This project is a reimagining of the Jersey Devil myth. For my story, the 13th child of that cursed mother is more akin to a 90s-era Riot Grrrl and her life experiences as a Cryptid. The marginalization and misunderstanding she encountered inform her desire to effect change. So, Leeds sets out to reeducate her community, largely through the creation and distribution of her zine “Jersey Dvvvl”. Therein lies the genesis of “First Wave Cryptism” and the rallying cry: CRYPTIDS TO THE FRONT!
You’ve heard of the Jersey Devil. That goat headed wyvern with horns, bat wings and a forked tail. Its mother, frustrated by an unwanted pregnancy, cursed the unborn child. That much is true. Contrary to subsequent reports, the Devil had not taken to lurking in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Rather, she haunted the halls of a high school in the New Jersey highlands. Allow me to spin the tale of Leeds, the Jersey Devil …
THE CURSE may have been responsible for Leeds's Cryptid nature but her mother’s distance was the colder cross to bear.
Cryptids often found themselves shut out of normal society. Leeds, however, was not one to bury her individuality. Rather, Leeds was the type to carve out space where none was given.
Simply dreaming and not becoming her dreams was not acceptable to Leeds. She would THUS create opportunity through a revolutionary kind of courage.
It was a WAKE UP CALL turned CALL TO ACTION when Leeds became aware of the school district policy: "Cryptids are not permitted to participate in intramural sports." Although Leeds’s conviction in the punk rock credo: “you can do anything” was momentarily shaken, she reminded herself that often times you must accomplish your goals ON YOUR OWN TERMS.
Even for one as brave as Leeds, there was a need to encourage and BE encouraged.
And so the rallying cry was sounded: “CRYPTIDS TO THE FRONT!” There was scant toleration left for a society who told Leeds: Cryptids=Evil, Cryptids=Bad, Cryptids=Dumb.
Leeds puts pencil to paper and herein lies the genesis of FIRST WAVE CRYPTISM.
All revolutions have their unsung heroes. Some are as humble as a Xerox machine.
Through sweat and sleepless nights, Leeds creates the Cryptid manifesto and publishes it in her zine “Jersey Dvvvl”. For hers is the belief that Cryptids constitute a revolutionary force that will change the world for the better.
The revolution will not be televised. Instead, it will spread virally through an underground movement of unabashed education, unity of purpose and refusal to assimilate to someone else’s standards.
Gone are the days of hiding, Mothman.
Gone are the days of shame, Chupacabra.
Even the mother of Leeds was moved by her fearless activism and began, at last, to understand her daughter. Leeds, the Jersey Devil, heart of a family, soul of a community, leader of a movement.
That’s a wrap, cryptozoologists. The Jersey Devil story you’ve never been told. Fingers crossed we can document further sightings. In the meantime, learn to love yourself and burn down the walls that say you can’t.
Note: the language used in the captions is inspired by the 90s era Riot Grrrl movement, 3rd Wave Feminism, and the zines that delivered so much of that message. Bikini Kill’s 1991 “Riot Grrrl Manifesto” (issue No. 2) is somehow just as powerful and relevant today.