Society For Indecency To Naked Animals

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After witnessing a deplorable act of immorality, Alan Abel founds The Society for Indecency to Naked Animals (SINA), a campaign to clothe all naked animals for the sake of decency.

GLYNN WASHINGTON, HOST:

And now snappers, you know that times sure have changed. Nowadays you've got the young folk acting like old folk, the old folk acting like young folk, what with the nudity on the TV - people just don't know how to act. But we here at SNAP JUDGMENT, we won't stand for it. We're going to go back to a different time 'cause back in the 1950s, a man named Alan Abel had more than just a few things to say about the moral state of this country.

ALAN ABEL: I studied music and I played the drums. I played professionally during the late '50s and early '60s, and I was playing at the Radio City Music Hall with the orchestra there. But then after a while I realized that it's a dead end with music. I didn't want to just pound the drums all my life. No, no, no, I wanted to do something different. I wanted to, you know, be funny and maybe write. One day while I was driving along the highway, I rounded the bend and all of a sudden traffic was backed up three or four rows and I was actually second or third from a herd of cows. And they seemed to have formed a circle around a cow and a bull mating in the middle of the highway.

And I watched people's expressions and I saw a couple of salesmen - they were laughing hysterically. And I saw the two nuns - their heads were buried so they couldn't see it. And there was another woman who just looked so chagrined and angry at what was going on. All these different expressions - for heaven's sake, how could these animals do that? And I thought it's because the whole world is their bedroom. You know, they don't have any sense of morality. And I thought, I want to write a satire about clothing all these naked animals. And thus was born my idea called SINA - S-I-N-A - the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals, whereby all pets should wear clothing. Any animal that stands higher than 4 inches or longer than 6. And how do you explain to a 4-year-old why mommy and daddy are dressed but Rover the dog is naked? You can't do that. So they grow up with a double standard of living. And remember my motto - a nude horse is a rude horse. I wrote this up and sent in the article - at that time The Saturday Evening Post, and this was the late '50s. And it was rejected angrily by the editor who said this is a deplorable organization, we want nothing to do with it in this magazine. And I thought they believe it, they think it's for real. So I printed up leaflets about clothing your pets and left them everywhere. And before I knew it, I was going on the television and radio.

(SOUNDBITE OF INTERVIEW)

ABEL: I work for a society against indecency to naked animals and we have millions of dollars in our private foundation, but we want to educate people about the need to clothe all animals.

My props included a half slip for a cow, Bermuda shorts for horses and, you know, burlap sack for a deer. I had all these crazy garments.

(SOUNDBITE OF INTERVIEW)

ABEL: There are more highway accidents due to the fact people take their eyes off the highway to look at a naked cow and bull, and they run into a truck or a tree. I would like to warn people out there to keep away from the Jersey Turnpike with all the nudity. We declared that highway a moral disaster.

It was outrageous - the people around the country really seriously believe that this campaign to clothe naked animals was justified and then it spread - at least literally millions.

(SOUNDBITE OF INTERVIEW)

ABEL: We have over 50,000 members of SINA in the United States and we're bring in about 400 members every week.

People got together floats, joined parades, took clothed animals and they'd have a mock barnyard on the float showing the animals wearing clothing.

(SOUNDBITE OF INTERVIEW)

ABEL: We have a lab in New Jersey that does nothing but take clothes on and off cows all day long.

Somebody had a private plane and they painted S-I-N-A, our organization's initialed, underneath their wings and then they'd drop clothing for animals on a cow pasture on a big farm there so that they could put the clothing on the animals.

(SOUNDBITE OF INTERVIEW)

ABEL: Now these are pantaloons for a nice kangaroo or if you have a pet deer you could use those.

One woman in Santa Barbara offered a $40,000 check to help the cause, but I had no interest in making money because I knew it would be fraudulent. I didn't ever cross that line.

(SOUNDBITE OF INTERVIEW)

ABEL: Our motto is decency today means morality tomorrow. And remember, a nude horse is a rude horse.

Newspapers began to pick it up - The Daily News, The New York Times, than Playboy magazine, San Francisco Chronicle. They had a headline on the first page - "Animal Nudity in San Francisco is Sinful," "The Zoo is a Peep Show for Children." And they were all on this offbeat organization that they believed was real.

(SOUNDBITE OF INTERVIEW)

ABEL: G. Clifford Prout Jr. is president SINA - the Society for Indecent to Naked Animals. The entire proud dynasty had clothed horses that went into battle.

"The Today Show" said we want to have your president of the organization appear. So I got my friend Buck Henry, who had a great sense of humor, and he wrote "The Graduate" subsequently and "Get Smart" and, you know, "Saturday Night Live" - he was on that show for a long time with John Belushi. But Buck, who at that time was unemployed, he agreed. He said, OK, I'll go out and pose as G. Clifford Prout, the president of this nonexistent organization. And then Walter Cronkite, he interviewed Buck Henry.

(SOUNDBITE OF CBS EVENING NEWS)

WALTER CRONKITE: I'm Walter Cronkite in for the CBS Evening News here on TV 12.

ABEL: Buck went on to fool CBS network playing his role as the president.

(SOUNDBITE OF INTERVIEW)

BUCK HENRY: Well, during the days of the ancient Vikings and the great drinking halls where they held their feasts, they had huge dogs with long hair that were used as napkins.

ABEL: And Walter kept a straight face all along because he, again, believed it because the news, you know, is serious, you don't want to play around. He really thought that this guy is a certified nut of course and this is his campaign.

(MUSIC)

ABEL: Well, at first it was a joy ride, then it became a roller coaster and then a slippery slide not knowing how I was going to land. And after six years, I was really tired of it. Buck Henry got tired of it and he called me and he said I'm surrounded by reporters, there's at least a dozen of them here. They're really angry and they want to know the truth and I can't leave the room, I can't get dinner. What should I do? I said, OK, Buck, we've had a great ride, a great romp - tell them the truth. And so he did. He went out and got photographed. And it was a feature story in Time magazine, I think it was around 1963 or '64. It was just one great big hoax. I think it just absolutely captured the imagination of people that there's some crazy guy out there and his team who wants to put clothes on naked animals. They never stopped and thought, well, it could be a joke. No, because nobody would do something like that as a joke - I would and I did.

(MUSIC)

WASHINGTON: Thank you, Alan Abel, for sharing that story. Some of the music you've just heard was made by Alan Abel himself. And I'll tell you what snappers - this man's antics do not stop here. Alan has perpetrated countless hoaxes. And check out the hilarious documentary "Abel raises Cain" created by Alan's daughter Jenny Abel, along with Jeff Hockett. Special thanks to both of them. And Jeff and Jenny - they're working on a screenplay for a feature film based on Alan Abel's life story. To learn more, we're going to have a link on our site snapjudgment.org. The piece was produced by Pat Mesiti-Miller.

(MUSIC)

WASHINGTON: You're listening to SNAP JUDGMENT's "Original Prankster" episode. And let me assure you, no one is safe. In fact, coming up next, someone's even messing with Santa, for real, when SNAP JUDGMENT, the "Original Prankster" episode continues.

(MUSIC)

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