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

Join Us at New York City’s 36th Annual April Fools’ Day Parade!

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

NYC April Fools' Day Parade jester

The New York April Fools’ Committee Is Proud to Announce:
NEW YORK CITY’S 36th ANNUAL APRIL FOOLS’ DAY PARADE

“DENY, DENY, LIE, LIE!”

The only New York City parade dedicated to conspiracy theorists!

New York’s irreverent April Fools’ Day Parade, poking fun at the past year’s displays of hype, hypocrisy, deceit, bigotry, and downright stupidity, is back for the 36th year!

The public is invited to create outrageous floats and dress up as look-alikes in colorful costumes to reflect the folly of the nuttiest politicians, crooked corporate leaders, silly celebrities, and whoever else has proved to be a total fool in the past year.

Floats should be no wider than 10’ and no longer than 30’. They can be self-propelled, towed, pushed or pulled. Customized bicycles, tricycles, baby carriages and helium balloons are welcome. The Parade Committee assumes no liability for damage caused by satire.

The theme of the parade this year is “DENY, DENY, LIE, LIE!” The parade’s Grand Marshall is Texas Senator Ted Cruz in a sombrero dragging a rolling suitcase. He’ll be followed by the QAnon Marching Band singing the Village People’s “Macho Man.” Color commentary will be provided by former Fox News commentator Lou Dobbs. Security will be provided by the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers who will be standing back and standing by.

The parade will lead off with Donald Trump Jr. driving a Trump 2024 Campaign Bus. Anyone voicing opposition to his dad’s claims of voter fraud will be promptly thrown under the bus. Next up is the Georgia Republican Election Officials Float waving 11,780 Biden votes they’ve miraculously found for Trump. This will be followed by a float with a Scale Model of Mount Rushmore with Trump’s Face Added, an Exhibition of Displaced Confederate Statues, and a Shipping Container brimming with Stolen Podiums, Flags, Computers, Important Papers, and Cell Phones from the January 6 Capitol Insurrection. All of these and some Spin Art attached to a Non-Fungible Token (NFT) on the Mobile Ethereum Mining Float will be auctioned by Christie’s to help fund next year’s event (Cryptocurrency only).

Visit http://aprilfoolsdayparade.com for more details.

Oregon Documentary Film Festival Director Interviews Director Judy Drosd

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

From Mikel Fair, “We had an opportunity to catch up with director of the independent film documentary film Joey Skaggs: Bad Guys Talent Management Agency, which screened at Oregon Documentary Film Festival Winter 2021. The screening on February 28, 2021 was a live drive-in theater screening on the Film Festival Circuit.

Judy Drosd Interview, Film Festival Circuit, March 1, 2021

Where Were You on Valentine’s Day 52 Years Ago?

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Pranks, Pranksters, Satire, The History of Pranks

In 1969 on Valentine’s Day, artist Joey Skaggs satirized male chauvinist Wall Street workers by stretching a fifty foot brassiere across the U.S. Treasury building on Wall Street in New York City. He called it his Big Bust.

Read the whole story here.

50′ Bra Video (no audio)

The back story on Francine Gottfried (from Wikipedia)

Francine Gottfried (born 1947) is a clerical worker in New York City’s Financial District who acquired sudden brief celebrity when, in the space of two weeks in September 1968, increasing numbers of men began watching her as she walked to work. Newspapers dubbed her “Wall Street’s Sweater Girl” as her curvaceous figure seemed to be the sole reason that crowds formed spontaneously around her whenever she appeared in the financial district.

