When David Icke announced to the world in March 1991 that he was the Son of the Godhead, he was a different kind of fringe prophet: He had something to lose. The Englishman had played professional soccer briefly in the early seventies before arthritis forced an early retirement. He parlayed his connections into a successful and highly visible career as a journalist, television host, and sportscaster.
But, in Icke’s retelling, this line of work began to feel vapid and unfulfilling. A visit to a psychic healer named the threat Icke felt coursing through his aching limbs: He had been chosen to save the human race.
But from what? Icke spent the rest of the decade fleshing out his prophecies, becoming a one-stop global clearinghouse for any and all fringe theories, from UFOlogy to the Illuminati to Matrix-style media critique to Occupy Wall Street (about which he made a documentary after traveling to New York). His cosmology is voracious and wide-ranging, absorbing all conspiracy theories into a single, massive omni-theory. The details appeal to specific audiences—the decline/fall/looting of America is a perennial favorite—but its power is in how Icke connects the dots between every conceivable anti-Establishment belief system. The starting premise is that the vast majority of humans suffer from enslavement. By shape-shifting reptilian overlords. Who are both aliens and natives of a hollow Earth. And who include the British royal family, much of the remaining European aristocracy, and various global power brokers—a clandestine network called the Babylonian Brotherhood. Together, this global elite controls the media, science, religion, the Internet, all governments. The rest of us, Icke says, are “sheeple” who lack the consciousness to see the world for what it is. Which is a struggle of Us vs. Them, where basically anything—fluoridated water, the NSA, Bob Hope, pedophilia—stands in as evidence of Their Power.
Twenty years after Icke gave up a career on TV, the plain-spoken messiah has found his audience on the Internet. Icke’s followers cut across party and class lines, and he travels the world giving radiantly strange, nine-hour performances that are equal parts lecture, motivational speech, revival meeting, and peace-and-love dance party. He stages an annual daylong event at Wembley Arena in London and has sold out New York’s Nokia Theater many times.