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Identity/Imposters
Kutv.com has an article describing a hoax perpetrated by Andy Warhol back in 1967. He had been asked to do a speaking tour at various colleges, but decided, at the last minute, that he didn't want to do it. So he sent someone else, Allen Midgette, who pretended to be him: "Midgette whitened his hair and face and adopted a Warhol persona, and, accompanied by Morrissey, went on tour. And most believed the forged artist was authentic."

People finally figured out that Midgette was not Warhol when they compared photos of the two men. Apparently the stunt was not an attempt to make any kind of artistic statement. Warhol just really didn't like public speaking. His friends say that he had undiagnosed Asperger syndrome.

Sending an impostor to an interview or lecture is a fairly common prank. Joey Skaggs has done it often. Though I don't think this type of prank has ever been given a name. Maybe it could be called the Impostor Interviewee Prank. Or the Substitute Speaker Prank. Or just the Impostor Prank. Or what about, the Official or Authorized Impostor Prank.

I have no idea what the earliest example of this kind of prank would be. Sounds like a good research project to waste some time on!
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Sun Dec 16, 2007
Comments (5)
Due to my ongoing computer problems and personal situation, this is again brought to you by Madmouse.

Peruvian Meteorite (eovti)
An apparent meteorite landing in Peru has led to reports of illness amongst locals. Original suggestions for the cause of the sickness included radiation poisoning, but that seems unlikely.

Sign Language Translator (Madmouse)
There’s been a lot of discussion in the forum about this story. A group of UK students have developed a system to translate spoken or written words into British Sign Language that is then displayed by an avatar. Suggested uses include translating for meetings and for phone calls. This seems like a very good idea to me, although a lot more development is needed.

Belgium For Sale on Ebay (LaMa)
A disgruntled Belgian, protesting about Belgium’s political problems, put the country up for sale on Ebay. He pointed out that, although the nation is second-hand, the offer included free delivery.

Bigfoot Revealed!!! (gray)
A prankster who has posing as Bigfoot to scare campers for the last two years was captured in Manitoba. Apparently the man was less intimidated by the police than he was by the telling-off delivered by his last ‘victim’.
Categories: Cryptozoology, eBay, Identity/Imposters, Pranks, Science, Technology
Posted by Flora on Fri Sep 21, 2007
Comments (0)
image Bill Henry used to like to tell his wife and friends stories about when he was a relief pitcher for the Boston Red Sox back in the 1950s and 60s. He had a lifetime ERA of 3.26. When the Lakeland, Fla. resident died, the Associated Press ran his obituary. But Red Sox fan David Lambert noticed something wrong with it. The obituary said that Henry had been born in 1924, but Lambert knew that Henry was actually born in 1927. He decided to phone Henry's family (whose address he found in Major League records) to check the facts.

Henry's wife picked up the phone and said, "Bill Henry isn't dead. He's sitting right here in the living room."

It turns out that the Bill Henry who died was an impostor, a man who had been falsely claiming to be the former Red-Sox player for decades. Even his wife of nineteen years didn't know the truth.

The real Bill Henry says, ""It's just amazing someone would want to live someone else's life. I say more power to him if it helped him in his career."

Links: chron.com; theledger.com; tbo.com (Thanks, Joe)
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Sports
Posted by Alex on Fri Sep 07, 2007
Comments (3)
I was browsing the web a few days ago when I came across a guy who was posting lots of great hoax-related articles to the Associated Content site. He seemed to know all kinds of fascinating, obscure things.

That guy was Elliot Feldman. I emailed him and asked him if he'd consider posting some articles here to the Museum of Hoaxes. Luckily, he agreed. So I want to introduce everyone to Elliot. We should be getting to read his articles regularly from now on.

Elliot says that he was a game show writer for 25 years. Shows included the Match Game, Hollywood Squares, Nickelodeon's Double Dare, and (yes, it's true) That's My Dog. He published his first novel, Sitting Shiva, in 2003. You can buy it at Amazon.

Elliot is also a cartoonist. You can check out some of his comics at detroitcrazy.com and scene4.com.

He supplied four facts about his life, half of which are fake. You have to guess which are the true Feldman Facts and which are the fake ones:

• He once dressed in a molting chicken suit and was beaten to death by San Diego Padres fans.

