The world of mobile telecommunications was shocked this morning to discover that former AT&T Mobility CEO Stan Sigman is not the man people thought he was.
Just 12 hours after the event honoring his induction into the Wireless Hall of Fame and his rambling 5-hour acceptance speech, Stan Sigman was revealed to be not a man at all but a piece of performance art.
Speaking to gathered media, San Francisco performance artist Julian Leflaunt said that for the past 40 years, he has been playing the part of “Stan Sigman” as part of a piece entitled “Corporate ‘Leadership’ and The Folly of the American Enterprise”.
“I created everything about Stan,” said Leflaunt. “From his horrible public speaking ability to his post-retirement goatee.”
Working as a Bell stockman the 1960s, Leflaunt says, he became aware of the vapid nature of our vaunted executive class.
“I was determined to show the CEO for what he was: a long-winded oaf concerned with nothing more than achieving personal glory off the back of the worker. These emperors of our economy have no clothes, I thought, and I set out to devote my life to showing them to the rest of the world as I saw them.”
Cleverly manipulating the bureaucracy at Bell, Leflaunt recast himself as “Stan Sigman”, the name being a play on “standard signal man”, which the artist says represented the conformity enforced by corporate America on the proletariat.
So his life’s work began. But then, Leflaunt said, something strange happened.
“As much as I wanted to hate him, I grew to love Stan,” he said. “My feelings for him as a rising CEO did not change — I still believed him to be the most useless of cogs in the capitalist machine — but as a person I found him to be sympathetic and even tragic. His love of golf for its moments of platonic camaraderie and closeness with other men, a closeness he always craved from his father but never got. His passion for quarter horses, driven by his recurring childish fantasies of being a cowboy on the frontier of the late 1800s. The more I rounded out his character, the sadder he became to me.”
Leflaunt admits that the piece got out of hand.
“I really had no intentions of carrying it on for more than 40 years,” Leflaunt said. “But I couldn’t stop. I needed to see how it ended! And then the iPhone deal just fell into my lap.”
Leflaunt was concerned the deal was almost his undoing.
“I was frightened that I had overplayed my hand at Macworld Expo in 2007,” Leflaunt said. “I wanted to deliver a truly dreadful speech, I felt that was important to the piece, but when I shook Steve Jobs’ hand after I was done, I thought I saw him give me a look. I flew home in a cold sweat.”
For his part, Jobs says he was completely unaware that the man he had worked with on the most significant product release of the decade was an utter fabrication.
“I had no idea,” said a disbelieving Steve Jobs. “I mean, one time he was chuckling in the middle of a meeting for no discernible reason, but… wow. Incredible. My hat’s off to him.
“Anyway, this totally voids our exclusivity deal with AT&T so… Verizon iPhone in January.”
Asked what he will work on next, Leflaunt says he plans on taking his first vacation in 40 years, claiming the others were in character so they don’t count. Then he plans to devote time to cat memes on the Internet.
“That’s where all the cutting-edge work is being done nowadays,” he said.