All About Pranks

This blog has submissions from many known and not so known pranksters, artists, performers, activists and writers. It provides a continuing and growing exploration into the art of the prank; the role of the prankster as artist, activist and social observer; and the contribution of the prank to society.

Blog Posts

Fake News Is the New Real News

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Media Literacy, Media Pranks, Political Pranks, Propaganda and Disinformation

Fake news (aka propaganda) has always been with us, just not in the hands of so many little people. Now it appears the genie’s out of the bottle and all the King’s horses and all the King’s men might not be able to put it back in…


“Fake news is here forever, study says”
by Fox News Staff
The New York Post
October 6, 2017

Fake information will pervade mature economies in the next few years, a new study has noted.

By 2022, most people in mature economies will consume more false information than true information, according to the study from research firm Gartner.

This trend will be fueled, in part, by “confirmation bias,” that “leads all people to seek out, select and value information that parallels what they believe and expect to be proven true,” the study’s authors, Magnus Revang and Whit Andrews, found.

And even improved artificial intelligence (AI), which companies like Facebook and Google are working on, won’t be able to stop it, a separate study by Gartner found. “Counterfeit reality” or fake content, will “outpace AI’s ability to detect it.”

Generating false information will always cost less than the cost of detecting it. “False information will consequently outpace true information where there is economic or political interest to purvey it,” Revang and Andrews wrote. Read more.

ART OF THE PRANK Movie Exclusive Clips!

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Filed under: Art of the Prank - the movie, Prank News, The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art

Art of the Prank teaser preview

Here are two exclusive clips from ART OF THE PRANK, Andrea Marini’s award-winning documentary about artist, activist Joey Skaggs.


Art of the Prank Exclusive Clip Offers Social Commentary on Independent Thinking, by Karen Bernardello, Shock Ya!, September 18, 2017


Watch an exclusive clip from documentary Art of the Prank, by Gary Collison, flickeringmyth.com, September 27, 2017

Presidential Candidate Who Didn’t Exist is Now in the Fed’s Sites

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Filed under: Creative Activism, First Amendment Issues, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters

15 year old Brady Olsen ran for President in 2016. It was his way of dissenting against the 2-party system. He did a pretty good job of it. Now that his story is history, the Feds have decided to pursue him on a technicality… faulty paper-work. They’re trying to stop other pretenders from making a mockery of our mock-worthy election system. Maybe in 20 years he’ll run for real.


Deez Nuts, the Iowa Teenager whose 2016 Presidential Campaign went Viral, in Trouble with Feds
by Julia Glum
Newsweek
September 28, 2017

Deez Nuts is having a hard year. First, he lost the presidential election to Donald Trump. And now, he’s in trouble with the Federal Election Commission.

On Wednesday, the FEC notified Deez Nuts — the nom de campaign of Iowa teenager Brady Olson, who ran for president with a name swiped from a Dr. Dre song — that his campaign paperwork may be faulty.

Duh.

“You may have failed to include the true, correct or complete committee name, candidate name, custodian of records information, treasurer information and bank information,” the election panel said in a letter posted to the agency website on Wednesday.

It’s no secret that Mr. Nuts isn’t an actual person. Olson had revealed his true identity in 2015 and said he made up the candidate because he was fed up with the two-party system.

Olson wasn’t eligible from the start—constitutionally, presidents have to be at least 35 years old—but he was popular.

“I am a 15-year-old who filled out a form, had the campaign catch on fire, and am now putting up the best third-party numbers since Ross Perot,” he told the Guardian a 2015 email interview.

In August 2015, just after Trump launched his campaign, Public Policy Polling found that Nuts had the support of about 6 percent of voters in New Hampshire. By August 2016, as the race was entering its final stages, Nuts’ numbers in Texas showed he was more popular than Green Party nominee Jill Stein (but less well-liked than the late revered gorilla Harambe).

