You’ve made it through the last working day before Christmas.
Your presents are bought and wrapped, your mince pies are ready to go in the oven, and you can now begin to scroll through Instagram for pictures of dogs in Christmas jumpers.
But then you get distracted by this.
And everything you thought you knew about the world instantly turns to dust.
What in the name of all that is pure and good is this horror? Christmas may have to be postponed.
Why is there a naked man sat in a tub of murky white liquid? Who is the old lady in the stained gown standing over him? And why has a rope just been casually placed on the ground?!
The advert has the internet (rather unsurprisingly) freaking out.
With a link to a Bathe In My Milk website and a list of selling points that include “Open to Men only,” “Use my sponge” and most alarmingly of all, “I will watch you,” the poster looks like it’s straight out of the Hostel franchise.
Clicking on to the site reveals a series of photos of other men seemingly making use of the bathing service. In one of these, the woman is stood outside of the room looking in at the bather through the window.
The site signs off with a link saying “If interested, please email me right away.”
Being the kind of journalists who pride ourselves on hard-hitting news, we thought we’d go ahead and try to schedule an appointment for a milk bath.
After some hard-core investigative work (clicking on the link), we were brought to the Facebook profile of an Alan Wager.
Now, Alan failed to respond to us on Facebook and we could have given up here. But we persevered – all the way to his Instagram.
Eventually, after all our hard work, we were rewarded with a contact number. There was only one thing left to do.
“Hi is that Bathe In My Milk?”
“Well, it’s Alan Wagner.”
“Ah ok, we’re wondering if someone – not us of course – were interested in arranging a milk bath, could it be done?”
Devastatingly, we were told that that would no longer be possible.
We pointed out to Alan that as well as a great many relieved people, there may also be a disappointed few, “Yes, I have gotten hundreds of messages from people who say they want to take a milk bath. I’ve had to let them down.”
We double-checked; we definitely weren’t speaking with the woman in the white gown? Was there really no sponge on offer? Not even some almond milk?”
“No, they’re all gone.”
It turns out that the offer of a milk bath was actually an elaborate hoax.
Alan Wagner, 26, is in fact an LA-based digital artist and comedian. He is not a 70-something milk-bathing dominatrix.
Together with his creative partner Sydney Marquez, 25, Alan enlisted a series of friends and actors and cobbled together the set using objects that “were lying around.”
They then mocked up the poster and stuck up 200 copies of it around LA.
Soon, enquiries for milk appointments began flooding in.
Alan responded to these by advising people to make their case in writing, supplying an LA address that turns out to be the home of one of Alan’s friends.
Now, all this begs the question, what the heck is this milk bath project about?
“I’d like to leave the interpretation up to the viewers,” says Alan with classic artistic precision.
“Generally it’s supposed to be a viscerally upsetting, confusing thing. We like to make projects that reside between reality and absurdity and make you question what you believe is normal. We like to blur the line between what’s real and what’s constructed.”
Alan’s Instagram features a number of similar posters advertising non-existent services and requests.
Like this guy who’s really keen on karate-chopping things.
This person who is truly desperate to sing.
And this dirt seminar.
“We do a lot of memes. A lot of them lead to either websites or a number you call that has a voicemail set up that’s sort of a continuation of the narrative of the sign or whatever it is.
“We find it really fun to do these projects that on their face seem real and have further interactive elements to them.”
Let us all rejoice that the interactive element does not extend to an actual milk-sponge bath.
It may be a let down to a select few but for many that will be good news indeed. There is no creepy almond-and-soy-milk-woman. There’s no sponge and no watching people bathe.
Christmas has been restored. Back to those dachshunds in jumpers, people.