THE YES MEN'S ANDY BICHLBAUM
Interview by Wayne Chinsang
Illustration by Nick Csernak

CLICK HERE TO ORDER YOUR COPY OF PRINT ISSUE #6, WHICH FEATURES THIS INTERVIEW WITH THE YES MEN'S ANDY BICHLBAUM IN ITS ENTIRETY!

THROUGHOUT THE HISTORY OF TIME THERE HAVE BEEN COUNTLESS DYNAMIC DUOS THAT HAVE FOUGHT FOR TRUTH AND JUSTICE: BATMAN AND ROBIN, WOODWARD AND BERNSTEIN, SISKEL AND EBERT. AND NOW YOU CAN ADD POLITICAL IMPOSTORS THE YES MEN TO THAT LIST. READ ON AS WAYNE CHINSANG CHATS WITH YES MEN ANDY BICHLBAUM FROM HIS HOME IN PARIS AND LEARNS MORE ABOUT SECRECY, SABOTAGE, AND RUN-INS WITH THE NOT-SO-SECRET SERVICE.

Wayne Chinsang: So, howís Paris?

Andy Bichlbaum: Howís Paris? Hmmm... French. Big. Itís kind of nice right now.

WC: (laughs) How long have you lived there?

AB: Five years. I fled San Francisco.

WC: What was the reason for that?

AB: Well, why Paris, Iím not quite sure, except that Iíve just had this irrational Francophilia for a long time. But San Francisco I fled because it was out of control in all kinds of ways. It was the dot com boom of 2000, and the rents tripled. I had rent control, but all of my friends got evicted. And nobody was moving to the city except these disgusting yuppie people. So it just wasnít worth living there anymore.

WC: So, letís start by talking about how you became a part of The Yes Men with Mike [Bonanno].

AB: Well, the short history would be that we were previously working on this thing called RTMark [pronounced Art Mark], and then it just naturally morphed into The Yes Men as we found ourselves doing increasingly silly and undignified things. We felt that RTMark had a dignified presence that we didnít want to sully, so we abandoned it and left it to the other people who were working on it. I was in the Bay Area before it went really bad, and I had a computer job-- a video game job-- and I inserted kissing boys into a video game [Sim Copter]. And that created this big media frenzy. So to perpetuate this mode of activism that I had just kind of stumbled upon, I just decided, "Well, everybody should do this." So that was the way RTMark happened; as a way to popularize pesky behavior on the job as a sort of activism. And a couple of mutual friends of Mikeís and mine told me to look up Mike. So I did, and we hit it off and have been working together ever since.

WC: So when the media started to take notice and make a big deal out of something you did that Iím sure felt second nature to you, was that weird for you to get that reaction?

AB: Well, the first time was the only time that it was weird. When I put the kissing boys in the video game, that was second nature. (laughs) I didnít really expect it to become a media story. I had thought about protest, but it hadnít occurred to me that it would really be a big story. It just seemed like a little dopey thing to do. So that shocked me. But then afterward it was all very purposeful, and the whole goal of RTMark or The Yes Men was to get media coverage for issues through behavior that was second nature, but it wasnít accidental. Each time weíd set out on something weíd ask ourselves, "Is this going to be interesting to journalists? Are they going to write about it?" So that was the whole criterion.

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