Sacha Baron Cohen may be reaping a lot of praise for his daredevil undercover antics in his Borat sequel (he recently posted a video of angry crowds storming the stage at a rally after his ruse as a pro-Donald Trump singer was rumbled). But he’s not the only one putting himself in danger to provoke the president’s more passionate supporters as Election Day arrives in the U.S.
Don Lessem, a Philadelphia-based dinosaur expert who served as an adviser on Jurassic Park and has been behind several dino exhibitions and theme parks around the world, has spent the last few weeks touring rallies in key states around the East Coast with a 10-foot robot of Trump in the back of his van.
Entitled “Dumping Trump,” the creation sees the animatronic POTUS with his trousers down, sitting on a gold toilet and, naturally, tweeting. The robot actually made its debut at an anti-Trump protest in London in mid-2019, but Lessem has tweaked it for the more modern age, adding a scythe and a soundtrack that shouts out “It’s All A Hoax” while playing Chopin’s Funeral March. On the back of the van, Lessem has added a sign that says, “Vote for Me… And Die!”
Perhaps predictably, Lessem hasn’t had the warmest welcome at the rallies.
“The reactions have been dramatic — fists, fingers, suggestions of anatomical impossibilities or things that I should do to myself that aren’t really legal,” he explains. “But the worst thing that happened was that someone threw a water bottle at 60 miles per hour at my windshield. That was the scariest moment.”
Lessem has so far covered about 2,500 miles, driving his robot to seven Trump rallies and two for Joe Biden (“which was a lot nicer”). At the Trump rallies, he says at first he’s actually had an enthusiastic reception.
“Despite the fact that it’s quite visible, he’s on a golden toilet and it says on the side, ‘Trump Death Mobile,’ they still think it’s pro-Trump and get these huge cheers. Then it slowly dawns on them that it’s not for him, and I get beckoned back with a finger.”
After the election, Lessem says he’s been discussing setting up what he calls a “pop-up Trump crime museum” together with a guy in New York who created an inflatable “Trump Rat” and the team behind the infamous “Trump Baby Blimp” that flew over London in 2018.
“So we’re going to put them all together and create a touring museum, starting in New York. And it’s going to detail all his crimes, starting at the beginning,” says Lessem. “So it’s going to need to be the size of the Louvre.”