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Blank Room Soup

A still from the video Blank Room Soup.avi. It shows a man hunched over a bowl of soup he is eating with an oversized spoon, while two people in blank-faced costumes crouch close to him and seem to be comforting him,

Back in 2005, a video was uploaded to YouTube. Originally titled "freaky soup guy", the video was just 1min 6secs long and featured a man wearing a white vest top sitting in a featureless white room at a wooden table. The man has a bowl in front of him, from which he is eating soup with a comically-oversized wooden spoon. The man's eyes have been black-boxed out, obscuring his identity.

Things get weirder. A door behind the man opens, and something that can be best described as what a giant, half-finished Funko Pop of Steve Jobs might look like enters the room. Its face has eyes but no other facial features. It approaches the man and leans over him, placing a hand on the man's back in what might be a comforting gesture... or a threatening one. In response, the man begins to sob, even as he keeps on eating the soup. The faceless creature strokes the man's back and kneels down to get even closer to him. As the man cries more, almost hysterically, a second proto-Funko Pop enters the frame from the right and also begins to comfort the man. They nod almost sympathetically as the man sobs over his bowl of soup.

This is the video that has since become known as "Blank Room Soup.avi" that has fascinated and creeped out the internet in equal measure for the last 17-odd years. Who are these people? What was going on? What exactly is in that soup? The video certainly didn't provide any answers - its description was one simple sentence: "We don't know what this is."

With such a dearth of information to be found on the video, it didn't take long for the internet to come up with its own backstory. The video was originally found on the Deep Web, they said. It was a snuff film, or at least part of one (death by soup?) There were glass shards in the soup. The man was being force-fed until he died a la "Gluttony"'s fate from Se7en. Eventually, the most-agreed-upon story took form - the man had been kidnapped and was being forced to eat the remains of his wife (and in some versions, his child), which was why he was crying and retching as he ate. Even worse, sometimes one final detail was added - on top of all of that, the man also knew that, once he had finished his soup, he was going to become the main ingredient in someone else's bowl of soup.

It wasn't until 2015 - a whole 10 years since the video was first uploaded to YouTube - that someone actually dug deep enough to get some answers. YouTuber ReignBot made a video on Blank Room Soup, finally uncovering at least some of the truths behind the video, even if she wasn't able to debunk it as completely as she had set out to do.

A photograph of Raymond Persi, a white man with a beard and wearing a jacket, baseball cap and sunglasses, with his arm around a puppet of the Muppet Animal.

The most important thing that ReignBot discovered in relation to Blank Room Soup was the name Raymond Persi. Persi is an animator, director and voice actor (among others, he was the voice of Flash the sloth in Zootopia). He also created a character - or rather, characters - called RayRay. At some point between 1998 and 2002 Persi, puppeteer and animatronics creator Paul Pistore, and a performance collective called Mutaytor came together and gave RayRay (or the RayRays) life. They created special suits that could be worn by actual performers, and started performing all around Los Angeles, where they garnered a cult following.

And then one day, after performing at a club on Hollywood's Sunset Strip, several of the RayRay suits were stolen. Persi and co. were understandably upset, but they had replacement suits and so moved on, thinking that nothing more could be done.

A couple of weeks after that, however, Persi received an email with an attached video file - the video now known as Blank Room Soup. Persi was obviously confused and bewildered by this, and posted the video on YouTube for his friend and the rest of the RayRay crew to see. He told ReignBot - and this is the story he's stuck with throughout the years - that he did not make the video and he doesn't know who did. Certainly, none of the other videos posted on any of Persi's or the RayRay-related channels look anything like Blank Room Soup.avi. Persi also said that he had been sent other video clips, presumably from the same people, over the years, but he has never uploaded them anywhere (although allegedly a second video, titled "Soup torture" was uploaded to a couple of the official RayRay channels - I say "allegedly" because those videos have since been made private to I can't say for sure). The only other insights Persi could offer was that the "RayRays" moved exactly as the performers in Persi's shows did, which he took to mean that, whoever was behind all of this, they had some prior knowledge of the RayRay characters.

A black-and-white photo of four members of a band, tied up on tram tracks, being held at gunpoint with a comically oversized gun by two people in blank-faced "RayRay" costumes.

In 2017, another Horror YouTuber, SuperHorrorBro, also made a video on Blank Room Soup. In this video, SuperHorrorBro claimed that someone going by the moniker of "Mister E. Nigma" had gotten in contact with the person or persons responsible for the theft of the RayRay suits (and therefore, presumably, with making the video). Confusingly, these hackers also said that ReignBot had spoken to them and not Persi in 2015 - which, I have to say, makes very little sense to me. There is, conveniently, absolutely no way to verify any of this now as the "hacker" has been incommunicado since 2017, and I can't see any reason for the hacker to have been basically stalking Persi for 10+ years since the theft of the RayRay costumes (which they would have had to have done in order to impersonate Persi in the emails between him and ReignBot). Personally, I don't find this particular addition to the Blank Room Soup saga to be particularly compelling and doesn't really add anything to this.

Since then, nothing more has come out about the video or its origins. 18 years on, we still don't know if Persi's story was true, if Nigma's story was, or if the whole thing was a clever piece of viral art perpetrated by Persi and co. themselves. Probably, the only thing we can say with relative certainty is that the soup in the video is not Vest Guy's dead wife, and it's not part of a snuff film.



RayRay (The Mutaytor)

RayRayVision (YouTube)

Looking into BlankRoomSoup.avi (ReignBot, via YouTube)


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