Incoming students tend to join student groups or intramurals to find their niche on campus. But one UMD freshman instead put on a mask and decided to go his own way. “It kind of started as a fad … I always enjoyed the thrill of causing fear,” the Duluth Demon said. “However, that’s not my main purpose. My main ambition is to create entertainment for people.”
The Demon is now a dual-purpose phantom and personality of UMD. He does a pretty good job at hiding his true identity, USING ALL CAPS on social media sites, and only disclosing enough information to expand his fan base. Without breaking his character, the good-hearted ghoul agreed to sit down with Statesman staff reporter Kim Hyatt to explain the madness, mask and motive.
The man behind the mask is a freshman from Eden Prairie, Minn., and is partly Icelandic — he was born and raised there for two years before moving to Minnesota with his parents. He’s a theater major, his favorite movie is “Donnie Darko,” and he claims to be schizophrenic.
With his interest in the arts, the Demon created this character to become more “socially outward … in a very odd sense.” He said he’s had the getup for over six years.
“No matter the clothes I’m wearing, I’m still the same kind of social, but I (not the Demon) am better … because people don’t run away,” he said.
A few of his close friends, or “minions,” as he likes to put it, are the only ones who know who he really is, and he hopes to keep it that way.
“Before coming to Duluth, only a few people knew who I was, and up here I’ve only divulged to a few people who are able to aid me and my quest,” he said.
Fear is not his forte, although it does come with the territory. Amidst the immediate and continued hype from social media fame (his Facebook page has more than 200 followers), the Demon’s frightfully funny intentions are quite the opposite.
His appearances on the web and on campus haven’t been so widely accepted by all of UMD, though.
“He let me know that people were filing complaints and I should not be prowling the woods, which I agreed to,” he said. “He said not to go in the woods anymore in the costume. I said I completely agree with this. My job is not to create fear or make people scared to go in the woods. I apologize if I have caused that belief.”
The Demon said the UMDPD officer told him that “someone might think he is Bigfoot and shoot him in the woods.”
So, you won’t see him jumping out from behind any trees in Bagley, which he said was the first and only time he intentionally did this. Instead, he regularly makes appearances at various events on campus hosted by student groups.
He said he plans on attending a Student Association meeting and other events for organizations, such as the Quidditch Club.
The Demon said he is just “different and out of the ordinary.”
In an Oct. 2 opinion piece in the Statesman, opinion editor Satya Putumbaka made note of the Demon’s kitschy appeal.
“Though it is completely random, the Duluth Demon is one of the best conversation topics around,” Putumbaka wrote. “It’s Duluth’s theater of the absurd and entirely useless. It might be the biggest menace on campus, but you have to admire the pluck and initiative behind the character.”
So what is it like to balance the life of Demon and Bulldog? And does the Demon overshadow the student inside?
“I have this alias life to live as this person who is underneath this mask,” the Demon said. “As the person beneath this, I still have skills and talents and relationships and things going great in my life ... this character is not to make myself happy, but for others.”
Does the Demon freak you out or make you smile? Comment below!
BY KIM HYATT firstname.lastname@example.org