• He was a cartoonist long before he was a writer.

• His first TV job was as a (blank) for The Match Game.

• He is currently searching for the Loch Ness Monster in Florida.

Elliot's first article, posted in the Hoaxipedia, is about John Howard Griffin, a white man who had his skin darkened so that he could pose as a black man.

He promises future articles about subjects such as thirties and forties con artist Titanic Thompson, golf hustlers, pool hustler Minnesota Fats, con artists who have sold landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Brooklyn Bridge, and Bob, Ivan Stang, and the Church of the SubGenius.
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Tue Aug 28, 2007
Comments (12)
An unidentified Malaysian man ran a dental practice out of his home for 29 years -- without any kind of dental training. He learned his trade by carrying the bags of an army dentist for sixteen years. But apparently while he was carrying bags he was also observing closely, because he later figured he could do what the dentist did. And the truth is, after 16 years of watching the guy, he might have been right. The fake dentist charged 20 ringgit for extractions and 130 ringgit for dentures. The police have now arrested him and charged him with illegally practicing dentistry.
Categories: Health/Medicine, Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 15, 2007
Comments (1)
Christopher Crowe had pleaded guilty to domestic battery. When the judge asked his wife to stand up and state if she accepted the plea deal, 47-year-old Rebecca Crowe stood up and said she did. But Rebecca was actually his mother. (Let's hope she was just pretending to be his wife, and it wasn't anything weirder.) The court realized the deception when a prosecutor later saw a picture of Crowe's actual wife.

The article also notes: "Courtroom personnel later admitted they thought the woman looked too old." But that wouldn't have been a good basis for suspecting fraud because older woman/younger man matches are becoming much more common. The most frequently cited example are Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, who are 15 years apart in age, but I'm in this demographic too because my wife, Beverley, is ten years older than I am. Though she definitely would never be able to pass for my mother. I think I seem older than she does.
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 15, 2007
Comments (1)
image Mike Wood of West Salem, Ohio has figured out an ingenious way to slow traffic in his neighborhood. He makes life-size cardboard cutouts of his children. Then he places the cutouts along the side of the road. People driving by think there's a real kid standing by the side of the road and they slow down.

I could use some of these on my street. I live on a busy road and sometimes people just go tearing up it. Though some traffic cones and a detour sign might be able to eliminate the speeding cars altogether.
Categories: Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Wed Aug 08, 2007
Comments (11)
A young Indian boy is claiming to be the reincarnation of an American scientist. According to the article linked below, he speaks mostly gibberish with a few "scientific" words mixed in. Proof enough for me! I especially like the next-to-last paragraph of the article. [Thanks to the reader who submitted this story]

Indian boy claims to be reincarnation of American scientist
Categories: Folklore/Tall Tales, Identity/Imposters, Mass Delusion, Religion
Posted by Cranky Media Guy on Tue Jul 17, 2007
Comments (18)
The Press Club of Dallas has been a much-respected institution for years, offering the annual Katie awards to journalists for high quality work. Recently, though, the organisation’s reputation has been dealt a crippling blow, with the news that their recent president, Elizabeth Albanese, has been falsifying the award results for at least the past two years.

Albanese became involved with the Katies in 2003, the year she first won prizes, and has been reportedly tampering with the results every year since.

For the 2003 awards, unlike following years, a list of judges for the awards was provided. However, it appears that Albanese and her husband had access to each judge’s nominations for weeks before the ceremony, which certainly gave them the opportunity to alter them. Albanese won two awards.

In 2004, Albanese was acting as co-chair for the awards. Tom Stewart, the new president of the Press Club, has told reporters that the list of judges for that year cannot be found.

The judges for the 2005 and 2006 awards have been equally elusive. For the 2006 results, even the entries are missing. Volunteers packed them, and loaded them into Albanese’s car. After that, what happened to them is a mystery. Albanese claims that her husband’s company shipped the forms, but there are no records of this happening, and no-one but Albanese, and possibly her husband, know where they went. Tom Stewart is quoted as saying ”I wish to hell I knew. Greatest mystery to me. For all I know they’re in the damn Trinity River.”
Albanese won four awards that year - the most given to anyone.

