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We Are Movie Geeks Interview: Joey Skaggs – Subject of ART OF THE PRANK

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

SLIFF 2016 Interview: Joey Skaggs – Subject of ART OF THE PRANK
by Tom Stockman
We Are Movie Geeks
November 2, 2016

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ART OF THE PRANK offers a hilarious and provocative profile of New York artist Joey Skaggs, the godfather of the media hoax. Famed for such media fictions as the Celebrity Sperm Bank, the Cathouse for Dogs, the Fat Squad, and the Portofess (a mobile confessional booth) — all reported as fact by reputable journalists — the prankster qualifies as one of America’s greatest living satirists. Chronicling the most demanding hoax of Skaggs’ career, filmmaker Andrea Marini provides privileged access to the thoughts and actions of this most unconventional man, following the evolution of an artist who has dedicated his life to seeking social change by relentlessly challenging the status quo. With unprecedented access to Skaggs and his archives, the documentary reveals the man behind the curtain, interweaving his current unfolding hoax with a look behind the scenes at some of his classic performance pieces. The New York Observer calls the film “an upbeat summary of decades of mischief” and “an intimate portrait of an earnest man earnestly engaged in the business of tomfoolery.”

Joey Skaggs took the time to talk to We Are Movie Geeks about ART OF THE PRANK.


A Visit to Scarfolk, the UK’s Weirdest Fake Town

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

Atlas Obscura presents a tourist’s guide to Richard Littler’s eerie, anachronistic, made-up universe. Fans of Welcome to Night Vale may be particularly intrigued.


“Digging Through the Archives of Scarfolk, the Internet’s Creepiest Fake Town”
by Cara Giaimo
Atlas Obscura
October 17, 2016

scarfolkIn 1978, the town of Scarfolk, in northwest England, cut its police budget in half. This drastic measure was followed by a wave of violent crime. To deal with the influx of dead bodies, the remaining police did the obvious thing—they teamed up with the “Keep Britain Tidy” campaign, and encouraged citizens, especially children, to pick up “victim debris” themselves.

If this sounds too grotesque to be true, don’t worry—it is! There were never any smiling, appendage-finding kids in Scarfolk, because Scarfolk never existed. But the town’s online presence is meticulously detailed and impressively creepy. For three years, graphic designer Richard Littler has been using his design skills and bone-dry wit to write a whole history of Scarfolk, a fictional, supernatural-tinged town that finds humor in dystopia, and is closer to today’s world than we might like to think.

Scarfolk is perpetually stuck in the 1970s, and repeats the decade on loop. On his blog, “Scarfolk Council,” Littler presents the town’s story through materials from the council’s “archive”: posters, pamphlets and packaging that reveal aspects of everyday life. Carefully Photoshopped and inspired by real source material, Littler’s creations pack a punch—with their pastel, large fonted bombast, they could easily be mistaken for actual ’70s artifacts. Read more.

A Golden Throne for America’s Royal Hiney

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

In what reads like a pitch for an art film or a postmodern fever dream, journalist Carey Dunne goes on a thoughtful search for the story behind artist Maurizio Cattelan’s “epic troll,” a solid gold toilet named “America”.


“Waiting To Pee in ‘America,’ the Gold Toilet at the Guggenheim”
by Carey Dunne
Hyperallergic
September 23, 2016

aotp_americaWhile waiting in line to pee in “America,” a toilet cast in 18-karat gold and installed in a Guggenheim Museum bathroom, I ran into my friend Fritz Mead, who lives in a shack he built himself out of scrap wood in a backyard next to a skate bowl he also built himself. The shack doesn’t have plumbing, so to use a working toilet he has to leave his shack and go into the basement apartment next door.

Given his apparent ambivalence about plumbing — let alone luxury plumbing — I was surprised to see Fritz waiting to use the gold toilet, which is the work of Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. Estimated to be worth as much as $2.5 million, “America” (which opened at the Guggenheim last week), will remain installed in an otherwise ordinary fourth floor bathroom for a year. (When asked exactly how much the toilet cost, a guard said, “If you have to ask, you already know,” a riddle I am still trying to solve.)

