Alan Abel - Profile
ALAN ABEL is best known for his satirical spoof, S.I.N.A., the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals. With Abel as its spokesperson, S.I.N.A. asserted that the low moral standards of the American public were due to "lewd naked animals" at every street corner in our cities and in every pasture in the country. "A Nude Horse Is a Rude Horse," was one of their slogans. S.I.N.A. went on to urge that "all animals should wear clothing for the sake of decency, namely horses, cows, dogs, cats and other domestic animals that stand higher than four inches or are longer than six inches." Thousands rushed to join and/or contribute money to this "worthy cause," only to discover - in the end - that it was all an outrageous hoax.

As Omar the Beggar, Abel again captured worldwide media attention with his "school for professional panhandlers." News departments played the story BIG and then were embarrassed to learn that (under the mask) Omar the Begger was Abel the Hoaxer.

And then, on January 2, 1980, Alan Abel succeeded in tricking the eminent New York Times into reporting that he was dead and running his obituary. Two days later Alan Abel called a press conference to say that the Times had been had and that the reports of his death "were greatly exagerated."

(Illustration by Pat Dunn)

A former candidate for Congress from the 4th District in Connecticut, Alan Abel ran on the following platform:

  1. Take congressman off salaries and put them on a straight commission basis.
  2. Sell ambassadorships to the highest bidder.
  3. Install a lie detector in the White House and truth serum in the Senate drinking fountain.
  4. Require all doctors to publish their medical school grade-point averages in the telephone book after their names.
  5. Drop Wednesday from the calendar to establish a four-day workweek.

Alan Abel's many TV appearances include "The Johnny Carson Show," "Today," "Good Morning, America," "20/20," "Prime Time," "Tomorrow," and "Saturday Night Live."


The Fallacy of Creative Thinking

The Panhandlers Handbook

Confessions of a Hoaxer

Don't Get Mad, Get Even

How to Thrive on Rejection

from "The Panhandler's Handbook"

by Omar the Begger


The first few weeks of panhandling can be disappointing because one isn't easily adjusted to the embarrassment at being turned down. It takes about a month to become a real pro and practice does make perfect!

After making dozens of pitches an hour it becomes easier to pick out a prospective donor, passing up the unlikely ones. A sixth sense tells you whom to choose. Remember, every time you approach someone, ohters are walking by who could have been better prospects. So patience and persistence are necessary until you develope the eyes and nose of a bloodhound.

Avoid drunks because they won't listen; they waste your time with their problems and ultimately reward you with small change. A woman alone is a high risk because she fears a purse snatch or a sexual advance. Groups of women are excellent because each one will chip in and this means a minor windfall.

Parents with children are fine prospects because mom and dad are always anxious to demonstrate that giving is better than receiving.

Blue collar workers are questionable. They resent anyone who is unemployed and you'll be lucky to get a nickel or dime, regardless of your desperation story.

Well-dressed people are at the top of the heap. They can drop a five or ten dollar bill on you as an expression of their loftier financial position. Be prepared to issue a receipt or I.O.U. so that this segment can declare a tax write-off on their donation.

Do not enter stores or restuarants. They're generally off limits to peddlers, missionaries and panhandlers. Besides, the cashier has no authority to rifle the register and the manager is too busy with customers. Stay on the street or inside public buildings and play the law of averages.

During the early weeks when the pickings are lean you'll need all your money to meet the bills at home and to start saving. So how do you eat and sleep without dipping heavily into your cash reserves?

Eating well is simply a matter of visiting any of the major hotels and checking lobby listings for buffet luncheons and dinners being served in public meeting rooms and ballrooms. You choose the one that sounds interesting. For example:

  • Buffet Luncheon
  • 12 noon Main Ballroom

Without a ticket for entry, you merely need to arrive late, around 1:30 PM, and tell the guards you lost your contact lens on the steam table. They will let you pass and there is always plenty of food left to rummage through looking for the lens, licking your fingers as you go. If questioned by a committee member, mention being an invited guest from Peoria who is a personal friend of Mayor Thompson. Make up any name because nobody ever knows who the Mayor of Peoria is.

The same process goes for dinner buffets. These affairs are well stocked with choice foods and if you bring along a doggie bag, the servers will gladly fill it up for "your pet outside."

Don't ever feel guilty about trespassing in this way for your daily food requirments. Company buffets are business deductions and the leftovers are just going into the hotel's beef stew or surprise soup du jour the following day.

For free sleeping arrangements the best way is to have enough friends with spare rooms to beg one night a week "while in the city on business." Or, place a small ad in the local paper offering to house sit for free when people are going on vacation.

In an emergency, you can visit a hotel with a convention, where all rooms are booked, and slip the night clerk $5 to sleep on a couch in the mezzanine. At 8 AM, if you're still tired and need a bath, another $5 to a maid on upper floors will get you a vacant checkout room until at least noon.

Another method for obtaining free meals while you're learning the tricks of the trade of panhandling is to attend open houses, trade shows for the press and office cocktail parties. By scanning the business news sections of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, you can gain advance notice of these affairs.

If challenged at the door, always pull a well-sounding name out of the hat and remark you are attending at his invitation. Preface the name with "Ambassador" or "Doctor"; that adds an air of prestige nobody would dare question.

With limted funds, you can eat well at one-third the price of good restaurants by frequenting company employee cafeterias. Saks has an excellent one; so does I.T.&T. Just get in line and, if sharing a table, let it be known you're visiting on a secret research project to improve employee's conditions.

Every major hotel has an excellent cafeteria for their employees (ask the bell captain to direct you) and you can eat cut-rate there too, savng as much as seventy cents on the dollar!

Praise for Alan Abel

"You had the audience rolling in the aisles. Your visit will be long remembered."


"A master spoofer with incredibly perceptive insights into the human comedy."


"Alan Abel demonstrated a droll, dry wit that we found hilarious. It's intelligent humor and the crowd roared with delight."


Return to Home Page            Return to Previous Page            Alan Abel's Website