G. Clifford Prout was a man with a mission, and that mission was to put clothes on all the millions of naked animals throughout the world. To realize his dream, Prout founded an organization, the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals (abbreviated as SINA). It was left unexplained why the society was 'for indecency' not 'against indecency'.
Prout first appeared before the American public to promote his organization on May 27, 1959 when he appeared on NBC's Today Show
. His appearance generated a huge viewer response and soon thousands of letters were pouring in to SINA's headquarters. (Prout had provided a New York mailing address while on the air.)
More interviews followed after the success of this first appearance. Wherever he went Prout promoted his anti-animal-nudity philosophy and repeated his society's catchy slogans: "Decency today means morality tomorrow" and "A nude horse is a rude horse." Prout also urged SINA members (he claimed there were over 50,000 of them) to take an active role in their communities by handing 'SINA Summonses' to people who shamelessly walked their naked pets down the street.
Prout displays a properly dressed fawn
Prout's campaign continued for a number of years until it reached a high point on August 21, 1962, when SINA was featured on the CBS News with Walter Cronkite. As the segment was airing, a few CBS employees recognized that Prout was actually Buck Henry, a comedian and CBS employee. SINA was subsequently revealed to be an elaborate hoax. Although Henry played the role of SINA's president, the hoax had been dreamed up and orchestrated by Alan Abel, who played the part of SINA's vice president.
Abel noted that people had been either outraged by the idea of SINA, or quite supportive of it. One woman in Santa Barbara reportedly tried to donate $40,000 to the cause. Abel politely turned down the money, insisting that the bylaws of SINA forbade him from taking any money from strangers. But surprisingly few called the bluff of Abel and Henry. Apparently almost everyone was willing to accept that such a society could be real.
Although the SINA hoax was officially exposed following the Walter Cronkite interview, Abel managed to keep the joke going for a few more years by means of a SINA newsletter mailed to the faithful. The newsletter included features such as press releases and sewing patterns for pet clothes.
SINA Haiku (Submitted by Hoax Museum visitors)
G. Clifford Prout says
A nude horse is a rude horse.
Put pants on Fido!!!
A horse is a horse
Of course, of course. Unless it's
Wearing a corset.
Links and References
- Alan Abel. The Great American Hoax. New York: Trident Press. 1966.
- Alan Abel. The Confessions of a Hoaxer. New York: Macmillan Company. 1970.