The World of the Prank

The artist as social provocateur and activist incorporates humor, satire, irony, political commentary and/or direct action to provoke critical thinking. Pranks challenge convention and the status quo and expose prejudices and biases.

Blog Posts

Community Rallies to Save Gem Spa, Center of the Universe

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

The legendary Gem Spa received a satirical make-over as “Schitibank” after rumors that Citibank was angling for its location (which Citibank then denied). The event morphed into a “cash mob” as friends and neighbors mobilized to help save the East Village icon from debt and disaster. Read Jesse Jarnow’s Gothamist article here: Gem Spa Rally Turns Beloved East Village Institution Into Mock “Schitibank”. h/t Josh Jasper

Gem Spa, on St. Marks Place and 2nd Avenue in New York, has always been the go-to spot in the East Village; the place where everyone meets everyone else (“Meet you at Gem Spa!”).

In 1968, Joey Skaggs launched the Hippie Bus Tour to Queens from Gem Spa. This was his parody cultural exchange tour, which is memorialized in Artsy on the occasion of its 50th anniversary: When Pranks Become Works of Art.

And, in 1969, Skaggs, his pretend-wife, and a gang of bicyclers held a mock Hell’s Angels wedding parade in front of Gem Spa.

For a terrific historical perspective on St. Marks Place in the East Village, check out “St. Marks Is Dead: The Many Lives of America’s Hippest Street” by Ada Calhoun.


Meth Lab Prank

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Filed under: Hoax Etiquette, Media Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, Pranksters, What Makes a Good Prank?

Posting fake photos on a fake TV news website about your fake arrest because of your fake meth lab in the basement. Hmmm… What could go wrong? h/t Ed


My Breaking Bad Prank Gone Wrong Almost Cost Me $150,000
Vice
July 24, 2019

Inspired by his favorite show, “Breaking Bad” Josh decided to pull a prank that went terribly wrong. What started off as a harmless joke meant for his friends, quickly spread online resulting in unforeseen consequences that Josh could never have imagined.

Watch the video

Where Did the Towel Come From?

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Filed under: Practical Jokes and Mischief, Pranksters

Hilarious silly prank from Saša Eskov. h/t Erin


Watch the video:

Call Me Ishmael: Another Herculean Trans-Pacific Crossing

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Filed under: Media Pranks, Pranksters

Adding to the annals of nautical history is the second crossing of the Pacific Ocean on a paddleboard. The first was in 1983, when J.J. Skaggs (aka Joey Skaggs) crossed in the opposite direction against prevailing winds and currents on a windsurfer without any shelter. Read the full story here: Windsurfing from Hawaii to California Thanks Wayne Zebzda.

                 


Man rides stand-up paddleboard from California to Hawaii
Fox5 San Diego from CNN Wire
August 27, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO — A three-month paddleboat float across the Pacific Ocean might seem crazy to the rest of us, but for Antonio de la Rosa it was just another challenge.

The Spanish endurance athlete completed a 2,951-mile journey from San Francisco, California, to Oahu, Hawaii, on Saturday, using just a specially-designed stand-up paddleboard.

The journey took him 76 days…

Read the whole article here.

3.8 Million Years Later…

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Fact or Fiction?, Political Pranks, Satire

Behold humankind’s most primitive man. h/t Naomi.


Skull of humankind’s oldest-known ancestor unearthed
Associated Press
August 29, 2019

NEW YORK — A fossil from Ethiopia is letting scientists look millions of years into our evolutionary history — and they see a face peering back.

The find, from 3.8 million years ago, reveals the face for a presumed ancestor of the species famously represented by Lucy, the celebrated Ethiopian partial skeleton found in 1974.

Read the whole (real) article here.

Deliveroo Switcheroo

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Pranks, Parody, Prank News, Pranksters

Deliveroo food delivery app accepts bogus restaurant run out of prankster’s apartment… Buyer beware!


Italian Stallion’ scams food delivery app with microwaved meatballs
by Hannah Frishberg
New York Post
September 11, 2019

It’s not delivery, it’s deception.

A YouTube prankster with more than 1 million followers exposed the shortcomings of food delivery app Deliveroo’s restaurant vetting — or lack thereof — when he set up a fake restaurant called the Italian Stallion.