Cattelan “intends visitors to use the toilet just as they would any other facility in the building,” according to the wall text. It gets special treatment, though: only one visitor is allowed inside the stall at a time, for no more than five minutes; the toilet seat must not be lifted; a security guard inspects the toilet after each visit; and a cleaning crew cleans it with a special gold-cleaning product every 20 minutes. The wait time when I visited was two hours.

Read the rest of the story here.

ART OF THE PRANK (The Movie) to Open the Lower East Side Film Festival

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

It’s a homecoming! Andrea Marini is interviewed by Kavitha Surana of Bedford + Bowery about his new film ART OF THE PRANK and about working with Joey Skaggs as he and Joey head towards Joey’s haunts from the 60s for the film’s New York premiere at the Lower East Side Film Festival June 9.


“Meet the King of All Media Hoaxes at the LES Film Festival”
by Kavitha Surana
Bedford + Bowery
June 2, 2016

skaggsposter‘Tis the season for festivals, apparently, and the Lower East Side is not one to be left in the dust. Along with an art festival in Bushwick, music festivals in Brooklyn, and more coming up in the next weeks, the Lower East Side Film Festival is coming to the nabe from June 9-16. It’ll hit the Sunshine Cinema, natch, as well as Hotel Indigo, the new Ludlow House and The Standard, East Village.

The headliner for opening night is the premier of The Art of the Prank, about a mischievous LES artist who loves nothing more than exposing the media’s hunger for sensational story with outrageous tall tales that sound just (barely) plausible enough to swallow. Lambasting the media has certainly been in fashion this election season, but no one has been doing it longer and in better style than Joey Skaggs (sorry, “Settle for Hillary” guys).

“I can connect with Joey’s art because at the end of the day, it’s the essence of storytelling to me,” said director Andrea Marini, who co-produced the film with Judy Drosd. “Keep it simple, keep it meaningful, keep it strong, immediate, and you’ll get people.”

Indeed, Skaggs “got” many people over a remarkable history, repeatedly pranking major news networks with weird fake stories, such as cockroach vitamin pills, fat squad “commandos,” and a brothel for dogs. (Marini said he was first inspired to create hoaxes after a newspaper completely misinterpreted one of his early performances against the Vietnam War.) As Skaggs says in the trailer, “People want an easy answer, they want a pill, the magic pill.” Read more.

Now You See the Louvre Pyramid, Now You Don’t

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Illusion and Magic

“JR at The Louvre” at Musée du Louvre, Paris from May 25 – June 28, 2016, presented by French Street Artist JR


This Summer, the Louvre’s Pyramid Will “Disappear”
By Erin Blakemore
Smithsonian.com
March 15, 2016

A French street artist promises a tantalizing trick of the eye

Louvre Pyramid

I.M. Pei’s grand pyramid brought controversy, modernity and a new entrance to the Louvre. But is it time for the pyramid to disappear? Kind of: As Henri Neuendorf reports for artnet News, a French artist will eliminate the pyramid through a mind-bending optical illusion this summer. Read the full story here.


Kim Jong Un Photoshop Battle

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Parody, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Pranksters, Satire

Considering the emphasis on free expression at reddit, it makes sense that an entire subreddit exists specifically to mock North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and the PRNK’s cult of personality and submission.

The Korean Central News Agency recently released a new photo of Kim that was remarkable for a number of reasons.

AOTP_KJU1

He is depicted wearing a dull business-style suit in lieu of his usual garish military garb. He looks like a beefy goofball making no effort to appear dignified. It’s up for debate what they were going for here, but the irony of such a Type A government feeding the worldwide media such an unflattering, obviously un-retouched image of its figurehead was not lost.

The highly active subreddit r/PhotoshopBattles sprang into action. Enjoy some of its work below. (H/t to HuffPo.)

AOTP_KJI5

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AOTP_KJU3

There are many more where these came from, including several more Kim Jong Trumps – make of that what you will.

