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  Friday, June 15, 2007  

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Protestors Spring Big Hoax on Oil Expo Audience

CALGARY, Alberta - By the time candles supposedly made from remains of a deceased ExxonMobil janitor named Reggie Watts were handed out, an audience of oil and gas professionals attending a keynote luncheon at Calgary’s Gas and Oil Exposition realized they’d been had.

A man named “S.K. Wolff,” claiming to be an analyst for the Washington-based National Petroleum Council, and co-speaker “Florian Osenberg,” said to represent ExxonMobil, were getting ready to show a memorial video made by Watts when security officers forcibly ushered the two men from the stage. 0615 05

Wolff is really Andy Bichlbaum and Osenberg is Mike Bonanno — or so they say.

As the Yes Men, the pair have travelled the world with an anti-globalization agenda perpetrating hoaxes on groups ranging from the World Trade Organization to the BBC.

In Calgary, ostensibly to promote their book and a documentary they filmed three years ago at the Plaza Theatre tonight, the activists said they couldn’t resist taking a shot at the oil and gas trade show, held over three days this week at Stampede Park.

“This was a great opportunity for us, like the holy grail, really,” said Bichlbaum. “We’ve never had an audience like this. These people are wrecking the Earth and they’re quite conscious of it.”

The premise of the presentation, which included a PowerPoint lecture by “S.K. Wolff,” was that as humans begin to die as a result of calamities caused by climate change, their remains could be harvested for an alternative fuel source called “vivoleum” that would eventually replace oil.

Osenberg, supposedly the director of human resources with the vivoleum program, took the stage carrying a lit candle while volunteers handed out candles to the audience.

The approximately 250 assembled guests were told the vivoleum for the candles had been “sourced” from an ExxonMobil maintenance worker who donated it before dying of cancer.

The candles were actually made of wax and human hair gathered from barbershops.

Organizers of GO-Expo were not impressed with the stunt.

Officials from dmg world media, the company that runs GO-Expo, apologized profusely for the incident.

Police were called in, but no charges were laid and no investigation will be launched, said a spokesman.

Bichlbaum and Bonanno said they were each issued a $287 fine for trespassing.

“The organizers were furious,” said Bichlbaum. “They thought we should be charged with crimes against humanity or something. The police were great. They were just going to let us go, but the organizers insisted we be charged with criminal trespass.”

The Yes Men started their unique form of protesting when they created a fake WTO website to protest the Seattle summit in 1999. When conferences began inviting them to speak, thinking they were actual representatives of the WTO, they began accepting.

Bichlbaum said he was invited to the GO-Expo event by organizers who saw the vivoleum website the duo concocted.

The Yes Men are appearing at the Plaza Theatre tonight to present a multimedia show of their past hoaxes.

With files from Ashok Dutta and Gina Teel, Calgary Herald

Copyright © 2007 CanWest Interactive

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9 Comments so far

  1. kathyodat June 15th, 2007 1:38 pm

    I love these guys! They actually get themselves invited to these events!

    The oil execs slavering over the thought of harvesting human remains must have been quite a sight. Too bad Michael Moore doesn’t have a tape of it. Shades of Soylent Green!

  2. prem June 15th, 2007 2:15 pm

    Why it amazes me after the long sad history of capitalist culture I do not know, nonetheless, it amazes me that our beloved tricksters were invited to speak at the oily conference BECAUSE their web site spoke of HOW TO PROFIT FROM THE HUMAN DIE OFF triggered by climate change–THE ONLY RECYCLE LOOP THAT SEEMS TO HAVE EXCITED THE OILY INDUSTRY! Ghoulish indeed! But then, so was slavery. so was the genocide of the indigenous of these lands. In all cases, it takes the collusion of the “common” man for the ghoulish culture to thrive in the face of humane conscience!

  3. frank1569 June 15th, 2007 2:25 pm

    And what’s today’s lesson? Creative civil disobedience can be fun and enlightening! Imagine if, say, thousands of progressive “yes men” set to infiltrating everything GOP - orgs, foundations, think tanks, conventions, even taking jobs for evil corporations - only to set to monkey wrenching from the inside. Here’s an easy way to start: head over to some of the crazywing sites - Little Green Footballs, Townhall, etc., register, and start posting comments a la Steven Cobert: you sound like a nutwinger but it’s all a slam sham. Go covert, act the part, and then push all the wrong buttons. And don’t forget your cell camera for the YouTube gig.

  4. jobson June 15th, 2007 2:26 pm

    Prem wrote “But then, so was slavery.” Just want to point out that slavery still continues. Some Chinese slaves have made something you consumed today - maybe even your computer.

    Long live slavery! They produce the tastiest babies. ;)

  5. Josh June 15th, 2007 4:45 pm

    Maybe our business leaders in the US can figure out a way to make a profit by selling equipment for folks perpetrating a genocide. Never mind, they alreay did that to facilitate the Nazi holocaust (IBM, the Bush family financiers, etc). How about selling arms to warlords so they can arm fourteen year old soldiers in a bush war? That’s done routinely, I am too late. How about running some power plants that poison the population by polluting the fish in the waters with mercury and other heavy metals and PCBs? That’s been done for several decades now, and many species of fish, which used to be among the healthiest “brain” foods, are now dangerous.

  6. aum33 June 15th, 2007 5:27 pm

    Cheers for the yes men!
    :-) :-) :-)

  7. mwildfire June 15th, 2007 6:03 pm

    God I love these guys. If humanity survives, hundreds of years from now their names will come adoringly off the lips of our offspring.

  8. peachmcd June 15th, 2007 6:31 pm

    I wanna be these guys when I grow up. Or at least have them over to the house and fix them a nice dinner.

  9. weiji2001 June 15th, 2007 6:36 pm

    >>>>> They were invited to this event because the organizers believed their website was real???

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