Albanese was a social woman, slipping stories of her fascinating life into stories she told her friends.
These included:
*that she had a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas
*being born in Ireland, then moving to New York as a child
*being diagnosed with bone cancer, forcing the family to move to Houston so she could get treatment
*that her mother was a fashion model in New York
*that her father had been assistant manager at Plaza Hotel, and the family lived there
*that she had been a University of Texas cheerleader
*that she had married to Greek basketball player who had died in a car accident
*that she had worked for CNN during the first gulf war
*that she had a Harvard Law degree

What is known of her, much of which contradicts these tales, is this. Lisa Jeanne Albanese was born in White Plains, New York. When her working class family moved to a refinery town near Houston, her father worked in a car dealership. The only high school where she grew up has no record of her graduating, she never graduated college, and she did not even attend Harvard Law School. The family never lived in the Plaza. Albanese has a record of mental illness and delusional behaviour, and also a criminal record. In 1994, she was arrested for writing a bad check for a second-hand car. When the charge was entered into the system, it was discovered she was wanted in Texas for theft of two aeroplane tickets.

In February of 2007, Durhl Caussey - Albanese’s own choice for head of the club’s finance committee - was sent to pick up the financial records from Mac Duvall, their former bookkeeper. This proved to be a big mistake for Albanese. Duvall had proof of over $10,000 racked up on the club’s credit card. Between February and December of 2006, Albanese had been treating the card as if it were her own, blowing hundreds of dollars at a time on clothes, flights and hotel rooms. Duvall also showed Caussey records of the hundreds of emails he had sent Albanese regarding the club’s finances - emails that had never been shown to the rest of the board. Little wonder, with that sort of evidence, that Albanese had spoken to the board about firing Duvall. Caussey phoned Albanese for an explanation, whereupon she claimed it had been an honest mistake, and that she had paid back all the money. The records, however, showed that she still owed the club $3,000.

March 13th, 2007, became a showdown between Albanese and her doubters. At the meeting on this date, Durhl Caussey handed out copies of her credit card transactions to all the board members. Reactions were divided, with her supporters becoming angry at the ambush.
This was the point where Rand LaVonn, president of the Press Club Foundation stepped in. He made one request - “Please identify the judges for the 2006 Katie Awards and provide proof.”
Albanese claimed to not remember who the judges were, but promised to hand over a list of shipping labels to which the entries had been sent. Following the meeting, she told Meredith Dickenson - who considered her a friend - that she had destroyed the list, and was not going to provide any information. She made good on that statement. When Dickenson phoned her to ask about the judges, Albanese came up with strings of excuses - her husband had the labels and was out of town; she couldn’t call him as they didn’t talk when he was on business; she’d replaced her laptop without transferring the files…

Eventually, Albanese did provide a list of judges for the 2006 awards. However, the press club do not believe that the list is real. Some of the phone numbers didn’t work, one was answered by a hospital in Tennessee, and no-one has ever come forward to say they had been involved in the judging.

The club have no proof that any judging took place from 2004 until 2006 and, if that is the case, nearly 600 awards were handed out at Albanese’s whims. Several of her staunch defenders were winners in that timeframe.

Sadly, it looks like the Press Club of Dallas may have to bring to a close the annual award ceremony. Doing so will lose the monetary support the club used to rent its office space and to pay for journalistic scholarships. Some are still hoping that the awards may be revived but, for 2007, their future seems in doubt.

(Thanks to Kathleen for the story, and Madmouse for help with the post.)
Categories: Con Artists, Identity/Imposters, Journalism, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Flora on Mon Jun 25, 2007
Comments (19)
This is a weird one. A book allegedly written by a young man, JT LeRoy, made a sensation recently. JT was a truck stop hooker, got involved with drugs, was possibly transgendered and generally had a pretty screwed-up life. The book was billed as non-fiction, supposedly the true story of JT's life. Naturally, it sold very well.

Oprah loved it, the movie director Gus VanSant and other Hollywood types were interested in it. Then the JT LeRoy saga started coming apart. Funny story, turns out there is no such person as JT LeRoy.

Even funnier, also turns out that more than one person, some of them female, portrayed JT at book signings and other appearances. As you'd expect, the people who put up good money to produce a book based on "JT"'s life story didn't see the humor in the situation. They sued Laura Albert, the woman who really wrote the book and who recruited friends and relatives to play JT.

