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The Steak was Real but the Restaurant was Fake

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Parody, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire, Spin

The only item on the “To Go” menu was the restaurant itself.

How NYC’s fine-dining elite got pranked by Gen Zer’s fake steakhouse — complete with milk servers, ‘celebs,’ and wedding proposal by Hannah Frishberg, September 25, 2023

This Manhattan restaurant is a tough reservation to book — because it doesn’t exist.

The foodie gentry who gathered for their dinner at Mehran’s Steakhouse this weekend believed they’d at last gotten off the years-long waitlist for a highly exclusive, 100-year-old chop house, which finally had an available table at its Lower East Side location.

In reality, what some 140 diners experienced this Saturday evening was an elaborate prank pulled off by a 21-year-old AI startup founder — and some 65 of his friends.

The practical joke of a white tablecloth institution was born during the pandemic, in 2021, when Mehran Jalali’s 16 housemates decided to commemorate the biweekly steak dinners he’d cook them by marking their Upper East Side home as a chop house on Google Maps.

The mostly teenage roomies all left glowing reviews for the newfound institution, leading to intrigued strangers showing up at their door seeking steak.

Mehran then made a website for their solidly booked, “revolutionary steak experience” and, by the end of 2022, had accrued a 2,600-person waitlist. Read the whole article here.

Take the Money and Run

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Fraud and Deception, Prank News, Pranksters, Spin, The Prank as Art

Actually the paintings depict a polar bear eating marshmallows in a snow storm.

Danish artist told to repay museum €67,000 after turning in blank canvasses, by Alex Smith, BBC News, September 18, 2023

A Danish artist has been ordered to return nearly 500,000 kroner ($72,000; £58,000) to a museum after giving it two blank canvasses for a project he named Take the Money and Run.

The Kunsten Museum in Aalborg had intended for Jens Haaning to embed the banknotes in two pieces of art in 2021.

Instead, he gave it blank canvasses and then told “The work is that I have taken their money.”

A court has now ordered him to return the cash – but keep some for expenses.

The art project was intended as a statement on salaries in Denmark and Austria. Read the rest of this article here.

Sometimes Art Imitates Art

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Hoaxes vs. Scams, Prank News, Pranksters, The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art

Flattering fakes.

The Illicit Allure of Art Forgery, by Olivia McEwan, Hyperallergic, September 11, 2023

An anarchic desire to undermine the art world’s institutions lends art forgers a roguish, rebellious identity that is both compelling and unsavory.

LONDON — A certain romanticism surrounds art forgery. Unlike other material goods, such as watches, handbags, or even coins, artworks are unique objects, the value of which is determined by quantitative and qualitative factors. For this reason their trade within art markets relies to a great extent on good faith. The success of commercial galleries and dealers depends on integrity — that what they are selling is what they say. Deliberate deceit, and on a significant scale, is cause for scandal and a career’s end, as in the high-profile case of Knoedler, an art dealership established in 1846 but closed in 2011 following a flurry of lawsuits.

It is arguably especially embarrassing when national museums, staffed by art historical experts who are (on paper at least) driven by the interests of the public as opposed to financial gain, become tangled up in a contested artwork. The Louvre and the Musée Jacquemart-André in Paris, the National Gallery of London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna have all at some point endorsed the authenticity of works sold by the alleged forger Giuliano Ruffini, charged with gang fraud and money laundering in December 2022…

…the Courtauld Gallery presents an unconventional exhibition, Art and Artifice: Fakes from the Collection, which comprises nothing but forgeries it has acquired during its history. Read the whole article here

“Joey Skaggs: Celebrity Sperm Bank” Nominated by Burbank Film Festival

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

“Joey Skaggs: Celebrity Sperm Bank”, which screened at the Burbank International Film Festival on Sunday, September 24, was nominated for Best Documentary Short Film. This is the story told by Joey himself of his (a.k.a. Giuseppe Scaggolini’s) 1976 celebrity sperm bank auction which goes awry when the sperm is stolen.

The film will also screen at The NewsFest International Film and Writers Festival in LA and the Baltimore Next Media WebFest in Baltimore in early November. Dates & times TBA.

More info about the whole oral history series is here:

Where the Sun Don’t Shine

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Pranks, Parody, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire

There are still places where the sun don’t shine, no matter what the sign says.

Prankster plants fake nudist sign at popular non-naked Chicago beach, by Katherine Donlevy, New York Post, September 5, 2023

This wasn’t the naked truth.

A prankster posted a fake sign on a popular Chicago beach over the holiday weekend warning that it was suddenly converted into a nudist park.

The counterfeit Parks District sign reading “Nude Beach Past This Sign” was seen wedged in the sand of Loyola Beach, which is less than a mile away from its eponymous Catholic university in the Rogers Park neighborhood.

