Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

Blog Posts

Fake California Road Signs Mock the State’s Immigration Policies

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

Since mid-2017, the Golden State has seen a number of politically charged fake road signs, mostly focused on its perceived friendliness to immigrants.

“Prank California highway signs ‘welcome’ felons, illegal immigrants and MS-13”
by Greg Norman
Fox News
January 2, 2018

Drivers entering California are being greeted with signs proclaiming the liberal bastion an “OFFICIAL SANCTUARY STATE,” according to photos and videos circulating on social media appearing to show a prankster attached the official-looking blue signs just below legitimate “Welcome to California” markers.

The sanctuary state sign, which adds “Felons, Illegals and MS13 [gang members] welcome,” is similar to one hung up by a Malibu activist last year.

“Democrats Need The Votes!” reads a message on the signs, which are plastered with the Great Seal of California and a donkey, one of the symbols of the Democratic Party.

California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) spokesman Mark Dinger told Fox News on Tuesday that one of the signs was taken down yesterday on Interstate-15 near the California/Nevada border. A crew has been dispatched today to remove another sign spotted on I-40 near the border with Arizona, he added. Read more.

“Walk Right!” Revisted

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

The New York Post is just catching up… In December of 1984, Joseph Virgil Skaggs (a.k.a. Joey Skaggs) formed WALK RIGHT! — an ad hoc group of vigilante sidewalk etiquette enforcers who patrolled the streets to make New York a better place to live and walk. Dressed in all black with WALK RIGHT! sweat shirts they enforced a list of sixty six rules for pedestrians they wanted enacted into law.

Tourists, we’re begging you: Please learn how to walk in NYC
By Barbara Hoffman
New York Post
December 22, 2017

Welcome to Gridlock Central, otherwise known as New York City during the holidays. It helps to remember that you’re not in Kansas anymore — or Manitoba, for that matter. Life will be so much better for yourself and everyone around you if you observe a few basic rules.
In other words, walk this way:

Keep right.
If you’re walking more slowly than the natives — and there’s a good reason for the phrase “a New York minute” — stay to the right on stairs, escalators and sidewalks, so we can step nimbly by you.

Two-by-two worked for Noah’s Ark, but not Midtown. If you must hold hands, prepare to break away when we come barreling toward you, desperate to flag that cab. Walking four abreast as a family? Fuhgeddaboutit. Pair off and stay close.

Don’t stop short.
Unless, of course, you’re about to be run over. But certainly step aside and out of traffic’s way to admire that tall building, marvel at a panhandler or snap a selfie. Speaking of which:

Don’t text in revolving doors.
Even seasoned New Yorkers can’t juggle that. You can wait 30 seconds before tweeting, “Guess where I am?”


The Long Overdue Trump Apology

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Propaganda and Disinformation

From Liz Plank’s Twitter @feministabulous. Click through to watch this inspired video:
The president won’t apologize to women so I did it for him.

Dance Liberation Front Declares Victory against NYC’s Anti-Fun Cabaret Law

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

Kudos to Rev Jen, Robert Prichard, Faceboy and everyone who contributed to this great act of civil disobedience in New York City!

Long Before Cabaret Law Repeal, ‘Dance Commandos’ Boogied for Justice
by Rev Jen
Chelsea Now
November 20, 2017

At the “Robot Dance Protest” at Federal Hall back in the early days of the Dance Liberation Front, from left, patriots John Foster, Rev. Jen, and Faceboy. Photo courtesy Rev. Jen.

It’s time for a victory dance! After 91 years, New York’s archaic Cabaret Law has been repealed in a 41-to-1 vote. So put on your dancin’ shoes, wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care, head to your favorite watering hole, and shake your booty clean off. (We have to wait until 30 days until after de Blasio signs off on the legislation, but it’s never too early to practice your moves at home.)

This victory holds a special space in my heart, as I have been working on the law’s repeal since 1998 when I formed the Dance Liberation Front (DLF), along with fellow Art Stars Robert Prichard and Faceboy.

