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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

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?


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.


Triumph the Insult Comic Dog Pranks GOP Supporters

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Media Pranks, Parody

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog sends women posing as Fox News reporters to GOP political events to ask some tough questions.

Thanks Steven Beer!

Two Guys Build a Wall Around Trump Tower

Filed under: Creative Activism, Political Pranks, Pranksters, Satire

Some artists build bridges and others are intrigued by the walls that divide humankind. In response to Donald Trump’s plan for a wall along the Mexican border, The Good Liars propose a wall around Trump’s own property… you know, to keep in the “assholes.”

h/t HuffPo.

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

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.

“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…)

Iranian Street Art Gets the Doc Treatment

Filed under: Creative Activism, Political Pranks

Mutiny of Colours is a documentary in progress focusing on some of the higher-profile graffiti artists of Iran. Priscilla Frank at HuffPo profiles 12 of the artists showcased, with plenty of visuals and access to the trailer. Some of the work is satirical. Some is political. All of it arose in a climate uniquely hostile to this sort of expression.


iranianstreetart3 iranianstreetart5 iranianstreetart4 iranianstreetart2

Let’s Bomb Agrabah!

Filed under: All About Pranks, Creative Activism, Media Literacy, Political Pranks, Propaganda and Disinformation

A significant portion of the American voting public, particularly from the Republican ranks and particularly among Donald Trump fans, are at least somewhat in favor of bombing Agrabah.

“People Want to Bomb the Fictional Kingdom in Aladdin, But Don’t Panic Yet”
By Ariel Edwards-Levy and Natasha Jackson
Huffington Post
December 18, 2015

jafarvsaladdin“Americans are deeply divided over whether to bomb the kingdom of Agrabah, according to a new poll, with Republicans more likely to be in favor and Democrats tending to be opposed.

But here’s the problem: “Agrabah” happens to be the fictional home of Aladdin.

Public Policy Polling, a prominent Democratic-leaning polling firm, included the question in its most recent national poll. (Let’s not forget that this is the same firm that listed “Deez Nuts” as a candidate on a North Carolina poll.)

Over half of Democrats and 43 percent of Republicans answered the Agrabah question. Thirty percent of Republican primary voters were in favor of bombing the fictional location, while 13 percent were opposed. Among Democrats, 19 percent were in favor and 36 percent were opposed. (more…)

Fear, Loathing, and Farts in Austin

Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Pranks, Pranksters, Publicity Stunts

Texas is at the center of the national controversy over mass shootings and gun control. And few cities have the same flair for the theatrical as does Austin.

The warring sides of the gun debate recently staged their own equally ridiculous public events in the state capital.

Fake Mass ShootingThe Huffington Post reports that “Pro-gun advocates doused fake victims with fake blood outside the University of Texas on Saturday in what they called a theatrical event to show the need for firearms on campus.

“Their ‘mock mass shooting’ was met with a much larger counter-protest and derision by many onlookers in the left-leaning city of Austin who saw the group pushing a position that could increase the danger brought by firearms at the university that saw one of the worst mass school shootings in U.S. history.

“One of the mock mass shooting organizers, the group Come and Take It Texas, said allowing gun-free zones on campuses eliminated a human right to personal protection.

“‘Our goal is to instill the importance of everyone to be able to defend themselves in any way they choose,’ the group said in a statement posted on its website.” Whole thing here.

mass farting counter-protestMeanwhile, as reported in the Austin Chronicle, “Pro-gun demonstrators staging a mock mass shooting near the University of Texas at Austin on Saturday were overwhelmed in number and ferocity by a large group of counter-protesters wielding dildos and machines that generated fart sounds.

“‘This isn’t about guns necessarily. This is about scaring our community. This is about a choice between fear and a little bit of good humor,’ Andrew Dobbs, a UT alumnus who organized the ‘mass farting’ counter-protest, told the crowd. ‘We are in a scary time right now and lots of scary things are happening, and some people want us to be more afraid.’ Whole thing here.

