Blog Posts

Confessions of a Rock and Roll Poser

Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Fact or Fiction?, Fraud and Deception, Hoaxes vs. Scams, Hype, Media Literacy, Media Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Publicity Stunts, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

Last autumn, Jered “Threatin” Eames staged the most alienating, least explicable rock tour stunt since the Sex Pistols hit the deep south. He recently broke his silence.

“The Great Heavy Metal Hoax”
by David Kushner
Rolling Stone
December 14, 2018

In November, managers of rock clubs across the United Kingdom began sharing the same weird tale. A pop-metal performer, Threatin, had rented their clubs for his 10-city European tour. Club owners had never heard of the act when a booking agent approached them promising packed houses. Threatin had fervent followers, effusive likes, rows of adoring comments under his YouTube concert videos, which showed him windmilling before a sea of fans. Websites for the record label, managers and a public-relations company who represented Threatin added to his legitimacy. Threatin’s Facebook page teemed with hundreds of fans who had RSVP’d for his European jaunt, which was supporting his album, Breaking the World.

But despite all the hype, almost no one came to the shows. It was just Threatin and his three-piece band onstage, and his wife, Kelsey, filming him from the empty floor. And yet Threatin didn’t seem to care — he just ripped through a set as if there was a full house. When confronted by confused club owners, Threatin just shrugged, blaming the lack of audience on bad promotion. “It was clear that something weird was happening,” says Jonathan “Minty” Minto, who was bartending the night Threatin played at the Exchange, a Bristol club, “but we didn’t realize how weird.” Intrigued, Minto and his friends started poking around Threatin’s Facebook page, only to find that most of the fans lived in Brazil. “The more we clicked,” says Minto, “the more apparent it became that every single attendee was bogus.”

It all turned out to be fake: The websites, the record label, the PR company, the management company, all traced back to the same GoDaddy account. The throngs of fans in Threatin’s concert videos were stock footage. The promised RSVPs never appeared. When word spread of Threatin’s apparent deception, club owners were perplexed: Why would someone go to such lengths just to play to empty rooms? Read more.

A Vintage Vino Hoax

Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Fraud and Deception, Media Literacy, Media Pranks, Political Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief, The History of Pranks

You may think academics will fall for anything. But have you met any wine snobs? Here’s a hoax flashback…

“The Winning Wine List That Wasn’t”
by Dan Lewis
Now I Know
May 23, 2017

If you're a wine fan, Wine Spectator is probably on your go-to list for magazine reading. Fifteen times a year, it hits newsstands and subscriber mailboxes with ratings and reviews of various vintages and types of wine. And once a year, the magazine announces its "Restaurant Awards," an honor for - you guessed it - restaurants. Wine Spectator's website sets it up thusly: "Attention restaurateurs: If you've got a good wine list, you deserve the credibility and publicity that comes with a Wine Spectator Restaurant Award." For example, here's a screenshot of Milan restaurant Osteria L'Intrepido's honor on the Wine Spectator website from 2008:

The cuisine type, the price range, a top-line summary of the wine available, and of course, some contact information for the restaurant itself. If you're looking for a $70 dollar dinner for two while in Milan, and you're willing to fork over a moderately extra amount for the wine, Osteria L'Intrepido may be for you. With more than 250 wine selections, you're likely to find something that enhances your experience - or at least, that's what the "Award of Excellence" would imply. Read more.

Pessimistic Weather Forecast is a Little Too Pessimistic

Filed under: Practical Jokes and Mischief

Here’s a brief look at how the typical hoax-news-story sausage is made, from Emerson Dameron:

As an aspiring humor writer, I always keep one eye open for new sites that might be interested in running my stuff. A few years ago – neatly coinciding with the explosion of Twitter, reddit, Facebook, and other mass social-sharing sites – I began to notice more and more sites soliciting “satirical” news stories that were just slightly off. Not funny like The Onion, but close enough to the news to be somewhat believable yet false enough to make the people who spread them look like idiots.

When these sites get scads of clicks from a “hoax” story, they can have it both ways. They’ve significantly widened their audience, but can still explain that they were clearly just joshing.

That’s worth keeping very much in mind.



Popular map suggesting ‘record-shattering snowfall’ is a hoax
by Scott Dance
The Baltimore Sun
September 9, 2014

A winter forecast map that is going viral and suggests above-normal snowfall for most of the country – and “well above-normal” snow for the mid-Atlantic and New England – comes from a satire website.

