What Would Students Do for a Chance at $50,000? USC Pranksters Find Out

The announcement went out at USC about on-campus auditions for the reality-based TV show "College Fear Factor." And daring students answered the invitation to swallow live goldfish and eat raw pigs' feet, washed down with buttermilk.

The danger of indigestion was offset by the prospect of prizes of as much as $50,000.

One of the fish-gulpers was freshman Diane Yanez, who told Daily Trojan writer Shahien Nasiripour, "I'm looking for something fun, something exciting."

Alas, there is no "College Fear Factor" show. What Yanez and others (mostly freshmen) got were real-life roles as victims of the annual spring prank of USC's Skull and Dagger Society.

The hoax was revealed before anyone dined on the pigs' feet and buttermilk.

Yanez, a good sport, said: "It was a cool prank." Besides, as a wiser sophomore, she'll be able to enjoy next year's stunt from the sidelines.

A rich tradition: A couple of years ago, the Skull and Dagger tricksters drew a crowd of excited students at USC when they advertised in the Daily Trojan that a new "Star Wars" trailer would be shown on campus. But the crowd had to move aside when a car pulling a U-Haul trailer arrived with a sign that said: "Star Wars."

On another occasion, Skull and Dagger held a campus memorial for Traveler IV, the school's equine mascot, who was reported dead. Eulogies were delivered, fight songs sung. Then a covered trailer said to contain Traveler's successor came into view.

Unknowing students cheered until a donkey stepped out. The beast was wrapped in a banner that said: "Traveler IV is alive. Don't you feel like an ass?"

For golfers who need an extra excuse? Ray Gegenheimer of Rancho Mirage saw a shoe ad evidently directed toward those who don't want a good fit or peak comfort (see accompanying).

No businessman's special here: Brad Lusk of Pacific Palisades understood the "laser pointer" prohibition in the current L.A. Dodger Magazine, but why the other laser ban (see accompanying)? People cursing over the slowness of the printer (as I do at home)?

Who cares how many vacation days you get? "I knew I went into the wrong profession," wrote Chuck Klein of Ventura after seeing an opening for an especially lucrative position (see accompanying).

Receptionist who won't take no for an answer: Susan Tellem of Malibu was going to have a root canal, but her dentist decided to send her to an oral surgeon, where more extensive work was performed.

A few days later, her dentist's receptionist called to remind Tellem of her root canal appointment. Tellem explained that it had been canceled because she'd had surgery elsewhere.

"Are you sure?" the receptionist asked. Yes, Tellem responded, she always knows when she's had oral surgery.

"Hold on--let me check," the receptionist said. Tellem hung up.

And, finally: Will Callis of Pasadena swears that in the hot summer of 1961, the marquee of the Hollywood Paramount Theatre boasted it had this on view: JOSHUA LOGAN'S "FANNY" COOLED BY REFRIGERATION

miscelLAny: Joe Shea of Hollywood got a news release for a show at the Zero One Gallery, which concluded: "Corner of Melrose and La Brea. Ask for Henry at the Aaron Bros. parking lot to watch your car if it's worth anything."

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Steve Harvey can be reached at (800) LA-TIMES, ext. 77083; by fax at (213) 237-4712; by mail at Metro, L.A. Times, 202 W. 1st St., L.A. 90012; and by e-mail at steve .harvey@latimes.com.

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