Gottfried started working at Chemical Bank in the financial district on May 27, 1968. By late August, a small band of creeps had noticed her, and that she always followed the same route. They timed her daily arrival and started spreading the word to their colleagues and co-workers. For three weeks, the band of gawkers grew exponentially larger until on September 18 there were 2,000 people waiting for her. (more…)

Joe Enright on Joey Skaggs–60 Years of Satire, Psychic Attorneys and Mobile Confessionals

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Media Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire, The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art

Joe Enright takes a walk down memory lane and reviews Joey Skaggs Satire and Art Activism, 1960s to the Present and Beyond, the new oral history series debuting at the New Jersey Film Festival on Friday, February 12, 2021


Joey Skaggs: 60 Years of Satire, Psychic Attorneys & Mobile Confessionals, by Joe Enright, Argyle Heights, February 10, 2021

In the mid-1960s, a Lower East Side artist organized crucifixion performances in the East Village on Easter Sunday, protesting social injustice and the Vietnam War. They created…wait for it…wait for it…controversy! The cops swarmed and he was busted. This inspired some Hollywood filmmakers to option his life story for a movie. To which the young man responded: “What life story? I’m only 20!” Indeed, there would be so much more to his story.

Joey Skaggs went on to become a satirist and prankster with an extraordinary history of accomplishments, only some of which were crammed into the hilarious 2015 documentary, Art of the Prank. But many scholars also consider him a progenitor of “culture jamming” and “reality hacking,” decades before such high-falutin’ terms were invented to describe his sly takeover of the language and visual trappings of American culture in order to subversively critique it. His pranks are never vicious, never illegal, but they do require a deadpan sense of humor, good acting skills, well-crafted press releases, financing for props, costumes, videos and above all, a wonderful imagination with the planning necessary to carry it all forward.

Skaggs is foremost a very versatile artist, but when pressed for a definitive occupational title I could pin on him for this profile, Joey chose “Pataphysician,” defined by the 19th century French writer Alfred Jarry as a practitioner of “the science of imaginary solutions.” Among Skaggs’ long list of solutions that have brought joy to many fellow citizens, and embarrassment to bamboozled reporters and societal gate-keepers, some stand out for their sheer audacity. Read the whole article here.


Catch the First Four Joey Skaggs Oral Histories at the (Virtual) New Jersey Film Festival Friday

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Literary Hoaxes, Media Pranks, Parody, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire, The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art

Who is Joey Skaggs?

Find out more as the New Jersey Film Festival screens the first four oral histories in the new series, Joey Skaggs Satire and Art Activism, 1960s to the Present and Beyond this Friday, February 12, 2021.

The screening is virtual and is available for streaming anywhere (not just in New Jersey) for 24 hours as of 12:01 am. From the moment you begin watching, you have 24 hours to finish it.

Teaser trailer

On the Passing of Margo St. James, the Realist Nun, by Richard Milner

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Media Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, The History of Pranks

Richard Milner is the author of Darwin’s Universe: Evolution from A to Z.


Margo St. James, the media prankster, former hooker and champion of sexual freedom, died on January 11 in her hometown of Bellingham, Washington. She was 83. During her decades as a counterculture activist in San Francisco (1960s through 1980s), she led the crusade to upgrade legal rights for “ladies of the evening,” whom she described with respect as ‘sex workers.” To that end, she founded COYOTE — “Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics” — which she characterized as “a loose union of women,” or perhaps “a union of loose women.” She was a serious unionist. When a reporter referred to her as a “former madam,” she demanded a retraction and proudly proclaimed, “I was never management.”

But I always thought Margo’s best claim to fame was as “the Realist Nun,” which is how I first heard of her. What, you may ask, was the Realist Nun?

In 1958, a satirist, social critic, and prankster named Paul Krassner founded an outrageous underground magazine called “The Realist”. It was inevitable that in the San Francisco of the 1960s Margo and Paul would meet and become longtime pals and co-conspirators. Margo got hold of an authentic nun’s habit and began wearing it when stepping out with Paul. Once they visited an airport and lingered at the departure gate, where they embraced and began kissing passionately, with Margo attired in the nun’s outfit. Finally, when they were through, she said in a loud voice, “Goodbye, have a great flight, Father Berrigan!” And thus began the annals of The Realist Nun. (more…)

Joey Skaggs Oral History Film Series Launches

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, First Amendment Issues, Political Challenges, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire, The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art, Why Do a Prank?