Josh Pieters, 25, and two buddies launched a website for the egregious eatery, listing his own apartment as the address and buying Instagram followers to bolster its social-media presence.

Watch the video:

“We knew Deliveroo would check our website, so it would have to look good,” says the South African social-media star in a video uploaded to his YouTube account.

Pieters and his friends took funny food photos, posted nonsense recipes and registered “Italian Stallion, Ltd” before ringing up Deliveroo to explain their lack of a hygiene rating. “One day on the phone, [a customer service rep] said you can start so long as you notify the council and then they will assign a hygiene rating to your premises,” Pieters tells Insider.

“I don’t think they’re doing any checks on who’s applying to have a restaurant on Deliveroo,” Pieters says in his video documenting the restaurant’s short-lived existence. “So despite having a picture of [UK TV personality] Gemma Collins [as head chef] and an AirPod as feta cheese and no food-hygiene inspection of any kind, Deliveroo were happy for us to get going.” (more…)

Trump-the-Vampire Unveiled in Slovenia

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

“Some critics denounced it online as a ‘waste of wood’…” h/t Boris & Nancy


Slovenia Has Another Trump Statue. This One Has Vampire Teeth.
by Palko Karasz
The New York Times
Aug. 31, 2019

The figure under construction in Sela pri Kamniku, Slovenia. A local architect said he designed it “because people have forgotten what the Statue of Liberty stands for.”CreditCreditJure Makovec/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

LONDON — It is not often that President Trump follows in the footsteps of his wife, Melania Trump, but he has received a wooden statue in his likeness in her homeland, Slovenia, after the same, dubious honor was bestowed on her in July.

Like the effigy of Mrs. Trump carved with a chain saw and unveiled on a riverside near her hometown this summer, this new work — a slatted structure nearly 26 feet tall — has its share of detractors. (more…)

Be Aware: The Age of DeepFakes is Upon Us

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Illusion and Magic, Media Pranks, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Propaganda and Disinformation, Spin, The Future of Pranks, The History of Pranks

This must-see “DeepFake” video transforms Bill Hader, when he was on Late Night with David Letterman, into Tom Cruise before your very eyes.

Watch the video: Bill Hader channels Tom Cruise [DeepFake], YouTube

A little bit of history: In 1987, an interview with Joey Skaggs was published in a book by RE/Search Pubs called Pranks! in which he predicts and discusses the implications of this exact technology.

AJ: “What is reality?”
JS: “Right. What is reality, and how can you know what is history?
“I’d also like to talk about technology and where we’re going. With the ability to comptuer-enerate photo images and do montage, collage and eventually holograms, we’ll have Hitler alive in South America totally fabricated. We’ll have a home movie of JFK actually screwing Marilyn Monroe, or whatever twisted historical thing we want to create. And it will be virtually impossible to detect that it’s a creation, because of the advancements in technology. We are coming to the forefront tehcnologically of a really frightening media reality. If we don’t sharpen our tools now, our integrity, we’re in for even bigger trouble.”

Read the entire RE/Search Pranks! interview here.

Excerpt:

Right-Wing Website Dosed With Own Medicine

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Fraud and Deception, Media Literacy, Media Pranks, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, The World of the Prank

The op-ed site Quillette has risen to prominence in the Trump-era conservative firmament by condemning progressive orthodoxies around race and gender, providing a platform for accused sexual predators, defending “Google Memo” author James “Fired4Truth” Damore, and promoting the “Sokal Squared” hoax, an effort to discredit academic disciplines by categorizing them as “grievance studies.”

This week, the site took a blow to its own credibility when left-aligned mischief-maker “Archie Carter” submitted a critique of the Democratic Socialists of America littered with lies, cliches, and errata. The piece was promptly published and promptly retracted by Quillette, leaving leftist publications Alternet and Jacobin (along with broad swaths of Twitter) to gloat over the fallout.

Will Sommer, a journalist/provocateur focused on far-right movements, scored an interview with the hoaxer.


Quillette Duped by Left-Wing Hoaxer Posing as Communist Construction Worker
by Will Sommer
The Daily Beast
August 9, 2019

Construction worker and avowed Leninist Archie Carter has plenty of gripes with the Democratic Socialists of America, the left-wing group that’s enjoyed a new wave of popularity during the Trump era.