The story has been shared widely across social media, carrying the headline “Meteorologists Predict Record-Shattering Snowfall Coming Soon.” The accompanying map forecasts an unusually snowy winter for about two-thirds of the country, and a corridor of even heavier snow from Virginia to Maine. Read more…

Art of the Hoax – Joey Skaggs on PRI

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Definitions, Media Literacy, The Prank as Art, What Makes a Good Prank?, Why Do a Prank?

Jester_waitscmMarch 30, 2014: Pranks and Hoaxes, produced by Wisconsin Public Radio and distributed by Public Radio International, presents an interview with Joey Skaggs called Art of the Hoax – Joey Skaggs.

Listen here

The Fiddle File #5

Filed under: Prank Busters

fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.

The Fiddle File #5

Here we go with another madcap roundup of hoaxes, scams and damn fool idiocy making the rounds these days. Take heed. Some of these fiddles may soon be showing up on your computer, phone or even up close and personal. Check it out:


New Jersey: Superstorm Sandy brought us many tales of heroics but there is a dark side as well, unscrupulous predators using phony charities, inflated pricing and phony promises to scam victims.

Nationwide: Have you been tempted to help billionaire Warren Buffett in his crusade to reform Congress? Sorry, but the popular email solicitation is a hoax.

Everywhere: Do you search your business name regularly? It may have been hijacked for placement of phony supply orders or other nefarious purposes.

Australia: Congratulations, you just won a vacation sweepstakes. Scratch that. You just won a chance to spend 25 years in jail.

Ohio: Sorry about your loss, here”™s a fake bill for funeral flowers to add to it.

California: Spending the rest of your life in a cage hardly seems sufficient payback for ripping off folks who lost homes due to wildfires.

Everywhere: Many of us use PayPal to make electronic payments. Things can go awry.

Australia: But it could happen anywhere. Fake phishing pages planted within genuine web sites. (Similar to Better Business Bureau warning on business names being hijacked).

Global: Swell Internet deals on cars, motorcycles, boats and more, just wire the money to this gang of Roumanian crooks who set up fake sites that look legit.

England: We could fill pages with items on stupid prank 911 calls but here”™s one worth mention. Cops bust the door down in response to a call placed by your cat.

Salem Bewitched by NYU Student Prank

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Pranks

Fake Salem Song Teaches Internet A Lesson It’ll Probably Forget Pretty Soon
by Maura Johnston
Village Voice
April 8, 2011

Yesterday the Internet lit up for a bit with news of a new track from the draggy, divisive outfit Salem. “Nite Daze,” according to the email blasting it around the Internet, was “all about the drag environment of being incredibly tired, in a dream-state, wasted or on something, and forcing something creative from the mutual confused experience,” and it sure sounded like at least one of those words. (Its “demo” form also didn’t sound all that different from finished tracks by the outfit.) But just as soon as it popped up, links to it went dead, because as it turned out the snare-heavy track wasn’t a Salem demo but… the result of an NYU project. On “culture jamming”! (more…)

LiteratEye #7: Faux Poe

Filed under: Literary Hoaxes

Here’s the seventh installment of LiteratEye, a series found only on The Art of the Prank Blog, by W.J. Elvin III, editor and publisher of FIONA: Mysteries & Curiosities of Literary Fraud & Folly and the LitFraud blog.

LiteratEye #7: Faux Poe
By W.J. Elvin III
March 27, 2009

Edgar Allan PoeThis year is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe. If you keep track of these things, you’re no doubt amazed at the creative ways people find to connect to the master of the macabre. The calendar is cluttered with related events put on by institutions, communities and individuals nationwide.

Poe offers a goldmine of opportunities for those intrigued by literary fraud, hoaxes, mystifications and riddles. He left behind many puzzles to be solved, in his writing and in how he lived his brief life. For instance, he fought many back-and-forth battles over plagiarism, sometimes the accused and sometimes the accuser. On the other side of it, his fame made him a magnet for forgers, pranksters, satirists and others hitching a ride on his star.

In prowling old literary magazines, an avocation which no doubt fills endless hours of your leisure time, you can hardly help but notice how often others imitated Poe’s style. Digging into it, there is quite a bit of controversy over what he wrote or didn’t write, much of it unresolved. It’s confounding how many lesser lights tried to pass off their work as that of the master. And then there’s the on-going question of how many, if any, succeeded. (more…)