In his book, The Confessions of a Hoaxer, Alan likens what he does to a life game, an adventure in absurdity, an adult fairytale in which he engages people emotionally and intellectually. "The audience gets involved and has to decide for itself what's going on and what's to be learned from the experience. Everybody is a participant." After fifty years of professional pranking, Alan continues to poke fun at the media's complicity, its fallibility and a reporter's all-too-often blind rush to scoop a salacious story.


THE HOAXES:

SINA Yetta Bronstein for president Topless String Quartet Abel Sues IRS Sex Bowl Howard Hughes
Missing Tapes Omar the Beggar Deep Throat Idi Amin obituary hoax Sheik
Super Bowl Females for Felons Phil Donahue Show Iran Contra Hoax Salman Rushdie Lottery Hoax
KKK Symphony Orchestra Kidney for Sale Euthanasia Cruise Jenny Jones Show Jenny McCarthy HBO Private Dicks Show
Ban Breastfeeding Powerball Lottery Hoax National Fat Tax Hoax Color Blind Citizens Mystery Hoax Mystery Hoax

The Society for Indecency to Naked Animals •  Yetta Bronstein for President •  The Topless String Quartet •  Alan Abel Sues the I.R.S. •  The International Sex Bowl •  Howard Hughes •  Missing 18-1/2 Minutes •  Omar the Beggar •  Deep Throat •  Idi Amin Marries a Wasp •  Obituary Prank •  Fake Sheik in the U.S. Open •  Superbowl Hoax •  Females for Felons •  Donahue Faint-In •  Iran Contra •  Salman Rushdie •  The $35M Lottery Hoax •  KKK Symphony Orchestra •  Kidney for Sale •  Euthanasia Cruises •  Jenny Jones Show •  Jenny McCarthy •  HBO's Private Dicks •  Citizens Against BreastFeeding •  $365 Million Dollar Powerball •  National Fat Tax •  Concerned Color Blind Citizens •  Graffitti Art Museum •  Stop Bird Porn • 


The Society for Indecency to Naked Animals 1958–1963





In 1958, Alan Abel formed a tongue-in-cheek crusade whose mission was to clothe all naked animals for the sake of decency. It was called S.I.N.A. or The Society for the Indecency to Naked Animals. The campaign slogan was "a nude horse is a rude horse."

Alan and his wife, Jeanne, would go out picketing together. They traveled to the White House and held signs out front pleading with the Kennedys to cover their horse's private parts.

Wearing a deadpan expression, Abel went on numerous television and radio shows to promote S.I.N.A. He hired his friend, Buck Henry, to play the part of S.I.N.A.'s president, G. Clifford Prout, and together they duped such major TV programs as The Tonight Show, the Today Show and the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.

The media frenzy carried over to the public. While some became outraged, others eagerly joined in on the march to clothe every horse, cat, dog and cow.

S.I.N.A. was actually a satirical commentary on censorship. It poked fun at the true moral maniacs who were banning books and records during that time period.

In 1963, five years after it began, Time Magazine finally blew the whistle on the S.I.N.A. campaign.

In 2000, the S.I.N.A. hoax was honored in Time Life's Century of Change.

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Yetta Bronstein for President 1964–1968



Abel promoted a campaign for Mrs. Yetta Bronstein, a Jewish grandmother from the Bronx who wanted to become President of the United States. Her slogan was "Vote for Yetta and things will get betta!"

Yetta's platforms included putting a truth serum in the Senate drinking fountain, installing a mental detector along with the metal detector, and taking Congress off salary and putting them on straight commission.

Yetta was actually a fictitious character voiced by Abel's wife, Jeanne, who did hundreds of radio and newspaper interviews over the phone.

When the press requested a picture of Yetta, Alan supplied them with a photo of his mother, Ida.

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The Topless String Quartet 1967

Abel formed the first Topless String Quartet, which made its debut in photos published in the United States and overseas. Frank Sinatra offered the lively ensemble a recording contract on his label.

The quartet was later featured, performing Breast Rock, in the Abel's film, Is There Sex After Death?

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Alan Abel Sues the I.R.S. 1970

After being audited by the IRS, Alan Abel decided to sue the United States government in retaliation.

Under the auspices of a group called Taxpayer's Anonymous, Abel demanded to examine their books and records and ordered the government to bring all of its cancelled checks to his house.

This stunt was featured in National Lampoon magazine's second issue (May 1970).

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The International Sex Bowl 1971


Using the alias Harrison T. Rogers, Abel announced the International Sex Bowl event, whereby couples from around the world would compete for climax in front of a black tie audience.

