and writer who promoted flying saucers.

JM: Well, he straddled both worlds and was hated by both worlds. I liked him. He was a very intelligent guy with a foot in both camps.

RT: John Keel used to say that Palmer organized saucer fandom just like he organized science fiction fandom.

JM: He is given credit in some circles for being the father of the flying saucer mystery, which to a degree he is.

RT: In your book you mention "The Fact" and how Palmer said he knew this revelation or "Fact" about the saucer mystery. You're offering a prize to anyone who can tell you what The Fact is. Has anyone written in yet?

JM: One guy [Ed Grabowski, Saucer Smear 8-10-2002, if anyone is interested-Ed] got it pretty close to right, and I did give him a free lifetime subscription.

As I get older, I see more clearly that interplanetary, nuts and bolts saucers are a load of shit. And I feel even more strongly that there is something going on here that is extremely weird and complex and not recognized by science as a legitimate mystery. Yet, it's there.

RT: Keel came up with his ultraterrestrials.

JM: Yeah, but you know - I guess I don't like Keel because he doesn't like me - he's not the only one to say things like that. Vallee is much more believable.

RT: Charles Fort was leaning in that direction too.

JM: Yes. I'm not going to give Keel the privilege of thinking that he was the first to start this notion. He may have coined the word ultraterrestrial, but he didn't coin the concept. Not by a long shot.

RT: Do you think Palmer deserves some kind of recognition for his contribution to the Field?

JM: He was maybe not THE pioneer, but certainly one of the pioneers. As you know, I was never a fan of Shaver, but I was a fan of Palmer. Gray Barker was a hardcore fan of Palmer.

He wasn't just your run of the mill crackpot or contactee, he was a very bright guy. You wouldn't know that until you met him and talked to him. Other than that you'd think he was some kind of idiot or something, but that wasn't the case at all.

In 1967 - I hope everyone in the world knows this, but possibly not - I had the largest indoor ufo convention that had ever been held. I asked Palmer to come, and he was willing. I don't know if he wanted expenses or what, but very little money was involved. He was going to drive, because he had some hang-up about flying. He was booked to come, but then Ken Arnold [also invited to come] was just the opposite. He and Palmer were close friends. From what little I saw of [Arnold], he was a son of a bitch. He wanted, I forget, $3,000 or $4,000 to come. When Palmer got wind of that, he decided he wanted money too, and in the end neither one of them came. That's how I lost out on Palmer at my convention. I met him 10 years later at the Fate convention in 1977. Now that was a unique convention in Chicago. Allen Hynek was there. He gave an interesting speech. I don't know why Fate never did that again.

RT: Gray Barker wrote one of his first regular saucer columns for Palmer.

JM: Yes, he did, and that same column was written at other times by Timothy Green Beckley. Beckley just now came out with a reprint of Pioneers of Space.

RT: Not only that! He's been reprinting Palmer's The Hidden World series. But getting back to Palmer, you probably don't agree that Palmer "invented" flying saucers, as some say he did.

JM: Now some people a little bit further down the line blame Gray Barker for creating the saucer thing. I knew Barker very well. And I don't think he created it either. He blurred the lines as handily as anyone else did, I think.

RT: When you and Barker came up with the Sraith letter hoax, you must have realized how easy it would be to blur those lines for saucer contactees and believers.

JM: Oh yeah! Now, just within the last five years, there was a guy, oh god, I'm trying to remember the tie in, he was in league with [Adamski], promoting all his stuff. Over time I finally convinced him on the phone that it was a hoax. Told him that I sat there while we did it! He thought the Straith letter authentic and refused to believe it was a hoax, even when I told him it was a hoax. Some people are so wedged into their belief system that there's nothing that will convince them.

RT: When you mailed that letter did you and Barker agree to a certain time that you'd reveal it was a hoax?

JM: No, no, no. It's kind of interesting, because I thought, like a lot of hoaxers do, that it's no fun in the long run unless you take credit for it; and as a sort of integrity thing, you don't want it to hang out there forever. I told Gray, "when you die, I'm going to tell the truth about the Straith letter." He died in December 1984 and the first issue [of Smear] in 1985 had the confession.

RT: I thought it was way earlier than that.

JM: Oh no, Barker didn't want me to and, you know, I deferred to him.

