Guess who's back in the news? The "cannibal cop." Why should you care? Because his story shows how visiting an extreme website can change your life forever.
Fresh off its successful "The Jinx," about alleged killer Robert Durst, HBO is poised to air "Thought Crimes," a documentary about Gilberto Valle ("the cannibal cop") on May 11 after premiering it at the Tribeca Film Festival last Thursday.
What if someone accessed your computer and found perverted, kinky videos involving nuns? Sheep? Members of Congress? (OK, nobody's that kinky). Should you be hauled away in handcuffs? You think our jails are crowded now?
"When you're behind a computer screen late at night, no one knows who you are, where you are," Valle says in the film. "I became part of this cybercommunity where people explore deviant thoughts. The anonymity makes you try and outdo the other person. Who can be the sicker one? Then you shut the computer off, and that's it."
But that wasn't it for Valle. He took his obsession pretty far, arrested in 2012 after allegedly plotting online to kidnap, kill and eat women. After his wife discovered his fascination with fetish websites, she called the authorities.
In 2013, Valle was convicted of conspiring to kidnap. The most damning evidence was his using a law enforcement database to collect information about possible victims. The conviction was overturned last year; prosecutors have appealed.
In "Thought Crimes," Valle admits he is now "craving some companionship," and even set up a Match.com profile (now taken down, according to New York magazine). His profile listed "cooking" as his favorite hobby, and his bucket list includes seeing Jerry Seinfeld do standup.
But as anyone who has visited a dating site knows, it's often not what people say, but what they leave out. For example, ladies, how would this guy's profile appeal to you? "Successful male, ambitious, animal lover, vegetarian, seeks blond goddess to help me conquer the world."
Did you guess Adolph Hitler? If not, I'd stay off the dating sites for a while.
Meanwhile, Valle's profile requested a "non-judgmental" woman who can "make the best of a situation that's less than ideal."
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.