[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 18 February 2005, 17:33 GMT
Yes Men take audiences for a ride
By Caroline Westbrook
BBC News entertainment reporter

Mike Bonano and Andy Bichlbaum
Bonano (left) and Bichlbaum (right) have set up several spoof websites
When Mike Bonano and Andy Bichlbaum set up a spoof World Trade Organisation website, they made such a good job of it that they soon found themselves being invited to speak at conferences around the world - as representatives of the organisation.

But rather than come clean and admit the site was a fake, the pair jumped at the chance - and proceeded to dupe audiences on a global scale with their far-fetched plans for free trade and wiping out world hunger.

Now the pair - known as The Yes Men - are the subject of a new documentary film of the same name, which follows their antics as they deliver a string of increasingly ludicrous lectures to unsuspecting souls in Finland, Australia and the US.

These include an elaborate stunt in which Bichlbaum shows off a gold phallic 'leisure suit' designed to help corporate managers keep an eye on their workers, and a seminar in which the pair convince a room full of students they plan to 'recycle' burgers to help starving people in developing countries.

Bush campaign

As amusing as it is to watch, the film also reveals just how gullible some people can be, as they seem prepared to believe anything Bonano and Bichlbaum tell them - no matter how ridiculous it may seem.

"We intended to portray globalisation as grotesquely as we feel it," Bichlbaum explains, "we thought it would be so obvious to our audience, we didn't know what would happen."

Neither of us has much acting background at all
Andy Bichlbaum

"When they didn't realise what was going on, we had to really rethink things and figure out why.

"And we came to the conclusion that we weren't exaggerating things at all, our crazy versions of free trade weren't so far from the real thing."

The pair, who met eight years ago, have since taken potshots at a whole host of other targets, including the Bush administration in the run-up to last year's US election.

"We got a big campaign truck, we came up with all kinds of costumes, all kinds of things," Bichlbaum reveals, "and people still thought we were the Bush campaign. There seemed to be no end to which we could lead people."

BBC hoax

More recently, they hit the headlines when Bichlbaum appeared on BBC World News as an apparent representative of Dow Chemical on the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster in India, claiming the company accepted responsibility for what happened.

Mike Bonano and Andy Bichlbaum
Bonano and Bichlbaum prepare for their stunt in Tampere, Finland

Bichlbaum, currently promoting the film in the UK along with Bonano claims they have more pranks up their sleeve - but admits it might become harder to fool the public now that they are becoming better known.

"We thought in London, after the Bhopal thing and the fact we were plastered over the media, that things might become tough. But we did a little stunt in London and I shaved my head and put on some glasses and I looked really different."

"If it did happen it wouldn't be a great tragedy because neither of us is really cut out for this kind of thing. Neither of us has much acting background at all."

The Yes Men opens in selected cities across the UK on 18 February.

Festival shows new 'Fahrenheits'
26 Jan 05 |  Entertainment
Documentaries turn up cinema heat
23 May 04 |  Entertainment


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific