Back in the more innocent, easily-duped days of 2004, I wrote a feature on a hot new trend called “gancing”, aka (guy-on-guy dancing) for the April issue of Stuff magazine, (RIP). The gist: heterosexual men, throughout the clubs of Manhattan were engaging in performance-art like choreography so as to garner the favor of the opposite, and totally impressed, sex. There was Birth (one dude squats and begins to squeal, while his buddy, with back on the ground, pretends to push himself through his “mother’s” mangina) and Bull, (the “matador” uses his cape as a coat while his toro partner fashions two empty beer bottles into horns and charges) to name two. Of course, the entire piece was less an exclusive and more a bold-faced lie. And as gratifying as it was to watch hundreds of media outlets report a made-up-fad as fact, (Jay Leno chided gancing on The Tonight Show, and Ryan Seacrest actually claimed he was a pioneer of the practice on his radio program). I also realize that the whole idiotic enterprise doesn’t hold a candle to some of the more storied holiday scams of all time. Herein lie my five favorite from The Museum Of Hoaxes.
Top 100 April Fools Pranks Of All Time…
In Digestion We Trust
The Set Up: In 1996, Taco Bell put out a full-page ad in six major papers claiming they’d purchased Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell which they rightly renamed The Taco Liberty Bell. Obvs, it was the Mexican cuisine’s patriotic attempt to aid America’s growing national debt.
The Let Down: Hundreds of angry Philadelphians (is there any other kind?) gathered near the storied ringer to express their discontent, while the park service received frantic calls from the offices of senators Bill Bradley (D-NJ) and J. James Exon (D-Neb). Sadly? TB corporate’s latest gimmick is no joke.
God Blessie This Nessie
The Set Up: Upon visiting Scotland’s Loch Ness, on March 31, 1972 Flamingo Park Zoo's education officer, John Schields, decided to get his fellow-visiting-scientists’ goat by way of a seal. A dead elephant bull seal, to be exact. After shaving the poor guy’s whiskers, and sticking rocks in his mouth so as to make his snout look more monstrous, he dumped it into the water, near where his crew was lunching.
The Let Down: Not only were Shield’s fellow eggheads fooled, but so was the local, and international, media, with one Los Angeles Times headline screaming “’Monster’ Hauled Out Of Loch Ness” while the many innocent bystanders just screamed, period. (He was hideous, after all.)
You Can’t Spell “Phenom” Without “No”
The Set Up: “The Curious Case Of Sidd Finch”, AKA George Plimpton’s 1985 Sports Illustrated “profile” of a 168-mph flame throwing, Tibetan monastery-dwelling, shoe-eschewing Met prospect, was made even more curious by how many readers actually bought it.
The Let Down: Legions of Metropolitan faithful jammed up SI’s request line for more information on a player-never-to-be-named later. But perhaps the funniest bit was the fact that, within the next year, this always funny franchise actually up and won the World Series. It was the last time Mr. Met’s head was big both literally AND figuratively.
In Lying Color
The Set Up: In 1962, Swedish personality, (not an oxymoron), Kjell Stensson, announced on the Sveriges television channel (which as it turns out, was the country’s only channel) that his black-and-white suffering brethren could now place a Nylon stocking over their TV screens, which would instantly convert the broadcast to color.
The Let Down: To this day, thousands of our Scandinavian pals recall their parents frantically raiding their mom’s underwear drawers for the miracle screen savers. But the real joke was that this so-called country didn’t end up getting color broadcasts until 1970, and we’re told the hue was decidedly neutral. (Zing!)
Rooms With A View
The Set Up: In 2009, the airport hotel chain Yotel, with the aid of some very clever computer graphics, released a viral video purporting to show the world’s first Hotelicopter. The so-called Mil V-12 was Russian-made (boo!), and boasted 18 rooms that were capable of flying 700 miles at a cruising speed of 147 mph (yay!). The attraction was dedicated to, according to the press release, “adrenalin junkies seeking a truly unique, and memorable travel experience.”
The Let Down: Even more memorable than that? The thousands of excited idiots that immediately flooded the company’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Oh, and no truth to the rumor that director Michael Bay has since optioned a script titled Hotelicopter: The Reckoning. Or is there??? Nah…there isn’t.