It’s been a year-and-a-half since we first uncovered the controversy behind human bodies – stripped of their skin and preserved with plastic – put on display in for-profit shows. Our investigation began with the basic fact that the corpses on display at San Francisco’s Masonic Center were leaking human fat and silicone. The local Health Department decided the leaks didn’t pose an imminent risk to the public. We also revealed the huge amount of money these shows rake in – hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide – and the controversial origin of the bodies. We traced them to an emerging industry in China, where bodies of the country’s homeless and inmates wind up in what are called “plastination factories”. Our reports sparked outrage and protests by the Bay Area’s Chinese American community. Then-Supervisor Fiona Ma sponsored an ordinance banning such for-profit shows, without the expressed consent of the deceased or their next of kin.
Fast forward to today …
Another body show in another city is sparking the same reaction. “Bodies…The Exhibition” is running now in Seattle. Several members of the Washington State House of Representatives have sponsored a bill based on the San Francisco ordinance; HB-1253 would ban the shows statewide.
Over the past several months, we’ve been fielding calls from Seattle for the information we uncovered in 2005. Now, we’ve called newly-elected California State Assembly Member Fiona Ma to see if she’s considering taking her San Francisco ordinance to Sacramento. We’ll get back to you.
By the way, did you catch last week’s Boston Legal? The body show controversy made it into the primetime dramedy. Here’s the show summary from ABC.com:
“Alan Shore pulls double-duty in court, representing two separate clients -- a woman who stole her late father's plastinized body from an art museum, and a cognitive therapist fired from his job at a hospital for imparting his belief in UFOs to his clients.”