The case came to trial this week. I don't want to spoil the ending for you, so click on the link and see how the case turned out. Oh, and you're gonna LOVE Albert's lawyer's defense of her actions. It's, uh, creative, I'll give him that.

AOL News, JT LeRoy.

OK, this is annoying. The article that link takes you to had a summary of Albert's defense of her actions, but it's been changed since I originally copied the link. The gist of it is that the lawyer said that Albert suffered from "multiple personalities." Now you *might* be able to buy that, but she claims that her multiples were contagious (my term) to explain how other people portrayed "JT" when the "author" needed to make an appearance. I've found the reference elsewhere, though.

From the Augusta Chronicle:

Albert and her lawyers say the matter is more complicated.

The middle-aged Albert testified during the trial that she had been assuming male identities for decades as a coping mechanism for psychological problems brought on by her sexual abuse as a child. To her, she said, Leroy was real — something akin to a different personality living inside her, but one that was capable of transferring to the people she hired to impersonate him.


UPDATE:

If the meme of the 90's was, "I know I did something wrong, but I apologize from the bottom of my heart and, by the way, I've found Jesus," the Ought's version seems to be, "I have no idea why you think what I did was wrong. I'm a misunderstood genius unappreciated by philistines like you."

I direct your attention to:

Gawker story on J T LeRoy.
Categories: Con Artists, Folklore/Tall Tales, Identity/Imposters, Literature/Language
Posted by Cranky Media Guy on Mon Jun 25, 2007
Comments (11)
imageimage
Flowers growing from a steel pipe (NEO)
A Chinese man has found what he believes to be a patch of white flowers growing from a steel pipe in his vegetable garden.
Ding has consulted his neighbours, who believe the flowers are the legendary Youtan Poluo flower, which blossoms only once every 3,000 years.
“No soil, no water. These flowers can bring me good luck,” he added.

Forum members suspect, however, that the 'flowers' are lacewing eggs (see pictures to compare.)

Make your bad grades disappear! (Accipiter)
A student worried about re-taking a year at school because of his bad exam results talked two friends into entering a classroom wearing masks, threatening the teacher with an iron bar, and attempting to steal the report cards. Sadly for the sixteen-year old and his accomplices, the other students in the class defended the teacher, and they fled without the reports. The associates, aged 14 and 15 respectively, were arrested near to the school.

Herman Munster's Identity Stolen (Tah)
Internet thieves on an underground chatroom were offering the personal identification data of Herman Munster. Apparently unfamiliar with the television series The Munsters, the thieves were offering information such as his address - 1313 Mocking Bird Lane - and his Mastercard number. The theory is that a fan of the programme deliberately provided the bogus data.

A horror movie come to life (Iridium)
Three families in Fircrest claim to have been victims of harassment for four months now. The families say that the mysterious stalkers are tracking their moves, controlling their cell phones, and sending death threats.
Somehow, the callers have gained control of the family cell phones, Price and Kuykendall say. Messages received by the sisters include snatches of conversation overheard on cell-phone mikes, replayed and transmitted via voice mail. Phone records show many of the messages coming from Courtney’s phone, even when she’s not using it – even when it’s turned off.
Whilst the phone company claims this is impossible, the Department of Commerce says that there is such thing as a 'roving bug', which will work whether the phone is on or not, and can pinpoint its location to within a few feet.
Categories: Con Artists, Identity/Imposters, Law/Police/Crime, Miscellaneous, Technology
Posted by Flora on Fri Jun 22, 2007
Comments (7)
Belly Dancer Has Half Her Bottom Removed
German belly dancer Julia 'Cleopatra' Meyer went to a private clinic to get liposuction on her thighs. Unfortunately, the surgeon removed fat from her right buttock instead. She was awarded the equivalent of £12,000 - twice what she had asked for in compensation.
(Thanks, Sophie.)

Imposter at Stanford
For eight months, Azia Kim lived on campus, studied with friends, and ate in the cafeteria. Trouble is, she wasn't actually a student there.

Swedish TV Apologises to Prime Minister Over Water Prank
STV have announced that they "deeply apologise" after one of their reporters sprayed the Swedish Prime Minister with water from a fake microphone at the premiere of the Pirates of the Caribbean film.
Categories: Health/Medicine, Identity/Imposters, Pranks
Posted by Flora on Tue May 29, 2007
Comments (5)
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