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Back in July 1953 three pranksters left the hairless/tailless body of a monkey lying in the middle of a Georgia highway. When a policeman came along, they told him it was the body of an extraterrestrial that they had accidentally run over. Its friends had escaped moments before in a spacecraft. The prank managed to make national headlines. (I describe it in greater detail in the Hoaxipedia.)

MSNBC has an article (with picture) about the Great Monkey Hoax. The occasion for it is a visit by an AP reporter to the museum of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, where the body of the monkey is still preserved.

Seven years ago, when I was writing the book version of The Museum of Hoaxes, I spent some time on the phone trying to track down this monkey. I had heard that the GBI still had it, but I wanted to confirm the info.

I eventually reached a woman who worked in the archives of the GBI and asked her if they still had the hairless monkey. I explained the history of the prank to her, but she had no clue what I was going on about. From her tone of voice she evidently thought I was playing a prank on her. She swore to me that the GBI had no such monkey. Looks like she was wrong. They do still have it!
Categories: Extraterrestrial Life, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Wed Jul 30, 2008
Comments (5)
You've just shelled out a couple hundred bucks for a new iPhone, and now you're paying outrageous monthly service charges in addition to that. So what can you do to show off your new status symbol? How about make it fart?

DoApp has introduced a whoopie cushion app for the iPhone:

This app includes 10 varieties of gas sounds. The user will be able to choose the right length and power to make the proper sound effect for the moment. In order to use this application, a user has to touch the iPhone once or swipe his finger across the screen.

But isn't the point of the prank to make it sound like someone else just farted? If you install this on your iPhone and play it during a meeting, everyone's going to be looking at you.
Categories: Gross, Pranks, Technology
Posted by Alex on Fri Jul 18, 2008
Comments (4)
This has already been posted in the forum, but I've received too many emails about it to ignore it. "Faceless aliens" have been spotted attending various high-profile events in the UK, including Wimbledon and the Harrods summer sale. The "aliens" are people wearing masks. So why are they doing this? According to the Mail Online, theories include:

the possibilities that they are limelight-seeking pranksters, performance artists or that they are at the centre of a viral marketing campaign for an as-yet unknown product of forthcoming horror film.

I'm putting my money on a viral marketing campaign, but for what, I don't know. Maybe the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, coming out in December, which stars Keanu Reeves as an expressionless alien? (Some would say Keanu Reeves has played an expressionless alien in every movie he's ever been in.) But that's just a wild guess. And the problem with that theory is it doesn't explain why the faceless aliens are appearing specifically in the UK.

Update: So it was a viral campaign for Lotus Eagle. Mystery solved before I even posted about it.
Categories: Extraterrestrial Life, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Mon Jul 07, 2008
Comments (11)
I'm not sure if this is a prank, or just a case of bizarre willfulness. Staples High School in Westport, Connecticut warned a father and daughter not to bring their horse to school. They brought it anyway, so the school has charged them with breach of peace. From

Police were called Friday morning when a Westport man and his daughter walked a horse onto the campus of Staples High School, police said. School officials became concerned when a large group of students gathered near the horse and reported it, police said.
School officials had previously warned the family not to bring the horse onto school property and became concerned about the safety of students, police said.
Security personnel at Bedford Middle School in Westport told the father and daughter not to enter the campus with the horse but they entered the property and continued to walk to the high school, police said.

It would be a prank to lock a cow or some other animal inside a school building. But in this case it seems like the father and daughter just really wanted to show off their horse. One hundred years ago it would have been quite normal to ride your horse to school.
Categories: Animals, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Tue Jun 10, 2008
Comments (6)
Nyack High School seniors claim their prank got pranked. Their intended prank was to remove all the desks and chairs from the classrooms and line them up in the field behind the school in the shape of a giant "2008." The principal had given them permission to do this. But during the night someone rearranged the desks into the shape of a penis. From

Senior Erin Cummings, 17, said about 100 seniors came to the school at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday and worked for several hours arranging the desks. But it seems another group came out to the field afterward and rearranged the desks in the shape of a penis, leaving the image that way for everyone to find yesterday morning.
"Personally, it was upsetting to see all our hard work turn into a huge penis," Cummings said, though she conceded she was proud her class was able to cause a little chaos for the day.

