Not Andy Warhol has an article describing a hoax perpetrated by Andy Warhol back in 1967. He had been asked to do a speaking tour at various colleges, but decided, at the last minute, that he didn't want to do it. So he sent someone else, Allen Midgette, who pretended to be him: "Midgette whitened his hair and face and adopted a Warhol persona, and, accompanied by Morrissey, went on tour. And most believed the forged artist was authentic."

People finally figured out that Midgette was not Warhol when they compared photos of the two men. Apparently the stunt was not an attempt to make any kind of artistic statement. Warhol just really didn't like public speaking. His friends say that he had undiagnosed Asperger syndrome.

Sending an impostor to an interview or lecture is a fairly common prank. Joey Skaggs has done it often. Though I don't think this type of prank has ever been given a name. Maybe it could be called the Impostor Interviewee Prank. Or the Substitute Speaker Prank. Or just the Impostor Prank. Or what about, the Official or Authorized Impostor Prank.

I have no idea what the earliest example of this kind of prank would be. Sounds like a good research project to waste some time on!

Identity/Imposters Pranks

Posted on Sun Dec 16, 2007


When I was an undergraduate (during the late Pleistocine era), my university's art museum had an exhibition of Warhol's "art" and he ostensibly attended the opening in person. There was much speculation on campus about whether it was really Andy or one of his (by then notorious) "doubles" who had visited us. So far as I know, the question was never definitively resolved.

In a way, it didn't really matter, since Warhol's most salient characteristic as a celebrity was his noted lack of personality. In a way, it was even approriate, since his most famous works were remarkable largely for their almost total lack of originality. I always thought that he was a high-functioning autistic savant, or perhaps just a simpleton who provided a blank canvas on which people could project their own images, a la Chance the Gardiner in "Being There." He said in at least one interview that he had an IQ of 60. Most critics, biographers, etc., don't seem to have taken this seriously, but I don't really think there's much evidence to the contrary.

(Braces for a barrage of brickbats from members of the Warhol cult ...)
Posted by Big Gary  on  Sun Dec 16, 2007  at  02:56 PM
For the most part, I like Warhol. In small doses, I find his work has a really good sense of humor. But overexposure to his work can quickly result in repetitive stress syndrome.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Sun Dec 16, 2007  at  04:09 PM
The prank should be called "skagging".
Posted by Robert N  on  Mon Dec 17, 2007  at  09:22 AM
I've heard a similar story told as an after-dinner type story [not quite a joke] about a number of famous personalities and their drivers: Einstein's driver, just before a speech, commented that he knew the speech so well he could deliver it himself--the driver makes up to look like Einstein, and Einstein puts on the driver's uniform and plans to stand unnoticed in the back of the auditorium. The driver gives the presentation flawlessly, and undetected. At the end, one professor stands up and asks a monstrously obscure and difficult question. The driver, not missing a beat, points to the back of the room and says, 'Why, that is so ridiculously simple my chauffeur can answer that for you!'

[I'm sure the original predates the era when so famous a personality as Einstein would be well known by sight.]
Posted by RMinor  on  Sun Jan 06, 2008  at  03:19 PM
I'm not surprised by this at all, a lot of people fear public speaking more than they fear dying - up to 50% of people in Western countries.

Wouldn't it be fun getting to imitate Andy Warhol though! Getting paid to imitate Richard Nixon might be an even better gig, though 😊
Posted by Martin Ng  on  Wed Feb 04, 2009  at  08:17 PM
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