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“CHICKEN MAN”

Prince Ke’eyama

THE ONE TRUE KING

OF

NEW ORLEANS VOODOO

Chickenman his Secret Voodoo Society is still alive and very well in New Orleans famous haunted French Quarter Post Hurricane Katrina .

The Chicken Man of New Orleans

HAUNTED AMERICA TOURS

New Report Ghost Archives

by J.J. Mc cay Photos submitted by R. Todd

He called himself “Prince Ke’eyama” and he was acknowledged far and wide as the One True King of New Orleans Voodoo, but most locals knew him only as “The Chicken Man.”

He was born Frank Staten in 1937 to a family of Haitian descent who brought him to New Orleans when he was still an infant. Young Frank grew up in the household of his grandfather, a practicing Baptist minister who took over the early education of his grandson teaching him a deep love and respect of the Holy Bible, Almighty God, and Jesus Christ. But at the age of nine, young Frank’s grandfather sat him down and told him something that changed his life forever.

“You have the power,” he said. “God has given you the power to help people. God shows you things about people you have no other way of knowing. You have magic powers. You have the power to heal.”

This revelation was soon followed by another, almost as amazing, when the young boy’s grandmother revealed to him for the first time the truth of his royal descent. He had come from a great line of powerful kings, she told him, and as he learned more about being a vessel for the power of God, he would also pick up the mantle of this legacy and wear it all his life.

From that moment Frank was no longer called by his given name. His name was revealed to him: He would be Prince Ke’eyama.

Prince’s grandmother taught him about the magic power of herbs; she revealed to him ancient secrets of Haitian Voodoo that had originated in the native slave homeland of Africa and how to use them to help others.

With the firm guidance of his grandparents Prince grew more powerful every day. He began to follow a strict diet that he claimed was revealed to him during through meditation and prayer. He was shown, he said, that the common chicken was his most powerful totem avenue; as instructed, Prince made chicken a part of his daily diet. Adhering to the strictures revealed to him, Prince soon learned that he could control every aspect of his physical body. He would eat chicken every day, but he found he could also chew and swallow glass unharmed, and that he could eat fire.

As a young man, Prince traveled widely, visiting communities in other states where the ancient voodoo beliefs were practiced. He also returned to Haiti several times where his powers were increased and his reputation similarly grew.

During the turbulent years of the early 1970’s, Prince Ke’eyama returned to New Orleans and settled there. He observed the chaos all around him and immediately knew the cause: so many around him were in trouble with drugs, he realized he had found his calling and began to use all his powers to help these desperate individuals.

Prince Ke’eyama determined that the best way to gain their trust and attract their attention was to create a sensation of himself: this is when The Chicken Man was born.

Prince fine-tuned a nightclub act that he had performed during his years on the road. The act was designed to amaze as well as to win believers to the absolute power of God working through Prince and his mastery of the voodoo arts.

He first began performing his act at different locations throughout the French Quarter, and he caused a sensation (just as he wished) wherever he went. In a show that included tribal dancing, magical basics, and fire-eating, the Prince, as Chicken Man, held the audience transfixed. The climax of each show came when Prince brought a live chicken onstage and, in front of gasping crowds, bit the bird’s head off and drank it’s blood, using the neck as a huge straw. Once this was done, Prince then bit through the rib cage of the dead fowl and would eat the chicken raw.

Needless to say, many people were reviled by this act, but an equal amount came to understand that what appeared to be The Chicken Man eating a raw chicken really was an act of sacrifice on the part of Prince Ke’eyama on behalf of everyone there. When, after the shows, more and more people began to seek him out for aid and counseling, Prince knew the message was getting across.

After gaining fame with his admittedly strange nightclub act, Prince was able to open a venue of his own. Called “Chicken Man’s House of Voodoo,” the shop was located in the 700 block of Bourbon Street where it immediately became a landmark among the local voodoo community. When Prince Ke’eyama married, his wife Bobby Ke’eyama, known as The Chicken Woman, would manage the shop leaving The Chicken Man free to seek out and help those who needed him among the French Quarter crowds.

He soon became a familiar figure around the Quarter selling his gris-gris bags and incense, doing readings for next to nothing or sometimes free, if the person he chose to read had no cash on them. To Prince, this was his ministry and the streets were full of his congregation. And in those days you had to be blind to miss him: broad smile, dread hair, feathers and ribbons and braids hanging, sometimes wearing his signature straw hat, always carrying his powerful staff.

“He was like a ‘pick-a-pocket’ clown at a school fair,” says Armando, a student of Chicken Man who is today among his most devoted believers. “You would walk up and be able to reach into any of his pockets and pull out a prize. Sometimes you got a little voodoo doll, sometimes you got a gris-gris bag or a chicken claw or some ju-ju dust. You always got something good, though. That’s just the way he was.”

Chicken Man seemed to instinctively read a person, even from a distance, and by the time he zeroed in on someone, he had already decided upon just the right “prescription” in his mind. That’s how most people met the Chicken Man; he singled them out, rather than the other way around.

Another student of voodoo and a one-time pupil of the Chicken Man laughs when he recalls seeing him in the early morning hours on Bourbon and Toulouse Streets. “He would spy me and as soon as he saw me he would start to sing that old song, ‘Make your own kind of magic! Sing your own special song!” This was alluding, he said, to the Chicken Man’s firm belief that we each can create our own kind of magic, with or without following a set of rituals or rules. “To Chicken Man, everything and everyone was magic.”