It all started one morning when I bumped into Robert Prichard, the proprietor of the now-defunct Surf Reality (172 Allen St., btw. Stanton & Rivington Sts.). He told me that the previous evening, Baby Jupiter, a nearby club where I performed every Monday, was busted because their customers had been dancing.

I wasn’t sure I’d heard him correctly.

“Dancing?” I asked.

Rob explained that in order to crack down on nightlife, Giuliani had dusted off a regulation from the 1920s called the “Cabaret Law,” which states that more than four people dancing in an unlicensed venue serving alcohol is illegal. Out of the thousands of bars in New York City, only a handful of the most well-financed clubs were able to obtain the dancing license.

It took a minute to process the Kafkaesque concept: Dancing was illegal in “Fun City.”

Rob suggested we create a group — the DLF — to bring to light the heinous crime Guiliani’s nightlife task force was perpetrating on the public. Read the rest of this story here.

Replacement Family Available. No Questions Asked.

Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Fact or Fiction?, Fraud and Deception, Illusion and Magic, Sociology and Psychology of Pranks

Why suffer through the ups and downs of real relationships when you can have the perfect friend, husband or father for a fee? This is a stunning tale of hyper-normalization in Japan.

“How to Hire Fake Friends and Family”
by Roc Morin
The Atlantic
November 7, 2017

Money may not be able to buy love, but here in Japan, it can certainly buy the appearance of love—and appearance, as the dapper Ishii Yuichi insists, is everything. As a man whose business involves becoming other people, Yuichi would know. The handsome and charming 36-year-old is on call to be your best friend, your husband, your father, or even a mourner at your funeral.

His 8-year-old company, Family Romance, provides professional actors to fill any role in the personal lives of clients. With a burgeoning staff of 800 or so actors, ranging from infants to the elderly, the organization prides itself on being able to provide a surrogate for almost any conceivable situation.

Yuichi believes that Family Romance helps people cope with unbearable absences or perceived deficiencies in their lives. In an increasingly isolated and entitled society, the CEO predicts the exponential growth of his business and others like it, as à la carte human interaction becomes the new norm.

I sat down recently with Yuichi in a café on the outskirts of Tokyo, to discuss his business and what it means to be, in the words of his company motto, “more than real.” Read more.

“Get Stuffed” Hook-Up Truck Holiday Special Event

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

Spy Emerson’s Hook-Up Truck, a mobile meeting room advocating safe sexual adventuring, exercising sexual freedom as a human right, hosts an evening of live street theater… and a unique trunk sale.

When: December 1st, 5-8pm during Oakland’s First Friday
Where: Directly outside the Feelmore Adult Gallery on Telegraph Avenue at 17th Street in San Francisco

The “Get Stuffed” Holiday Special Event will present a lot of entertaining activities, including “Sexual Compatibility” Tarot card readings, games of Spin-the-Bottle and official Church of the SubGenius “short-duration marriages” performed by Dr. Hal Robins. Acknowledging both potential religious restrictions and modern dating rituals, the union provided by these ceremonies dissolves at an agreed upon time.

“A chameleon-like ability to flourish simultaneously in multiple art forms marks the Protean presence of Spy Emerson. No stranger to controversy, her installations and public performances create lively attention wherever they turn up. Her creations, lately the subject of national attention and commentary, are always socially acute and with the essential leavening quality of informed playfulness and humor.” –Dr. Hal Robins, Church of the SubGenius


Watch the Movie the Mainstream Media Does Not Want You To See!

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

ART OF THE PRANK (the movie)
is now available for
Community Screenings
and on
VOD on iTunes, Amazon and more!

The Movie the Mainstream Media Does Not Want Anyone to See
Relight Films releases “Art of the Prank,”
an expose of the weaknesses of the news media.

Artificially Intelligent Chat Bots vs. Email Scammers

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

Netsafe’s Re:scam to the rescue! Email scammers– prepare for an AI email deluge.

