Joey Skaggs, Editor


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Lucky Loser: My aborted attempt to kidnap Sam Shepard

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Filed under: The History of Pranks, What Makes a Good Prank?

A reminiscence by Joey Skaggs:


petermaloneythething-425


On April 2, 2013, I received an email from my friend Peter Maloney, director, writer, actor and a co-conspirator in my hoaxes, pointing me to a New York Times article about a fake kidnapping. He said,

“It reminds me of the night that you and your cohorts kidnapped Sam Shepard from the Astor Place Theatre on the opening night performance of his plays ‘The Unseen Hand’ and ‘Forensic and the Navigator’ (in which I played ‘Forensic’). I also remember that actor Beeson Carroll wore as his costume in ‘The Unseen Hand’, your Buffalo skin coat.”

I had caught the news story about the kidnapping on TV a day earlier. I immediately thought it was a prank. A video taken from a surveillance camera showed an abduction with people being thrown into a van on the street. But local police could not find evidence of anyone missing. As it turned out, it was a joke played by friends as a birthday prank.

Stories like this sometimes make it into the Art of the Prank blog, and I considered it. But, being under the weather I wasn’t highly motivated to do anything with it. Later, thinking about it, I realized how lucky these pranksters were. They could have been shot. They could have been arrested. Any number of bad things potentially could have happened because of this relatively harmless joke.

Peter’s email and this story inspired me to tell the story of my attempt to kidnap Sam Shepard, a version of which appears in a book by Ellen Ounamo called Sam Shepard: The Life and Work of an American Dreamer (1986, St. Martins Press). (more…)

1976 Celebrity Sperm Bank Revisited

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, The History of Pranks

Update October 20, 2012: Huffington Post reports: Joey Skaggs Created The Celebrity Sperm Bank Hoax To Expose Journalists’ Incompetence


From Joey Skaggs:

In July of 1976, I (aka Giuseppe Scaggoli), as proprietor of the Celebrity Sperm Bank, planned to hold an auction of rock star sperm. The press release said, “We’ll have sperm from the likes of Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and vintage sperm from Jimmy Hendricks. All donations are certified and authenticated.” I asked about 50 actor friends to gather on Waverly Place between 6th Avenue and MacDougal Street in front of my attorney’s brownstone home. Read the rest of the story here and see some images below.


Yesterday, October, 17, 2012, (thanks Chris Cook, John Lundberg & Larry Croft for the heads-up), a new Celebrity Sperm Bank hoax called Fame Daddy was covered by ITV, the Telegraph, the Globe & Mail, to name a few.

Now they’ve all been caught with their pants down.

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Advantages to Being Bald

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Filed under: Satire

New from Joey Skaggs and Lenora Paglia!


Half of all men over the age of 50 are suffering from hair loss. Except for a few fashion statements every now and then, the prospect of going bald is not a pleasant scenario for the afflicted. We want to offer the balding a few offbeat laughs.

Presented to you here are hundreds of products featuring a full range of tasteful, tasteless and sometimes risqué ADVANTAGES TO BEING BALD!

Colorfully illustrated by original cartoons, and now available on popular decorative products, greeting cards and apparel, “Advantages to Being Bald” is a series of humorous and satirical perspectives on being bald. (more…)

Steve Ben Israel, Actor, Satirist and Friend… RIP

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Satire

Steve Ben Israel, a Living Theater Performance Artist, Dies at 74
by Paul Vitello
The New York Times
June 16, 2012

The young Steve Ben Israel was a longhaired, card-carrying pacifist, anarchist, comedian and performance artist who toured during the 1960s and ’70s with the Living Theater, an avant-garde repertory group. He had leading roles in many of the company’s cheerfully seditious productions, including “Paradise Now,” in which the cast, naked, exhorted audience members to seize the theater, form anarchist cells and overthrow the government.

Making anarchist performance art was a hard way to earn a living even back then, when millions of young Americans were dabbling in revolutionary ideas. But Mr. Israel, who died of lung cancer on June 4 in Manhattan at 74, kept at it for the rest of his life, friends said — a one-man revolutionary cell delivering jokes, stories and poems aimed at undermining capitalist society. He did not advocate overthrowing the government much anymore. He was trying, he told people, to foment a mass uprising of compassion. (more…)

Muppets Protest at Goldman Sachs

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Filed under: Creative Activism

From Joey Skaggs:


Some early photos from yesterday’s demonstration at Goldman Sachs in New York to protest greed and corruption in the financial sector.


photo: Deborah Thomas

Event Summary:

