I seem to run into a lot of conspiracy theorists. Like the time on a flight to Amsterdam where I sat next to the famous conspiracy theorist George Green, who’s published books for an alien race called the Pleiadians and showed me the $1000 worth of solid gold he was traveling with, as he felt it would be the only thing with value after the apocalypse. Or the time during a hookup in Huntington Beach, California, where this guy started warning me about Rothschild plots while Mark Duplass’ The One I Love played behind us on the TV. Fate or Deep State meddling, I’m beginning to think I should change my Grindr tribe to Alex Jones.
While I was scrolling through my Meetup.com feed the other day, I came across a post for the first ever Flat Earth Fashion Show, which was being thrown at a shop in Anaheim, California, called Streetwear Addicts, that bills itself as “a men’s fashion streetwear store [that] has been promoting truth since forever and Flat Earth since conscious of that fact.” There was no way I couldn’t go and at least try to cop a tinfoil snapback.
Streetwear Addicts is a small space in a strip mall that owner Steven Fisher has operated for four years. Its neighbors are a nail salon and a bounty hunter. Inside there’s a whole wall of Dope socks, two Mac Dre bobbleheads and a bunch of flat earth paraphernalia Fisher got from Ebay. Look around the few racks of clothing and you are just as likely to find a Nike shirt as you are one that says “flat earth.”
I first encountered Fisher while he was moving garment rails to make space for the catwalk. He’s bald, a little round, and was wearing camo cargo shorts—how I imagine former cast members from MTV’s The Challenge look today. A Navy veteran and one-time budtender, Fisher said that, five years ago, he was one of the first Instagram accounts to start posting about flat earth. His account @streetwearaddicts714 has over 7,000 followers, but, he said, it used to have 25,000 before it was shut down by the Jewish Defense League. I don’t think Fisher realized that I’m Jewish, because he kept referencing the different ways Jews are ruining the world. Peep the Streetwear Addicts Instagram—every other post is a Zionist conspiracy meme. He also seemed very comfortable using the word “Holohoax” to refer to the Holocaust in my presence. Yikes.
Sidenote—a lot of people at the event seemed to believe in a Jewish Media. Which in my case, I guess isn’t technically untrue. Blaming the Jews has always been in-style since, like, history, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that people wearing Supreme parody “FLATEARTH” shirts think we’re behind the New World Order, 9/11 and the weather. It gives me major FOMO to learn how many secret plans and agendas I’ve been left out of. Where was my invite? All Judaism has given me are late night texts from Birthright organizers and the cringey tale of how my mom planted my foreskin under a dying fruit tree in our backyard.
I tried to ask Fisher about his new “collection”—which is really just Champion tees with flat earth maps printed on the left breast—but he kept getting into chemtrails and MKUltra mind-control schemes. By the time he started telling me that the performers at Super Bowl halftime shows are “literally doing rituals in your face,” I was lost. So I turned to a couple next to me, who looked normal and had a baby and, I assumed, were also lost.
But then the woman said, ”Well you know how like, Beyoncé, in the Super Bowl, she was doing the Illuminati sign? The triangle? 666?”
The couple were Mike and Deana Geier, who are music producers and Christian songwriters in Canyon Lake, California. Despite being flat earthers for three years who have, they said, personally converted upwards of 20 people, the fashion show was their first social event with the community.
Mike got into flat earth first, and for months it was a serious point of contention. But then, he said, Deanna “had a dream and felt God tell [her] it’s true.” Mike and Deanna were eager to assure me that they’re really not that different from your average people. “We’re so normal dude,” said Mike. “Like, we paddleboard.”
Before going to the event, I’d imagined it hovering somewhere between Milan and MAGA, but when looking at the parking lot where the roughly 50 truthers were chilling, it became clear that this “fashion show” was really just an excuse to gather and talk about flat earth.
Tents, tables with food, beer—it could’ve almost passed for a regular tailgate if it weren’t for the fact that everyone was wearing lab coats and had duct tape over their selfie cameras. People were bumping to flat earth covers of popular songs, like DelanoTV’s Weeknd diss parody “The Earth is Flat” and the flat earth cover of Adele’s “Hello,” which features lyrics like ““Hello from the inside/ I’m here to tell you NASA lies.”
Mingling, I met nice truthers with name tags reading Dan The Water Man, Flat Earth Dude and Earth is Seriously Flat, and paranoid ones, like a guy called Adam who accused Dan The Water Man of being a CIA agent who invited me to the event to make them all look crazy.
At one point I was guerilla’d into appearing on British Youtuber Poncho Pete’s livestream where he repeatedly shouted the word “horizon” at me. No one even tried to talk about anything else. The next meetup could be an orgy and the only banging you’d see would be Advantus globes against walls. While speaking with Sydney Silver—a self-described scientist and one of the models for the show—I asked her if they ever talk about light things at these gatherings, like sports. “Only how they’re rigged,” she replied.
A lot of different flat earth theories were being bandied about. Antarctica is an ice wall. We’re surrounded by an air ocean(?). Dinosaurs? No. Evolution? Probably not. Space? No way. Christian Perez—who prefers “geo-horizontalogist” to flat earther—cited Genesis, which was by far the most quoted flat earth resource of the day, as the basis for his beliefs. “We don't believe what's outside this dome,” Perez said. He was particularly worried by the idea of demons coming “to Earth pretending to be aliens” in order to turn people away from God and usher in the apocalypse. “First of all, you need space for that. That’s why we don’t have space.”
Finally, four hours after it was supposed to start, it was time for the runway. By that point, it was down to maybe 20 people, so Fisher cleared out the extraneous chairs to make it look less depressing.
The fashion show itself lasted for about five minutes and was really just people who were already wearing flat earth gear soul-training from one end of the store to the other. Everyone loved it. They were posing and high-fiving and goofing around, and, had I not believed in everything I believe in, I probably would have had fun, too. I left when Fisher starting forcing people to participate in a raffle of flat earth-related prizes that I most politely could define as “random shit.”
On my way out I stopped to chat with J.P. and Alisa Garcia and their 13-year-old son Jake. Jake is Alisa’s from a different marriage, and here’s the ironic thing—she said his biological dad is an aeronautical engineer for NASA.
In spite of this, Jake is proud to be a flat earther and said that a good thing to do is question everything. “It’s hard to accept that you’ve been lied to this whole time,” he said. “Some teachers you really care about, but they don’t know the whole truth.”
The only “truth” I found at this event is that nothing is real, life is fake, and Jews are bad.
I didn’t get a shirt, despite how funny I found the idea. The idea made me feel icky. Sure, celebrities are still wearing John Galliano after his anti-Semitic rants—but he’s couture, darling.
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.