RT: Did you follow it as it evolved through the years?

JM: It didn't really evolve. It was just etched in stone. It was hilarious. People would write or telephone the State Department and ask for R. E. Straith. And the State Dept. fed into the legend, stupidly, without realizing it. They always gave a different answer. "R.E. Straith was not available" or "he was on a different assignment" or "he didn't exist." If they sent something by mail, it was sent back "refused - person not known" or not sent back at all. There was no consistency in how they handled it and that fed the fire and kept it going.

RT: I find the hoaxes can be as interesting at the so-called real story.

JM: Other people were interested enough to file a FOIA request on Straith to the State Dept. and the FBI.

RT: Were you mentioned in either file?

JM: See, that's the beauty of it. The documents were not in sequence and names were blotted out. So no, I never saw any names on those papers. If I didn't know the whole background myself, I couldn't have followed what the hell they were talking about.

It's legendary but true. Gray Barker got paranoid after the FBI visited him. He became so paranoid after that, he took the typewriter he'd written [the letter] on, went to a construction site, and got the typewriter encased in a cement wall. He wouldn't even tell me what wall it was or where. Sometime in the far distant future, they're gonna tear down that wall and find an ancient typewriter and not have the slightest idea of who did it or why.

RT: Why is it that the Maury Island Incident [June 21, 1947] gets short shrift compared to Roswell. Maury Island had a much more complex and interesting story attached to it. But Roswell keeps plugging along.

JM: I never paid much attention to Maury Island. I never made up my mind about it. It could have been a hoax, and I know there was some pseudo paranormal stuff that went on with it, but what made it sound important was that fact that that plane crashed and those guys were killed. If there hadn't been military deaths involved, it never would have gotten as much play.

RT: And the mysterious Fred L. Crisman was involved in Maury Island.

JM: Crisman is an interesting character. He in some minor way was also involved later with Dr. Frank Stranges. They were partners in something. Stranges just died recently. There is a Crisman connection there.

RT: But you don't go for Roswell.

RT: I'm not an expert on Roswell, it's too f***ing complex. You could write a 600-page book on it and still not include all the ramifications on it. I mean, it's still going on - new witnesses, sons and daughters of witnesses are showing up. There'll never be an end to it.

RT: I wonder if Maury Island gets less attention because it involved Ray Palmer?

JM; I don't know about that, but what's equally interesting is that not only was Maury Island forgotten, but for years and years every school kid, so to speak, knew that the modern flying saucer era began with Kenneth Arnold, June 24, 1947. But now years later, (the Roswell bullshit didn't start until 1980) so in recent years, since Roswell has become so big, Arnold is completely forgotten. If you ask the same school kid the same question, they think it all began with Roswell, which it didn't.

RT: You subscribe to the Mogul balloon crash theory of Roswell, but you've often said that Roswell didn't "catch on" for many years after the event.

JM: If it was a Mogul, it crashed in early June. But it was three or four weeks later before the farmer noticed it. He saw this craft on his property and didn't think it was important enough to do anything about until Kenneth Arnold and all the newspapers were full of the flying saucer thing. There was a big flap after Kenneth Arnold's sighting. So in early July, which was almost a month later, he brought this stuff into town and the whole ta-doo began. It had sat there almost a month and nobody gave a shit.

In other words, Roswell was forgotten for 37 years and the Air Force would never have made the stupid mistake of saying that a flying saucer had landed, if the newspapers hadn't been full of flying saucers for the ten days since Kenneth Arnold's sighting. That was in the middle of the first saucer flap.

RT: I think it all gets back to the personalities involved in these ufo stories, you know, the ones who start to obsess. UFO personalities are pretty much the focus of Saucer Smear. But was SS always called Saucer Smear?

JM: Oh no. Now that's a long, boring story! Saucer News began in 1954 and I just recently got proof that it is indeed the oldest flying saucer magazine in the world. But it had a hiatus for a while in the early 70s, and when it came back into being it was no longer Saucer News. I used all different names for it. By 1980 I settled on Saucer Smear.

RT: Was that when it turned more to the sacuer researchers themselves?