A police van filled with officers parked across the street from our staging area and waited for us to depart. As we did, officers on foot walked with us, but across the street. When construction caused us to change our route, I approached an officer and asked the best way to go. From that point on, they functioned as a police escort. When we hit West Street, which is a highway with heavy traffic, the police van, with lights flashing, stopped the traffic for us. We entered the bicycle lane and it was a clear shot down to the Goldman Sachs office at 200 West Street. The police van, with flashing lights, accompanied us the entire way. They were amazingly coordinated, without every having talked with us. (more…)

Muppets Revenge

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

At 11:00 a.m., April 23, 2012, artist Joey Skaggs will lead a band of outraged costumed muppets down to the Goldman Sachs offices at 200 West Street in NYC. Skaggs will be peddling his Mobile Homeless Homes prototype — a low cost alternative living space for the millions of upside-down, underwater or foreclosed homeowners who have lost their houses due to the banking crisis that caused the real estate collapse.



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Outraged Homeless Muppets to Converge on Goldman Sachs

“Homelessness is a great American tragedy. Our financial system and government have let us down and we, together, must take a stand to change the way the system works. With over 11 million homes underwater and millions in foreclosure, people are frightened, distressed and angry,” says Joey Skaggs.

Although not a cure, Mobile Homeless Homes (MHH) offers a temporary solution — low cost alternative living spaces for the millions of upside-down, underwater or foreclosed homeowners who have lost their houses due to the banking crisis that caused the real estate collapse. The MHH centerpiece is a camouflage, stealth, mobile home made from a series of connected plastic garbage cans, propelled by a tricycle, that will be undetectable by authorities. It blends into any urban environment. (more…)

Announcing Mobile Homeless Homes

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

From Joey Skaggs:


Mobile Homeless Homes

Florida Family Association Brands April Fools’ Day Parade “Progressive Liberals”

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Filed under: Satire, The Big One, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

From Joey Skaggs: Based on the hate-mail I received, apparently because the Florida Family Association featured the April Fools’ Day Parade on their website, I expect to see the FFA protesting at the parade. If so, I’m sure the crowd will elect them hands-down winner as this year’s collective King of Fools. They seem to confuse satire with Satan.


From the Florida Family Association:

Liberal New York April Fools day parade to mock Florida Family Association for public opposition to TLC’s All-American Muslim.

The progressive liberals in New York have added Florida Family Association leader David Caton to a list of people to mock in their April Fools day parade because of the organization’s public opposition to TLC’s All-American Muslim.

The PRNewswire reports in part:

The 27th Annual April Fools’ Day Parade will begin at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street at 12 noon, Sunday, April 1, 2012. Rain or shine, the parade will march down Fifth Avenue to Washington Square Park for the climactic selection of the King or Queen of Fools from the costumed marching look-alikes.

The marching celebrity look-alikes will include M.I.A. and Adele flipping the bird; Rush Limbaugh yelling “You slut!”; Arizona Governor Jan Brewer wagging her finger; Sara Palin citing Paul Revere revisionist history; Florida Family Association leader David Caton protesting anything Muslim; Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour bound to his pardoned prisoners as he sings Sam Cook’s “Chain Gang.” Following the parade down to Washington Square Park will be a brigade of New York City’s Finest led by Officer Anthony Bologna, pepper spraying the crowd.


Here’s a sampling of the hate mail:

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NY April Fools’ Day Parade To Be Largest Yet!

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Filed under: Creative Activism

From Joey Skaggs:


New York City’s 27th Annual April Fools Day Parade

Occupy Washington Square Park!

For three decades, New York City’s Annual April Fools’ Day Parade has offered the public an opportunity to express, in a comical way, its outrage against the foolishness of mankind. Thousands of participants in look-alike costumes with satirical floats creatively mock the thoughtless, corrupt and selfish acts of the past year.

Kicking off noon on Sunday, April 1, the parade marches down 5th Avenue from 59th Street to Washington Square Park where revelers party to demonstrate against new rules that restrict the First Amendment rights of performing artists in the park. It will end with the annual crowning of the King of Fools.

Spread the word!

Read the press release here.

NYC’s 27th Annual April Fools’ Day Parade Marches To Occupy Washington Square Park!

