Kenneth Garrett, Gene Elder (in red, with cowboy hat), and the late Wade Strauch with friends at the NAMES Quilt. Washington, D.C. 1987.
Photo taken by Hap Veltman.
Gene Elder â?? artist, activist, and archivist at the HAPPY Foundation's LGBT archives â?? views all of life's details, no matter how small, annoying, or seemingly mercenary, as fodder for art.
Gene Elder's pretty conceptual: Witness his long-term project, some years ago, to casually insert himself into the vacation videos of tourists videotaping at the Alamo, a subversive project which got him a write-up in the Wall Street Journal. Or his Wedding Cake Liberation Front, an ongoing art/activism meme which encourages the baking of wedding cakes for events in order to raise awareness of marital civil liberties for same-sex couples. Or his annual weeks-long celebration of "Love and IndepenDANCE Days”, a period starting with Valentine's Day and ending with Texas Independence Day, during which Gene and his friend and co-founder Kitty Williams encourage you to throw down with a “celebration of your own designâ?¦try taking an artist or a needy CEO to lunch or some other wildly irresponsible gesture of humane involvement.” G(ene and Kitty also hold an annual Love & InpepenDANCE brunch, held at Candelight, which I highly recommend.)
Recently, Gene forwarded me a larky bit of personal correspondence which totally fits the Gene Elder School of Life as Constant Art bill. It seems that Gene, like most of us, receives copious scam-spam from peeps (often from Nigeria) eager to do banking business. And while most of us trash these e-mails (sometimes pausing to chuckle at the oft-ridiculous name of the recipient), Gene Elder has taken it upon himself to initiate the following ongoing parody, treating the computer-generated correspondents as though they were, well, people.
“Originally I would collect all the scams and cut and paste them in one big email and send them to each other. So they could compare their scam abilities,” Gene writes.
But soon enough, Gene started writing back. If I'm not mistaken, he's yet to be contacted again by any of the money-seeking parties, but I think his rejoinders are hilarious, and have persuaded Gene to let me share them with you.
(a jpeg appended to one of Gene's e-mails)
Note: the original e-mails to Gene are in italics, and Gene's responses are in boldface. You can sort of skim them, though reading at least partway makes Gene's rejoinders better. My fave is the last one!
REQUEST FOR YOUR URGENT REPLY
FROM MR WILLIAM BENSON
BANK OF AFRICA.(BOA)
REQUEST FOR YOUR URGENT REPLY
This message might meet you in utmost surprise, however,it's just my urgent need for foreign partner that made me to contact you for this transaction. I am a banker by profession from Burkina faso in west Africa and currently holding the post of Director Auditing and Accounting unit of the bank.I have the opportunity of transfering the left over funds ($11.5million) of one of my bank clients who died along with his entire family on 31 july 2000 in a plane crash.
Hence,i am inviting you for a business deal where this money can be shared between us in the ratio of 60/30 while 10% will be mapped out for expenses.If you agree to my business proposal.further details of the transfer will be forwarded to you as soon as i receive your return mail. have a great day.
You will contact me with this E-mail Address:(email@example.com)
Mr William Benson.
I share your pain. Africa is a wonderful place and I have always hoped to inherit money one of these days. I hope the family who died didn't crash the plane in vain.
I will be glad to help you with your money matters because money matters at times like these. African banks are looking good. DO NOT TRANSFER TO CITIBANK.
AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK PLC
PLOT 129 ADEOLA ODEKUN AVENUE
PHONE +234 8052688569
I wish to introduce you to a business deal which would be beneficial to
both of us and which has to be kept confidential for the purpose thereof.
I am contacting you because i know that you are capable of handling the
deal and I want to invest my money in your Country.
My name is Mr.Robert Peter. An accountant work with the African
Development Bank Nigeria, I wish to seek your consent to present you as
next of kin to my late client (Christian Eich, 57 years old, an engineer),
who died in the year 2000 in a plane crash involving Air France Concorde
flight 4590 Paris' at Charles de Gaulle airport on 25 July 2000 leaving
behind the sum of $18.5M dollars (EIGHTEEN FIVE MILLION UNITED STATES
DOLLARS) in African Development Bank Nigeriia, and no next of kin to
inherit the money.