His campaign inspired more than a chuckle—as the National Journal wrote, Nuts “started a revolution.” Dozens of people filed forms with fake identities, like Limberbutt McCubbins, Mr. Crawfish B. Crawfish and Sydneys Voluptuous Buttocks.

Read the rest of this article here.

Jared Kushner’s Attorney Exposed in Lego Fetish Porn Email Prank

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Legal Issues, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters

Because at this point, “high-level Trump White House insider fooled by really obvious fake email, from the same person who did it last time” is a Dog Bites Man headline.


“Prankster tricks Jared Kushner’s lawyer into believing he had Lego fetish porn on his private server”
by Mark Frauenfelder
Boing Boing
September 27, 2017

Jared “Go Daddy” Kushner is in the news for using his private server to conduct White House business. It’s only a crime if you are a Democrat, so he has nothing to worry about, but that didn’t stop prankster @sinon_reborn from convincing Kushner’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, that he was Kushner and had been emailing porn through the server.

Read more.

The Story of Snopes

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Fraud and Deception, Media Literacy, Prank News, Propaganda and Disinformation

Turbulent times have brought increased attention for Snopes, the long-running, cred-heavy fact-checking website. This longform feature weaves a compelling tapestry of research, analysis, and narrative, including a raw and revealing interview with the site’s embattled cofounder David Mikkelson.


“Snopes and the Search for Facts in a Post-fact World”
by Michelle Dean
Wired
September 20, 2017

“It was early March, not yet two months into the Trump administration, and the new Not-Normal was setting in: It continued to be the administration’s position, as enunciated by Sean Spicer, that the inauguration had attracted the “largest audience ever”; barely a month had passed since Kellyanne Conway brought the fictitious “Bowling Green massacre” to national attention; and just for kicks, on March 4, the president alerted the nation by tweet, “Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower.”

If the administration had tossed the customs and niceties of American politics to the wind, there was one clearly identifiable constant: mendacity. “Fake news” accusations flew back and forth every day, like so many spitballs in a third-grade classroom.

Feeling depressed about the conflation of fiction and fact in the first few months of 2017, I steered a car into the hills of Calabasas to meet with one person whom many rely on to set things straight. This is an area near Los Angeles best known for its production of Kardashians, but there were no McMansions on the street where I was headed, only old, gnarled trees and a few modest houses. I spotted the one I was looking for—a ramshackle bungalow—because the car in the driveway gave it away. Its license plate read SNOPES.” Read more.

White People Take On Facebook Racists

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Literacy, Political Challenges, Prank News, Pranksters

As most celebrities know, there are advantages to letting other people handle your social media. Significantly, you don’t have to spend hours of your day engaging with strangers who hate you for no good reason. Now, a volunteer Facebook group gives non-famous people of color the same advantage.


“These White People Will Respond To Your Racist Trolls So You Don’t Have To”
by Sara Ruiz-Grossman
The Huffington Post
September 19, 2017

“If a white person is filling your social media with white nonsense ― anything from overt racism to well-intentioned problematic statements, tag us and a white person will come roundup our own,” the group’s Facebook post reads.

The volunteer-run Facebook group, founded last year by friends Layla Tromble and Terri Kompton in Washington state, has white people respond to racist trolls online at the request of people of color.

At a time of deep political divides and tensions around racism and white supremacy, the group exists to support people of color, who are all too often the targets of online hate but are also often asked by white people to explain everyday race-related issues, from why NFL player Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to why you can’t just touch a black woman’s hair.

“It’s the responsibility of us white folks to do the emotional labor that’s required to educate other white folks ― and it shouldn’t be required of people of color again and again,” Tromble told HuffPost. “One of the goals of the service is to do some of that labor for people. Let them go have a drink and not worry about nonsense going on on their Facebook.” Read more.


The Library Pranksters Who Paid a Heavy Fine

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Legal Issues, Literary Hoaxes, Political Challenges, Pranksters, Sociology and Psychology of Pranks, The History of Pranks

These men pranked their local library. Homophobic outrage ensued. A bitter look back at a time of high stakes for creative pranksters.


