Huffpost Weird News
David Moye Headshot

Joey Skaggs Created The Celebrity Sperm Bank Hoax To Expose Journalists' Incompetence

Posted: Updated:
CELEBRITY SPERM BANK HOAX
London has been rocked by a celebrity sperm bank hoax amazingly similar to one organized 36 years by media prankster Joey Skaggs. | Courtesy of Joey Skaggs

A British television network is currently investigating how it was duped by an actor pretending to be the chief of celebrity paternity service Fame Daddy.

A man named Dan Richards claiming to represent FameDaddy, the "first celebrity sperm donor service," appeared on the show. He said his service allowed women to "select a donor from our exclusive catalogue of proven winners," including an unnamed former soccer star and a rock musican allegedly worth millions.

Now ITV executives believe they've been fooled and are trying to figure out how.

But instead of doing an investigation that might take weeks, they should just ask Joey Skaggs, a conceptual artist who specializes in pranking the media.

He said the reason why the network got fooled was simple: The story was too good for the producers of the ITV network show "This Morning" to let things like facts get in the way.

"As I’ve said for decades, give the media a sensational story and they’re all over it," he said. "Had any of them heeded any of the principles of journalism, they’d likely have figured out that not only was this Celebrity Sperm Bank a hoax, it wasn't even an original idea."

Back in 1976, Skaggs, under the name "Giuseppe Scaggoli" announced he was the proprietor of the Celebrity Sperm Bank, and planned to hold an auction of rock star sperm, including that of Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and Jimi Hendrix.

"The prank was a comment on how technology challenges morality," he told The Huffington Post.

Skaggs' stunt included a group of 50 actor friends who portrayed rock musicians, groupies, and protesters with signs such as "Do it the old fashioned way."

When the timing was right, Skaggs as "Scaggoli" appeared with his lawyer to announce that the sperm had been stolen in the middle of the night and that detectives were working on the case. So rather than an auction, there was instead to be an impromptu press conference.

GALLERY: JOEY SKAGGS: KING OF THE PRANKSTERS (Story continues below)

Close
Joey Skaggs: King Of The Pranksters
of
Share
Tweet
Advertisement
Share this
close
Current Slide

The story received international attention when first reported, but not so much when he revealed it was a hoax shortly thereafter.

"The expose is, to me, the most important part of each prank and is the key to whether it has socially redeeming value," he told HuffPost. "But media corporations don't want to do exposes. They're afraid of being busted."

So far, no one from FameDaddy has come forward to reveal the reason behind the prank or, perhaps more important, tip the hat to Skaggs for coming up with the stunt 36 years ago.

"I hate to sound like a bitter old man," he laughed. "What's shocking is that the concepts behind these pranks are still viable decades later."

In recent years, many of Skaggs' earlier stunts have been "revived" or "copied" by other, younger pranksters.

In 2010, an anonymous prankster in New York City decided to express distaste for slow tourists who dawdle on sidewalks by painting a linedown the middle of a Fifth Avenue sidewalk between East 22nd and 23rd streets.

It harkened back to a similar prank Skaggs did in 1984 called "Walk Right!"where he created an imaginary ad hoc group of vigilante sidewalk-etiquette enforcers who patrolled the streets to make New York a better place to live and walk, AOL News reported.

Other pranks he's done that have been co-opted by others include his fish condos, a "cathouse for dogs," where pooches could get sexually gratified by an assortment of "hot bitches"; the "Fat Squad," a group of commandos who would follow fat people around to make sure they stuck to their diets; and the Solomon Project, a revamp of the American judicial system, where super-computers would replace judges and juries.

"You could compare it to songs being written by one artist getting covered by another, but, in those cases, the original artist gets credit," he laughed. "If the [FameDaddy] people had offered my sperm, I would have been flattered."

Skaggs may get more recognition of his pranking past soon. Two Italian filmmakers are making a documentary on his work.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story claimed Skaggs celebrity sperm bank hoax took place 34 years ago. It was 36 years ago. In addition, the earlier version said Skaggs is seeking investors for a documentary of his work. He is not doing the documentary, he is cooperating with two Italian filmmakers who are doing the project.

Around the Web

TV show fooled by celebrity sperm bank hoax | The Raw Story

Celebrity Sperm Bank - Joey Skaggs

ITV forced to apologise after featuring celebrity sperm bank hoax on ...

BBC News - ITV apologises over celebrity sperm bank guest hoax

Celebrity sperm bank hoax on UK TV

TV show fooled by celebrity sperm bank hoax

Celebrity sperm bank: £15k for a 'genius' baby

"The whole story may not be what it says it was": This Morning investigating ...

Celebrity Sperm Bank Spill Causes Hollywood Street Frenzy

UK broadcaster duped by 'celebrity sperm' hoaxer