Members of the press were invited to attend the Olympic-style competition, which was billed as the most "shocking sporting event ever to be staged."

Outraged protesters from a watchdog group called S.O.S. (Stamp out Smut) picketed outside the venue. They were, however, merely actors hired by Abel to attract further media attention.

The Sex Bowl itself was Abel's ploy to promote the upcoming release of his film, Is There Sex After Death?

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Howard Hughes 1972

Howard Hughes appeared at the St. Regis Hotel in NYC, wrapped in bandages, claiming that he was going to be frozen through cryogenics and return when the stock market peaked. A press conference was held and a large group of reporters were in attendance.

After questioning, Hughes was hurriedly wheeled out through the lobby and his wheelchair got stuck in the revolving door.

A second press conference took place several days later, during which it was revealed that Alan Abel was actually the man underneath the bandages. In retaliation, the media decided to play their own "joke" on Abel.

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Missing 18-1/2 Minutes 1974


Alan Abel posed as a former White House employee who supposedly had, in his possession, the infamous 18-and-a-half minute gap missing from the Watergate tapes.

When Alan played the tape for the room packed full of eager reporters and cameramen, he acted shocked when his tape had also been mysteriously erased.

The stunt was a promotional hoax for Abel's mockdocumentary, The Faking of the President.

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Omar the Beggar 1975–1988


Alan created a character named Omar, the founder of a School for Beggars that taught people how to panhandle professionally. The hoax was a satirical commentary on the rise of unemployment and homelessness in America.

Alan first introduced Omar on NBC's "Tomorrow Show" with Tom Snyder. Omar continued appearing on TV shows for the next 14 years, even though his School for Beggars was repeatedly revealed as a hoax.

Omar's School for Beggars was one of Abel's longest running capers.

          

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Deep Throat 1976

An actor, hired by Abel, posed as Deep Throat and met with reporters at the Hilton Hotel in New York City. He held a press conference to explain his involvement in feeding Woodward and Bernstein information that led to the Watergate scandal.

Halfway through the conference, "Deep Throat" collapsed to the floor, pretending to have fainted. The stunt was another promotional hoax for Abel's film, The Faking of the President.

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Idi Amin Marries a Wasp 1979

Abel orchestrated an elaborate green card wedding between former Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin, and a young White Anglo Saxon Protestant woman.

He hired some of his actor friends to play the roles of the bride, the priest and a team of bodyguards. Alan found an Idi Amin lookalike while riding on the subway.

The lavish ceremony took place at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan and attracted a roomful of eager news reporters, as well as the FBI, CIA and the State Department.

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Obituary Prank 1980

Alan Abel successfully faked his own death by getting his obituary published in The New York Times. According to the paper, he died of a heart attack while skiing in Utah. He was supposedly scouting locations, at the time, for an upcoming film called Who's Going to Bite Your Neck, Dear, When All of My Teeth are Gone? Some reports indicated that Alan was found buried in a snow bank with his skis in the form of a cross.

Several years after he was "resurrected," Abel's friend, Bob Pagani, introduced Alan to Andy Kaufman, who became obsessed with the details surrounding this hoax.


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Fake Sheik in the U.S. Open 1982

A man named Prince Emir Assad mysteriously appeared at the Red Cross Pro/Celebrity tennis tournament. He arrived in a limousine, wearing a burnoose over his tennis outfit and was accompanied by a strange entourage. A supposed Arab millionaire, he proceeded to play tennis with Penny Marshall, Sonny Bono, and proplayers Bill Scanlan and Vijay Amritraj.

One of Abel's longtime compatriots, Frank Murgalo, played the role of Prince Assad.

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Superbowl Hoax 1983

During the 1983 Super Bowl game between the Miami Dolphins and the Washington Redskins, Abel snuck a fake official onto the field. The "official" called four plays before being chased down the sideline by a cop. The game was halted and the crowd went wild as the policeman escorted the impostor off of the playing field. It was later revealed that the cop was also an accomplice of Abel's.

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Females for Felons 1984

Alan formed an organization called Females for Felons, a group of former members of the Junior League who provided sex to men behind bars for rehabilitation.

The hoax was actually a sociopolitical commentary on recidivism within our nation's prison system.

Appearing in disguise and accompanied by fellow pranksters, he went on numerous talk shows to promote his cause, infuriating hosts and audience members alike.

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Donahue Faint-In 1985


One of Phil Donahue's first live national shows out of New York City featured the topic of gay senior citizens. Seeking to poke fun at the sensationalism creeping into the talk show genre, Abel planted several of his pranksters in the audience. As per Alan's instructions they stood up, one by one, to ask Phil a question. And as soon as the microphone came near, they collapsed onto the floor.

Fearing a possible gas leak, Donahue quickly evacuated the entire studio audience. Alan later revealed to the press that the name of the campaign was called, "Fight Against Idiotic Neurotic Television," or F.A.I.N.T.

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Iran Contra 1987

The press was introduced to Mehdi Bahremani, an Iranian arms merchant who made six million dollars in commission on the sale of U.S. arms to Iran. He summoned the media to announce that he wanted to give the money back.

Abel hired actors and friends to play the roles of Behremani, his girlfriend and their bodyguards. He then arranged the press conference that was attended by all the major media.

The story was never questioned and it wound up on the national news.

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Salman Rushdie Impostor 1989

Abel arranged for a Salman Rushdie lookalike to appear at a Washington DC book convention to autograph his controversial book, The Satanic Verses. The man alleging to be Rushdie stated that he had come out of hiding for the purpose of reaffirming a writer's freedom of speech.

The media who had gathered across the street to attend Nancy Reagan's book signing left in a hurry when word had spread about Rushdie's unexpected visit.

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The $35M Lottery Hoax 1990



Alan Abel hired actress Lee Chirillo to pose as the winner of the thirty-five million dollar lottery.

In order to attract the media, Alan and a group of his pranksters staged a lavish party at the Omni Park Plaza Hotel in midtown Manhattan and threw dollar bills out the window.

When the news got out that an attractive single woman had won a fortune in the state lottery, reporters were all over the story.

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KKK Symphony Orchestra 1991

When former Klansman David Duke was running for governor of Louisiana, Alan formed the KKK Symphony Orchestra to promote a "kinder, gentler" image of the Klan.

He made a recording of the orchestra, sent it to radio stations, and printed flyers and tickets for a concert that David Duke was invited to guest conduct. Duke actually accepted the invitation before realizing that it was all a joke.


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Kidney for Sale 1992

In the early 1990s, when there was a severe lack of organ donors in the United States, Abel devised a plan to address the situation. It required his friend, Paul Hiatt, to pose as an unemployed college graduate willing to put his body parts up for sale.

He placed an ad in the classifieds section of a New York newspaper saying that he was desperate and prepared to sell his kidney or lung for $25,000.

When requests for interviews began to pour in, he appeared in disguise at Grand Central Station to speak with the reporters all at once.

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Euthanasia Cruises 1993

As a response to the news stories surrounding the controversy of Dr. Khevorkian, Alan formed a fictitious cruise line called Euthanasia Cruise.

He set up an office in Florida with a 1-800 number, printed up stationery and sent out legitimate looking press releases, touting that the cruise was for people who wanted to expire in luxury.

One reporter wanted to buy a ticket, despite the fact it was a one-way trip only and passengers never returned.

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Jenny Jones Show 1994


Alan infiltrated an episode of The Jenny Jones Show that focused on the topic of revenge. He appeared with his wife (played by an actress), who supposedly glued his penis to his butt after she found him in bed with another woman.

They concocted the absurd story to poke fun at how ridiculous talk shows had become.

Someone in the Chicago area recognized Abel and called in to report that it was a hoax. The network attempted to pull the plug on the remaining markets, but by that time, the show had already aired throughout half of the United States.

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Jenny McCarthy 1997


In the aftermath of a controversial ad for Candie's shoes, featuring Jenny McCarthy sitting on a toilet, a man named Stoidi Puekaw decided to market "Jenny's Pint O' Pee" worldwide. He claimed that there was a warehouse filled with 500,000 cases of her urine stored in Mexico, packaged and ready for shipping.

McCarthy's lawyers quickly drafted a cease and desist letter, claiming trademark infringement.

When Abel revealed that it was a joke, he pointed out that the lawyers should have read his pseudonym backwards (Wake Up Idiots!).

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HBO's Private Dicks 1999

HBO put out an advertisement in the back of the Village Voice that Abel couldn't resist responding to. It was a casting call for men willing to discuss their genitalia on camera for a documentary called Men Exposed: Private Dicks.

Abel answered the ad claiming to have the smallest penis in the Guinness Book of World Records. The producers fell for his story and made him a featured subject in the film.

After the show ran nationwide, they realized to their horror that they had been had.

Even after it was revealed that it was a hoax, HBO continued to run the program, since Abel's humorous interview was so prominently featured throughout the documentary.