Peter Markus, RIP

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:


Peter Markus Flag Shirt-1970s

Providence Punks Poke Fun at Local Foodies

Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Pranksters, Satire

As marks go, culinary snobs are low-hanging pomegranates. But these anonymous Rhode Island performance artists get points for their attention to detail. (H/t to Dave Pell.)

The Hippest Cafe in Providence Was Totally Fake
By Vicky Gan
October 27, 2015

luracafeFor a few #blessed days, Lura Cafe was the hottest new restaurant in Providence. The bright, cozy farm-to-table joint hid in plain sight next to a downtown parking lot, steps away from the Rhode Island Convention Center. Lura would be a refuge for diners in the know, serving modern takes on cafe classics—all local, all organic, all certified GMO-free. It was upscale and casual, timeless and avant-garde. It had a vaguely Nordic air of refinement.

It announced itself – as all similarly accoutred restaurants must – with a social media blitz, featuring sans serif lettering, sunny high-angle shots of brunch dishes, even a breathless write-up in the New York Times.

It was also totally fake.

When Lura Cafe “opened” on October 18, visitors were greeted not with avocado toast and bruleed carrots but with a manifesto: “‘Lura’ is a statement project targeting the rising phenomenon of the elitist subculture of foodies.” Beside it, a translation of “Lura” – “Swedish for fool, trick, deceive, lure, cheat, befool” – and a call to arms: #stopfoodies2015.

The satire wasn’t exactly subtle. In the days leading up to Lura’s grand opening, the restaurant’s Facebook page taunted followers with a surreal menu of “home-cut potatoes… wrapped in authentic New York Times newspaper,” “cold brew coffee served… over mineralized water rocks,” and “10x washed quinoa salad.” The quote attributed to Pontus Wikner, “POTS SEIDOOF,” is “FOODIES STOP” backwards. Full story here.

RyanFair Hoax: Flights of Fancy

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

From Andrea Natella: The RyanFair media hoax: Shaming the world into being a better place one corporation at a time.

‘RyanFair’ hoax claims airline will carry refugees visa-free
30 Sep, 2015 16:20

© Andrew Yates/Reuters

© Andrew Yates/Reuters

A hoax website masquerading as an initiative driven by budget airline Ryanair has offered to transport asylum seekers lacking the proper documentation, as Europe grapples with one of history’s worst refugee crises.

The prank site claims the airline will transport migrants from Greece, Montenegro, Slovakia and Hungary into Western Europe. A spokesperson for Ryanair told RT that the site is “entirely fictitious” and has absolutely no affiliation with the carrier.

The site included a fabricated quote from Ryanair Chief Marketing Officer Kenny Jacobs: “We are facing the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era, confirming our mission: made [sic] air travel accessible to the masses. We decided to open to refugees our routes from Greece and East Europe, violating a rule that simply dumps government responsibilities on the carriers. We will proudly cover all the costs of this violation.”



Arabic Graffiti on TV’s Homeland: The Writing’s on the Wall

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Political Pranks

Street Artists Infiltrate ‘Homeland’ With Subversive Graffiti
by Dan Bilefsky and Mona Boshnaq
The New York Times
October 15, 2015

On TV's "Homeland," artists hired to add authenticity to a Syrian refugee-camp set scrawled Arabic graffiti messages declaring the show "racist."

On TV’s “Homeland,” artists hired to add authenticity to a Syrian refugee-camp set scrawled Arabic graffiti messages declaring the show “racist.”

LONDON — In a recent episode of Showtime’s hit series “Homeland,” the former C.I.A. officer Carrie Mathison is escorted by a Hezbollah militant past a wall in a fictional Syrian refugee camp covered with Arabic graffiti.

Attentive viewers who read Arabic, however, might have noticed something awry. Among the messages spray-painted on the walls: “ ‘Homeland’ is racist,” “There is no ‘Homeland’ ” and “ ‘Homeland’ is not a show.”

The subversive messages seemingly escaped the notice of the producers of the television series.

