— Chris (@baconfenders) February 27, 2014
“EAT CELEBRITY MEAT.”
So declares the website for BiteLabs.org, a startup that says it wants to sell ‘artisanal salami’ grown in a lab from the cells of famous people. The company lists Kanye West, Jennifer Lawrence, James Franco, and Ellen Degeneres as the celebrities it most wants to salamify and encourages visitors to tweet at these celebrities to get them to donate body cells.
“We mix celebrity and animal meats, grown in house through a proprietary culturing process, into curated salami blends.” the website reads.
So… it’s gotta be a joke, right?
Vice emailed with someone who calls himself ‘Kevin from Bite Labs’ to see if this is a prank/hoax/animal rights activist trick, but Kevin kept up appearances of sincerity, spouting reassurances that this is a genuine project.
When TIME contacted Bite Labs to learn more, someone identifying himself as Martin, the CEO, hinted at the company’s true goal. “Making celebrity meat a reality will all depend on our ability to generate public enthusiasm,” he wrote. “We also want to prompt widespread discussion about bioethics, lab-grown meats, and celebrity culture – this is very important to us. We think the cultural discussion around lab-grown meats and popular culture will acclimate people to the field. We’re treating it as a cultural precursor for when our product eventually hits production.”
Martin chose not to divulge his last name “due to the controversial nature of our product.”
Martin emphasized that the company is not prepared to bring a product to market. And though he kept up the charade that Bite Labs has some intention of actually making these nightmare meats, he also underlined the company’s true intentions. “Our primary goal right now is to create a public dialogue around the potential for commercially available lab-grown meat,” he explained. In other words, this is the work of provocateurs who want to create discussion, not people who want you to eat Danny DeVito prosciutto.
And Martin didn’t rule out future affiliation with activist groups. “We are not (yet) affiliated with PETA or any other animal rights group,” he wrote.