Of course, the paper just had to interview a student named Cummings for this story.

Creating gigantic representations of the male anatomy on hillsides or in fields is a tradition that goes back thousands (maybe even tens of thousands) of years. The Cerne Abbas Giant in Dorchester is the most famous example of this. It's interesting how, despite the school administration's effort to impose a neutered form of the prank on the students, the old ways reassert themselves. Human nature just doesn't change much.

Surprisingly, I can't find any pictures of the Nyack penis. I felt sure the media would come through with one.

Update: Got a picture! (Thanks, Nyacker)

Categories: Pranks, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Thu Jun 05, 2008
Comments (7)
Big Gary writes: "Don't we see this story about 2 or 3 times a year? Only the country and the broken object causing the injury change." From Yahoo! News:

UTRECHT, Netherlands - Utrecht police say a 21-year-old Dutch man is recovering after a "mooning" that went horribly wrong. A police statement says the man and two others had run down a street in Utrecht with their pants pulled down in the back "for a joke." It says that at one point the 21-year-old "pushed his behind against the window of a restaurant" that broke and resulted in "deep wounds to his derriere."

Here in Southern California we have the annual "Mooning of Amtrak" tradition. Every year patrons of the Mugs Away Tavern in Laguna Niguel set aside a day to moon passing Amtrak trains. This has been going on for almost 30 years. It'll occur this year on July 12. I've never heard of any injuries occurring at this event, but I'm sure someone doing something stupid will get hurt eventually.
Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Wed Jun 04, 2008
Comments (5)
If you need a reminder of the human race's capacity for stupidity, consider this story, from

Pillers, Keiffer and friend Elliot Tuleja were drinking at a house in Grover Beach on Jan. 18 when Tuleja passed out. Pillers and Keiffer decided to play a practical joke on him...
“They were drinking, and one of the guys passed out. So (the other two) said, ‘Let’s do something. I’m going to look for rotten fruit to (put) up in his socks.’
“The other guy found a bottle of cologne and poured it onto his pants. The one guy said, ‘That’s funny,’ ” Gran said. “The other guy said, ‘That’s not funny. If you lit it on fire, that would be funny.’ ”
One of the men then allegedly lit Tuleja’s groin area on fire where they had poured the cologne. Tuleja woke up, and all of the men attempted to extinguish the blaze. Tuleja suffered second-degree burns on his testicles and third-degree burns on his inner thighs, Gran said. Tuleja did not believe his friends intended to harm him, Gran said.

I'm labeling this a "prank gone wrong," though I can't imagine how it could have gone right. Pillers looks just like I imagined he would in his mugshot.
Categories: Pranks
Posted by Alex on Thu May 29, 2008
Comments (5)
When students at McKinney High School recently received copies of their yearbook, they noticed that many of their photos had been altered. From

The problem photos are obvious. One girl's arm is missing. Another girl is missing her clothing – and was left with a blurred chest. Multiple students have the same body and clothes. Some shirt colors were changed, while patterns and wording on other shirts were wiped out. At least 34 students had someone else's body. Officials from Lifetouch National School Studios Inc., the Minnesota-based photography company, said someone at the company made the alterations in an attempt to comply with the school's photo guidelines...
Sophomore Brielle Anderson said she's pretty sure her head is on a boy's body. "I paid $80 for a cropped picture of my head on someone else's body," she said. She noted that she's also missing a few inches of hair. Chelsey Rephan, a sophomore, said one girl in the yearbook had her clothing digitally rubbed out.

I'm pretty sure the school's photo guidelines didn't specify digitally disrobing students. Sounds more like there's a rogue employee at Lifetouch Studios. (via J-Walk)
Categories: Photos/Videos, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Thu May 22, 2008
Comments (9)
A chimney is all that remains of the cabin that used to be the home of the manager of the Forest Service tree nursery in Pike Forest. It's considered a historically significant remain. That didn't stop pranksters from refashioning it, with the help of some paint, into a monument to SpongeBob Squarepants. From