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Filed under: Satire

From Joey Skaggs:


SUMMARY:
For three decades, New York City’s Annual April Fools’ Day Parade has offered the public an opportunity to express, in a comical way, its outrage against the foolishness of mankind. Thousands of participants in look-alike costumes with satirical floats creatively mock the thoughtless, corrupt and selfish acts of the past year. Kicking off at noon on Sunday, April 1, the parade will march down 5th Avenue from 59th Street to Washington Square Park where revelers will party to demonstrate against new rules that restrict the First Amendment rights of performing artists in the park. It will conclude with the annual crowning of the King of Fools. Spread the word!

PRESS RELEASE:
The 27th Annual April Fools’ Day Parade will begin at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street at 12 noon, Sunday, April 1, 2012. Rain or shine, the parade will march down Fifth Avenue to Washington Square Park for the climactic selection of the King or Queen of Fools from the costumed marching look-alikes.

The New York April Fools’ Day Parade was created in 1986 to remedy a glaring omission in the long list of New York’s ethnic and holiday parades. These events fail to recognize the importance of April 1st, the day designated to commemorate the folly of mankind. In an attempt to bridge this gap and bring people back in touch with their inherent foolishness, the parade annually crowns a King or Queen of Fools from parading look-alikes. The King of Fools from the 2011 parade was Speaker of the House John Boehner.

“Every year the parade gets bigger and more outrageous. There’s never a shortage of fools,” says Joey Skaggs, parade organizer.

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Obama Served Protest Song for Breakfast

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

From editor Joey Skaggs:

Naomi Pitcairn and a group of her friends staged a protest, singing a song to President Obama at his fundraising breakfast today in San Francisco to bring attention to the incarceration and unjust treatment of U.S. Army soldier Bradley Manning. Manning was arrested in Iraq in May 2010 on suspicion of having passed confidential and embarrassing government communications to WikiLeaks.

Watch the video of the protest on SF Gate, read some of the media coverage and see the song lyrics below, submitted by Mike Lehr.


Obama, Preaching to the Choir, Is Met by a Rude Chorus
by Jackie Calmes
TheCaucus.blogs at The New York Times
April 21, 2011

It was hardly a surprise that President Obama got an earful in San Francisco about frustration in his party’s left over the pace of his promised change. But it was a bit unexpected when the protest came at a high-dollar fund-raising breakfast Thursday morning.

Soon after Mr. Obama began speaking to about 150 people who had contributed up to $35,800 each, a woman at a rear table stood and announced that her group wanted to sing him a song it had written. And they did, despite Mr. Obama’s request that they wait until after his remarks.

The full lyrics were written on a menu for the event. The chorus: “We paid our dues, where’s our change?” (more…)

April Fools’ Day Parade — Noon Friday!

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Filed under: Satire

From Joey Skaggs:


Rain or shine, The 26th Annual April Fools’ Day Parade kicks off from 5th Avenue and 59th Street Friday, April 1 at noon.

Alert: We have so many Charlie Sheen look-alike volunteers that we’ve added a Charlie Sheen look-alike contest in Washington Square Park right after the parade. See you there!

Link to the press release

Announcing: New York City’s 26th Annual April Fools’ Day Parade

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Filed under: Prank News, Satire

From Joey Skaggs:


The New York April Fools’ Committee Is Proud to Announce:

NEW YORK CITY’S 26th APRIL FOOLS’ DAY PARADE

“If It Wasn’t For Bad Luck I’d Have No Luck At All”

The 26th Annual April Fools’ Day Parade will begin at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street at 12 noon, Friday, April 1, 2011. Rain or shine, the parade will march down Fifth Avenue to Washington Square Park for the post-parade festivities and selection of the King or Queen of Fools from the costumed marching look-alikes.

The theme for this year’s parade is “If It Wasn’t For Bad Luck I’d Have No Luck At All.” The parade will kick off with a Bob Dylan classic “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” sung by the very vocal WTF! Chorus including General Stanley McChrystal, ex-Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele, actors Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen, Representative Charlie Rangel, and deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek look-alikes. Color commentary will be provided by Governor Mike Huckabee. It may be inaccurate but it will be colorful.

