Art of the Prank

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When Joey Skaggs, godfather of the media hoax, famed for such media fictions as Celebrity Sperm Bank, Cathouse for Dogs, Fat Squad, and Portofess, decides to pull off the most demanding hoax of his career, filmmaker Andrea Marini gets a unique view into the mind of this most unconventional man. The result is an emotional and humorous journey, interweaving the present with a journey through his classic work. The film starts with a series of outlandish news clips spanning decades presented by respected TV newscasters. All of them are hoaxes perpetrated by notorious New York artist Joey Skaggs. Joey is currently in rural Kentucky taking care of his elderly mother. Although completely out of his element, he’s grappling with a new performance piece involving a tricycle, a 9’ rocket, and a giant sling shot. Unfortunately, one night he sees a new movie with something similar. He needs to re-think the piece. Looking back to the 60s, we see a young passionate artist, outraged by social injustice, who expresses his anger by creating provocative street theater. A revelation occurs when The New York Times headline dramatically misrepresents the message of his anti-Vietnam war performance. Joey realizes the power of the media to mold public opinion. He decides to confront journalistic irresponsibility by using the media as an element in his work rather than simply as a vehicle for attention. His first media hoax, the Cathouse for Dogs, receives tremendous coverage, and he’s subpoenaed by the NY State Attorney General for illegally running a house of prostitution—for dogs. When the media decline to admit they were fooled, Joey recognizes how crucial it is for him to reveal the truth to demonstrate how easily we are all manipulated. He also sees how effective satire and humor can be in delivering his message. Back to the present, despite the challenge of his current living situation, Joey decides to produce a short hoax film in Hawaii about the ethics of transgenics and genetically modified organisms. He’ll play a key role: a scientifically absurd transgenic stem cell recipient. But he desperately needs to find the main character, a plausible newscaster. After exhausting his options in Hawaii, he calls a New York actress who had recently worked with him on his mobile rocket launcher performance. She agrees. Cutting back and forth between the present and his classic hoaxes, we gain insight into his methods and tactics. Meanwhile, chaos ensues with his current production. The piece morphs from a fake news report into a fake short documentary. Looking for a way to get it into the public eye, and not knowing the uphill challenge he faces, he decides to submit it to film festivals as if it were real. The resulting twists and turns, intercut with amazing archive footage of his earlier escapades, provide unprecedented insight into Joey's evolution as an artist, activist and social satirist while challenging the audience to more actively question the sources of their information and their beliefs.


Cast

Mark Borkowski, Michael Carter, Manulele Clark, Ed Coll, Larry Croft

Director(s)

Andrea Marini


Duration

1 x 85'

Genre(s)

Film, Feature Documentary, Comedy, Biographical, Arts & Culture

Year of Production

2016


Available Media
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