The Museum of Hoaxes
hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive
Eras: 0-1699 1700s 1800-1868 1869-1913 1914-1949 1950-1976 1977-1989 1990s 2000s
The Hoax Archive — A collection of the most notorious deceptions throughout history
Gender Fakers
Pope Joan, 853 AD. According to legend, Pope Joan was a woman who concealed her gender and ruled as pope for two years. Her identity was exposed when, riding one day from St. Peter's to the Lateran, she stopped by the side of the road and, to the astonishment of everyone, gave birth to a child. The legend is unconfirmed. Skeptics note that the first references to Pope Joan only appear hundreds of years after her supposed reign. Continue…
Silence Dogood. Between April and October 1722 a series of letters appeared in the New England Courant written by a middle-aged widow who called herself Silence Dogood. In her correspondence she poked fun at various aspects of life in colonial America, such as the drunkenness of locals, religious hypocrisy, the persecution of women, the fashion for hoop petticoats, and particularly the pretensions of Harvard College. Silence Dogood's letters became quite... Continue…
Robert Archer, aka Tanis Chandler, 1944. (left) Robert Archer in The Desert Song(right) Tanis ChandlerTanis Chandler was a 20-year-old woman working as a teletypist in a Hollywood brokerage office, but dreaming of becoming a movie star. However, she was having trouble getting any roles, so she decided to try another strategy. There was a shortage of male actors in 1943 because of the war, so Tanis figured she might have better luck if she were a man. She put on a pair of pants and... Continue…
USC Glamour Queen Hoax, 1944. In April 1944, the University of Southern California held its annual Campus Queens beauty contest. 20 contestants vied for the title. Six winners were to be selected. The prize was that their full-length portrait would appear in the yearbook. But that year an imposter appeared among the candidates. The odd-woman-out (or rather, odd-man-out) was Sylvia Jones. She was actually a he — a male USC student who had dressed up as a woman in order to enter the contest. Continue…
Billy Tipton, 1989. Billy Tipton (1914-1989) got his start in the predominantly masculine world of jazz during the 1930s. He made a name for himself playing the saxophone and piano, and during the 1950s formed his own group, the Billy Tipton Trio. Throughout his life he had a number of wives and adopted three sons. Therefore, when he died at the age of 74 on January 21, 1989, it came as a surprise to almost everyone to discover that Billy Tipton was really a woman.... Continue…
The Cross-Dressing Ken Doll, 1990. In July 1990 Carina Guillot and her 12-year-old daughter, Jocelyn, were visiting relatives in Florida when they wandered into a Toys 'R' Us store and spotted something very unusual. Standing inside a sealed cardboard package among the ranks of Ken dolls dressed in their standard-issue outfits was a Ken decked out in a purple tank top and sporting a lace apron on top of a polka-dotted skirt. Mrs. Guillot immediately thought, "Oh my God, now we... Continue…
Samukeliso Sithole. Samukeliso Sithole Samukeliso Sithole was a rising female star in the world of Zimbabwe athletics. The 17-year-old track-and-field athlete had won awards at various regional athletic events, including five gold medals at the Southern Region Youth Championship in 2004. But in 2005 her career came to an abrupt halt when it was revealed that she was actually a he. Continue…
JT LeRoy, 2005. In 1994 a teenage boy called JT (or Jeremy "Terminator") LeRoy began to attract attention in the literary community. He published a few short stories, but he also aggressively reached out to other, older writers, communicating with them by phone, email, and fax. He was a sympathetic character — a transgendered, homosexual, drug-addicted, pathologically shy teenager who had been living on the streets, forced into a life of truck-stop... Continue…

Hoax Archive Categories
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  • Religion
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  • Television Hoaxes

  • All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.