JM: No, not really. That was my vent from the beginning. There was no particular point that I got into it. But Saucer Smear has a whole different format than Saucer News. If you've ever seen any of the old SNs it had articles by the leading saucer researchers and kept up to date on sightings that were going on. SN was about 24 pages; SS is 8 pages. But my attitude of what saucers really are has changed over the years.

RT: Do you still type up SS on a typewriter?

JM: Oh I still do. I was doing it just now when the f***ing phone rang.

RT: That's what I love about SS. It's a blast from the past. I kind of miss the typewriter and the cutting and pasting and envelopes. And I miss the letters, from pissed-off readers like the ones you sometimes get in your Missives from the Masses letter section.

JM: It's funny. I don't get many negative letters anymore.

RT: There was the one letter in the latest Smear, from a guy who seemed pretty pissed at Kevin Randle's attack on your Roswell ideas.

JM: Oh yeah. That was an update situation. And Randal is, what can we say, he is probably the living encyclopedia of every godamn witness for Roswell; when they died, blah blah, if and when they changed their story and why. I mean every detail. But I hadn't realized how dogmatic he is. His blog is fairly reasonable, but when I started to needle him about certain aspects of Roswell, he got pissed off and we had a feud in just the last few weeks.

RT: None of these personalities like to be criticized. You made a point in Smear that some saucer lore is like religious dogma.

JM: Roswell (we call it the Holy City) has become dogma. It's become so humorous in some ways, like the woman who runs the museum in Roswell, Julie Schuster. She doesn't like me at all, I guess because I go for Mogul and she goes for interplanetary. She has, shall we say, stirred the controversy in her own way in recent years, and each of the people involved has some obvious motive ... hers being to make money for the museum. For most of them, it's for ego or whatever. Randal doesn't make any money from it anymore. He's just an egomaniac enjoying the trivia of Roswell.

RT: But how much more money can someone squeeze out of Roswell without there being any more new developments?

JM: Yeah, well, there has and there hasn't. There's always something new. There was a guy who wrote a book a few months ago, where he - oh, it's a long thing - somebody mailed him a LONG manuscript, supposedly written by a nurse from Roswell who conveniently died after sending this manuscript.

It has to do with her experience, shall we say, debriefing a live alien who landed in Roswell. It gets into hundreds of pages of detail about interplanetary organization, and on and on and on. And that's brand new. [The author] set it up so no one can check it out, because he refuses to give out the name of the woman who sent him the manuscript and he even says that he's not going to try to prove anything with it, that he's just presenting it to the world. In the end, it made very little splash because he's almost saying it's a crock of shit, don't bother with it.

RT: Is Randal the main proponent of Roswell these days?

JM: Oh no, he's just the one who's most into the horrible details. I guess the loudest guy would be Friedman (Stanton).

RT: While we're on the UFO personality subject, Ray Palmer did state that he was the first true flying saucer investigator starting with Maury Island.

JM: He was probably right there, I guess. But when I think of Palmer, I think of Shaver, who I think was a mental case. Palmer publicized [the Shaver Mystery] as factual. That would be my impression of Palmer. I don't know if it's fair or not. I mean if I was going to blame him for something, it wouldn't be for Maury Island, it'd be for the whole thing on Shaver.

Incidentally, before I forget to tell you, I got a couple of letters from Shaver. I should have saved them, but I didn't. I guess he wrote to a lot of people, and at some point, way, way back he wrote me a couple letters. But I was busy at the time, and I thanked him and said, you have some interesting points, blah blah blah. I never properly answered him and so I didn't hear from him again. I think it was when he was starting to sell the rocks that have subliminal images in them.

RT: Will there be a sequel to your "Confessions of a Grave Robbing Ufologist?" Or a movie - More Confessions of a Grave Robbing Ufologist?

JM: I'm getting old and tired myself, and some of the material I would have used is lost and some of the people I would have interviewed have died. It's just that the trail is getting very cold.

The same guy who did a documentary on Gray Barker is now - and you'll wait a long time before you'll see this on the screen - is now working with scriptwriters. They want to come up with a fictionalized version of Barker's life for a full-length motion picture. Ha! Don't hold your breath! But I liked this part: of course it's all fictionalized and I won't be in the movie, but they'll give me a payoff to the tune of a few grand just to use my name. Of course, I'd at least want to see the script to make sure it isn't too insane, so I'd get paid off just because this movie exists. Now that sounds good to me.