The Great Verv Hoax

Stop me if you've heard this one before. A big group of English teachers go to a noraebang, and they're all having a great time. Then a funny-looking guy with a clean-shaven scalp, and an olive-coloured flight jacket covered in patches, right out of American History X, grabs the mic and stands up. "This is for the national socialist skinheads!"

Ever hear about a dishevilled guy with glasses and long hair that makes him look like a cross between a shaggy dog and a cult leader, hanging in front of a show accusing people with darker complexions of being Turkish? He later breaks down into tears lamenting about the plight of Kurds in Iraq.

Or how about this one? You go to a punk show, and there's one guy there with long curly hair and a beard, and he's moshing his heart out, but he's wearing what looks like a giant diaper? It's actually a fundoshi, which he is now very loudly explaining to a bunch of girls who look extremely uncomfortable.

All these stories abound, and might kind of surprise or worry newcomers that they'll meet this legendary Verv creature. Yet how many have actually seen him?

I can say with some certainty that nobody has ever worn a fundoshi to a punk show in Korea before.

Actually, it's high time I came clean. Verv is a long, long-running April Fool's Day hoax. I invented Verv as a fictional character about nine years ago, and everyone who claims to have met him is either self-delusional or in on it themselves. Here's how I did it.

Verv was debuted on April Fool's Day 2005, so as of April this year, he will be nine years old. He began life as a profile on the Broke in Korea message board, which was hosted by Paul with my assistance. At the time, the board wasn't very lively, and we sought ways to create a bit of activity. Coming up with a good troll was our best solution, and together we sat down to iron out the details about Verv's personality and life history. Paul was exceptionally helpful at that, putting together his backstory in the US and the army, and the fact that he should be from the Midwest. I wanted him to be a skinhead who flirted with some very contentious ideas but in a bizarrely genial way; at the time I was obsessed with how casual a lot of the Korean skinheads were with fascism and neo-Nazism, and Verv started as a parody of that.

Having Verv on the message board did stir up interest, and it was only through him that we ever managed to maintain any kind of community. As I developed the Verv style of writing (very formal, never using contractions, Excessive Capitalisation, and always with wide-eyed wonder whether he was talking about the Glory of Showering or racial extremists. I published two issues of a zine called "Fuck the Internet Verv" with some of the best works.

After several months, more of us were in on the secret, and we began dividing up the work. We began creating fictional anecdotes of Verv encounters and feeding them to the online community. It got to the point where there were so many of us and we were all trying to outdo each other, that it was hard to tell who was doing what anymore. A bunch of us created his Facebook profile and shared the password amongst each other, and someone even started the website (if I ever knew who, I've long since forgotten). All the pictures you've seen of Verv, such as on this page, are subtle Photoshops. The original "Verv" in the pictures comes from a lot of sources: the heads come a number of skinhead galleries, and the bodies are supplied by a Russian fetish model we found who had uploaded a lot of high-quality images.

At the height of Vervmania, I even dressed up as Verv once and went to a show at Skunk Hell. That was the only official real-life Verv sighting, but over the years I've heard from many more people who think they met Verv very late at night or think they saw him stomp by once, hollering "North Dakota doesn't back down!" My only explanation for these sightings, at least now that the truth is out, is that they must be imagining it? This Verv is perhaps a fictional character who lurks around the edges of consciousness, emerging from time to time like some sort of mythical creature. The more obvious explanation is that it's just some other guy with wild mountain man hair and a beard, or another soldier with distinct round glasses and a bare scalp.

Because take it from me, the man exists only in myth. Verv is my greatest creation, the one who sprang to life and exceeded his creator, but nonetheless he is still only a fictional being.

Now let's enjoy some of my favourite Verv Photoshops.

All of these people were either accomplices or didn't know I'd edit Verv's face in over top of Jay's.

Jesse was in on the joke too.

Here's Verv locked up in a cage at an abandoned amusement park.
Yeah, not one of my better ones.

My later work, with Long Hair Verv, was much more seamless. I tried to make this one reminiscent of that famous Gandhi photo.

I even Photoshopped Verv in with my mom.

A Verv comic I did for Broke in Korea.

A relatively smooth Photoshop, but it didn't work in colour.

Adding a bit of motion and light blur covers up some of the Photoshop glitches.

Verv rides the mechanical bull. This was actually Dori's body.

You can tell by the lighting quality he's not actually there.

Verv in Skunk Hell, some of my early stuff that was heavily believed.

Here's me in my Verv disguise.

We later actually had a sleeve made so that anyone could wear the Verv sleeve tattoo.

Group picture. Sorry for Photoshopping you out, Jim.

The secret to making this one. The quads all don't exist there.

Blackmail material for Jay.

One of my better Photoshops.

Fight Club!

We even staged this photo with fake blood.

Scaring Millie.

The shadow was tricky as hell. Finally I just cloned the dirt to cover it up.

This one was easy. Jesse was originally holding a big bag.

We had Grant going for a long time that Verv was a real person. Finally I told him right before he left for Australia.

Real body, real scarf, fake face.

Skinhead eating Baskin-Robbins.

Fake face.

This guy was a model who looked almost like Verv. I paid for his beers all night for him to shave his scalp down from a buzzcut to this and put on the glasses.


Really a fan of this one.

His band was real, but Verv wasn't a real member. We had him playing "rhythm guitar" for Pornotarium, "rhythm guitar" for Mixed Blood, and then Brothers of the Hole was completely staged.

Verv becoming a Muslim. I really thought everyone would finally get that it was a joke when we took this unlikely plot twist.

Now enjoy some Photoshops from the zine I made of Verv writing.

These are all his head on top of Kim Ilsung or his son.

Please remember that these photos are all copyrighted to me. If you want to use them in any way, there's a 90 per cent chance I'll give you my permission, and be able to give you a copy with a higher DPI.
Copyright Daehanmindecline 2014