Ok, here's text file #1 from the _Forbidden Subjects_ CD-ROM by
the Profit Group.
First of an occasional series
AN INTERVIEW WITH PAUL MAVRIDES
[Paul Mavrides is a San Francisco collagist, underground comic
book artist, and all-around brilliant guy who was a founding
member and prime mover in the Church of the SubGenius. The
following is an excerpt from an interview conducted by Re/Search
magazine for their book "Pranks", itself an invaluable resource
for anyone who wishes for insight into the varieties of
alternative culture in America today, or just likes to get cheap
thrills off the indiscretions of others. This series of files on
the Church of the SubGenius is intended to present a highly
subjective selection of materials and sources pertinent to Sub-G
for the benefit of those not familiar with, or wishing to expand
their knowledge of, the Church of the SubGenius.
The interviewer is V. Vale of Re/Search magazine (VV), the
interview subject is Paul Mavrides (PM).
[Here comes the disclaimer: I cannot stress strongly enough that
some of the activities described herein, while amusing to say
the least, may have legal ramifications you would not enjoy.
Consider this a history lesson, not a how-to manual.]
PM: A SubGenius friend named Janor was watching a TV
Preach-a-Thon. The preacher was taking phone calls from people
who needed "the healing help of the Lord," so Janor put on his
"hick" accent and called him up, impersonating a totally
paranoid man who had been driven crazy by Jesus. He said
something like, "Jesus scares me to death -- I'm sure Jesus is
the Devil in disguise. Isn't Jesus like a vampire, because he
rose from the dead and all his followers are supposed to drink
blood and eat flesh?" The host immediately got sucked in,
saying, "No, son! You're confused!" Janor continued (in a
quavering voice), "I tried to go to church, but they said I was
possessed by the Devil. Then they stood around in a circle and
_beat_ me with their Bibles, and now I can't even go _near_ a
Bible! I get scared just thinking about it!" He wasted the
preacher's entire show taking in circles. The more the guy tried
to help him, the worse it got!
At the last SubGenius show at a nightclub in San Francisco, an
inadvertent prank occurred which almost became tragic. In our
presentation we were using some replica automatic weapons, which
we had cleared with the [club's] security. However, we forgot to
inform the local North Beach police station. At about 1 AM some
beat cops walking down Broadway wandered into the show and saw
this black guy standing near the bar holding a metal replica
M-16. Immediately they drew their guns on him and yelled,
"Freeze!" Fortunately he reacted seriously and didn't swing
around with the gun and say, "Huh?"
They dragged him out onto the sidewalk in front of the [club].
I was walking down to unload some equipment and saw this guy
laying face down -- one cop had a gun to the back of his head,
and the other was inspecting the prop gun which was one of those
exact replicas. It took about an hour to clear this up. The cops
ended up confiscating the gun as well as the guy's copy of _The
Book of the SubGenius_. They were _really_ mad because they had
nearly killed him. We almost made art history! We did make the
_New York Times'_ wire service and the _International Herald
The other time a SubGenius group got on the wire services
involved a performance artist in Baltimore named
Tentatively-a-Convienience, who had discovered a railroad tunnel
containing a number of dog corpses that had been hit by trains.
So he staged a SubGenius ritual performance which consisted of
him naked. painted with white designs, beating these dead dogs
that were hanging by their legs. He got arrested, the wire
services picked up the story, and about two dozen papers
reported that the Church of the SubGenius prances around naked
beating dead dogs with sticks as part of their cult ritual.
Some SubGenius associates did a prank in Arkansas. The
executives in charge of a nuclear power plant near Little Rock
held a banquet at a theatre-in-the-round next to a shopping
mall. All these higher-ups and engineers were in there patting
themselves on the back, handing each other cigars, etc. These
people sneaked up, padlocked all the doors with heavy chains,
and then destroyed the power box so the interior of the building
was totally blacked out. After that they plastered anti-nuclear
bumper stickers all over the windshields and doors of cars
parked around the building. Then they retreated to a wooded hill
overlooking the mall to watch.
It took over an hour before the cops could break in. Then all
these horrified couples (executives and their wives) poured out
of the building. After the relief of getting out -- then they
saw their cars! A couple of the men tried to shield their wives'
eyes from the horrifying spectacle of bumper stickers plastered
all over their cars: "Don't look, honey..."
