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PRANKS! Excerpt: Monte Cazazza

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MONTE CAZAZZA: I used to make fake mannequins and leave them all over. I’d dress them up like bag ladies or winos, and put cheap tape recorders inside them playing 6-second endless loop cassettes of people muttering to themselves, etc. Late at night people would think they were real, and sometimes go up to them and try to mug them or something, while I watched across the street, laughing.

I also used to throw these large dolls into dumpsters with a tape recorder playing an endless loop cassette of a baby crying. People would think there was a baby at the bottom, and jump in and toss out all this garbage trying to find it!

It wasn’t exactly a prank, but in 1979 when Skylab was going to crash, Genesis and I dug a huge pit so it would look like it crashed in my back yard. The hole took up the entire yard. At that point, the old couple who were upstairs neighbors were convinced I was totally insane. We had a barbeque—people brought hundreds of pounds of charcoal briquettes so it was all glowing. The police showed up, looked (like, “What is this guy doing? Is this a new form of landscaping?”), couldn’t believe it, and just left. It took me and Gen about three days to dig that—we worked all day long. It’s amazing what you’ll do when you’re bored.

R/S: Can you think of any job-related pranks?

MC: You can always have fun at any job. Secretaries can cause all kinds of turmoil; anyone who works anywhere can cause all kinds of mischief. You can take anybody’s mail and reroute it to Antarctica; you can put the wrong paper in the wrong envelope; you can change a Yes to a No or a No to a Yes—people who work in computers do that all the time. Even computers do it themselves! And you can program a computer to dial a number over and over if you want to tie up somebody’s line—I think someone did that to Falwell. You should talk to some hacker.

Even though no two pranks are alike, I think there might be a formula you can find, like a law of nature, underlying most pranks. Have you interviewed any businessmen? Businessmen pull pranks every day—they’re always wheedling money out of banks and other businessmaen on various pretexts, pretending they have what they don’t have—outmaneuvering their competitors and suppliers in a thousand different ways. Other people could use these techniques for their own financial benefit.

A prank can be a multi-functional tool like a hammer—you can hit somebody over the head with it, or pound nails with it. Pranks are techniques to change life with; they’re based on principles that are not widely known or recognized. People can learn and apply these techniques—not to steal money from other people, but to set up situations for themselves enabling them to do more of what they want to do. The point is to discover and get familiar with the principles that apply . . .

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