C. S. Lewis and the Great American Hoax

The Lewis Legacy-Issue 81, Summer 1999 The C.S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing


On 19 March 1963, C. S. Lewis wrote to an American lady:

I am thrilled to hear that San Suez [her pet dog] has a sweater! Is this part of the demarche (it’s in all our papers) which a body of American women are making to the President [Kennedy] to get animals properly clothed “in the interests of decency”? Can it be true? If so, not only what insanity, but also (as in all super-refinements) what fundamental foul-mindedness! But also, what fun! The elephant looks as if he wore trousers already, but terribly baggy ones. What he needs is braces [suspenders]. The Rhino seems to wear a suit much too big for him: can it be “taken in”? What sort of collars will giraffes wear? Will seals and otters have ordinary clothes or bathing suits? The hedgehogs will wear his shirts out terribly quickly, I should think.


Alan Abel’s “heavily-endowed” Society for Indecency to Naked Animals (SINA) lasted for six years. In 1966 he wrote an entire book, The Great American Hoax, telling how easy it was to hoax much of the United States and England about a crusade to defend morality by putting clothes on animals. (“A nude horse is a rude horse.”) His telephone number was MOrality 1-1963 and his swanky office address was on Fifth Avenue in New York City. On a door there he had a sign that said SINA NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS; G. Clifford Prout Jr., President; Alan Abel, Vice-President. Abel could afford the rent, because all he rented was the outside of a door to a locked broom closet. His followers picketed the White House, and he was interviewed on major television shows.

People who were outraged by Abel’s various organizations seemed to enjoy thinking that they were real. He has posed on television interviews as the dean of Omar’s School for Beggars; as the organizer of affluent women who join “Females for Felons” and supply heterosexual service to prison inmates; and as a cosmetic surgeon who specializes in plastic surgery to beautify dogs. In 1987 the Daily News announced, “A shadowy Iranian who claims to have made a $6 million commission in the Iran arms deal turned up here yesterday and repeated his promise to return the money to the United States government — after deducting $200,000 for dinosaur research.” Abel twice helped his wife run for president disguised as Yetta Bronstein, a Bronx housewife with the motto “Put a mother in the White House.”

At least half the information in Alan Abel’s obituary was false, including the claim that he had died. He says he pursues his media-hoax career to shake people up and add a little levity to life.