Cooper Event: The Yes Men
THE YES MEN (Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno)
The Yes Men are a pair of notorious troublemakers who sneak into corporate events disguised as captains of industry, then use their momentary authority to expose the biggest criminals on the planet.
THE YES MEN (Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno) have gained international acclaim and notoriety for exposing dehumanizing business practices and helping to keep critical issues in the international spotlight. They do this through impersonating representatives of powerful corporations and government organizations such as ExxonMobil, McDonald's, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. THE YES MEN's famed hoaxes include a collaboratively produced fake New York Times announcing the end of the Iraq War, a phony George W. Bush website celebrating the unsavory details of the then-Presidential candidate, and the false announcement of the World Trade Organization's dissolution in order to shift focus to helping the poor.
Live presentations by THE YES MEN are hilarious, insightful, disturbing, and thoroughly entertaining. The prolific pranksters discuss their legendary hoaxes and identity corrections through storytelling and multimedia - featuring props used in the pranks and unreleased footage from their recent and classic exploits.
Andy Bichlbaum: Director, Writer, Producer
Andy Bichlbaum is a guy from Tucson, Arizona, who has held a bunch of jobs and was fired from pretty much all of them. He has a "terminal" degree in experimental fiction writing, of which he published a couple of books that made him so rich and lazy that he took up computer programming to pass the time. While "working" as a programmer, he spent some time orchestrating the infamous "Simcopter Hack," in which 80,000 copies of a macho video game were found - shortly after being shipped to stores - to be "enhanced" with swarms of kissing boys.
Fired yet again, he became a celebrity among a small but interesting group of lazy queer hackers, and enjoyed the attention so much that he went on to found the notorious "anti-corporate corporation" RTMark.com, a website that matched illegal activist projects with investors and skilled helpers. This Web 0.5 site generated lots of attention in the media and was mistaken as art by a number of curators, who included it in the Whitney Biennial and other major shows. In the course of running RTMark, Bichlbaum and his co-conspirator Mike Bonanno stumbled into starting The Yes Men when a fake WTO website they created accidentally received an invitation from a law conference in Austria. Today, in addition to Andy's many jobs with The Yes Men, he teaches at Parsons, The New School for Design.
Mike Bonanno: Director, Writer, Producer
Mike Bonanno is a guy from Troy, New York, who spent his formative post-childhood years making mischief. He once switched a bunch of street signs in his college town of Portland, Oregon to read "Malcolm X Street," before getting a group of friends to vomit red, white, and blue in celebration of the visit of a man named Dan Quayle. He then graduated to more serious things: purchasing talking GI Joe and Barbie dolls, switching their voiceboxes, and returning the result to store shelves. The resulting media firestorm (the action even inspired an episode of The Simpsons) made Bonanno so famous that even lazy queer hackers like Bichlbaum heard about him, and in 1996 a couple of mutual friends (one of whom is now an actual rabbi) put them in touch. In addition to his creative work, he enjoys skating on thin ice after the first freeze of winter along abandoned stretches of the old Erie Canal near Troy, New York, where he lives and works as a Professor of Media Art at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He has a Scottish wife and two babies.