New York’s Bad Boys

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Practical Jokes and Mischief, The World of the Prank

3 Notorious April Fools Day Pranks Played by Notable New Yorkers
by Nicole Levy
DNAInfo New York
March 31, 2016

Literary journalist George Plimpton, pop star David Bowie and career prankster Joey Skaggs have all set up hoaxes that fooled the media and the masses. Getty/Evan Agostini, Bryan Bedder; Flickr/Andres Rodriguez

Literary journalist George Plimpton, pop star David Bowie and career prankster Joey Skaggs have all set up hoaxes that fooled the media and the masses. Getty/Evan Agostini, Bryan Bedder; Flickr/Andres Rodriguez


April Fools’ Day is this Friday, and we sincerely hope you don’t get taken for one.

Concern for your own dignity doesn’t, however, exclude you from enjoying the pranks played on others. We’ve culled three of our favorite gags from the annals of recent history, all orchestrated by notable New Yorkers:

Literary journalist George Plimpton, pop star David Bowie and career prankster Joey Skaggs have all set up hoaxes that fooled the media and the masses. Getty/Evan Agostini, Bryan Bedder; Flickr/Andres Rodriguez

► The 15th Annual New York City April Fools Day Parade
On April 1, 2000, television crews from CNN and the Fox affiliate WNYW arrived at the intersections of 59th Street and Fifth Avenue at noon, expecting to cover a non-existent parade.

According to the press release they’d received, the 15th Annual NYC April Fools Day Parade would march down the avenue to Washington Square Park. It would feature “Beat ’em, Bust ’em, Book ’em Floats created by the New York, Los Angeles and Seattle Police Departments, portraying themes of brutality, corruption and incompetence,” and a “Mayor Rudy ‘Doody’ Giuliani” lookalike throwing elephant dung at passersby.

Longtime media prankster Joey Skaggs had been issuing fake news releases for the non-event recognizing “the day designated to commemorate the perennial folly of mankind” since 1986.

(Last year, he hooked the Chinese news agency Sinovision, which ran a 4-minute preview before April Fools’ Day.) The tradition continues this year, with an announcement of the 31st annual parade.

Read the rest of the article here.


The April Fool’s Day Parade gets the NYT Treatment

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Media Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, The World of the Prank

The Annual April Fool’s Day Parade has long been among Joey Skaggs’s most highly visible projects.


“A Fool’s Parade”
by Alexandra S. Levine
The New York Times
April 1, 2016

You’ve heard of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, right?

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? Of course.

But the April Fools’ Day Parade?

01NYTODAY-articleLarge

The procession is expected to file from 59th Street and Fifth Avenue down to Washington Square Park, beginning at noon, rain or shine.

Organized by the New York April Fools’ Committee, the spectacle is intended to poke fun at public figures — celebrities, politicians, executives and anyone else who has proved deserving of caricature.

“Nothing is sacred. Our satire knows no bounds,” the committee said in a statement, adding, “The Parade Committee assumes no liability for damages caused by satire.”

Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, (a look-alike, of course) leads the parade, sitting atop a ballistic missile float.

The “Hypocrisy and Democracy” float features presidential candidates yelling confusing speeches at passers-by.

And Kanye West rides the “Infinity Mirror” float, because, well, organizers think he could stare at his own reflection until the end of time.

Just kidding.

To all of the above.

The nonexistent parade is solely a fixture in the imagination of the New York artist Joey Skaggs, a prankster who creates elaborate hoaxes as a form of social activism.

He’s blasted out news releases, posted videos and has managed to get his April Fools’ Day Parade website appearing near the top of search engine results.

“It’s a mystery to me how we continue to enable fools to make fools of us,” Mr. Skaggs said.

Touché.


Banksy Casts his Lot with Steve Jobs in Support of Syrian Refugees in France

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Pranks, Prank News

Banksy, the loved, hated, famous, infamous, politically ambiguous, and seemingly invulnerable Jay-Z of street art, has apparently posted some new work in Calais, France, home of a Syrian refugee camp.


banksystevejobs
“Syrian Refugees Apparently Have A New Ally: Banksy”

By Ryan Grenoble
Huffington Post
December 11, 2015

He’s no terrorist. He’s Steve Jobs.

And he stars in a piece of street art that appeared recently at an informal refugee camp in Calais, France, and has been attributed to the British artist known as Banksy.