On Wednesday, an Egyptian artist, Heba Y. Amin, and two other artists, Caram Kapp and Stone, took credit for the graffiti, saying it was a subtle protest of false and misleading stereotypes in the series, which has been heavily criticized for its portrayals of Muslims. (more…)

The Squicky Side of International Development

Filed under: Creative Activism, Political Pranks, Satire

JadedAid, a new party game derived in style and spirit from Cards Against Humanity, satirizes the international development industry in brutal and hilarious fashion.

Cards Against Humanitarians
by Iyla Lozofsky
Foreign Policy
September 28, 2015

Needless to say, this very serious industry has its very serious critics. But few are as creative (or as hilarious) as three young development professionals who, in the last few weeks, have chosen to express their discontent by self-publishing a satirical card game. JadedAid is modeled on the popular millennial game, Cards Against Humanity, in which players compete to select the funniest (or most vulgar) answers to a set of “fill-in-the-blank” questions. Just a week since its opening, the JadedAid KickStarter campaign has collected nearly twenty thousand dollars — far ahead of its creators’ targets — and the game is well on its way to completion. As an example of the kind of decidedly un-pc satire the game provides, here is one possible combination of cards:

Some of the card ideas were developed by the game’s inventors, who, all in their thirties, have extensive experience in the technology and communication side of the development industry. But the vast majority of the suggestions (nearly 800 at last count) were submitted by friends, colleagues, and anonymous development workers. One of the game’s co-founders, Jessica Heinzelman, 36, attributes the game’s immediate appeal to the need for development workers to “let off some steam” by subjecting their experiences in the field to mockery. (more…)

Art Project Causes Outrage and Reflection

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

University at Buffalo student hangs ‘White Only’ signs on campus, sparks outrage
by Melissa Chan
New York Daily News
September 18, 2015

Ashley Powell White Only sign art project
These “White Only” signs were hung near bathrooms at the University at Buffalo this week. Ashley Powell, a graduate art student, admitted to hanging the signs for a class art project. UBSPECTRUM.COM

Ashley Powell, 25, who is black, admitted to plastering the Jim Crow-esque signs near several bathrooms and water fountains in a dorm as an art project to express her struggles with being a minority in the U.S. and to “expose white privilege.”

“I am in pain,” the graduate student wrote in a lengthy explanation posted on Facebook and published by the UB student newspaper. “My art practice is a remnant of my suffering. White privilege and compliance only exacerbate my symptoms.”

Powell said she hung up the signs to see how many white people would see the signs and do something about it, although she claims it was not a “social experiment.”

“Today these signs may no longer exist, but the system that they once reinforced still does,” she wrote. “Any white person who would walk past these signs without ripping them down shows a disturbing compliance with this system.”

The signs, which Powell said were created with support from her professor and colleagues, caused a firestorm of controversy on campus. Students denounced the project as racist and a hate crime, ABC 27 reported. Read the whole story here.

Bible Studies for Kim Davis

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Filed under: Creative Activism, The Big One

Planting Peace Sends a Message to Kim Davis, September 11, 2015


Following the June 26th Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, Rowan County clerk Kim Davis refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses in her home state, citing that doing so compromised her religious beliefs. That day, she became the poster child for the anti-gay movement.

As has been painstakingly observed time and time again, the anti-LGBTQ movement is comprised of a substantial number of zealots who unfailingly refer to their rigid interpretation of religious text to narrowly define “traditional” institutions and values. They pick and choose what they wish to convey as immoral and unacceptable, while seemingly sweeping lines of scripture just a few letters away completely under the rug.

In response, Planting Peace has constructed a message for Kim Davis and the anti-LGBTQ movement. The intent of the billboard is to expose this narrow interpretation by Davis and others that they use to defend their discrimination against the LGBTQ community. It is important and relevant to call this out, because these messages and actions are not simply about a political or religious debate. There are LGBTQ youth across the world who are taking their lives at an alarming rate because of these messages from society that make them feel broken or less than. We have to meet hate with love…intolerance with compassion.

Our message to our LGBTQ youth is simple:
You are loved, valued, supported, and beautiful.
There is nothing wrong with you, and we will stand by you.
You are not alone.

Planting Peace

photo: Huffington Post