“The Strange, Sad Story of Joe Orton, His Lover, and 72 Stolen Library Books”
by Natasha Frost
Atlas Obscura
August 9, 2017

A search warrant might seem excessive for library book hoarding—but Halliwell and Orton were no ordinary library pilferers. For over two years, Orton and Halliwell had been smuggling books out of their local libraries, the magnificent Art Nouveau Islington Central Library on London’s Holloway Road and nearby red-brick Essex Road Library—and then returning them.

Orton hid books in a satchel; Halliwell, six-and-a-half years older, used a gas mask case. They would take them home, redo their covers and dust-jackets, and then slip them back onto the shelves.

Sometimes, these alterations were obscene: a reader scanning a relatively tame Dorothy Sayers whodunit would find themselves confronted with a mystery even before they opened the book. The blurb now described some missing knickers and a seven-inch phallus, and concluded: “READ THIS BEHIND CLOSED DOORS! And have a good s*** while you are reading!” Meanwhile, the collected plays of Emlyn Williams, a Welsh dramatist, suddenly included “Knickers Must Fall,” “Olivia Prude,” “Up The Front,” and “Up The Back.” Read more.


ART OF THE PRANK Movie to Air on Sky Arts in the UK

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Filed under: Prank News, Pranksters, The Future of Pranks, The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art

ART OF THE PRANK on Sky Arts in the UK

September 18, 2017 at 12:20 am
September 18, 2017 at 6:00 pm
September 18, 2017 at 11:00 pm

Flushing a Movement

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, The History of Pranks

Paul Krassner reviews Pat Thomas’ book, Did It! From Yippie To Yuppie: Jerry Rubin, An American Revolutionary,.


Hippies, radicals, pranksters: Jerry Rubin has a bio and Paul Krassner has our review
by Paul Krassner
Jacket Copy, Los Angeles Times
August 31, 2017

Jerry Rubin (right) and Paul Krassner share a joint in the late ’60s. (Fantagraphics Books, Inc.)

Pat Thomas, the author of “Did It! From Yippie To Yuppie: Jerry Rubin, An American Revolutionary,” had noticed that there were six books about co-activist Abbie Hoffman, but none about Jerry Rubin, so Thomas welcomed the challenge. Seventy-five co-conspirators were interviewed for revealing anecdotes galore (including me), and this tome is a unique oral and visual history heavy enough to sink into your coffee table.

Rubin had written a few books himself, though. The first was 1970’s “DO iT!” Under the influence of Ritalin, he recorded all the material swirling in his mind, and his girlfriend Nancy Kurshan transcribed 700 pages that had to be severely trimmed down. That book was heiress Patty Hearst’s favorite, radicalizing her, especially the part about rebelling against elite parents.

In January 1964, Rubin was 26 with a thick handlebar mustache, bored as a journalist for the Cincinnati Post. He moved to UC Berkeley for grad school, but dropped out during his first semester. He then asked so many questions about local politics, filling his notebook so much, that several activists thought he was a cop. But by May 1965, at the Berkeley campus he had organized a Vietnam teach-in, the largest in the U.S.

He called me in New York, inviting me to speak there. I urged him to also contact folksinger Phil Ochs, who could perform appropriate songs between speeches. Rubin had never heard of Ochs, but he accepted my suggestion. They would eventually become deep friends.

When Rubin was subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee, he wore a rented American Revolutionary costume, and he gave out copies of the Declaration of Independence. As the marshals carried him out, he yelled, “I want to testify!” He had manipulated the media to spread his patriotic message on radio, TV and the front pages of newspapers across the country. Read the rest of this review here.

In the Future, Will Farting Get You 5 to 10?