One of the people on our SubGenius radio program (KPFA,
Berkeley) is Bob Nelson, who is pretty adept technically. The
station relies on him for fill-in engineering; he spends a lot
of time there. He was the only person in the studio the
afternoon Reagan made a speech about the Russians shooting down
KAL 007. While Reagan was talking, Bob added "live" sound
effects that were amazing (we have a tape of it). When Reagan
talked about the ill-fated flight, in the background was the
sound of a sputtering plane engine. When he anguished about the
innocent women and children on board, you could hear the sound
of babies crying. And when he started talking about the horrible
Russians, you could hear machine-gun fire combined with a
classic cartoon plane crash. Toward the end of Reagan's speech
Bob mixed in maniacal laughter in the midst of heavy echo and
Possibly because he was so useful to the station, Bob wasn't
fired -- just reprimanded. However, several outraged listeners
called up the FCC. And a columnist in the _San Francisco
Examiner_ wrote an article about the incident, saying "Nothing's
too low for those people in Berkeley. It's one thing to do this
on a retrospective, but on a news program -- they could have
been declaring World War III!" And the SubGenius program got
canceled for a month or two. Now it's ancient history.
VV: Tell us some political pranks.
PM: In the late sixties when I lived in Akron, Ohio, there was
a billboard of a white policeman, with tears running down his
face, giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a small black boy.
The caption underneath read: "Some Call Him Pig." We drove by
this for weeks until finally we couldn't stand it anymore. A
friend of mine climbed up and added two vampire teeth to the
policeman's mouth, and painted blood dripping down the little
Then in 1969 at Akron University, some friends and I got
together and decided to stage a Vietnam War protest. We
announced we were going to burn a puppy to death with homemade
napalm to demonstrate just how horrible napalm burns are. We
anticipated attracting a large crowd of outraged people who
would show up to stop it, whereupon you announce, "There is no
puppy. There's no napalm. How can you people justify showing up
to save a _dog_, when there's an actual war going on and this
napalm is being used on actual people?" So you embarrass them
and make them feel guilty -- make 'em stop and think.
We announced this, but we didn't anticipate just how outraged,
ignorant, and mob-like people would actually be. None of us got
a chance to announce _anything_ -- the crowd was ready to kill
us on the spot. We had to escape with the help of the University
Police through this network of underground heating tunnels, and
hide out for a couple of hours until the mob dispersed. [...]
In Berkeley some people distributed a flyer right before the
1980 election that said, "ELECTION CANCELLED" with an official
logo on it, giving some emergency reason that seemed plausible.
This made the local news because apparently a lot of people saw
it and decided not to vote.
These same people replaced the "WHAT TO DO IN AN EMERGENCY"
pictograms on BART [SF-area mass transit] with their own version
telling what to do in case of nuclear attack. They detailed a
whole procedure for living in a BART car after the attack,
giving advice like, "Reserve one car to isolate all the bodies
in." Even if most of the daily commuters didn't notice it, the
few who did were probably put off balance for the rest of the
Recently I visited Berlin. An artist I met told me some of his
friends painted these barrels to look like official nuclear
waste containers, then filled them with sand. They loaded them
onto a truck, drove to the center of Berlin, then just dumped
them on the street. This caused an instantaneous panic -- the
news media broadcasted warnings, and the whole area was shut
down while a de-contamination crew in white suits worked to
remove the barrels. People in the street who were interviewed
for TV said how worried they were, especially for the safety of
their children. Suddenly everyone had to _think_ about this
radioactive waste being all around them. The authorities can
never take the chance that things like that aren't real. [...]
During the 1972 election I had a roommate who subscribed to the
_Wall Street Journal_. One day I opened up the paper and
couldn't believe my eyes: there, right in front of me, was a
full-page ad for the Committee to Re-Elect Richard Nixon,
surrounded by a border of alternating swastikas and American
flags! The next day, the WSJ explained that someone in the
layout department had gotten a little "creative," and that he
had subsequently been fired.
VV: And this got distributed nationwide before it was discovered?
PM: Yes. You can do anything once!
[Pnin July 1992]
Arch-Epopt of the Exploding Head of John F. Kennedy and Luv Priest to the Gods!
My skull is bigger on the inside than the outside! J.R. "Bob" Dobbs is my load.
Ob-Bulldada: Send $1 to SubGenius Foundation, P.O. Box 140306, Dallas TX 75214
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