This AI Bot That Messes With Email Scammers As Long As Possible Is Brilliant
November 8, 2017

Take their time, save your money

​Email scammers work in bulk, blasting out tons of emails in the hopes of getting a few bites which they can follow up on. To counter this, NetSafe, an online safety non-profit in New Zealand, built Re:scam, which messes with scammers automatically:

Watch the video:

To mess with a scammer, just forward a scam email to

Re:scam can take on multiple personas, imitating real human tendencies with humour and grammatical errors, and can engage with infinite scammers all at once, meaning it can continue any email conversation for as long as possible. Re:scam will now turn the tables on the scammers by wasting their time, and ultimately damage the profits for scammers…
The aim is to waste the time of scammers, without wasting a second of yours. When you forward an email, you believe to be a scam to a check is done to make sure it is a scam attempt, and then a proxy email address is used to engage the scammer. This will flood their inboxes with responses without any way for them to tell who is a chat-bot, and who is a real vulnerable target. Once you’ve forwarded an email nothing more is required on your part, but the more you send through, the more effective it will be [Re:scam]

Richard Hambleton – RIP

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, The History of Pranks

Richard Hambleton, an artist credited with inspiring Banksy, passed away this week from unknown causes just days before his MoMA show and a month before the release of Shadowman, a new film about his life and work. Here’s an article about him from earlier this year.

The epic rise and disgusting flameout of the artist who ruled 80s New York
by Raquel Laneri
New York Post
April 15, 2017

In the early 1980s, a series of shadowy street paintings — life-size monsters and cowboys — loomed large over the East Village. Anticipating the works of Banksy by more than a decade, the unsigned figures were created under cover of darkness on buildings and bridges. They weren’t mere graffiti, but painterly works reminiscent of Jackson Pollock. Downtown residents buzzed about who could be behind them.

The art world knew who it was: a soft-spoken Canadian — often clad in a cravat and sunglasses — named Richard Hambleton.

At downtown galleries, his mysterious figures fetched thousands of dollars more than work by his friends Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. He attended parties with beautiful women on his arm, and Andy Warhol begged him, in vain, to sit for a portrait.

Hambleton canvased Manhattan with some 450 shadow men — and managed to get a few on the Berlin Wall, too. But by the 1990s, he was largely forgotten, living in a drug den on the Lower East Side. He was so poor that he would shoot himself up with heroin, then use the blood in his needle as paint. Read more here.

Bulgarian Superhero Shenanigans

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

Bulgarian vandals are disrespecting Soviet military monuments, and the Russian government wants them to cut it out right now. H/t Naomi.

“Russia Wants Bulgarians to Stop Painting Soviet Monuments To Look Like American Superheroes”
By Staff
Earthly Mission
October 20, 2017

According to a report by the Moscow Times, pranksters in Bulgaria are repainting Soviet-era monuments so that Soviet military heroes look like American Superheroes. Needless to say, the Russians are not too happy about it.

Watch the video and then read more:

Noted Twitter Conservatives Exposed as Russian Ops

Filed under: Conspiracy Theories, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Fact or Fiction?, Fraud and Deception, Media Literacy, Media Pranks, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Spin

It’s been a year since the 2016 US presidential election. As part of the larger story of Russian interference on behalf of President Donald Trump, the fever swamp of conservative digital media is starting to look a lot more mysterious. The story of “Jenna Abrams,” exposed in The Daily Beast, is fascinating by itself, and it appears to be the rim of the rabbit hole.

“Two popular conservative Twitter personalities were just outed as Russian trolls”
By Rob Tornoe
November 3, 2017

Jenna Abrams was a popular figure in right-wing social media circles. Boasting nearly 70,000 followers, Abrams was featured in numerous news articles during the 2016 election, spotlighted by outlets as varied as USA Today, the Washington Post, the BBC, and Yahoo! Sports. Her tweet about CNN airing porn during Anthony Bourdain’s show (it didn’t) was reported by numerous outlets.

According to information released by House Democrats earlier this week, Abrams was one of more than 2,750 fake Twitter accounts created by employees at the Internet Research Agency, a “troll farm” funded by the Russian government based in St. Petersburg. In addition to the Abrams account, several other popular conservative social media personalities — @LauraBaeley, SouthLoneStar, Ten_GOP — were all revealed to be troll accounts. All have been deactivated on Twitter.