ANNOUNCING:

Joey Skaggs Satire and Art Activism, 1960s to the Present and Beyond

A new series of short oral history films,
produced and directed by Judy Drosd with Joey Skaggs

 

UPCOMING SCREENINGS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS ARE HERE



This “sticky” post will be here for a while. Scroll down for other posts.


A Look at the Probable Genesis of QAnon

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Filed under: Creative Activism, First Amendment Issues, Media Literacy, Political Challenges, Prank News, The History of Pranks, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

When media literacy and critical thinking are absent, the world becomes a much more dangerous place. Check out this very illuminating Buzzfeed link as well (in the 2nd paragraph below).


QAnon: the Italian artists who may have inspired America’s most dangerous conspiracy theory, by Eddy Frankel, The Art Newspaper, January 19, 2021

An anonymous left-wing art group known in the 1990s as Luther Blissett are wondering what they have unwittingly helped create

Q, the 1999 novel by the anonymous Italian art collective Luther Blissett, has notable similarities with the workings of QAnon

As the US Capitol was overwhelmed by Donald Trump supporters in early January, one figure stood out: with his painted face, bare chest, fur hat and American flag-draped spear, Jake Angeli became one of the most photographed rioters of the day. He is also known as the “QAnon Shaman” and has been seen waving a “Q sent me” placard in other protests.

QAnon is America’s most dangerous conspiracy theory, and if you pull hard enough on its threads, the whole tangled mess lands, somehow, at the feet of a group of Italian artists. It might sound like a conspiracy within a conspiracy, but, as Buzzfeed first reported in 2018, chances are that QAnon, at the start at least, took inspiration from an amorphous organisation of leftist artists who, for most of the mid-1990s, called themselves Luther Blissett after the 1980s English footballer.

They used the Watford and England striker’s name as a nom de plume, perpetrating countless media hoaxes, pranks and art interventions. They started raves on trams that turned into riots, they released albums, wrote books and manifestos, they mocked, questioned and undermined the mainstream, and they grew and grew until hundreds of people around the world were calling themselves Luther Blissett.

In the process, with their media-jamming hoaxes, they helped lay the groundwork for QAnon, a conspiracy theory about a secret satanic cabal of child abusers which controls the world. During the 2016 presidential elections, it famously gave rise to the rumour that Hillary Clinton ran a paedophile ring in a pizza parlour, Comet Ping Pong. More recently, QAnon has become a mainstay of far-right protests and riots, including the US Capitol insurrection. (more…)

Norman Savage, RIP

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

Norman Savage was a poet, author, friend and long-time co-conspirator. In addition to participating in performance pieces, he also doubled as me, even though we didn’t look or sound at all alike, on numerous occasions.

He was always game for some sly fun.

Here’s a brief journey through some of our hijinks together.



In 1986, Norman played the part of a diet commando in my Fat Squad hoax, where you could take out a contract on yourself and commandos would keep you on your diet.

In 1988, when Entertainment Tonight asked me to appear for a story promising the inside scoop on great hoaxes and hoaxers—how the news media falls for their stories, what to watch out for, and how not to be fooled—I sent Norman to appear as me.

In 1990, Norman played a “Hair Today, Ltd” scalp donor in a photo taken for Mark Dery’s article “The Merry Pranksters and the Art of the Hoax” in The New York Times.

(more…)

Rudy Giuliani Gets Caught with his Hand in the Cookie Jar

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Filed under: Media Literacy, Media Pranks, Political Pranks, Prank News, Spin, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

A scene in Sacha Baron Cohen’s news movie “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” exposes Rudy Giuliani, ex-Mayor of New York and Donald Trump’s personal attorney, in a compromising position. He makes a play for a sexy young journalist who is interviewing him and gets caught on film appearing to put his hand down his pants. Rudy says he was just tucking in his shirt.

