The Boy Who Cried 'Fool'

"How could I resist?" Skaggs later told The Associated Press. "I mean, who did they think they were dealing with?"

Over the years, I've written several stories about Skaggs and we've become friendly. Two years ago, he lent me one of his bizarre fish tanks -- a $5,000 "Fish Condominium," which he was selling through the Neiman Marcus catalog -- for an event to celebrate the publication of the "Wolf Files" book.

Like everything else about Skaggs, the fish tank has to be seen to be believed. It's larger than many New York City apartments -- and the fancy decor would impress Paris Hilton, not that that's necessarily a compliment.

Would Skaggs lie to me? Perhaps. The press release for this year's April Fools' Day Parade is just as outlandish as those in the past, promising, among other things, another army of celebrity lookalikes, including Donald Trump handing out pink slips while wearing one, and a Mud Wrestling float featuring Michael Moore, who will take on all challengers.

"It's time to make this thing a reality," Skaggs said. "We're pulling something together that you definitely don't want to miss. Be there."

Skaggs was so emphatic, I just had to believe him. For 40 years, he's been showing just how gullible news reporters can be. I may just prove him right once again, but now, our friendship is on the line.

A few months ago, Joey and I got together. I returned the fish tank to him and I did something a journalist rarely does -- I picked up the dinner check. Maybe it was only a plate of spaghetti, but take this as a warning, Joey: If I'm buying your lies, I'm certainly not buying you dinner. And yes, that's a threat.

So while I can still enjoy it, here's a look back at some of Joey Skaggs' greatest hoaxes.

1. The Miracle Roach Hormone Cure
Remember Kafka's "Metamorphosis"? Skaggs emerged in 1981 as Dr. Josef Gregor, an entomologist who extolled the virtue of consuming cockroach hormones as a cure for colds, acne, anemia and menstrual cramps. WNBC-TV's "Live at Five" featured an interview with the doctor, who claimed to have graduated from the University of Bogota in Colombia. Skaggs says no one checked his credentials. The newscasters only seemed to become suspicious when Skaggs played his organization's theme song -- "La Cucaracha."

2. Celebrity Sperm Auction
Attention ladies: Interested in "certified and authenticated rock star sperm"? Posing as Giuseppe Scagolli in 1976, Skaggs appealed to women who wanted children with sperm provided by the likes of Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix. When "Scagolli" claimed his sperm bank had been robbed, several wire services and Ms. magazine picked up the story.

3. The Dog Bordello
Finally, a place for frustrated pooches -- a cathouse for dogs! Skaggs planted an ad in New York's Village Voice newspaper in 1976 that promised "a savory selection of hot bitches" for your sexually deprived mutt, with the warning: "dogs only." Skaggs posed as a dog pimp, promising every Rover satisfaction for only $50. The media lapped it up, and the story hit all the wire services and local cable shows. Even ABC's New York affiliate covered the event.

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