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We interview the City of Oaks’ famed Instagram-cloaked reaper—can you guess who it is?
Laura Guidry | Photography: Nick Aron Photography
Last May, the Raleigh Reaper emerged from the underworld on Instagram with a simple snap posing in front of the Raleigh State Capitol with the caption: “Hi, Raleigh.” Since then, the Reaper has collaborated with the now-closed GOV’T CHEESEBURGER to raise money for the Movement Voter Project, released shirts benefiting restaurant and venue workers, and amassed a 1,400-plus Instagram following—nbd. Swooping in with a scythe, the Raleigh Reaper consistently protests the rush to normalcy (and satirizes those who refuse to wear a mask or practice social distancing) while making a safe space on the internet for us, the kind mortals of Cloak City to lament and cope. So, who is this secret cloaked figure plaguing our City of Oaks? Read on for some clues.
Why be anonymous?
As a kid, I always loved the idea of starting a local legend or hoax. I think the Reaper plays into that interest. I was enamored with how those stories would grow and evolve.
How old is the Reaper?
Young enough that I’m not anywhere near retirement at Reaper Corporate, but just old enough to experience lower back pain when picking up my scythe. A millennial ghoul.
What was the goal behind the Raleigh Reaper?
I truly just wanted to support counterprotestors, nurses and others, as well as vent my own frustrations—granted in a very weird but fun way. I finally found a way to have Halloween every day of the year. Anything else is just icing on the cake. In all seriousness, if people think twice about following guidelines that could keep those they care about alive, I suppose that would be the best outcome.
Time is an elastic blob at this point, but we’re a year into this pandemic. Is it tempting to reveal yourself?
I like the thought of remaining a mystery. It’s funny to read stories from people who’ve been accused of being the Reaper by co-workers or friends. I like to think that means a lot of people have felt the same mix of frustration and hope I have throughout the pandemic. I work in a field that many feel has not been treated well and rushed back to “normal” without proper planning or vaccinations. I’m also cautiously optimistic the tide could be turning regarding the virus at large. So, there’s your frustration—and your hope. That duality—that’s who I am.
People love baring their souls to you. Has that been surprising?
It makes sense. If people have the capacity for further cruelty online because of the anonymous nature, the same probably goes for vulnerability too. I guess it’s the confession without consequence that’s appealing. I’m no different, having put all my grievances into the Reaper. I think it’s cool if someone felt relieved sharing their innermost conflicts or just got a laugh out of it. Or maybe someone realized their life, relatively, is pretty good, or that others have the same issues they do. Though it’s pretty heavy to read them all, it was definitely an opportunity for reflection that I don’t regret.
Any clues for the kind mortals guessing if they know the Raleigh Reaper?
I’ve probably already left more clues than I realize for anyone paying attention that happens to know me. The music, the imagery, the awful jokes. That being said, if anyone has figured it out and decided to remain silent, well, thanks for playing along.
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