City Alderwoman Maria Hadden posted a picture of the official-looking sign Monday, warning beachgoers not to bare it all for Labor Day.

“We’ve been notified that someone has installed this cheeky sign at Loyola Beach. Please note that this is not an official @ChicagoParks sign,” Hadden posted to X, formerly known as Twitter.

“We’ve reported to Parks so they can remove it. As a reminder, at least some clothing is required at all of our beaches.” Read the rest of the story here.

And From a Tiny Acorn…

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

There’s no greater pleasure than watching something grow. This time from seeds to art.

Sowing Discord at Minnesota’s Seed Art Competition, by Isabella Segalovich, Hyperallergic, September 5, 2023

At the Minnesota State Fair, some crop artists promoted timely political messages with corn, quinoa, and flax seeds.

SAINT PAUL, Minn. — The longest line at the second biggest state fair in the United States wasn’t for the prize cows, roller coaster rides, or various deep-fried foods served on a stick: It was for the seed art.

The wait was worth it. Past scores of vintage seed sacks and neatly stacked corn cobs vying for Best of Show ribbons, visitors craned their necks to marvel at the bounty of intricate mosaics made completely out of seeds at the Minnesota State Fair, which ran from August 24 to September 4. While the vast majority of participating crop artists were Minnesotans, the country’s only state fair seed art competition has also graciously expanded its dozens of categories to include out-of-state competitors, as long as they stick to one rule: Every seed must be grown in Minnesota.

I was struck not just by this craft’s painstaking nature but also by the diversity of its subject matter, which ranges from impressive portraits and still lifes to timely pop culture references and biting political commentary. This year’s show included tributes to lost luminaries (Judy Heumann, Paul Reubens aka Pee Wee Herman), hot pink Barbie memorabilia, OceanGate (“the little sub that couldn’t”), excitement over Minnesota’s marijuana legalization, displays of support for trans youth and adults, clap backs to Ron DeSantis (“Minnesota, where woke goes to bloom!”), and lots and lots of yacht-smashing orcas. Read the rest of the article here.

“Joey Skaggs: Celebrity Sperm Bank” Film Festival Screenings in August and September 2023

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire, The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction, Urban Legends

In 1976, Joey Skaggs’ Celebrity Sperm Bank auction went awry due to a pre-mature withdrawal!

Catch this film, which is oral history film #9 in the ongoing series “Joey Skaggs Satire and Art Activism, 1960s to the Present and Beyond at
one of two theatrical film festival screenings: August 8 in New York at the ChainNYC Film Festival or September 24 in California at the Burbank International Film Festival.

Schedule and ticket information is here.

Joey Skaggs Oral History May and June Festival Screenings

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Instructionals, Media Pranks, Parody, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire, The Prank as Art, What Makes a Good Prank?, Why Do a Prank?

Lots of upcoming opportunities to see Joey Skaggs oral history films both in theaters and streaming online.

Details for May and June 2023 film festivals screenings are here.

Join Us for the NYC 38th Annual April Fools’ Day Parade (2023)

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

NYC April Fools' Day Parade jester

The New York April Fools’ Committee Is Proud to Announce:

“Count Down to Complete Idiocy”

New York’s irreverent April Fools’ Day Parade returns, poking fun at the past year’s displays of hype, hypocrisy, deceit, bigotry, and downright stupid­ity! For the 38th 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 been a total fool in the past year.

The public is encouraged to participate, in or out of costume, with or without floats. Floats should be no wider than 10 feet and no longer than 30 feet and can be self-propelled, towed, pushed or pulled. Customized bicycles, tricycles, baby carriages, and helium balloons are welcome.

The theme of the 2023 parade is “Countdown to Complete Idiocy”. Marchers will assemble at Fifth Ave and 59th St at 12 Noon, Saturday, April 1, and proceed downtown to Washington Square Park, site of a big party that will culminate with the climactic crowning of the King of Fools.

See previous parades covered by WNBC TV and Chinese TV.

This year, for the first time, the entire parade will be nationally televised live on Fox News. Color commentary will be provided by Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson with opinions only–no truth and no objectivity. A media and VIP grandstand will be located in front of Trump Tower at Fifth Ave and 57th St. The parade Grand Marshall this year is New York Representative George Santos dressed as Pinocchio. He’ll be followed by Ye (a.k.a. Kanye West) in his motorized golden chariot playing a re-mix of totalitarian national anthems on a pipe organ while unsellable Adidas sneakers are flung at the crowd. Then comes a drag show of newly woke M&M characters showing off their fashion re-branding. (more…)

Quick Facts About New York City’s Annual April Fool’s Day Parade

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

Photo collage from 2018 and 2019 April Fools’ Day Parades
Courtesy Joey Skaggs Archive

Parade Description
Courtesy ChatGPT (

The New York City April Fools’ Day Parade is a satirical parade that has been held annually in New York City since 1986. The parade is organized by American artist and satirist Joey Skaggs, who sought to use the format of the parade to parody social and political issues, as well as the media’s coverage of them.

