For our latest mission, we turned the 23rd Street 6-train elevator into New York’s newest Apple Store. We placed giant Apple logos on the sides of the glass cube structure, added fake Apple Store employees plus a line of 50 people waiting for the new iPhone X. With the famous 5th Avenue Apple Store under construction, we felt NYC needed a new glass cube Apple Store.
Enjoy the video first and then go behind the scenes with our mission report and photos.
This idea came to us from Deanna Director, Maggie McClurken, and Josh Berger. This summer Deanna reached out to let me know that the newly built glass elevators for the 6-train on 23rd Street looked suspiciously like an Apple Store. With the famous “glass cube” 5th Avenue store under renovation and the 10th Anniversary iPhone coming out in the fall, Deanna and her collaborators felt like it was an Improv Everywhere mission waiting to happen. We agreed!
We met up with all of the participants in Madison Square Park and went over the plan. A group of long-time Improv Everywhere Agents came out to play the Apple Store employees and iPhone line people. The project was unauthorized, so we’d need to set everything up as quickly as possible. We were worried we might get shut down instantly once we put the giant Apple logos on the MTA elevator.
I have to say, our fake Apple Store employees looked pretty great! We went with the classic royal blue uniform, even though the store has recently switched to navy. We figured more people on the street would recognize the classic color.
Deanna, Maggie, Josh, and I put on orange vests and played the crew responsible for putting the logos up. We approached the cube first with our ladder.
Agent Josh Berger puts up the first logo.
Logo number 2 goes up.
Agent Justin Ayers did a phenomenal job designing the Apple logos. We had to create something that looked real, would stick to the surface effectively, and wouldn’t leave any marks behind when we removed it. He nailed it.
After the logos were up, it was time to bring in our Apple Store employees. It’s tradition at Apple Stores for employees to form a line at the entrance and applaud the first people who buy the new iPhone on launch day. Our employees applauded anyone who exited the elevator, confusing random subway passengers.
Next we brought in our line of 50 people, all waiting for the new iPhone X. Some people towards the front of the line had lawn chairs, making it seem like they had been waiting for hours.
Agent Will Choy played an Apple Store employee in charge of the line. He kept things orderly and explained the rules to everyone.
Our fake customers went down the elevator one or two at a time. When they got to the station, a crew member gave them a white Apple Store bag with an (empty) iPhone box inside. They then returned to the top to celebrate their new phone.
About 10 of our fake customers, including those in the photo above, were part of a family reunion taking place in the park near our meeting point. They got wind of what we were doing and decided to join the team!
Agent Cody Lindquist was on had to play a fake newscaster and interview random people in the street about the new store. Cody played a similar newscaster in our Black Friday Dollar Store
mission, another time when we had a fake line of people!
Surprisingly, most people believed it was a real store. There were definitely some skeptics, but more people than we expected took it at face value. I mean, I guess it’s more believable that Apple was taking over a subway station than to believe that 60 people got together to fake it.
The guy in the photo above was one of the only people all day to go downstairs and see for himself. He came back up laughing and smiling. “That’s a good one!,” he said. Update: He found the video and emailed me to say hi. His name is Wally Green, and he’s a celebrity table tennis player
A few people who believed us actually got in line to wait, hoping to get their hands on the iPhone X early. We were worried this might happen, and we really didn’t want to waste anyone’s time. So our Apple employees would tell people that we’d run out of phones, and only the first 50 people in line would get one. The couple in the photo above was undeterred. Despite multiple employees telling them they would 100% not be getting a new phone today, the insisted on waiting in line “just in case.” They were super friendly, and eventually we let them go down the elevator and see for themselves. Here’s what happened:
Once they figured it all out, they still wanted to go up the elevator and celebrate and be a part of it. They liked the idea of fooling other people on the street now that they were in on it.
You can read a discussion from some other people who got fooled on Reddit.
As worried as we were about getting into trouble, no one seemed to care. I guess it’s OK to turn an MTA elevator into a store as long as it’s fake and temporary. Thanks so much to everyone who came out to be a part of it, and thanks again to Deanna, Josh, and Maggie (pictured below) for the idea!
Production photos from photographer Arin Sang-urai (photo credit for all photos on this page).