You decide. Watch the footage of the scene here:

And here’s Sacha Baron Cohen’s response in character as Borat defending Rudy.

Read more at The Guardian: Rudy Giuliani faces questions after compromising scene in new Borat film

If Your Medical Bills Make You Sick, Sell Them.

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Here’s a creative prescription for managing your medical bills.


Oversized hospital bill paintings sold to pay off medical debts, by Oscar Holland, CNN, October 5, 2020

An art collective has come up with a novel way of paying off three people’s medical debt: turning their hospital bills into huge paintings and selling them to collectors for thousands of dollars.

The paintings were sold for the same amount owed on each bill, with the money used to pay off the applicants’ medical debts. Credit: MSCHF

New York-based MSCHF, which is known for its irreverent art projects, identified Americans with sizable medical debt, including one with a bill for over $47,000. The group then hand-painted the invoices on 6-foot-tall canvases and sold them on the art market for precisely the amount owed.

Beyond settling these individuals’ debts with the money generated, the artists aim to make a wider commentary about the US health care system. Over 137 million people in the United States reported medical financial hardship, a 2019 study found.

Read more here.

James “The Amazing” Randi, RIP

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Filed under: Illusion and Magic, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, The History of Pranks, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction, Urban Legends

The world of social activism has lost another warrior.

I had the pleasure of meeting James Randi, a magician and great debunker of fake psychics and other charlatans, in 1986 when we both appeared on The Afternoon Show, a San Francisco TV talk show on KPIX. We both performed magic tricks. He removed the male host’s watch from his wrist. I removed the female host’s panties. (Having prepared ahead of time to appear on the show along with him, I had hidden a pair of female panties in my pocket and pulled them out to top Randi’s magic trick.) Riotous laughter ensued.

He later was the narrator of an Arts & Entertainment documentary called Scams, Schemes and Scoundrels which covered numerous dead scoundrels and me. You can watch the clip here.

Read his Obit in The New York Times

The Art of Protest, a New Film by Indecline

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Check out Indecline’s new film in Rolling Stone. h/t Dino


From: Indecline Debuts ‘The Art of Protest’ Documentary, Rolling Stone

In activist-artist collective Indecline’s new documentary, protest art is shown as not only relevant, but necessary for change

When Indecline started work on their documentary The Art of Protest in late 2018, they wanted to tell the history of resistance art. Over the previous two years — since they broke onto the national consciousness with their naked-Trump, guerilla-art instillation The Emperor Has No Balls, the activist-artist collective has staged numerous pieces of public art in protest of the Trump presidency. To tell the story, they reached out to Colin Day (director of Saving Banksy) and started shopping around the idea to streaming services. But as the pandemic unfolded, and the Black Lives Matter movement reignited across the streets of the nation, their mission changed. As a representative for Indecline puts it: “What was once set up to be a deep dive into the history of resistance art, soon became a ‘call to action.’”

Now, the 45-minute film — executive produced and distributed by Zero Cool films and premiering here on Rolling Stone — traces the history of protest art, from the Civil Rights movement through the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests. It does so in a way that is equal parts gut-wrenching and exhilarating, illustrating how despite the passage of time, little has changed. To this end, they were careful in their curation of who to talk to: not only did they bring in the heavy hitters most associated with the modern protest-art movement — like Shephard Fairey, Nadya Tolokonnikova, Tom Morello, and Dave Navarro (who also helped to finance the film) — they were careful to incorporate a wider range of voices. Leaders from youth-run 501(c) The Sunrise Movement talk about uniting movements, while the Yes Men discuss bringing absurdity to Capitol Hill. Atlanta’s Ash Nash remembers organizing the “Kaeperbowl” in Atlanta in 2019, spurring artists across the city to paint images of Colin Kaepernick in public places as the Super Bowl rolled into town. Damien Echols, one of the West Memphis Three, speaks to being literally saved from death row by protest art.