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Filed under: Creative Activism, First Amendment Issues, Hoax Etiquette, Legal Issues, Political Challenges

Update from HuffPost, September 1, 2017: Jeff Sessions’ DOJ To Put Woman Who Laughed At Jeff Sessions On Trial Yet Again


A new article by Joey Skaggs published in Huffington Post, May 4, 2017:


Jurors on the case against Desiree Fairooz—a protestor who laughed out loud during a Senate hearing on Jeff Sessions’ Attorney General appointment, when Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said Sessions had an “extensive record of treating all Americans equally under the law,” and then demanded to know why she was being physically removed and arrested—apparently felt forced to find her guilty. Some of them said it was not the laughter, although Justice Department attorneys believed that the laughter was enough to justify a criminal charge, but the disruption after the laughter that forced their hands.

protestor arrested for laughing

It’s a slippery slope away from our civil rights when jurors are forced to deliberate on laws that should be challenged rather than enforced. What’s next? If you fart out loud, you get 5 to 10?

And, it looks like laws about public conduct are being used in a discriminatory way. Not everyone is being held to the same standard. Remember South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson, Sr. who yelled, “You lie!” at President Obama in a joint session of Congress? His outburst was considered “disrespectful” and he got off with an apology.

In fact, these days, everyone should be laughing and challenging the obvious hypocrisy and alternative facts presented to us daily by the Trump Administration and members of Congress. Laughter is a great way to help people realize how absurd the situation is when officials lie with impunity. We have short memories. We should think back to the Chicago 7 and how satire and mockery were powerful tools used to sway public opinion in 1968.

We the people should not tolerate this kind of abuse of power. So, let’s, at every opportunity, scoff, mock, satirize and laugh, so that unthinking people might start thinking. The First Amendment does not give you the right to slander someone, and sometimes it’s not effective to disregard civility, but challenges must be made and people have to find ways to speak out. Let’s do it in a more creative way so as not to be sucked up into the legal loop and drained of time and resources.

I’ve been using satire as a weapon of choice since the 60s. And I marvel with wonder at how lucky I’ve been to not be locked up for some of the things I’ve done. There have certainly been enough people rooting for my incarceration.

I suspect this protestor was unaware of the potential legal ramifications of her actions. Not that being aware would (or should) have stopped her. I think she was brave to do what she did. However, had she been aware, or perhaps more thoughtful about her plans, she might have come up with a more creative way to protest given the circumstances. It’s always necessary to ask, “Do my actions have a chance of being effective or will they be alienating and dismissed?” Had she stopped at the laughter, she might have made a greater case in the court of public opinion.

We can’t let false truths become the official record. Lies should be revealed and challenged at every opportunity. It’s the system allowing them to continue unfettered that must be changed.

And… Capitol security should not be run by the airline industry.


Trump Brand Thrives on the Dark Markets

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Legal Issues, Prank News, Pranksters, Publicity Stunts

Of all the business initiatives pumped by the Trump brand, this may be the darkest.


“Dark Web Drug Dealers are Using the Donald Trump Brand”
by Joseph Cox
The Daily Beast
August 22, 2017

Cybercriminals selling drugs and stolen credit cards have adopted an unlikely new branding trend on the so-called dark web. A host of black-market dealers are using the brand, name and likeness of the 45th president to upsell their shipments of ecstasy, cocaine, and ketamine.

“Let’s make the darknet great again,” pledges one of these illicit online businesses that literally calls itself “Donald Trump.”

Several of the vendor’s listings refer to their store as “Trump Towers,” where they sell “presidential” quality shipments of illicit substances.

“Donald Trump” sells its wares on Dream, an established dark web marketplace. After the FBI closed the largest market called AlphaBay last month, and European cops shuttered a second popular online bazaar, Dream is now likely the busiest underground drug site. Some vendors on Dream also offer your usual array of counterfeit currency and fake identity documents.

According to the ‘Donald Trump’ listings, the dealer posts drugs from Belgium, but they do not ship to the U.S. Photos of the large blocks of cocaine include a Donald Trump bobble-head.

‘Donald Trump’ appears to have plenty of satisfied customers. Whenever someone buys an item on the dark web, the market typically prompts them to leave a rating and short review. That way, potential customers can get a better idea of who sells the real product, and who may be a scammer. Read more.