With your assistance and my professional advice we can get access to the
money because I am his Accountant and all the members of the Family died
in the Plane Crash. You can as well confirm this news at the BBC News
on Monday, 31 July, 2000, 13:22 GMT 14:22 UK victims of the AF4590 crash
include all 109 people on board and five who died on the ground when the
plane crashed into the Hotelissimo.
We shall both share the funds. 50% for me and 40% to you, while 10% should
be for Expenses or your Government may require as Tax.
I look forward to your positive response at your earliest convenience, now
that the Bank has written me twice to present his Next of Kin and if you
are interested send your information.To enable me apply first with your
information to the bank as relation and next of kin to the deceased
indicating for easy and effective communication and location where in the
money will be remitted
1.Your Full Name
2.Your Phone Number And Fax Number
3.Your Contact Address
4.Your Age And Occupation
lf you are not interested please do not bother to reply,
Mr. Robert Peter.` ACCA.`
Good to hear from you. I am very popular in Nigeria I see. I knew Christian Eich. He was like a brother to me. I know he would want me to have his estate. You are very kind to contact me with this news. I was to fly with him on the plane that crashed but due to a conflict in plans I had to remain in Paris. His family was the only family that I ever knew. In fact his father was my father.
I have a family video of our half sisters. This always brings back tears when I watch them.
I have been waiting for your response to my last mail which
included my telephone number.I have been expecting you to call me.Please do
help me out as this is real.there are so many immitations of this
transaction where culprits end up scamming their victims who are suppose to
be helpers.In this case,you are not paying a dime to anybody as you are
going to be beneficiary to the money that my colleagues and I shall use to
finance this transaction.Please do respond to this email or call me or send
me your telephone number.Please this is very important.I await your urgent
Well, I get so many of these letters. I decided to go with someone else who made me a better offer and had more money.
FROM MR KHAMO LATIF
BANK OF AFRICA
RE: TRANSFER OF ($22.5,000.000.00 USD TWENTHY TWO MILLION FIVE HUNDRED UNITED STATE DOLLARS)
I want to transfer to overseas the sum of ($USD22.5M) Twenthy Two Million Five Hundred United States Dollars) from a Prime Bank in Africa.
I would like to ask you to quietly look for a reliable and honest person who will be capable and fit to provide either an existing bank account or to set up a new Bank a/c immediately to receive this money, even an empty a/c can serve as far as it can receive money.
I am Mr ( Khamo Latif ) an accountant and personal confidant to (Dr.George Brumley) who died together with his wife in a plane crash on the July 21st 2003 on their way to attend wedding in Boston, he is an American, ECOWAS CONTRACTOR, he died without having any beneficiary to his assets including his account here in Burkina Faso which he opened as his personal savings for the purpose of expansion and developement of his company before his untimely death in 2003.
The amount involved is ($USD22.5M) Twenthy Two Million Five Hundred United States Dollars), no other person knows about this account. I am contacting you for us to transfer this funds to your account as the beneficiary, I want to transfer the whole ($USD22.5M) Twenthy Two Million Five Hundred United States Dollars) into a safe account abroad, but I don't know any foreigner.
I am only contacting you as a foreigner because this money can not be approved to a local person here,But can only be approved to any foreign a/c because the money is in US Dollars and the former owner of the a/c Dr.George Brumley is a foreigner too, and as such the money can only be approved into a foreign a/c.
I need your full co-operation to make this work fine because the management is ready to approve this payment to any foreigner who has correct information of this account, which I will give to you, upon your positive response and once I am convinced that you are capable and will meet up with the inheritance procedures.
At the conclusion of this business, you will be given 30% of the total amount,60% will be for me, while 10% will be for expenses both parties might have incurred during the process of transferring.
You should observe utmost CONFIDENTIALITY AND SECRECY in this transaction, and rest assured that this transaction would be most profitable for both of us because I will require your assistance to invest my share in your country.
If you are interested reply me immediately you receive this letter with your full data such as stated below:
YOUR HOME ADDRESSES............
A COPY OF YOUR PICTURE.........
