Mike Bonanno of The Yes Men

The Yes Men have been called "the Jonathan Swift of the Jackass generation" by author Naomi Klein. They pose as corporate bigwigs, infiltrate the world of big business, and scandalize unsuspecting audiences in ways that shame the world's biggest corporate criminals. Although fronted by Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, their membership includes hundreds of secret agents.

The group first gained international notoriety a decade ago by impersonating World Trade Organization spokesmen on international TV and at business conferences. In 2004, United Artists released a feature documentary about their hijinks (The Yes Men, directed by Chris Smith, Sarah Price, and Dan Olman) that was distributed theatrically around the globe, and won numerous awards.

Prior to founding The Yes Men, Bonanno and Bichlbaum ran the subversive website RTMark, which was the subject of over a dozen New York Times news features in the late '90s. Individually, Bichlbaum and Bonanno have established careers in film, writing, and media arts. Bichlbaum has published two books of fiction writing, and Bonanno has written and directed a feature documentary and numerous short films. Their work is regularly shown in museum exhibits such as the 1999 Whitney Biennial.

Mike Bonanno is a guy from Troy, New York, who spent his formative post-childhood years making mischief. He once switched a bunch of street signs in his college town of Portland, Oregon to read "Malcolm X Street," before getting a group of friends to vomit red, white, and blue in celebration of the visit of a man named Dan Quayle. He then graduated to more serious things: purchasing talking GI Joe and Barbie dolls, switching their voiceboxes, and returning the result to store shelves. The resulting media firestorm (the action even inspired an episode of The Simpsons) made Bonanno so famous that even lazy queer hackers like Bichlbaum heard about him, and in 1996 a couple of mutual friends (one of whom is now an actual rabbi) put them in touch. In addition to his creative work, he enjoys skating on thin ice after the first freeze of winter along abandoned stretches of the old Erie Canal near Troy, New York, where he lives and works as a Professor of Media Art at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He has a Scottish wife and two babies.


presented in collaboration with:

Grüne Akademie - Klimabündnis Kärnten - Klimakoordination / Land Steiermark


Bookmark and Share


Array: US