The encampment, nicknamed “the Jungle” for its chaotic, squalid living conditions, is home to some 7,000 predominantly Middle Eastern refugees hoping to migrate to Britain.

As the Paris attacks have led to fear-mongering that terrorists may hide among the streams of refugees, Banksy’s work is a reminder not to let fear steer policy. Steve Jobs was himself the son of a Syrian refugee who immigrated to the U.S. from Homs. (more…)

Peter Markus, RIP

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art

Peter Markus, former classmate from the 60s at the School of Visual Arts, a talented artist, satirist and cartoonist, and a very dear friend, passed away on Wednesday, November 18, 2015. He was 70 years old. Peter was a frequent co-conspirator, working with me on numerous projects, usually behind-the-scenes, using his significant design talents to create graphic images of all sorts.

This is an image he created in 2000 purportedly for his own memorial as part of my Final Curtain media hoax, in which we promoted a cemetery theme park for creative people who wished to celebrate their own demise with satirical markers and mausoleums:

Peter Markus' self-made memorial tombstone from Joey Skaggs' Final Curtain media hoax in 2000

Peter broke his back in a motorcycle accident in the sixties, but it never stopped his indomitable creative spirit. He’ll be sorely missed.

Here are a couple of archive photos of Peter from the 70s:

PeterMarkusDog-1970s-72

Peter Markus Flag Shirt-1970s


Art of the Prank Movie is About to Launch!

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Filed under: Art of the Prank - the movie, Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Prank News, Pranksters

Art of the Prank movie still

We’re excited!

Art of the Prank, the feature documentary film about the life and work of artist Joey Skaggs, produced and directed by Andrea Marini and co-produced by Judy Drosd, is nearing completion. Filmed in New York, London, Hawaii, Los Angeles, Kentucky & Tennessee, the movie, a story of true will and determination, follows Joey as he attempts to pull off the most challenging media hoax of his career.

The movie website is now live at http://artoftheprank-themovie.com.
The Facebook and Twitter pages are respectively at:
http://www.facebook.com/artoftheprankthemovie
http://twitter.com/aotp_themovie

Here’s the teaser trailer:

The plan is to submit the film to film festivals around the world and to begin showing it widely. We’re open to all forms of distribution so please share any ideas you have with us. You are very important to the success of this film. The more that our friends and colleagues spread the word, the more opportunities we’ll have to grow an audience. We’d love to have as many people see the film as possible.

There will be more news soon about some exciting screenings this Fall.


Comedy/Art: You Gotta Be Kidding!

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Satire

From Dino D’Annibale:


On Trend:Marina Abramovic, Meet Chelsea Handler? How Standup Comedy Became the New Performance Art
by Chloe Wyma
Artspace.com
August 28, 2015

No longer at the margins of the art world, practitioners combining art and comedy are now attracting critical buzz and institutional recognition.

Dynasty Handbag

Dynasty Handbag

“Tonight I have cooked up—let me use your language—‘curated’ a show tonight,” the artist Jibz Cameron joked in the opening monologue of “Good Morning Good Evening Feelings,” her one-woman motivational variety show at the Kitchen last April. Cameron, performing as her spandex-clad, rubber-faced alter ego Dynasty Handbag, wore pancake makeup and an ill-fitting fluorescent pink satin waistcoat over a flesh-colored unitard. “I hope no one was thinking they were gonna see art,” she goaded the audience. “Are there art people here?” The ensuing lighting-fast hour included a lesson in how to make a smoothie out of immaterial fears and anxieties, an incoherent karaoke rendition of Madonna’s “Vogue,” and an interview with Womanhood (personified by a British-accented cartoon crotch in white panties.)

Cameron’s performances, which draw liberally from the conventions of standup comedy, are undeniably funny—but they also represent a new hybrid art form. From Jaimie Warren’s bizarre vaudeville to Jayson Musson (a.k.a Hennessy Youngman’s) viral Youtube sendups of art world orthodoxies with a dose of hip-hop swagger, contemporary art and alternative comedy have never been more intertwined. In certain cases, they’re indistinguishable.

