Companion piece to the Associated Press story of the wacky house sitter who foil-wrapped his friend’s apartment while on house sitting assignment one New Years Eve. Who would have thought! Writer, Rachel Elder, gets the inside story on the whole crazy episode from the house sitter himself. In her words: ‘Meet Lucas Trerice, the earnest Smurf-loving geek and aspiring dentist behind the biggest foil-covered prank of 2004’.
14 January 2004
Last Thursday, a headline skittered across the Associated Press newswire, boasting to the world: ‘Man’s apartment encased in aluminium foil.’ The dateline was Olympia, Washington and the story concerned a man who spent New Year’s Eve covering his best friend’s apartment entirely in tin foil.
Inital reaction: Amazing.
But was this another lame exercise in the new and already tiring ‘Punk’d’ era? As our exclusive photographs show, the madness went much deeper. The prank took five days to complete and foil was used to cover everything in the apartment – down to the quarters in the coin jar, the casings of each CD – and suddenly, an innocuous joke is magnified into speed freak Warhol Factory-like proportions.
Meet Lucas Trerice, the earnest Smurf-loving geek and aspiring dentist behind the biggest foil-covered prank of 2004.
BT: The obvious question first: what is your preferred brand of foil?
LT: I can’t remember. The cheap stuff from the Cash & Carry. The thin kind was great for fine detail, but the heavy foil really picked up nice texturing on the walls.
BT: So the general idea was to cover every surface in its entirety?
LT: That was the plan. If I had to do it all over again, I would have paid more attention to the [fact that foil is either] 12 inches or 18 inches wide.
BT: Despite the quasi-bohemian ethos so many nerds champion, the truth is keeping yourself in comfortable geekdom can be pricey. How much did you spend on the foil project?
LT: Loans are my only income. The foil cost me around $100. Not bad.
BT: What was your motive?
LT: Love. Everybody loves Chris [Chris Kirk, also nicknamed ‘Goose’]. I wish people loved me enough to do that.
BT: How much time did you have to strategize and complete this little operation?
LT: We only had five days to work, starting from 1 a.m. New Year’s Day until 6 p.m. on Jan. 5th when Chris returned. Several people helped, so it probably took around 200 to 300 hours. His apartment is small, and it only took around 4,000 square feet.
BT: To ward off any inquiries from psychiatrists who may come across this piece, please tell me you didn’t do this alone.
LT: I was helped by close friends and neighbors of Chris. In the last couple of days we realized that it wasn’t going to be finished on time, so we started recruiting neighbors for a couple hours each. We tried to keep it to people that Goose knew well. There were a few exceptions, like girlfriends and neighbors. We even had a couple on their first date work for a while.
BT: Very Tom Sawyer of you.
LT: I ended up putting in the most hours, because I slept there.
BT: Did you sleep in foil?
LT: Not *in* foil. I left the bed uncovered. Surrounded, though. It eventually stopped seeming surreal by the end.
BT: What was the hardest thing to cover?
LT: His main computer. So many little bits and pieces, with junk pieces of paper all over. I had to get them exactly right. Fortunately I have a lot of obsessive-compulsive friends.
BT: Sounds like a compliment they might return. Were there any objects that you left uncovered?
LT: We left a single picture of his girlfriend and the spine of a book Penn & Teller’s Cruel Tricks for Dear Friends. (See sidebar.)
BT: Was the book an inspiration? Or a coincidence?
LT: A coincidence. We didn’t notice it until we were three-quarters of the way through the books.
BT: So the book was an open challenge to continue the saga.
LT: I consider it a personal challenge to him to get me back. In fact, I would like to use this opportunity to challenge him again, if you don’t mind. ‘Hey Goose! You can’t top this!’ Thank you.
BT: Sure. One thing we at The Black Table love to do is encourage good, healthy transcontinental vengeance
The Fine Art of Foiling.
When Chris ‘Goose’ Kirk entered his apartment for the first time in 2004, it was covered with foil. Words fail to describe the mind-blowing scene he encountered, but luckily, we have the pictures to fill in the next 30,000 words or so.
They covered his whole kitchen…
…his entire toilet – and bathroom, too – and all of his CDs, individually.
They foiled every single book, one at a time and the roll of toilet paper, which was re-rolled after being foiled…
…and his dress shoes, the change in the change bowl…
…the crap under the bed and every single cup in the house. Yes, Lucas Trenice went to great lengths to play a prank on Chris Kirk…
…and they got him good.
between nerds. Do you think he’ll take the challenge and prank you back?
LT: I hope so. I mean, if I didn’t use the opportunity to prank him, then he would have rightly considered it to be an insult.
BT: Airtight logic, that.
LT: You have to care about someone to put that much energy into something. If he doesn’t do anything, then I’ll feel bad.
BT: How did he react?
LT: I wasn’t there for Goose’s reaction. I wanted him to be completely alone to enhance the alienation. From what I understand, he was initially calm and unresponsive. Then he started laughing and had to find someone to show it to.
BT: What are some other pranks you’ve done?
LT: Most of my projects have been either movies or social experiments.
BT: Social experiments?
LT: Well, just before I moved here, I was lamenting to my friends that, just before a person moves they generally fall in love, but have to leave the person behind. I began complaining that I didn’t even have that heartbreak, so my friends begged me to put out flyers around town and then they paraded me around. There are a few pictures at MeetLuke.com.
BT: What do you think of MTV shows like Punk’d, Boiling Points, etc. Is the current ‘prank’ craze trivializing the real labors of love that more dedicated nerds like you engage in? Do you bemoan the commercialization of roommate gags? (Note: I’ll admit I had the pleasure of working on ‘Boiling Points,’ whose ‘jokes’ seem to be nothing more than sexually harassing women in the street and then rewarding the ones who don’t defend themselves).
LT: I haven’t bothered to steal cable at my condo yet, so I don’t watch TV. Gotta study. But without having seen any of them, I would say I approve. Non-harmful messing with people equals comedy gold.
BT: Have you ever played a joke that went very wrong, or is there one in particular you wish you hadn’t played?
LT: Well, one summer at a neuroscience internship in high school I had a fair sized mob combing the woods for me on the last day, but I managed to evade them and my well-deserved comeuppance.
BT: …OK. What’s next?
LT: No specific plans yet. I tend to work impulsively. I would like to make a short film documenting the life and assassination of Trotsky using the Smurfs.
BT: That, plus you mentioned you’ve got a filmed reenactment of WWII as a food fight and something called ‘Luke vs. the Root Beer Float of Doom.’ So why dental school then? Why not film school?
LT: Ever since I was a kid I wanted to be a scientist. I used to wear a clip on bow tie and give lectures during lunch in high school, and everyone thought I’d be a professor. Then I had the aforementioned neuroscience internship, which was very prestigious. In a nutshell, it was horrid. I decided that I’d rather die starving in a gutter than risk working with people like that for the rest of my life.
BT: I see. Dentistry is a good compromise.
LT: I decided long ago that I could never make money doing what I love, because the stress of making it profitable would ruin it for me.
BT: There was certainly no danger in profiting from this prank.
LT: I would rather do something that I like and can take pride in, but will fund my side projects. Dentistry could afford me the luxury of doing crap like this all the time, and funding my friends’ projects. I want to do zombie movies, personally.
BT: Right. Because the relationship of a zombie to the living is not too different than that of a geek to the rest of the world, so this might be a subject close to your heart. Zombies are terrifying, but in reality people are just reacting to themselves in an altered state, since we all have a little geek inside us. Is that close?
LT: I just like zombies.