In 2001, a German man named Armin Meiwes posted an ad on the internet asking for a “young, well-built man who wanted to be eaten.” He found one in Bernd Jürgen Brandes, and they lived out their fantasies in an isolated farmhouse. They had sex, then Brandes downed 20 sleeping pills and half a bottle of schnapps before Meiwes cut his penis off. As I wrote in an article for the Awl, “Brandes… picked up half of his severed penis and attempted to bite into it, a fantasy of his for years. It didn’t work because the meat was too thick, so Meiwes boiled the halves and seasoned them with salt, pepper, and garlic.” A few hours later, around 3:30 a.m., an exsanguinated Brandes died.
His last hushed words: “I have to piss.”
Everything that happened between the two adult men was consensual (cannibalism is often erotic, not an act of villainy, the way pop culture depicts it), but Meiwes, who a psychologist said still “had fantasies about devouring the flesh of young people,” was later arrested and charged with manslaughter, then murder. He’s currently serving a life sentence in prison.
A new documentary, Docs: Interview with a Cannibal, caught up with Meiwes, who spoke about what happened that fateful night. “I decorated the table with nice candles,” he said, “I took out my best dinner service, and fried a piece of rump steak — a piece from his back — made (with) what I call princess potatoes and sprouts. After I prepared my meal, I ate it. The first bite was, of course, very strange. It was a feeling I can’t really describe. I’d spent over 40 years longing for it, dreaming about it. And now I was getting the feeling that I was actually achieving this perfect inner connection through his flesh.”
Contrary to popular belief, human flesh doesn’t taste like chicken; it’s more like pork, “but stronger.” And now that I’ve ruined the pork chops you were planning to eat for dinner….
Learn more about the man immortalized in a Rammstein song and episode of Hannibal in the video above.