Some people might find humor in a 10-foot tall likeness of the cartoon character SpongeBob Square-Pants painted onto a crumbling chimney in the middle of the woods. U.S. Forest Service officials certainly don't.
"I didn't chuckle," said Al Kane, a Forest Service archaeologist. "I kind of started crying." ...
As for solving the SpongeBob mystery, officials have no leads. Someone took a long time doing it and had the foresight to bring four colors of paint, officials said. It's a short walk from the nearest road. Asked if he had any suspicions about the kind of person who would paint a giant SpongeBob here, Healy said, "I don't know enough about them to know.
"Apparently they are SpongeBob fanatics."
Categories: Places, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Wed May 21, 2008
Comments (11)
On May 15th thousands of people around the world went to their local grocery store to panic buy carrots. They were members of the facebook group called "On May 15th 2008, everybody needs to go out and panic buy carrots." From

What started out as a prank Facebook group called "On May 15th 2008, everybody needs to go out and panic buy carrots," with just a handful of the creator's friends as members, has exploded online and now has 231,000 worldwide supporters on the popular social networking site. British teen Freya Valentine, the creator of the group, admits the response has overwhelmed her. "It started off as a joke between a couple of friends, so we were surprised when we got 40 members, but it kept going up and up and now everybody seems to know about it. It's mad," she said in an e-mail interview. "All I can say is I never knew that the group would get to this size, and I hope that the carrots don't get wasted and they're actually used,"Valentine said.

The group created a website: It's now almost a week later, and some members of the group are talking about whether May 15th should be turned into an annual Panic Buy Carrots Day. Others are trying to figure out what to do with all the carrots they bought. My vote would be carrot cake. Lots of it.
Categories: Food, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Tue May 20, 2008
Comments (9)
Two former Junior High teachers have been giving each other the same donut as a gift for 37 years. From

In 1971, Mrs. Ross, longtime language arts teacher at the junior high, brought a doughnut to school to enjoy on her break in the teacher’s lounge. She and Mr. Nelson already enjoyed teasing each other, but on this day, Mr. Nelson took things to another level.
He hid Mrs. Ross’s doughnut. And then the doughnut disappeared. Did he eat it?
“I hid the doughnut but I did not eat the doughnut,” swears Mr. Nelson. “Someone else may have eaten it, but I did not.”
Be that as it may, the doughnut disappeared, and he was correctly identified as the thief. Mrs. Ross then bought another doughnut, glazed, and gave it to Mr. Nelson so that he would no longer have to resort to doughnut thievery.
“I thought he should have a doughnut of his own,” she says. “I think I bought it at a dime store.”
That is where things stood until Mrs. Ross’s next birthday, or maybe it was Christmas, they can’t remember which — this was 37 years ago after all, so we will give them a break. Mr. Nelson put the doughnut in a box, gift wrapped it and gave it to Mrs. Ross.
It has been passed back and forth ever since...
This tradition eventually became legendary at the Chatham school. Mr. Nelson sometimes directed one or two of his students to go down the hall to Mrs. Ross’s room with the gift box, hoping she wouldn’t realize who it was from until it was too late. The doughnut sometimes turned up in either teacher’s school mailbox.

Mr. Nelson currently has the donut in his freezer. He's plotting when and how to give it to Mrs. Ross, who is now 93 years old and living in a retirement community.
Categories: Food, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Mon May 12, 2008
Comments (6)
Fake road signs have been popping up around Frankston, Australia, amusing some and outraging others. The signs are said to be the work of a "mystery artist." From the Frankston Leader:

The mystery Frankston signs have been carefully made to look like official road signs. Drivers have reported seeing them in Cranbourne-Frankston Rd, Langwarrin. Some think they are funny while others - and officials - aren't laughing...

Although VicRoads' media department thought the signs were "very amusing", its regional director Steve Brown was not laughing. The placement of inappropriate signs such as these was unsafe and illegal, he said. "VicRoads has arranged for them to be removed immediately and may request police to assist in identifying who was responsible."

It reminds me of the Fake Road Sign Project that artists conducted in Lyon, France back in 2004 (with the official endorsement of the Lyon city government). The Lyon Sign Project used to be online at, but that link now appears to be dead. A few of the Lyon signs can still be seen here, here, and here.

Related post: Welcome to Detroit.
Categories: Art, Pranks
Posted by Alex on Wed May 07, 2008
Comments (3)
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