This year’s floats will be lead by Grand Marshall Tony Heyward, whose Lap Pool float filled with crude oil will feature BP, Halliburton and Trans Ocean executives bobbing in the muck. Parade attendees are encouraged to bring stuffed birds, animals and fish to toss into the pool as the float passes. Next will be the corporate-sponsored Supreme Court float featuring justices completely covered with corporate logos waving banners proclaiming “Corporations Are People Too!” They will be followed by the Congressional Marionnette Show float with lobbyists pulling the strings of dancing elected officials. Next is the giant Royal Wedding Cake Piggy Bank driven by Elton John, featuring Prince William and Kate Middleton on top. Uniformed royal guards will be asking for spare change from the crowd to help pay for the wedding. And then there will be the Middle-Class Backyard Russian Spy float equipped with lawn chairs, a barbecue, and an above-ground pool. The beautiful sexy Russian spy Ana Chapman will be handing out hot dogs to the crowd. Next is the State of Arizona float driven by Governor Jan Brewer as a wall is being constructed by illegal Mexican immigrants. This will be followed by a motorized 30-foot miniature of the USS Enterprise commanded by Captain Honor projecting lewd and lascivious videos for the crowd to see. The Pope will make an appearance in his new decked-out Pimpmobile tossing colored condoms Mardi Gras–style to the crowd. Throughout the parade fleeing Arab Dictators and Tyrants will dash along carrying bulging suitcases overstuffed with American dollars. The Topeka Westborough Baptist Church float will bring up the rear protesting everything and damning everyone to Hell. (more…)

A Personal Correspondence from Julian Assange

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Filed under: First Amendment Issues, Propaganda and Disinformation

Editor’s note: The Art of the Prank is in receipt of previously unpublished content from the vast archive of WikiLeaks documents. We feel we have an obligation, in the pursuit of freedom of information, to publish these excerpts as we receive them. We will continue to post them as they are sent to us. We realize the danger Julian Assange faces. We can honestly say we do not know where he is.


Joey;

Thank you for your offer to publish some of the more controversial classified U.S. government documents WikiLeaks brought into the public domain on the 28th of November 2010. Although The New York Times and the Guardian began publishing some of the 251,287 WikiLeaks documents, The New York Times has bowed to government pressure and decided to withhold some passages and in some cases, entire cables whose disclosure, they claim, could compromise American intelligence efforts and even upset U.S. domestic political stability.

Some of the documents being withheld which will give the world unprecedented insight into the US Government’s foreign and domestic activities, appear to be benign except as to cause some embarrassment to certain public figures. One cable withheld is about Silvio Berlusconi, who, while contemplating a run for the Italian presidency, took a medical holiday in Luzern, Switzerland to have a very large “OMERTA” tattoo removed from his back by surgical laser. Also, he and Vladimir Putin have been described by an aid as having had an alcohol and drug fueled “boys night,” shooting out the windows of the UK Consul General’s empty parked Daimler with automatic weapons the pair borrowed from their bodyguards on a Berlusconi Moscow visit.

Sarah Palin attempted to secretly adopt two Downs Syndrome infants through an Asian adoption agency. The Chinese balked when Palin revealed that she needed stand-ins for Trig, (more…)

Verne “Bulldog” Williams (1935-2010), RIP

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Filed under: Pranksters, The History of Pranks

From publisher and editor Joey Skaggs:


It is with shock and sadness that I write of the unexpected passing of Verne Williams, a life-long friend and co-conspirator, on Thursday, October 14. Among other illustrious facets of his career, Verne was with me on my Hippie Bus Tour to Queens in 1968, was the inspiration for and center piece of my Bad Guys Talent Management Agency in 1984; and performed in Walk Right! (1984), The Fat Squad (1986), and Save The Geoduck (1987). He appeared as me for an interview with Playback Magazine (1995). He was a great, endearing and enduring friend.

A memorial service will be held October 30 at 1pm at Marinella Restaurant, on the corner of Carmine and Bedford Streets in Greenwich Village, NYC.

Here’s a walk down my memory lane with Verne:


Hippie Bus Tour to Queens, 1968

In 1968, I loaded a Greyhound bus with camera-toting, long haired, beaded hippies and took them on a bus tour of surburban Queens. I did this in response to all the suburbanites who were coming into the East Village to gawk at the hippies. I called it my “cultural exchange” program. Verne was one of the passengers.




Bad Guys Talent Management Agency, 1984

Verne left NYC for greener pastures, literally. He ran a hog farm in Vermont for a while and then moved to Virginia where he was trimming the hooves of cattle for a living. He really wanted to be an actor. He wrote me letter after letter imploring me to help him get some national commercials while he awaited the brass ring, which to him was a role in a feature film. I tried to talk some sense into him, but he would have none of that. Since he didn’t have any acting training, experience, or representation, I decided to create a talent management agency specifically for him. I called it Bad Guys Incorporated. I would represent bad guys, bad girls, bad kids and bad dogs — venomous vixens, burly bouncers and slimy sleazes. I told Verne to go to the Post Office and bring back a wanted poster so I could create his head shot.
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