Manifesto

Since the 1960s, Joey Skaggs has hoaxed TV networks, wire services, newspapers, magazines, and radio stations around the world. From Good Morning America to CNN to Entertainment Tonight to the BBC to Globo TV. From The New York Times to The Washington Post to Il Giornale to Die Welt.

No international news source has been or continues to be safe from Skaggs’ exploits. Sometimes his work requires little more than voicemail, a press release and the help of a few friends. Sometimes it takes years of dedicated research and development, assistance from highly specialized co-conspirators, and the best that technology has to offer before a concept is developed to the point of becoming a performance. Whichever the case, Skaggs has repeatedly made national and international headlines by creating and performing outrageous, funny, and incisive satirical commentaries.

The creator of such international hoaxes as the Hippie Bus Tour to Queens, the Cathouse for Dogs, Celebrity Sperm Bank, Portofess, The Solomon Project, Fat Squad, Sexonix, Hair Today, Ltd., and Metamorphosis-the Cockroach Vitamin Cure-all, Skaggs is one of the most prolific independent media satirists in America today.

His work is unorthodox, provocative and iconoclastic. Using guerrilla tactics and advertising and public relations techniques to make social commentary, he carries on in the tradition of theatrical satire while using the tools and technologies of the 21st century to communicate on a global scale. And he does so without breaking the law or taking money from unsuspecting people. In essence, he is an artist who uses the media as his medium to make a statement.

Skaggs is a storyteller, myth-maker, skeptic, philosopher, writer, performer, and artist. His work is designed to rock the boat — disturb, provoke, aggravate, and annoy the status quo, as well as to help bring about social change; expand people’s understanding and tolerance of other cultures and concepts; and creatively inspire people towards self-empowerment.

Skaggs holds a mirror up to society. He illustrates how hype, hypocrisy, propaganda and disinformation fed to the media, is consequently fed by the media to the public. And he shows, by example, how vulnerable the public is to abuses of a media that is largely owned by giant conglomerate corporations for whom the bottom line is the first priority. Issues of misuse of power, conflicts of interest and the use of infotainment as news, abound.

While he makes people laugh, he also hopes to make them think. Among his many messages are:

  • Question authority in all its forms

  • Don’t give up critical analysis for wishful thinking

  • Look to more than one source for information

  • Question preconceived notions and prejudices

Skaggs’ work is done in three stages. The first stage is the “Hook”: the creation and dissemination of the hoax. He uses brochures, letters and press releases, as well as actors, props and convincing locations to fool the media. Skaggs builds intentional clues into each piece. This is his way of giving the media a chance not to be fooled.

The second stage is the “Line”: the documentation of the performance. While the hoax is ongoing, Skaggs records the media and the public’s responses, and collects the print, electronic, audio and video news coverage as he monitors the evolution of the piece. He observes what happens, who does what with the story and how it gets changed.

The third stage is the “Sinker”: The exposé or revelation of the truth and the discussion about the issues underlying the performance. This is the most difficult aspect of the artist’s work because the media doesn’t like him pointing out their irresponsibility and lack of credibility. This is fully documented as well. It allows him to show how the media have changed the intent, content and/or the meaning of the message, either by accident or by design — and how the media deal with revealing the truth. This phase of the work inevitably offers insight into issues of the public’s gullibility and irresponsibility in not questioning what the media has fed them; and the media’s lack of ethics and potential to misuse power.

Skaggs speaks on media literacy and his media work around the world on television and in person. His audiences include students, professionals, and the general public.

This site offers a comprehensive retrospective of Skaggs’ media works as well as information about how to arrange for a Skaggs speaking engagement.

Acknowledgement:

Joey Skaggs thanks his close friends past and present, and the legions of caring, generous people who have helped him with his work throughout the years.

RELATED LINKS

         Joey Skaggs Lecture Presentations

PRANKS -- A Definition: Excerpted from RE/Search Pranks, Volume 11, Re/Search Publications, by V. Vale & A. Juno.