Joey Skaggs (born 1945) has been for many years one of the most productive pranksters in the USA.
He is an expert in making a fool of mainstream entities. Countless successful media pranks and hoaxes have been organized by him all around the USA during the last 50 years. He is famous for using epic false information in interviews and of sending aliases when it comes to meet the media. And the most fabulous part of it is that many of those lookalikes were not even noticed during the events, and even renowned magazines depicted the wrong men.
How did it all start?
Skaggs seems to be an artistic polyhistor. In his 20s he studied fine art and has painted and sculpted ever since. He started his carrier in the 1960s with controversial art, although, his public work quickly turned to a new direction. He couldn’t stand the cultural hypocrisy he saw around him, especially how it was blindly reported and -more harmfully- supported by the media. Skaggs was open-minded and gutsy enough to use art to challenge the system, so he started to satirize social problems with contrived media hoaxes and public performances.
The mainstream media, not recognizing the many pieces of evidence to his identity, became his unsuspecting collaborator, reporting his satires as real news. Even the biggest news agencies like CNN, BBC, New York Times or Washington Post fell prey to his brilliantly organized hoaxes.
No wonder that Joey Skaggs quickly acquired a international reputation as a media critic and cultural satirist.
50 prolific years with brilliant hoaxes and much more
Skaggs is the creator of the phenomenon Culture Jamming – known also as Guerilla Communication – which became so popular during the years that even a course called “Culture Jamming and Media Activism” has been launched by his old school, the School of Visual Arts. He keeps inspiring his audience on how to be a creative activist while sharing the techniques of media literacy and independent thinking. He is the editor of his own blog “The art of the Prank”.
And he has stories to tell, that’s for sure. Just in recent years, he had two noisy actions inspired by President Trump, known as Trump’s Military Parade and Trump’s Golden Throne, but in his unique portfolio, we can find stories and activities inspired by Santa Claus, Ex-President Bush and even Bigfoot himself. Furthermore, the world can thank such great inventions like “Cathouse for dogs” and the “Celebrity sperm bank” also to him.
What is the key to his success?
He touches social issues and interprets them in an extreme way but at the same time an independent, creative and funny way. He doesn’t mind putting even years of efforts to execute one single performance, but at the end the buzz the media creates around it is absolutely worth doing it.
It is definitely some food for thought for every one of us how easily media – and through them, ourselves – can be misled by a carefully planned and executed fake action.