An inside report from the elusive underbelly of conspiracy theories
I arrived, glad to be stepping out of the Uber which had taken a sweaty and uncomfortable 45 minutes in the Friday rush hour traffic. It was raining softly and I could already see the queue for this mysterious unknown speaker growing, it stretched and wound round the building, hundreds of people at least. I have been working security for over a year now on club doors and at high-end events and I have my fair share of stories from the trade, embarrassing stories, sad stories but most of all funny stories. I had received no briefing before this particular job, only that I was to be part of a four man security team for a “high profile” speaker. My flatmates and I had discussed at length who we thought it might be, a golfer or footballer perhaps or maybe even some B-list actor on the lecturing circuit, squeezing the last monetary gain from their floundering fame.
I made my way inside, passing the queue of eccentrically dressed individuals, of which there was no one defining characteristic or label that could be applied to any of them – men, women, children and pensioners all queued diligently, one in front of the other. I passed a pile of books as I hastily made my way to the rendezvous point, not taking much notice of them. As I strode by I caught sight of the cover of The Dream, a vague and oblique title that could be attributed to thousands of fiction novels. The rest of the crew were huddled together around what I presumed to be and later found out was the promoter and manager for the speaker, he wore a white hoodie and basketball shorts, and he talked with a thick cockney accent. I exchanged some pleasantries just before the promoter intervened to continue his briefing: “So you know who it is…it’s David Icke.”
My ears pricked up – it had become a habit for me over the last years to largely zone out and ignore these sorts of briefings, the security team usually had their own meeting afterwards where the real plan of action was formulated. Not this time. My colleagues seemed unaware of who he was or at least didn’t show any emotion. David Icke, the conspiracy-promoting, Lizard-hating, the moon is hollow and controlled by aliens, pseudo-intellectual. I was well acquainted with his work from my days as a bored teenager first learning about the world of conspiracy theories. Banned from the Netherlands and other EU countries, this man was quite the client to be working for, little did I know just how weird the night would get. I was put on bag searches as the attendees entered – some were brimming with excitement wearing radical t-shirts with mottos of anti-tyranny or anti-vax slogans. I confiscated a very large jar of weed after about 15 minutes – I was of no doubt that many of Icke’s followers were thoroughly enjoying themselves before the event began, a strong pre-game.
I took the usual amount of abuse for searching bags. One elderly man in a fedora spat: “Searching bags at a David Icke conference, ironic isn’t it”, throwing me a dirty look for good measure. I politely mentioned that it was the organisers who asked us to search people and wished him well on his way, or at least gave my best effort at doing that. After the queue was processed and the crowd sat in their seats, I was stationed at the back of the room – how privileged I was to hear the entire talk, I thought. He was led in after a brief enthusiastic introduction and announcement which was reminiscent of a boxing ring walkout. The crowd clapped and cheered, some even rose to their feet smiling from ear to ear, the women swooning and the men stood firmly in admiration, and so it began, three long long hours.
David Icke’s talk would have been comical if his audience hadn’t been so enthralled and genuinely accepting of his baseless nonsense. The presentation was like a really long and negative acid trip, the room was hot, making me uncomfortable in my long and thick trench coat. The slideshow transported you back to 2006, not in some parallel timeloop like Icke would probably have wanted, but due to its dated presentation – the powerpoint was old and erratic, with psychedelic colours and varying styles of font. Off he went, the 71 year old on his tirade, as if someone had fired a starting gun, about how the world was as he saw it. He talked of aliens and dimensions and the great world lizard-humanoid cult that was operating to feed off and harness our energy. This man was truly bananas, he had the presence and character of a cult leader swaggering across the stage – any minor joke he uttered was met with belly laughter from the crowd eagerly, staring up at him bathed in glorious stage light.
I experienced a range of emotions in those hours at first and somewhat naively I found it humorous, but slowly as the minutes ticked by turning to hours, I became filled with rage and anger. Icke stood there confidently – a man who had in the past declared himself the son of god – was spouting baseless poison, absorbed by real vulnerable people with real lives. I can only hope he believes his claims; it’s an all the more sinister situation if he doesn’t and merely puts on a persona, but to me he seemed genuine. He would use complex language – as he flicked through the hundreds of slides he would often drop in phrases such as quantum mechanics and theoretical physics, without really explaining or going further into the concepts. It was apparent he merely wanted buzzwords to add to his charade. He professed we are all in a simulation, waffling along for the next three hours. People were falling asleep, some were drinking heavily, others tucking into a self-provided picnic, others stared directly forward barely flinching for the duration of the speech, cradling their newly signed copy of The Dream, Icke’s newest work.
After the main talk was a comparatively brief Q&A, which featured questions about whether or not there was a hidden dimension underneath Antarctica. He then launched back into a closing speech, finishing triumphantly with the phrase “Let the Lion…roarrrr”, a homage to one of his most infamous books: The Lion sleeps no more. He was escorted off to a grateful and ecstatic crowd. I even found myself beginning to clap, purely for the fact this ordeal was over.
As I watched people leave the conference room I observed people’s reactions. Some simply smiled, others openly talked about the lecture calling it “Amazing” and “Groundbreaking”. It would be easy to make fun of these people, to mock and ridicule their outrageous beliefs, but to me I felt sorry for them for they had fallen for a mere con man or man who has lost his grip of reality, peddling alternative science to make a quick buck or fulfil his self-prophesied saviour complex. His promotion of complete and utter distrust of any authority is naive – although I agree ideas and power should be questioned and critiqued, it is nothing less than dangerous to actively despise any body of power. Icke’s lecture confirmed to me that we live in an age of disinformation. If hundreds of people were willing to spend their time and money to listen to him, how many more are at least sympathetic to his ramblings?