At the heart of the film is Indecline’s work over the past four years. Read the rest of this article here.

The Writing’s on the Wall

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Read a Trump lie on air at Radio Free Brooklyn and help promote voter registration.


Wall of Lies

A public art project displaying more than 20,000 Trump lies with voter registration drive

October 3rd – October 4th noon to 7pm
at Pine Box Rock Shop, 12 Grattan Street, Bushwick

Independent community radio station Radio Free Brooklyn (RFB) announces “Wall of Lies,” a groundbreaking visual art project one month before the presidential election of 2020. The project demonstrates the unprecedented lack of honesty from our current Commander-in-Chief.

Wall of Lies is a 50-foot by 10-foot outdoor mural with the 20,000+ lies told by Donald Trump (so far) while in office, documented and fact-checked by The Washington Post. Wall of Lies will be on public view on Grattan St from noon Saturday Oct 3rd until 7p Sunday October 4th.

“The countdown to Election Day is underway and Americans are already beginning to vote across the nation, in this time where misinformation is rampant, we feel it’s vital to use our voice to call out these untruths in a visually-provoking way,” says RFB Executive Director Tom Tenney.

The socially-distanced live event accompanying the mural includes a voter registration drive, and a live Radio Free Brooklyn broadcast on Sunday from 3-6 pm, Radio Free Brooklyn will be inviting members of the public to read some of Trump’s most egregious lies on the air.

“The original idea of the project was for a radio marathon, 24/7 on-air reading of all of Trumps’ lies on Radio Free Brooklyn for a full week before the election,” said Tenney, who has been in touch with The Washington Post and granted access to its database of Trump’s false and misleading statements. “However, once the pandemic hit and our operations moved to remote locations, the project was shelved. It was artist Phil Buehler who suggested reviving it as a visual art project.”

“It was just too good an idea not to happen somehow,” Buehler added, “since I’ve been making large-scale panoramic photographs of political events, a gigantic mural of all the lies seemed the perfect match to Tom’s original idea. Seen from a distance, it looks like chaos – perhaps an apt metaphor for this presidency, but when you step closer, you can read the individual lies, which are in chronological order color-coded by categories like coronavirus, Russia, immigration, the environment and jobs. Then when you step back, you can recognize patterns in Trump’s lying.”

The final piece of the project came together when Heather Rush, the owner of Pine Box Rock Shop, coordinated with grassroots voting activists Rep Your Block to set up voter registration next to the mural.

Read more in the Bushwick Daily: “Wall of Lies” Mural in Bushwick Will Display Over 20,000 Donald Trump Lies.

Shining a Light on Worker Protests at the Guggenheim

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Guerrilla projections highlight workers concerns.


“Open for Exploitation”: Artists Project Messages on Guggenheim Museum Ahead of Reopening, by Hakim Bishara, Hyperallergic.com, September 29, 2020

The artist-activist groups Artists for Workers and the Illuminator organized the projections in solidarity with the Guggenheim’s unionized workers and workers of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.

A guerrilla projection on the Guggenheim Museum’s facade, reading “Seeking New Management” (all images from Illuminator)

Yesterday, September 28, the artist-activist groups Artists for Workers (AFW) and the Illuminator descended on the Guggenheim Museum in New York for a series of guerrilla projections on its facade. The action was held in solidarity with the Guggenheim’s unionized workers and workers of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi ahead of the museum’s New York reopening this week (September 30 for members and October 3rd for the general public).

Traffic was scarce on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue when an old white van parked in front of the Guggenheim at 7:40pm last night. The vehicle, retrofitted to raise a large projector through an opening in its roof, belonged to the Illuminator. This is the third time that the group directed its projector at the Guggenheim’s spiral structure: It did it with the group Gulf Ultra Luxury Faction (G.U.L.F.) in 2016 and 2014, and with Visual AIDS in 2015.

Members of the Illuminator setting up their projector in front of the Guggenheim

Read more here.