Joey Skaggs to appear at Atlas Obscura LIVE!

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Pranksters, The Prank as Art

At least we hope it’s him!

Special guests join the writers and editors of Atlas Obscura for a totally authentic variety show!

Atlas Obscura LIVE! Imposters


Thursday, September 14, 2017

8:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
 
702 Union St.
Brooklyn, New York, 11215
 
$15 Advance / $20 Day of Show
 
**PLEASE NOTE: This event will be mixed seated/standing. Arrive early for best seat selection.

 

ART OF THE PRANK to screen Sept 11 in NYC

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Filed under: Art of the Prank - the movie, Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art

This screening is free and everyone is invited!

SVA After School Special screening
 
 

Andrea Marini’s award winning documentary film, ART OF THE PRANK, about the life and work of Joey Skaggs, has been selected to open the SVA Alumni Film and Animation Festival at the beautiful SVA Theatre on West 23rd Street in New York.

When:
September 11, 2017

Where:
SVA Theatre
333 West 23rd Street
New York, NY

Joey Skaggs will be there and will do a Q&A after the screening.


This will be a great chance to see the film on the big screen in New York
before it is released on the digital platforms like iTunes, Amazon, Googleplay in October
(stay tuned for details).


TICKET DETAILS:
THIS SCREENING IS FREE!
General Admission RSVPs via Eventbrite are appreciated
but not necessary, and do not guarantee admittance.
Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Doors will open approximately 30 minutes prior to each screening.

Spectacle TV Without the Spectacle…

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Media Literacy, Publicity Stunts

Olympian Michael Phelps unsurprisingly lost his Sunday race against a simulated great white shark.


“Twitter users blast Michael Phelps for not racing a real shark”
by Chris Perez
New York Post
July 24, 2017

Can you blame him?

Social media users were tearing Michael Phelps to shreds for his “race” against a Great White shark on Sunday night — calling it a “scam” — after he chose to swim side-by-side with a simulation, instead of the real thing.

“Don’t say Phelps is racing a shark if you’re not going to put him against an actual shark,”
tweeted Breyanna Davis, who was one of countless viewers to get confused over the way the televised swimming competition went down.

“So you mean to tell me Michael Phelps didn’t even race a real shark? It was just a simulation. I’m mad. More like Shark WEAK!” said Frank Costa.

User @M_Frosti added, “smh Michael Phelps isn’t actually racing a shark. He’s just racing a simulation of a shark. Biggest scam of 2017.” Read more.

Portofess: The Church Must Go Where the Sinners Are!

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, The Big One, The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art

The Story of the ‘Portofess,’ the Prank Confessional Booth at the 1992 Democratic Convention
by Sarah Laskow
Atlas Obscura
July 14, 2017

Artist Joey Skaggs fooled everyone and pedaled off.

Father Anthony Joseph (aka Joey Skaggs) pedals his Portofess to the 1992 Democratic National Convention, courtesy Joey Skaggs Archive

At 1992’s Democratic National Convention, a Dominican priest showed up on a tricycle. Attached to the back was a confessional booth, with a sign that read “Portofess.” The priest said he biked to New York, where the convention was held, all the way from California. The church, according to the priest, needed to take a “more aggressive stance and go where the sinners are.” He was ready to take confession from any politician who wanted or needed it.

The Portofess made papers all over the country. But soon enough Reuters revealed that the Archdiocese in California had never heard of this priest, who called himself Father Anthony Joseph or, sometimes, Father William. All other efforts to find him after the convention failed, as well, because he wasn’t a priest at all, but a character conceived by artist and activist Joey Skaggs, who has perfected the art of pranking the media.

Skaggs’s works include “Fish Condos” for upwardly mobile guppies, “Santa’s Missile Tow,” which featured Santa and his elves bringing a missile to the United Nations, and many other sculptures and performances. He talked to Atlas Obscura about what it took to create the Portofess and what reactions he got from the police, protestors, and the public. Read the full interview here.