It’s hard to make a living if you’re a cannibal, and that’s the only skill you have. Hannibal Lecter at least had a day job to tide him over between meals, but Issei Sagawa is finding out that notoriety alone won’t put food on the table.

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Issei Sagawa became famous for killing and feasting on a fellow student, Renee Hartevelt, in Paris in 1981.

renee-hartevelt.jpgIssei chopped off many different body parts and ate them while listening to a recording he had made of Renee reciting poetry.

He later stuffed the remains of her body into a suitcase and left it in a park.


“I touch the cold body again and I wonder where I should start. I start to cut off all the meat before amputating the limbs. While I cut her calf I suddenly want to taste it. I see the beautiful red meat beneath the fat. I grasp her knee and her ankle, and tear it with my teeth. It is tender. I slowly chew and savor it.”

Declared as mentally unfit to stand trial, he spent a year in a mental hospital before being deported back to Japan in 1985. He was quickly assessed as sane and placed in prison. His father, an influential industrialist, was able to get him released as a free man in 1986.

Apparently his family abandoned him, since he has tried to make a living on his own writing books, appearing in movies, and painting pictures. He was once hired to write restaurant reviews but that job was short lived. There’s information on what he compared sushi to in an interview and a book he wrote called “In The Fog”.

“It had no smell or taste, and melted in my mouth like raw tuna,”


To Issei, Gray’s Anatomy is just an introduction to a bizarre cookbook.

Now that his celebrity career is waning, Issei says he finds it difficult to scrape together the funds to buy a Big Mac, and he’s apparently too old to go back to school for a free lunch. Perhaps he should consider a new career…eliminating the homeless where he lives.

Check out the recent Vice interview with Issei Sagawa.