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Citizens Against BreastFeeding 2000–2005

Posing as Jim Rogers, Abel founded an organization called Citizens Against Breast-feeding, a conservative group that sought to abolish this supposed act of immoral perversion. He claimed that breast-feeding was incestuous and that it led to oral addiction. He also stated that the 'naughty nipple' was responsible for many of society's ills.

"Jim" appeared on several news programs and was featured on hundreds of radio shows throughout the country. During the 2000 election year, he and his team of pranksters picketed at both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions.

Four years following the introduction of the campaign, the hoax was officially exposed in a U.S. News and World Report article written by Abel himself.

Despite the revelation of the hoax, Jim Rogers still receives requests for interviews from the media. And angry people still comment on the YouTube clip, not realizing it's purely satire.

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$365 Million Dollar Powerball 2006


When the national Powerball Lottery reached $365 million, the biggest jackpot in American history, Alan took the opportunity to dust off one of his most successful hoaxes. He hired his friend and long-time coconspirator, Bob Pagani, to pose as the winner and the two traveled to Lincoln, Nebraska where the winning ticket was purchased.

With a photocopy of a doctored ticket in hand, Alan and Bob walked into a local diner where they gave the manager $2000 to pay for the meals of everyone there. Within fifteen minutes, the restaurant was packed with enthusiastic reporters. Pagani told the press that he had randomly picked the winning numbers out of a book called The Attractor Factor by self-help guru Joe Vitale.

Despite blatant discrepancies in Bob's story, their hijinks made national headlines.

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National Fat Tax 2006




Most people are unhappy with the fact they're forced to pay taxes based upon their income. So why not abolish the Income Tax Laws and substitute body fat? Americans are too obese. In fact, 50% are overweight. Every family should weigh in at the post office, on or before April 15th, and pay $5 a pound for each member, including pets. This aggregate amount will give Uncle Sam as much, if not more, than taxing income.

Joshua Foer, writing for Esquire Magazine, did a full story on the "fat Texan" named Irwin Leba who headed this national effort to implement a fat tax. The slogan was, "The More You Weigh, the More You Pay." A legitimate-looking website, fattaxfacts.org, was set up to support the body taxation and the majority of Esquire's readers took the bait.

It was subsequently revealed by the Washington Post  to be an April Fool's day prank cooked up by the magazine together with Josh Foer and Abel ('Leba' spelled backwards).

Ironically enough, a few years later, the state of Arizona proposed its own obesity tax to help close the state's budget gap.

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Concerned Color Blind Citizens 2007


In 2007, Alan and hoax compatriot, Paul Hiatt, staged an informal picketing of the White House to protest Homeland Security's use of a color code - from green and yellow to red - to designate an imminent attack on our country.

But what about the three million people who are color blind? They would remain unprotected.

Alan recounts with glee the fact that Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State, took one of their flyers, leaned against the White House fence and laughed out loud.

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Graffiti Art Museum 2008



In late 2008, it was announced that Ron English was looking to purchase some real estate in downtown Toronto in order to convert it into the world's first Graffiti Art Museum. English had previously collaborated with world-renowned artists Banksy, Swoon and Faile to beautify the city of Bethlehem. The Toronto Museum would be equally as attention-grabbing, featuring ongoing exhibits of contemporary street/poster art and boast an ever-changing interactive artscape on the building's exterior four walls.

English hired a dozen international guerrilla artists to beautify Toronto in celebration of the opening. To further engage the young community, spray paint sponsors passed out 5000 cans of high-grade paint to art departments at local high schools. Seminars on evading arrest and reclaiming public space were standing room only.

As one blogger reported, then subsequently retracted, the plan was a concoction of the imagination perpetrated by well-known Toronto-based music promoter, Gary Topp, Alan Abel and Ron English. It was all an elaborate promotional stunt for an upcoming double-billing of ABEL RAISES CAIN and IS THERE SEX AFTER DEATH? at the Bloor Cinema in Toronto.

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Stop Bird Porn 2009



Alan created a faux campaign to label bird watchers as voyeurs, claiming that they seek sexual gratification while watching birds cohabitate. A new hoaxing recruit, Lena Potapova, posed as the founder of Stop Bird Porn. The team protested in Denver during the Democratic campaign to elect Barack Obama President of the USA.

At times, their protest drew more reporters than those covering President-Elect Obama for interviews; even New York Times reporter Maureen Dowd had to wait in line to interview Lena.

Many bloggers and reporters were unsure as to whether this was a serious movement or not. Lena was extremely convincing as the founder of Stop Bird Porn. The website drew millions of hits and many thousands of comments. The server finally complained and the site was pulled.

This is the first public revelation of the campaign.

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