misinfo: rumor mill
|You Took The Word and Made It Heard||
The Ben Folds Rumor Mill
Ben Folds did WHAT?
If you know someone who attended a show in fall of 2002, you might have heard some very strange stories about Ben. For instance:
- Did Ben Folds levitate?
- Did Ben leave a show in limo (complete with hot tub) filled with scantily clad women?
- Did Ben get arrested in Detroit?
- Did Bill Clinton perform with Ben (and hit on his wife)?
- Did Ben's manager write a crazy letter to a fan who posted a photo of Ben signing a thong?
Fun with Fabrication
No, no, no, no, and yes.
You see, it seems that Ben Folds decided to have a little fun with the internet. At several shows, he instructed the audience to spread rumors about him; in an amazing display of devotion, they did just that -- everyone stuck with the story 100%. The stories were a bit unbelievable, but many were duped and/or frustrated by fans they knew and trusted swearing they saw it with their own eyes.
Then when Ben had to cancel several shows due to pneumonia while these crazy rumors were circulating, he felt a little bad about everything (and/or got really bored) and decided to clear things up by posting at benfolds.org and chatting online with fans.
Here are the stories and some of the message board threads spawned by them:
In Gainesville, Florida, Ben floated off of his piano stool. Reports range anywhere from the slightly more realistic "few inches" to "right up to the ceiling."
- Gville show summary, according to Juils: Ben levitated!! It was sooooo crazy. Was sitting on the piano stool and just... floated. Only a few inches, but still. Do not have accurate words to describe the phenomenon. - Juils
- the whole floating thing: His feet were NOT on the ground. We could've had a small child crawl under his toes easily. And, if I remember correctly, he was still playing as it happened. No way he could play and fake a levitation at the same time. It was the real thing. - literfairy
- Gainesville show - did anyone else see this?: Right after Rain Drops Keep Falling On My Head Ben floated from his stool all the way up to the ceiling. - QuixoteVII
Hot Tubbin' Limo
About a month later... In Madison, Wisconsin, Ben left the venue, signed some thongs, and rode off in a limo with a hot tub filled with trashy women.
- Ben's Sluts: he was signing thongs left and right, at least 5 from what i saw. and then he convinced about 5 more of them to hop in this freaking pimpass stretch limo and they drove off while sitting in the hottub in the back of it. - Hiogaard
The next day... ln Detroit Michigan, Ben was arrested after the show.
- Detroit Show and COPS: Someone in the crowd said that Ben was in trouble with the IRS, kind of a Willie Nelson thing. - vortec42
- cops take Ben away: Ben was out in the cold signing stuff for people when out of nowhere the cops pulled up, held him up against the car, frisked him and searched hsi bag. Then the cops cuffed him, put him in the back of the car and drove off. - Motor City Sonics
- Did Ben get arrested?: Turns out someone from the show had called him in for Indecent Exposure. - Leia
Though many fans were already extremely skeptical, this particular rumor got a little more mileage than the others, due to general concern. In addition, Frank Maynard, widely known to be a reliable source for Ben Folds info and who attended the show, claimed he saw it happen (though he toned it down a bit, saying it was probably just an unpaid parking ticket).
The next day... In Chicago, Illinois, Ben jammed with Bill Clinton, and Kevin Spacey was there.
- 11/27 Chicago: Bill Clinton and Kevin Spacey made an appearance, they played some 80's song that, in my youthfulness, I didn't recognize. - iguanaman
- Chicago Excitement: I gotta say that it kinda sucked the way good ole' Clinton was chatting up Frally off in the wings - stina586
Letters from CEC
Just when things were crazy enough, "Benfolio" (poster at benfolds.org) received a letter from Ben's management requesting that he not post a picture of Ben signing a girl's thong on his website.
(See Ut Oh. I did a bad thing at benfolds.org.)
This is Ben Folds manager. I've been told that momentarily you'll be posting a photo of Ben signing another fan's thong after a recent gig. Since you are obviously a devoted follower of Ben, could you please re-consider doing this? It really would not be in Ben's best interest if that photo was posted for everyone to see and I am sure you would not want to put Ben through that.
Feel free to call me at CEC Management in New York if this might be a problem for you. Obviously we'd compensate you for working with us.
Manager, Ben Folds
And the next day, a second letter:
I understand that you have posted the photo despite mine and Ben's request yesterday that you please not do it.
Again. It would be very much appreciated if you would promptly remove that photo from your website.
Since you are obviously a Ben Folds fan and respect and enjoy his work, it would only stand to reason that you would want to equally respect his wishes.
Please remove the photo as soon as you can.
Manager, Ben Folds
Benfolio replied that he removed the letter and attempted to verify Alan was who he said he was, and then he received a third email with further avenues of verification. Not long after, a fourth email came:
This is Alan Wolmark once again. Now you know that I'm legit - So may you feel the fury and the power of my wrath! I am, as you know, a BIG TIME New York entertainment manager who can afford expensive lawyers. I've been in the music business for 30 years and I can bury you with my little finger. You'll never work in whatever weasely little village you dwell in again. At least you'll never post another photo. Since my last email to you regarding the thong incident, there has been a shocking development and I blame you.
