Anons sings “The Ballad of Agent Pubeit” at anti-Scientology demo
Inside the protest pen stationed across the street from the Church of Scientology on West 46th Street, a group of protesters huddled. “I was a donor,” one Anon laughed, as he explained the travails of concealing the act of snipping pubic hairs in the workplace bathroom from his boss. “I’m taking a dump,” he recounted yelling to explain his lengthy toilet break.
The Anons snickered.
Others proudly piped up that their pubes also were among the hairs stuck to the Vaseline coated chest of their fellow Anon now known as Agent Pubeit, who was arrested this past Wednesday after he darted through Scientology’s Times Square headquarters, rubbing the rather vile cocktail on his skin, which also included toenail clippings, onto some Dianetics books. The Anon was charged with burglary, aggravated harassment and criminal mischief, all as hate crimes.
Four police officers remained positioned in front of The Church of Scientology’s building during the protest, though protestors typically remain cooperative with authorities during monthly events.
Agent Pubeit sat this one out, but his outrageous raid started conversation and renewed appeal to many members who protest for the “lulz.”
“People think that this stuff is funny and weird and they want to be a part of this funny, weird protest group that does this theatrical, hilarious, messed up stuff,” said PokeAnon. “They want to take credit for it. Even if they weren’t a part of it, they want to be associated with it.”
His deed was honored on stickers too — one with the line “Never Forget” hovering over a picture of a Vaseline container, the other, containing the words “Free Agent Pubeit,” complete with fake strands of hair. And while support for his action came in varying degrees, everyone saw the comic value of “Slickpubes” as a throwback to their initial irreverent protest strategy as they marked a year of activism at their January protest.
“We’re douches,” said Askren, whose face was completely obscured by a black hat pulled down to his neck. “We do stupid stuff. We mess with people. That’s what we’ve always been.”
It’s been a year since Anonymous declared war on The Church of Scientology in a YouTube video, which was released after the church attempted to purge the now infamous, wacky Tom Cruise video from the Internet.
So in cities around the globe, including New York, Anons lobbed internet humor, like the rickroll, at church outposts. In New York, that comic energy dulled as the months went by and the number of voices belting out Rick Astley dwindled a bit. Agent Pubeit, to many Anons, called members back.
“Protests lately have been getting kind of morose and not all that exciting,” said Anon 1917. “Something like that was good for morale.”
Certainly many members who had been M.I.A. joined the steady group of attendees today, reenergized by what they considered a funny stunt. While it might have worked wonders for their spirit, their puerile prank received criticism from anti-Scientology bigs like Jason Beghe and Mark Bunker, a.k.a. the Wise Beard Man, who warned that the Church of Scientology would use it as ammunition.
For some Anons, that’s the point.
“When they go ahead and they try to say that we’re terrorists and we’re going to blow stuff up how are they going to keep that line when also they’re trying to tell people that we ran into a building covered with pubes?” said Mike Vitale, who received a cease and desist letter from Church of Scientology’s lawyers earlier this year for his participation in the group.
“It was a funny thing to do and if you really think about it it’s just another form of mockery of the group. That’s one of the strongest weapons people have against a ridiculous cult,” he added.
SomeOldGuy, the disparity between his age and the other protestors’ evident from his nickname, didn’t know if the act was necessarily good, but laughed when he thought about it on a deeper level. “This is like a personification of everything they say is bad and wrong, and ‘No, no. You program the mind to make it behave exactly right,'” he said. “But no, human beings are icky and have bodies. I don’t think it was deliberate, but Slickpubes was the perfect operation.”
Others resented being chastised as a group because of Anonymous’ unstructured nature – a leaderless bunch of free agents. “You can’t really claim that Agent Pubeit is an example of Anonymous so much as you could claim that I’m an example of Anonymous,” said Chaos. “There is no example of Anonymous.”
Even with diverse views on the matter, no Anon could resist clutching a handout of the Ballad of Agent Pubeit — its lyrics written by a member, who thought up the idea in March – and they faced the org singing in unison.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 18, 2009