Von Däniken, Lenny

I believe dinosaurs can be cloned from DNA that was frozen in amber for 100 million years. I believe robot gunslingers have taken over a Wild West theme park. I believe surgeons are stealing their patients’ organs, and a plague virus from outer space has infected our planet, and evil gorillas are guarding the world’s biggest diamond.

A dog in Istanbul almost had the tip of my finger off, and a raven in Switzerland sliced my hand to the bone. And then I met Lenny, the seven-year-old Dutch TV star.

Lenny has his own show. “He’s a kid’s version of Jonathan Ross,” the Amsterdam television producer assured me, and of course that started the alarm bells ringing.

The studio set up was almost an interrogation, with the boy in a chair facing mine, both of us in pools of light, with no other furniture on the set. It reminded me of the classic quizgame MasterMind. But this was a small boy — how tough could the questions be?

“Your show is called The New Uri Geller,” Lenny snapped. “Why does the world need one of those?” 

He had such an angelic face that I couldn’t believe he was deliberately trying to be rude. I tried talking to him like a child, I tried treating him as a small adult, I tried hitting his questions back at him, but nothing seemed to shake him. The only interviewer I’d ever met who was so superior and unflappable was Sir David Frost.

“You’re an incredible boy,” I told him at last. “I’m just trying to understand how your mind works.”

Lenny leaned forward and fixed me with a conspiratorial whisper. “I hear voices in my head,” he said.

Either this was turning out to be the creepiest interview I had ever faced, or there was something odd going on. “Can I sit next to you?” I asked. “I want to hear the voices.” Before the crew could react, I took two quick strides to crouch beside Lenny. And I listened. 

In a flash, I understood. I could hear the voices too. Reaching gently behind Lenny’s ear, I pulled away the earpiece that linked him to the producer. Lenny grinned with embarrassment, like a kid caught with his hand in the biscuit tin. 

“You know what?” I told him. “You’re a smart boy, but this was a dumb trick. Next time, I want to hear your own questions. Then we could both learn something.”

Erich von Däniken, best-selling author of the most controversial UFO books ever written, joined me in Munich this week to help promote my live spectacular on German TV. He’s in his seventies but looks 20 years younger, even though he chain-smokes.

We first met in California in 1973, when he was promoting one of the sequels to his multi-million-selling Chariot Of The Gods. Von Däniken had uncovered evidence from all over the world that Earth had been visited by extraterrestrial travellers who had provided humanity with tools which enabled civilisation to evolve. Our first conversation was mind-blowing. It was possible, he told me, that human beings were originally seeded on our planet by visitors from other worlds — that our species was grown on Earth the way a cutting from a rose bush could be grown in a greenhouse.

The theory was dizzying and impossible to prove, he agreed — but was it really more unlikely than the current creation story favoured by many scientists, that all the mater in the universe exploded in a Big Bang from a speck smaller than a single atom?

I told him of my own encounters with UFOs and my first-hand experiences of a Higher Intelligence — the space ship I had seen above the Gobi desert, the voices that had materialised on blank cassettes. Von Däniken accepted them with a shrug. He found it unremarkable, as if I’d told him that I had once been a schoolboy. 

He was more interested, at one of our subsequent meetings, in a photograph I had taken from the window of a passenger jet, with my friends Byron and Maria Janis beside me. Cruising beside the plane was a shape I can only describe as a shimmering cone, almost transparent but somehow vivid on my mind’s eye.

Von Däniken had photographs even more extraordinary than that. The walls of his Swiss home were stacked to the ceiling with the greatest collection of UFO research in the world, all catalogued with an obsessive efficiency that reminded me of secret government agencies. This was before the invention of PCs and the internet, and every page had to be cross-indexed or be lost in a mountain of information.

One picture made my eyes pop. It showed stone carving, an image in relief of an astronaut astride a rocket. His shoulders were draped in precious metals and his head was encased in a helmet. And I knew I had seen this carving before.



(If it was not a human construction then a Mayan was the first astronaut.)


While I was a guest at the Mexican presidential palace, the country’s leader and his wife had invited me onto their private jet to visit the holy Mayan pyramids at Chichen Itza. The day had been sweltering, and we had to climb hundreds of steps over the ruins to see the spectacular views, but one relic had brought a chill to my skin. It was that picture of a spaceman in prehistoric Mexico — and here it was again, on the other side of the world.

I asked Erich why he had chosen that picture to show me, from the tens of thousands in his collection. “I had an intuition it might mean something to you,” he replied. 

Perhaps I will see that spaceman again… during our efforts to contact extraterrestrial beings on my show this weekend.


Erich von Däniken (the Ambassador of Aliens) and me in this month



Promo shots for my UFO-TV show on the German Pro7 Channel



With the host Stefan Godde


Other promo shots for my show




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