Water-Fight Fun in the Big Apple Make-believe assassins at play in New York: Young executives are gathering information, wearing disguises and working to whack competitors -- with water-filled firearms.
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Water-Fight Fun in the Big Apple

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Water-Fight Fun in the Big Apple

Water-Fight Fun in the Big Apple

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When you last watched an action movie or read a spy novel, did you even, even for a moment, insert yourself into the role of the secret agent? Well, for the past two weeks, more than a hundred New Yorkers have been doing just that--just about. Franz Aliquo created Street Wars, a three-week-long assassin-style water-gun fight in New York City. Franz Aliquo, the supreme commander of Street Wars, joins us now from our bureau in New York City.

Nice to have you on TALK OF THE NATION.

Mr. FRANZ ALIQUO (Creator, Street Wars): Hi. Nice to be here. How y'all doing?

CONAN: Doing well. Our producer says you actually called from outside of our New York bureau, thinking this was a setup.

Mr. ALIQUO: Yeah. I had no idea whether or not somebody was trying to get at me here, so I had to call, double-check that I wasn't being set up by anybody. I have quite a few people looking for me right now.

CONAN: Quite a few people equipped with water guns.

Mr. ALIQUO: Yes.

CONAN: Yes. So...

Mr. ALIQUO: Ready to make--to drench me at a moment's notice.

CONAN: So tell us, Street Wars--how does it work?

Mr. ALIQUO: Street Wars is really simple. You sign up with us, give us all your personal information, and then you meet us in a clandestine location, off in a dark alleyway or something equally seedy, where we give you your assassination assignment. And then you take the rest of the time to hunt down your target and be hunted by others.

CONAN: And...

Mr. ALIQUO: If you're successful in your wetting of your target, then you get their target, and the game continues until, much like "Highlander," there is only one.

CONAN: There could be only one. Yes, also reminiscent of an old science-fiction novel, "The 10th Victim." But anyway, why did you start this? And, by the way, I assume both the--all the hunters and all the targets are players in the game.

Mr. ALIQUO: Oh, yeah, of course.

CONAN: Yeah. So what...

Mr. ALIQUO: I wouldn't want random people getting shot with water guns.

CONAN: No, of course not, not in New York; not in the summer, anyway. Why did you start this game?

Mr. ALIQUO: You know, general ennui. I just kind of wanted--I was sick of watching television and, you know, watching other people do interesting things. I figured it was about time for me to actually start doing something interesting myself. I've always wanted to be a spy, you know, and this was a perfect opportunity to try to do that. I didn't expect it to get as big as it did, which kind of pulled me away from the game for a little bit, but...

CONAN: Oh, to administrate.

Mr. ALIQUO: Yeah.

CONAN: Yeah. I wonder, do you get to use all that great trade craft that spies in all the novels use--disguises, that sort of thing?

Mr. ALIQUO: Oh, yeah. Just the other day I was--and I can reveal it now because I only use each disguise but once, in case anyone sees me. Yesterday I was dressed as, like, an Indian guy. I had a long beard, a skull cap, white kind of flowing robes and the whole nine.

CONAN: And...

Mr. ALIQUO: And today I think--today I might be, like, a 1980s, like, metal head.

CONAN: Huh. But if there's somebody listening to the program, who's one of your assassins, they can just wait and watch you come out of the building there.

Mr. ALIQUO: They could, but I'm not the supreme commander, you know, just in title; I'm that good. So I'm not too worried about these people.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Well, how many people have you assassinated over the course of the past couple of weeks?

Mr. ALIQUO: Oh--me personally?

CONAN: Yeah.

Mr. ALIQUO: Oh, none. I'm the supreme commander. I don't get my hands dirty unless absolutely necessary. I had my rogue assassins go out and take out people for my--you know, under my orders.

CONAN: Well, there's only a little bit more than a week left in Street Wars. Is this the final stage of the game?

Mr. ALIQUO: Yeah, this is the sudden-death tournament. After the three weeks, if there's no last person standing, it goes into a week of sudden death and then the game becomes first person to wet me wins.

CONAN: Aha. And how many assassins are still out there looking for you?

Mr. ALIQUO: I have 13 playing units, and I think that's a total of about 20-ish people looking for me.

CONAN: Oh, so there are consortia--people who enter as a partnership?

Mr. ALIQUO: No, no, no--well, yeah, you're allowed--the game allows both individual players and teams. I have, I think, three teams playing, looking to hunt me, and about 10 single people.


Mr. ALIQUO: And I think it all works out to about 20 looking for me.

CONAN: I have to ask the question: Did this turn out to be better than watching television?

Mr. ALIQUO: Oh, hell, yeah. This was--it met and exceeded all my expectations, you know? If I wanted--you know, chases through subways, car chases, disguises, everything that you could possibly imagine that happened in an action movie happened to me in real life.

CONAN: And I bet that more than a couple of people have suggested to you that this might make pretty good television.

Mr. ALIQUO: Yeah, more than a few. Just today I was talking to a few people in Los Angeles that I'm going to be talking to some more...

CONAN: Aha! Tell us...

Mr. ALIQUO: ...about possibly turning this into a television show.

CONAN: Well, good luck to you, and stay dry.

Mr. ALIQUO: Well, thank you very much.

CONAN: Franz Aliquo, the supreme commander of Street Wars, joined us from our bureau in New York.

Well, this is TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

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