The parade typically features a variety of tongue-in-cheek floats, costumes and performances that often mock current events and poke fun at politicians, celebrities, and other public figures. It is known for its irreverent and often absurdist humor, as well as its willingness to tackle controversial and taboo subjects.
While the parade is not officially sanctioned by the city, it has become a beloved annual tradition and is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. It typically draws a large crowd of spectators. Participants are encouraged to show up in costume and join the fun.

The New York April Fools’ Committee is not a formal organization, but rather a loosely organized group of artists, writers, performers, and other creative individuals who come together each year to plan and execute the parade. It is also supported by a network of volunteers and donors who contribute their time and resources to make the event a success.

FL Governor Ron DeSantis and IA Governor Kim Reynolds Canceled by a Snowflake

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

When the “woke” bite back…

In Iowa, DeSantis gets snowflake gift with ‘fascist’ hidden on it, by Ellen E. Clarke, Tampa Bay Times, Mar 11, 2023

The Florida governor posed for a photo with the gift, as did Iowa’s governor.

In Iowa on Friday to promote his new book, Gov. Ron DeSantis posed with a gift from a supposed supporter. The gift, a framed cutout of an intricate snowflake, features the word “fascist.” Read the rest of this article here.

Getting By With a Little Help From AI

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Filed under: Co-option (If You Can't Beat 'Em...), Illusion and Magic, Prank News

Who gets the credit?

Viral “Photographer” Reveals His Images Were AI-Generated, Rhea Nayyar,, Feb 27, 2023

Jos Avery had told his followers he used a Nikon D810 to take his distinctive black-and-white portraits.

Jos Avery was surprised when his portraiture account amassed nearly 30,000 followers in just five months. The self-described photographer primarily posted heavily retouched black-and-white portraits accompanied by fictional stories about the subjects to @averyseasonart. But Avery recently came clean and told the world that his “photos” were actually generated by Midjourney, a text prompt-based artificial intelligence image-generation program. Read the rest of the article here.

Art in Odd Places

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

Art in Odd Places, presenting visual and performance art in unexpected New York City public spaces, has released its call for projects for 2023.

Soap Boxes Photo by Daniel Talonia

Art in Odd Places (AiOP) 2023: DRESS, scheduled for October 13-15, 2023, curated by Gretchen Vitamvas, invites proposals for its eighteenth annual outdoor public visual and performance art festival taking place on select blocks each day along 14th Street, Manhattan.

Past photos:

Chris Kaczmarek, Scaled, Photo by Maxwell Williams 2022

Gretchen Vitamvas, Modern Plague Doctor, Photo by Chloe Evans

Christopher Kaczmarek Photo by JosefPinlac

Get Your Top Secret Cover Sheet for Classified Information

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A gift from Joey Skaggs:

Just like Ex-President Donald Trump, you can have your very own Classified Top Secret Cover Sheet. Use it to secure your private papers or gift it to other people so they can protect their documents too.

Download and print your Top Secret Cover Sheet here.

And, if you don’t already have one, print your own customizable and framable Donald J. Trump Presidential Pardon created by artist Joey Skaggs (just change out his name for yours).

September Film Festival Screenings of “Joey Skaggs: Metamorphosis, Cockroach Miracle Cure”

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Pranks, Parody, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire, The Prank as Art, What Makes a Good Prank?, Why Do a Prank?

There are two great film festival opportunities to watch “Joey Skaggs: Metamorphosis, Cockroach Miracle Cure“, the sixth film in the new oral history web series, “Joey Skaggs Satire and Art Activism, 1960s to the Present and Beyond“:

Joey Skaggs as Dr. Josef Gregor in his Metamorphosis Roach Cure hoax, 1981

The first, the International Social Change Film Festival, starts on Monday, September 12, 2022 with an online-only screening available for a month. Later in the Fall this festival will have in-person screenings. The time and place are TBA.
On September 30, 2022, the New Jersey International Film Festival will host an in-person screening at 7pm. Starting at midnight the same day, the film is available for online streaming for 24 hours. Details are here.

Coverage in New Jersey Stage: Cockroaches, Hidden Worlds, Dancing to Agatha Christie, and Forgotten Children are among Highlights of New Jersey Film Festival in September, by Gary Wien, New Jersey Stage, September 2, 2022