Trusting to hear from you immediately.
Dear Your Urgent Response:
I am looking over the many offers of money that belong to me and I find your amount comes up short.
Either you find that other 20 million or you will think Iraq was a party game.
From: Barclays Bank <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: From Mr.Briggs Arthur.
Date: Saturday, February 21, 2009, 6:54 AM
My Good Friend & Partner
Briefly I am Mr.Arthur Briggs the Director Foriegn Remittance Department Barclays Bank London-United Kingdom.
I have (20.000.000.00) Twenty Million Pounds that i want to transfer from our Bank to your Bank Account the Depositor of this money died along with all his Entire Family since last two years in a fire Accident and since that time no body in there family has come for this money all this years.
My Good Friend,I have arranged every thing concerning the transfer of this money to your Bank account through our paying bank in Spain i did it this way because i dont want any body in our bank to know about this transaction untill you confirm this money in your Bank Account.
I only need your Complete Bank account informations and your direct telephone and fax numbers and your complete address so that i will forward them to our Paying Bank in Spain for the completion of the transfer of this 20 Million Pounds to your Bank Account that is all.
I will give you 25 Percent of the total amount immediately you confirm this money in your Bank Account.
My Good Friend and Partner i will send my international passport to you immediately i receive your message so that you will know exactly whom you are dealing with,Please you will promise me that you will never in your life think of betraying me after you could have confirmed this money in your Bank Account because this money is all my hope to start a new life in your country,We have alot to talk about but that should be immediately i arrive your country.
My Good Friend and Partner you should keep this transaction to your self alone untill you confirm this money in your bank account for security reasons and you should also try and do exactly what our paying bank in Spain ask you to do so that the will give you a smooth transfer of this 20.000.000.00 Million Pounds to your Bank Account and you should try and give this transaction much of your time because you are going to gain alot immediately you confirm this money in your Bank Account ok.
I await your Urgent response including your complete Bank Account Informations as requested.
I await Your Urgent Response and i wish you the best of luck in this new year 2009.
From Mr.Arthur Briggs.
Director Barclays Bank
190 Tottenham Court Road
Bloomsbury,London,W1T 7lh UK.
Direct Mobile Line. +447 031814540
Dear Mr Briggs;
I will be glad to help as long as this is not in American money. It is now worthless. However, if you will agree to meet in person with a bag full of gold we can do business.
Come alone. Pick your time at the Alamo. No one will be watching.
From: Joyce Farnswort T SSG MIL USA <email@example.com>
Subject: Greetings From Iraq
Date: Tuesday, February 3, 2009, 3:04 PM
This is Sgt.Joyce Farnswort a member of the U.S. ARMY Logistics Team , which
deployed to Iraq in the beginning of the war in Iraq. I would like to share
some highly personal classified information about my personal experience and
role which I played in the pursuit of my career serving under the U.S 1st
was at the fore-front of the war in Iraq.Though, I would like to hold back
certain information for security reasons for now until you have find the
time to visit the BBC websites stated below to enable you have insight as to
what I'm intending to sharewith you, believing that it would be of your
desired interest oneway or the other.
Also, do get back to me having visiting the above website to enable us
discuss in a more clarifying manner to the best of your understanding. I
must say that I'm very uncomfortable sending this message to you without
knowing truly if you would misconstrue the importance and decides to go
public. In this regards, I will not hold back
to say that the essence of this message is strictly for mutual benefit of
you and I and nothing more.
I will be vivid and coherent in my next message in this regards,
Meanwhile, could you send me a mail confirming you have visited the site and
that you have understood my intentions? I will await your thoughts.
Please for security reasons reply strictly to (joycefarnswort@Army.com)
Dear Sgt.Joyce Farnswort, a member of the U.S. ARMY Logistics Team,
I understand your concern about the seriousness of this email. Trust that I hold this information in the strictest of confidence. I have read the article, "Stash of money found in Baghdad.”
I understand the highly personal classified information about your personal experience and the role which you played in the pursuit of your career serving under the U.S 1st Armored which was at the fore-front of the war in Iraq.
But first things first. Get back as soon as possible.
What are you wearing? I'm touching myself down there.