As a result of your website's posting of incriminating photographic evidence, Ben Folds was extradited to the state of Wisconsin this morning. Your photo was taken down from the internet too late. The Wisconsin Police Department was tipped off to your site and downloaded the file before anything was done about it. And now that you've posted my letters publicly, CEC Management may be implicated by aiding and abetting as well as conspiracy. Thanks again.
As you may know, the Detroit local police detained Ben for questioning after his State Theater concert, but as of then, didn't have the necessary evidence to prove that he'd been signing underwear. He was released around 6 AM, just in time to drive to Chicago, a show he did not want to miss, considering the former president of the United States, Bill Clinton, was scheduled to sit in on saxophone.
One glimmer of hope we have is that they may find the young lady who asked Ben to do this horrible thing. The photograph will help in this department. If it can be proved that he was coerced by an outside party (i.e. a young fan who has just paid to see his music concert), the sentence/fine may be less. Also, analysis of the photo failed to prove that he signed any cloth beneath the elastic band, and so his sentence/fine may be less for that reason too. So there is some hope, but I'm still pissed and intend to bury you and all who have posted on this matter. There were many witnesses that say that Ben signed over 5 thongs and climbed into a stretch limo with underage females, but so far there's not a shred of evidence to book him on. I know he did it. You know he did it. But can they prove it? I pray for you that you don't post any photos of Ben's stretch limo debauchery. We know that some exist and have paid hefty sums to keep them off the internet. Still, Ben continues to lose weight with anxiety over the issue. Thankfully, he has not missed shows as a result of this, since nothing was booked for this weekend. Let's hope that we can get him out on bail before the New York show.
Ben realizes that what he did last week was morally wrong, and he is seeking advice not only from his lawyers but from the pastor at his church. Your posting of that revolting photo has made him a nervous skinny wreck. Thanks a lot for bringing his disgusting behavior to the attention of his fans and family in such a public way. Once he's picked up the pieces of his broken life, I'm sure he will think twice before signing underwear.
I hope you're proud of yourself.
Handing your ass to you,
PS: Had you complied with our request not to post that photo, we'd have had Ben sign your underwear as compensation. Obviously, that's not going to happen now.
PSS: Hummer's gay. You know i'm right.
The final letter was completely ridiculous, the last PS being an obvious response to a regular poster's signature line. This led to mass confusion and accusations that Benfolio wrote it himself or that someone was hacking Alan Wolmark's email address. The consensus seemed to be, "There's no way Alan wrote that letter."
About that time, Ben's final dates on the tour were cancelled due to illness.
Folds Comes Clean
On December 3, 2002, "benjamin_folds" posted on the message board at benfolds.org:
(See usher's rock hard abs of steel at benfolds.org)
this is ben, bored and writing from my sick bed. i'm gonna live but this is no fun. i feel a bit like an intruder on this board, but i would like to clear up a few rumors that i started myself, especially considering the cancellations. the rumors were fun, quite frankly, only at the gig. i should stick to playing piano and steer clear of making points about the internet. i think the stories must have caused some slight ugliness, and i love the people who go to my shows and have no interest in the ugly stuff, so i'll sign on at about 1:00 PM eastern time and chat for a bit. we'll make some kind of order out of the chaos. i'll let alan know i'm doing this. if i'm too out of it at 1:00, or asleep and don't show up, i'll post another time. once i've done this chat, i will return to my policy of leaving websites to fans. i'll stay well away. may god be with you all. - ben
ps. i'm happy to chat if it's one person or fifty. if i get tired, i just sign off.
i'm not joking. i don't have enough energy for it at the moment. bummed about cancelling this week too. i just wanna clear up the jokes, not add to em. hope to see you at 1:00. again, if i'm not here, don't be pissed. i pass right out for a few hours at a time. i'll post another time if that happens. i'm pretty sure i'll be up for it at 1:00 though.
benjamin scott folds
scotty's my mother, dean's my father. chuck my brother (his wife is due in a month or two) remodelling my place in willunga. shacking up in nashville. frally's doing double time with louis and gracie. what else....
After some technical difficulties with the site message board, a .orger, Malirk, posted an extra AOL instant messenger account in the thread for the alleged Ben to use. Ben logged in with the provided name, Zloo (so don't message Zloo, it's not Ben's usual AIM name) and chatted with fans for about an hour. Zloo admitted starting the rumors and collaborating with Alan on the letters; he also answered lots of fan questions unrelated to the rumors. (The entire chat is archive here by Nick Davis.)
Zloo was grilled quite extensively and was extremely convincing. Most present agreed it was the real thing, but there was still desire for definitive proof that Zloo was Ben. A few reliable fans received confirmation from CEC Management -- Frank Maynard wrote to Steve (.org webmaster):
"I've been asked by Ben's manager to confirm that, yes indeed, that was Ben himself on the chat board a few days ago, the one that everyone seems to have doubts about."
Case closed. For a few more days, various people logged in as Zloo -- though no one knows for sure whether Ben did -- and various controversies ensued regarding whether or not the fans chatting with Zloo were actually chatting with Ben.
And then, eventually, things were back to normal.