In an essay published Thursday on the conservative op-ed website Quillette, Carter declared that DSA had been overrun with overeducated, oversensitive college graduates, blinding itself to the true needs of the working class.

“DSA is doomed,” Carter wrote.

Carter’s piece seemed like exactly the kind of argument that’s turned Quillette, a self-described “platform for free thought,” into a hotbed for the right-wing online “Intellectual Dark Web” movement. Carter had impeccable blue-collar bona fides, with his Quillette bio describing him as a committed union member who’s always “watching the Mets blow a lead.”

But there’s one problem with Carter’s story: He doesn’t exist.

DSA members started picking holes in Carter’s story almost as soon it went live on Quillette. New York City’s DSA local couldn’t find any record of a member, current or former, named Archie Carter. And while Carter claimed to have participated in sit-in protests as part of his DSA work, the group hadn’t organized sit-ins in New York in years.

By Thursday evening, Quillette had retracted Carter’s essay, saying Carter had failed to “supply answers to our follow-up questions in timely fashion.” Read more.


Stephen Barnwell’s Outrageous and Exquisite Moneyart on Exhibit Through September 8

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

Congratulations to artist, activist Stephen Barnwell whose “Capital Offenses” moneyart will be on display at Monmouth Museum, 765 Newman Springs Road, Lincroft, NJ, as part of the NJ Emerging Artists Series, now through September 8, 2019.

Citroën’s WWII Subterfuge Remembered

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Fraud and Deception, Political Pranks, The History of Pranks, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction, Urban Legends, You Decide

True or not, this is an inspiring bit of sabotage.


Citroën Sabotaged Wartime Nazi Truck Production in a Simple and Brilliant Way
by Jason Torchinsky
Jalopnik.com
July 24, 2019

Citroen

In case you forgot to change the batteries in your calendar, you may not be aware that this year is the 100th anniversary of Citroën. We’ve been shooting a Jason Drives special mini-series for this centenary, and while doing some research I happened to stumble upon a fascinating bit of wartime Citroën lore. It involves screwing with Nazis in a genuinely clever and subtle way that nevertheless had big repercussions. I’ll explain.

So, when France was occupied by the Germans in 1940, major French factories like Citroën were forced to produce equipment for the Nazis. Citroën president Pierre-Jules Boulanger knew he couldn’t just refuse to produce anything, but he also knew there’s no way in hell he’s going to just roll over and build trucks for a bunch of filthy Nazis. Pierre had a plan.

John Reynolds’ book Citroën 2CV describes Boulanger’s sabotage efforts. Of course, he instructed workers to set a nice, leisurely pace when building trucks (likely Citroën T45 trucks) for the Wermacht, but that’s fairly obvious. What was brilliant was Boulanger’s idea to move the little notch on the trucks’ oil dipsticks that indicated the proper level of oil down just a bit lower.

By moving the notch down, the trucks would not have enough oil, but German mechanics would have no idea, because, hey, the little notch on the dipstick says its just fine. Then, after the truck has been used for a while and is out deployed somewhere crucial, whammo, the engine seizes up, and you’ve got a lot of angry, stranded, vulnerable Nazis, balling up their little fists and redly barking curses in German.

It’s such a fantastic act of sabotage: it’s extremely cheap to implement, it’s subtle, there’s no way to see something amiss is happening as the trucks are being built, and it delivers its blow away from the site of the sabotage and when it will cause the most inconvenience and trouble.

I suppose it could be apocryphal, but this is one of those cases where I’m going to choose to believe.

That’s some mighty good sabotaging, Pierre.

While We’re Talking About Solutions for Gun Violence…

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Filed under: Parody, Political Challenges

An anonymous quote, incorrectly attributed to Gloria Steinem in 2015 because she praised and posted it on Facebook, is still inspiring today:

“I want any young men who buy a gun to be treated like young women who seek an abortion,” the quote reads. “Think about it: a mandatory 48-hours waiting period, written permission from a parent or a judge, a note from a doctor proving that he understands what he is about to do, time spent watching a video on individual and mass murders, traveling hundreds of miles at his own expense to the nearest gun shop, and walking through protestors holding photos of loved ones killed by guns, protestor who call him a murderer. After all, it makes more sense to do this for young men seeking guns than for young women seeking an abortion. No young woman needing reproductive freedom has ever murdered a roomful of strangers.”