As often happens with people of great goodwill and power, a huge following grew up around The Chicken Man in the 1970’s and 1980’s. People packed into his (increasingly rare) stage shows and constantly sought him out for guidance and help. A strange backlash reaction occurred in the thriving voodoo community, however, which claimed The Chicken Man was nothing more than a “showman,” a “vaudeville magician,” a “geek.” Although he was practically worshipped by many and was accepted as a truly powerful voodoo priest by those practicing “true” voodoo – most prominently Lady Bianca – the “popular” voodoo practitioners treated him as an outsider.

“That was plain old jealousy!” Armando says about those detractors. “They were jealous of his power and his people! They’d say, ‘look how hard we work at this,’ and still the people came to see The Chicken Man first of all. That’s because his voodoo was true voodoo!”

Prince Ke’eyama, The Chicken Man, died in December 1998. His ashes were donated to the Voodoo Spiritual Temple where they are kept enshrined by Sister Miriam Chamani.

It is largely because of this early ostracizing by the popular vodusi of the time that a secret following soon began to materialize around Prince Ke’eyama: called The Cult of the Chicken Man, this following became one of the largest secret sosyetes since that founded by Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau in her lifetime, and like Laveau’s sosyete, The Cult of the Chicken Man still endures today. Among devotees, one man could claim most of the credit for keeping the faith: that man is Armando, The Chicken Man priest.

Armando, a Cuban orphan, was taken in by Prince Ke’eyama who, together with his wife Bobby, raised the young refugee. Now 48, Armando is a practicing voodoo priest who claims to be the rightful heir of the Chicken Man legacy.

“He took me in, raised me,” Armando says. “He wanted me when no one else did. Into his world, he brought me step by step, becoming my blessed Padreno – my teacher and protector.”

Armando’s tiny apartment on the edge of the French Quarter is dominated by the continuing presence of the man he once called “father.” A large portrait of The Chicken Man graces a giant altar dedicated to his memory. The Chicken Man looks out from under the brim of his familiar straw hat, perpetually smiling down on the work Armando is doing in his name. The altar is decorated in red and white silk and accented with tassels of gold and beading. Red and white candles are constantly burning among the many objects of devotion placed there daily by Armando and the Chicken Man’s followers. Most touching are the tiny straw hats – doll’s hats, actually – that followers have left in memory of a man whom they held in the highest regard. Offerings of food and drink, especially rum, intermingle with bottles of Florida Water, cigars, and what is probably hundreds of chicken effigies of all sorts – little porcelain chickens, plaster and chalk, some carved of wood, some store bought – all placed lovingly by Armando in honor of this famous man.

Armando claims that The Chicken Man passed on not only his legacy but his great power to his chosen priest, and since the Prince’s death, Armando has been the guiding force behind the old sosyete. Unlike his predecessor, however, Armando does not believe in public performances of voodoo. Some associates of this reigning voodoo priest believe this is mostly because he does not want to share the rituals and power passed on by The Chicken Man with a voodoo community that still looks on this great man of power as a “circus sideshow.”

“He once told me that he didn’t mind being called a sham and a fool,” Armando says. “He didn’t mind being so put down in the public eye, because he knew he had the belief of the people that mattered to him, and he knew he was truly helping people every day. That is more than most people can claim, to say that they have helped at least one person every day they are alive.

Prince Ke’eyama, it seems, was content to be the butt of jokes and laughter. “He said to me, “After all, what do I care? I can be a fool to the public because they know [the vodusi] I am the True King of Voodoo in private,’” said Armando.

“I only come forward now to see that the true story of Chicken Man is told,” he concludes, “Especially now that he is being seen by so many people all over the City.”*

Stories, lies and fabrications abound about The Chicken Man. Many of them were fabricated by him personally, many more were created by others jealous of his popularity and his craft. His followers, however, know the true Prince behind the public image, and they know that his voodoo was the real thing. It will stand the test of time.

Voodoo, claims of grandeur, decadent New Orleans folk tale: all this builds a man, a modern legend. The Chicken Man is all this, and so much more.

HAUNTED AMERICA TOURS

New Report Ghost Archives

 

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Photos by R.ToddA Portrait of Chicken man. The painting is said to be haunted by his ghost. Chicken Man smiles as he looks over his children and blesses them.
Chicken Man The Voodoo King of New Orleans. His Haunted painting hangs over a magnificent Voodoo altar.

Armando, The reigning Voodoo King of New Orleans, Blesses himself with herbs before he draws near to Marie Laveaus' Grave for a secret New Orleans Voodoo Ritual.
Armando devotee to Chicken Mans brand of Voodoo.



With his blessing and cleansing done Armando kneels before the modest white washed chalk and brick X'ed tomb to pray for a special client. He prays aloud, and ask  Marie Laveau and the Chicken Man's spirit to send a special blessing that she will find love in her life soon.
Armando does his grave ritual every day at the tombs of the Marie Laveau This Voodoo blessing and cleansing is strong and powerful says Armando..

New orleans Bayou Saint John has always been associated with Voodoo Rituals. The old Spanish Fort area is littered with Voodoo Charms, Candles, Gris Gris Bags and legendary Voodoo History. this Candle had a card on it saying god bless chickeman and help me get what I want.
Voodoo and Bayou St. John. The history is tangled in legend and mystery. Here alone candle stands what is it's strange Voodoo purpose.

Chicken man will never die as lives the legend of Marie Laveau so Does the Legend of Chicken Man The Voodoo King of New Orleans. His Voodoo legacy lives on in New Orleans. Truth, fiction, Voodoo?

Chicken Man was a Child of Chango. His praise she sang night and day. this Statue is said to be the last statue of Sait babara that was in his Bourbon Street Voodoo shop.. A child of Xango, Chickenmans original statue on a small New Orleans Voodoo altar

My friends call me a Ghost Magnet.  I'm always either pounding away on my keyboard or chasing ghosts. My only other hobby is genealogy, which is chasing dead relatives.







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