So, did I fool you yesterday? If you don’t have any idea what I’m talking about, try Googling Bérénice, Madame de Pascal. And don’t feel bad; with the exception of 2013’s “Mulberry Street“, which was obviously a parody, I’ve managed to fool a large fraction of my readers every April 1st for the last 6 years. Which is a roundabout way of saying “April Fool!”
I guess what allows these annual tricks to succeed is my reputation for scrupulous honesty (it’s right there in my blog’s title!) coupled with an utterly deadpan presentation; unless you were actually looking for it, yesterday’s faux harlotography looked and sounded a lot like every other specimen of the feature I’ve ever done. Of course, there’s a good reason for that; it actually was every other specimen of the feature I’ve ever done. What I mean by that is, I just clicked on the “harlotography” category, scrolled down, copy-pasted the last sentence of the most recent harlotography, then the penultimate sentence of the next one, etc. When I was done I had a hodgepodge of sentences which more or less delineated a composite whore’s life, then all I had to do was edit it until it made some semblance of sense, et voilà! A credible-sounding biography of a harlot who never existed, complete with links to the lives of real people who never heard of her. Even her name was a composite created by borrowing letters from all the different ladies’ names, and then hammering on it a little until it looked like a real name. The reason she turned out French was because I’ve written about so damned many French whores, and she ended up in the 17th century because it looked right and nestled in well with Cardinal Mazarin’s name, which ended up in the text in the sentence borrowed from Hortense Mancini’s bio. Even the epigram was created from bits belonging to the epigrams from the Empress Theodora, Mata Hari and the Madame de Pompadour. And the pictures? Pure serendipity; I just looked up 17th-century French portraits whose subjects are not definitely known, and happened on two who looked alike (but probably are not actually of the same woman).
So there you are: the anatomy of a fairly effective (at least, I hope so) hoax. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed fooling y’all!