Silly Prankster Gets His Rocks Off

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Filed under: Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, Pranksters

Dear Josh Pieters, You might want to aim a little higher.


YouTuber Josh Pieters pranks influencers with ‘Moon rock’
BBC
August 9, 2019

A prankster has duped 40 social media influencers by sending them “Moon rock” that was actually gravel.

YouTuber Josh Pieters sent packages to the online celebrities, claiming they were from the National Space Centre to mark the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing.

Celebrities taken in by the prank included several Made In Chelsea stars, Instagram influencers and YouTubers.

The space centre said its credibility had been questioned.

Mr Pieters posted parcels with a false certificate of authenticity, and a handwritten note on paper with a fake letterhead.

Read the rest of this story here.

Trump’s Fake Presidential Zeal Augmented by Befittingly Fake Presidential Seal

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Media Pranks, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters

The writing’s on the wall. Fake as fake can be. President Trump unknowingly stands in front of a fake presidential seal. Hilarity ensues. Says Charles Leazott, the person who designed the seal as a joke years ago, “There’s no way this was an accident is all I’m saying,” adding that whomever is the culprit is “my absolute hero.” h/t Kate.


Washington Post: Former Republican designed fake presidential seal that appeared behind Trump
by Veronica Stracqualursi
CNN
July 26, 2019

Washington (CNN)– A former Republican voter from Virginia is the man who made a parody image of the presidential seal that was shown behind President Donald Trump at a conservative teen summit, according to The Washington Post.

Graphic designer Charles Leazott, 46, created the fake presidential seal that features a two-headed eagle — lifted from the Russian Federation coat of arms — clutching a set of golf clubs in its talons, according to the Post.

“This is the most petty piece of art I have ever created,” Leazott told the Post.

Leazott, who dislikes Trump and says he voted twice for George W. Bush, created the fake seal after the 2016 election as

“just a goofy thing for some people I knew,” the Post reported.

Trump spoke on Tuesday at a summit for conservative students hosted by the group Turning Point USA, and for a brief moment, the President appeared before the doctored seal evoking imagery of the Russian coat of arms on stage.

Read the whole story here.


Cutting the Cheese Takes on New Meaning

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Parody, Prank News, Pranksters, Publicity Stunts, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

Food: Bigger than the Plate at Victoria and Albert Museum, “examining various approaches to the future of food through contemporary design, art, and engineering”, opened on May 18 in London and is scheduled to run through October 20, 2019.


These Dairy Devils Are Making Cheese From Celebrities’ Bacteria
by Rohini Chaki
MAY 14, 2019

Aged, ripe, and not for consumption.


(right), trying to brie calm, with Thomas Meany, maker of cheeses from humans. COURTESY OF OPEN CELL

ON MAY 18, A TEAM of renegade cheesemakers will showcase some very outré cheese at the Victoria and Albert Museum’s forthcoming exhibition, Food: Bigger than the Plate. No samplings of this cheese, which will be showcased in climate-controlled glass, shall be on offer. Which is just as well, since they have been made with bacteria from the bodies of British celebrities.

Alex James of the rock band Blur, Michelin-star chef Heston Blumenthal, former Great British Bake Off finalist and author Ruby Tandoh, the singer-songwriter Suggs, and the rapper Professor Green all volunteered their bodily bacteria for science. More specifically, a chef, a synthetic biologist, and a biodesigner turned their body swabs into starter culture for the five cheeses that make up the exhibit, named Selfmade.

Helene Steiner and Thomas Meany are the team behind Open Cell, a biotechnology research hub housed within 45 shipping containers in Shepherd’s Bush, London. Together with chef John Quilter, who goes by Food Busker, the human-cheese artisans have been maturing a cheshire cheese (from Alex James), a comté (Heston Blumenthal), a mozzarella (Professor Green), a Stilton (Ruby Tandoh), and a Cheddar (Suggs). All five cheeses are maturing at the Open Cell lab, and will continue to age at the V&A’s Food exhibition, one of 70 exhibits examining various approaches to the future of food through contemporary design, art, and engineering.

The Selfmade team has launched a Youtube series to promote and explain the project, whose first episode aired on May 11, on Food Busker’s channel. In it, Professor Green gamely declares, “I hate cheese, but I’m here to be made into one.”

Read the rest of this article here.