Cops Arrest "Yes Men" Co-Founder in Latest Prank

Birchlbaum was demonstrating group's latest gimmick

By Jennifer Millman
|  Thursday, Sep 24, 2009  |  Updated 10:36 AM EDT
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Cops Arrest "Yes Men" Co-Founder in Latest Prank

Yes Men

Introducing the SurvivaBall -- "designed to keep corporate managers safe even when climate change makes life as we know it impossible."

The co-founder of the "Yes Men," the group of imposters that made a splash by distributing the crafty but fake New York Post earlier this week, was arrested yesterday in a fake demonstration of the organization's latest gimmick: SurvivaBall.

Andy Bichlbaum, wearing the giant inflatable orb known as the SurvivaBall, was down by the East River demonstrating its utility as a "self-contained living system" when cops nabbed him and ticketed seven other Yes Men, according to a published report.

The group of more than two dozen Yes Men was holding a fake press conference to promote SurvivaBall, a bogus product made by Halliburton, one of the largest energy manufacturers and the latest target of the Yes Men's rage against the machine.

About 40 spectators were on hand for the event to learn about SurvivaBall. If you own one of the giant balloon-shaped things with vents, you can survive even when everyone else is dying from the harsh conditions imposed by man-made climate disaster.

However, city rules require gatherings of 50 people or more to have parade permits, which the Yes Men didn't. So cops descended on their phony assembly at about 10 a.m.

They took Bichlbaum into custody and slapped a handful of other Yes Men with summons and tickets for disorderly behavior and creating hazardous conditions, sources told The Indypendent.

Bichlbaum was arrested on an old bicycle ticket charge, Holly Cara Price, a spokeswoman for Yes Men, told NBC New York. It was one of those situations where the police just checked the IDs of everyone who was there and he happened to have a record, she said. Bichlbaum got out of jail early Wednesday afternoon -- 26 hours after the initial arrest.

It doesn't appear any charges will be filed against Bichlbaum, however. The judge just laughed at the arraignment, said Price.

Perhaps the police were still riled from the Yes Men's stunt on Monday, when volunteers distributed a million copies of the fake "We're Screwed" edition of the New York Post, including to News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch, who owns the paper. It was after Murdoch got hold of the bogus paper, decidedly not written in his style, that cops were called and detained three volunteers for questioning, Mike Bonanno of the Yes Men told The Indypendent.  

A day after the hoax, the New York Post published an editorial claiming they were flattered by the Yes Men's hijinks. We're not so sure we believe them.

The Yes Men pulled a similar prank using The New York Times last November, with a blaring headline that proclaimed "Iraq War Ends."

To get the full scoop on SurvivaBall, check out the product's Web site. The climate-controlled suits cost $3 million a pop. The next demo is scheduled for Oct. 7th, when their movie, "The Yes Men Fix the World" opens at Film Forum. Now that's one we don't want to miss.  

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