Watch the Hennessy Youngman video

“It’s a cultural zeitgeist thing. I think standup is having an interesting moment, a kind of renaissance,” says Jill Dawsey, curator of the recent “Laugh In: Art Comedy Performance” at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. She counts experimental comics Maria Bamford and Reggie Watts among those who have expanded the genre to embrace unprecedented weirdness. “There’s this formal kinship where there are more experimental comedic acts that resemble performance art, and then there are a lot of artists who are doing something more like standup comedy.”

Read the rest of the article here.


Mickey Mouse is Mourning

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Parody, Pranksters, Satire

Banksy’s Dismaland website is up. Includes full details and schedules.

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Thanks Chris


Banksy’s Dismaland Theme Park Opens

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Parody, Satire, The Prank as Art

Channel 4 News reports, August 20, 2016:

Banksy’s “family theme park unsuitable for small children” has opened on the Weston-super-Mare seafront. It features migrant boats, dead princesses and Banksy’s trademark dark humour.

The park features Banksy’s artistry as well as works by 50 other artists including Damien Hirst and Jenny Holzer.

Buzzfeed published these photos:

Banksy's Dismaland: Little Mermaid

Dismaland is a five-week show housed inside and around a derelict Tropicana building in Weston-super-Mare, a seaside town in Somerset, England. Photo by Christopher Jobson for Colossal

Banksy's Dismaland theme park Seaworld-like attraction. Christopher Jobson for Colossal

Banksy’s Dismaland theme park Seaworld-like attraction. Christopher Jobson for Colossal

Banksy's tanker truck disaster at Dismaland. Yui Mok / PA WIRE

Tanker truck disaster in Banksy’s Dismaland theme park. Yui Mok / PA WIRE

Grim reaper on bumper cars at Banksy's Dismaland theme park. Yui Mok / PA WIRE

Grim reaper on bumper cars at Banksy’s Dismaland theme park. Yui Mok / PA WIRE

Radio controlled refugee boat game at Banksy's Dismaland theme park. Yui Mok / PA WIRE

Radio controlled refugee boat game at Banksy’s Dismaland theme park. Yui Mok / PA WIRE

Pigeon hazard at Banksy's Dismaland theme park. Yui Mok / PA WIRE

Pigeon hazard at Banksy’s Dismaland theme park. Yui Mok / PA WIRE

Banksy’s theme? According the BBC he said, “”I guess you’d say it’s a theme park whose big theme is ‘theme parks should have bigger themes’.”

Read more about what Banksy describes as a “family theme park unsuitable for children” at BBC.com and at Huffington Post.


Inside the Center for Tactical Magic

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

Here’s a rare glimpse behind the enigma of the legendary Center for Tactical Magic as founder Aaron Gach shares his background, philosophy, and success stories in this interview with Regine Debatty.


“Interview with The Center for Tactical Magic”
by Regine Debatty
We Make Money Not Art
August 14, 2015

The Center for Tactical Magic uses any craft and scheme available, from the most magical to the most pragmatic, to address issues of power relations and self-empowerment.

At the CTM we are committed to achieving the Great Work of Tactical Magic through community-based projects, daily interdiction, and the activation of latent energies toward positive social transformation.

Tactical Ice Cream Unit

CTM’s work combines appealing aesthetics, humour and language with actions that invite people to think, question and reclaim their civil rights. Their most famous project is the Tactical Ice Cream Unit, a truck distributing free ice cream along with propaganda developed by local progressive groups. Another of their initiative saw them launch a bank heist contest. And a year before that, they responded to New York’s stop-and-frisk policy by screening Linking & Unlinking on a digital billboard in Manhattan. The billboard showed amateur footage demonstrating how to pick a pair of handcuffs, magicians performing a classic magic trick called “linking rings“, while a text from the American Civil Liberties Union was scrolling down and explaining passersby what their rights were if they were stopped by the police. In 2013, they set up big Witches’ Cradles that evoke the Inquisition and enveloped people into an altered state (of consciousness, or an altered political state). Most recently, Gach directed and performed a radical magic show which drew parallels between magic acts and contemporary issues such as economic manipulation, political deception, vanishing resources, and social transformation.

Read the interview here.