According to the Daily Beast, the agency developed a following around the Abrams account by offering humorous, seemingly non-political takes on pop culture figures like Kim Kardashian. The agency also furnished the fake account, which dates back to 2014, with a personal website, a Gmail account and even a GoFundMe page.

Once the Abrams account began to develop a following, the tone of its tweets shifted from pokes and prods at celebrities to divisive views on hot topics like immigration and segregation. Read more.

Sim Cities

Filed under: Art Pranks, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Fact or Fiction?, Illusion and Magic, Prank News, Pranksters

Photographer Gregor Sailer’s new book focuses on incredibly detailed, entirely uninhabited, completely fake urban landscapes.

“These Cities Might Look Real But They’re 100% Fake”
By Laura Mallonee
October 25, 2017

Junction City has all the trappings of an Iraqi town: a brightly painted mosque; shops adorned with Arabic script; the occasional humvee or tank rumbling by. But you won’t find it anywhere near Mosul. It’s a stage set at Fort Irwin, in the middle of California’s Mojave Desert, where US troops simulate fighting insurgents.

“It’s a lonely place, full of buildings no one will ever live in,” says photographer Gregor Sailer. “It’s like a ghost city—the wind smashing the doors, blowing through the streets.”

Sailer captured Junction City and 21 other fake urban landscapes for his fascinating new book The Potemkin Village. They include a New York-themed town in Sweden built to test cars for road safety; a Russian city with elaborate facades disguising forlorn buildings; and a Dutch hamlet in China that tourists visit for a taste of Europe. “Sometimes they’re more real and other times they’re more an illusion,” Sailer says. “I’m jumping between these two worlds, and that’s what makes it exciting for me.” Read more.

Artists Stage a Spectacle for Passing Trains

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

How to get the attention of an audience on the go…

“German artists stage a quirky performance for passing trains”
by Rusty Blazenhoff
September 21, 2017

Over 500 volunteers and residents in the “Bewegtes Land” art project entertained passengers with a super fun and quirky art performance, all happening along the train’s nearly 19-mile route.

Watch the video to see how they surprised their moving audience along the way.

The route went from Jena to Naumburg, a quiet area in the Saale valley’s countryside not known for tourists. Read more.

Confessions of a Social Engineer

Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Fraud and Deception, Pranksters, Sociology and Psychology of Pranks

Working at the dangerous intersection of technology and security, social engineers help organizations stay safe(r) by exposing their vulnerabilities. Often, this relies less on advanced coding skills than it does on old-fashioned behavioral psychology and the reflexes of a trickster. In this humorous account, an infosec con artist spills her secrets.

“How I Socially Engineer Myself Into High-Security Facilities”
By Sophie Daniel
October 20, 2017

Hello! My name is Sophie and I break into buildings. I get paid to think like a criminal.

Organizations hire me to evaluate their security, which I do by seeing if I can bypass it. During tests I get to do some lockpicking, climb over walls or hop barbed wire fences. I get to go dumpster diving and play with all sorts of cool gadgets that Q would be proud of.

But usually, I use what is called social engineering to convince the employees to let me in. Sometimes I use email or phone calls to pretend to be someone I am not. Most often I get to approach people in-person and give them the confidence to let me in.

My frequently asked questions include:
What break-in are you most proud of?
What have you done for a test that you were the most ashamed of?

What follows is the answer to both of these questions. Read more.

Improv Everywhere’s Fake Apple Store

Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Practical Jokes and Mischief

From Improv Everywhere: For our latest mission, we turned the 23rd Street 6-train elevator into New York’s newest Apple Store. We placed giant Apple logos on the sides of the glass cube structure, added fake Apple Store employees plus a line of 50 people waiting for the new iPhone X. With the famous 5th Avenue Apple Store under construction, we felt NYC needed a new glass cube Apple Store.

Watch the video:

Mission report and more photos are here.

Directed by Charlie Todd
Produced by Deverge
Music by Tyler Walker