StreetWars — the semi-infamous citywide version of the game Assassin, in which participants stalk randomly assigned targets with squirt guns — returns to the city on September 8 (the sign-up deadline is August 29). An equities lawyer named Franz Aliquo introduced the game in 2006, and immediately had critics wondering whether having crazed pedestrians dashing down sidewalks holding gun-shaped objects was the best idea. But Aliquo assures us the worst thing to happen in one of his nine far-flung StreetWars events (he’s run contests in places like San Francisco, London, and Paris) is a sprained ankle. Last go-round, Mayor Bloomberg told the Sun that the 33-year-old Aliquo “could probably use psychiatric help.” (Asked about that comment, a City Hall spokesman confirmed “our position has not changed.”) Aliquo put down his planning clipboard long enough to speak with us.
Doesn’t this game favor people who don’t have a damn job?
Well, half of the game is hunting other people, but the other half is not getting killed yourself, and I’ve found that a lot of times people that don’t have a job end up getting lazy. When you have a job, [you remember] every time you step out of your house or step out of work you’re in potential danger.
Will anything be new about the game this time?
The one thing that always changes are the pickup locations, where players get their information on who to hunt. For the last game here we rented a 32-foot U-Haul, had the interior redone to look like an interrogation chamber, and parked it in the back of a crackhead alley in Queens on 22nd Street between 40th and 41st Avenues. It was a bona fide crackhead alley, in that it actually had crackheads, who we hired to help us run the pickups.
What do you have planned?
It will probably more than likely be nautical.
The game ends when the surviving contestants have to hunt you. Where have you gotten caught in New York?
The last one, the time I almost got killed was better than where I actually got killed. The “almost” was following a two-hour car chase through four boroughs, which ended at three in the morning in the rain on this football-field-sized construction site in Long Island City. I literally had to jump out of a moving car into the mud and climb under a crane and hang out under the crane for fifteen minutes until the people searching for me gave up. They eventually got me at a parking lot in Roosevelt Island.
You’re on the honor system, right?
I try to be as not-douchey as possible about getting killed — I have to die. Doucheyness is left to the players.
How do you resolve disputes?
People have to submit a kill report to us, so we make a final judgment. On those few occasions where we do have disputes, we hear both sides of the story and then Mustache [Liau Yutai, the “Mustache Commander” to Aliquo’s “Supreme Commander” in StreetWars mythology] and I get drunk, and in a drunken stupor decide who we like more.
What differences have you discovered among cities by playing this game?
Generally every city that we’ve done it in has a different method of killing. New York is a really down-and-dirty, brute-force type of city, where people will straight-up follow you forever, like live in a garbage can for a week. We had this one guy set up shop on his target’s roof for eighteen hours, never leaving, until he saw his guy and killed him. In London, the people are big on social engineering, on cunning. For example, there were two girls playing as a team who researched their target guy up and down and couldn’t find anything about him except for the fact that he had a second e-mail address. They Googled it and found out that he was a male prostitute. So they posed as a bisexual-slash-lesbian couple celebrating their fifth anniversary and wanting a threesome, to share a guy together. They called him up, set up an appointment — they went to a very fancy restaurant to have a romantic dinner before the action — and had a great time, then one of the girls excused herself and went into the bathroom, where, Godfather style, she had hidden her gun. She came out and shot him in the back of the head at the dinner table. He was completely blown away, they’re laughing about it, he ended up paying for the meal, they stayed out drinking more. Long story short, they all ended up back at his place and actually did have a threesome.
I don’t know if I believe that.
It’s 100 percent true. They had pictures!