The central themes that would preoccupy General Idea throughout their career – self-mythologization, spectacle, appropriation, parody, media deconstruction, an ironic interest in commerce and the semiotics of advertising language – were clearly present in the early days of the group. They shared an interest in the forms and methods of popular culture and mass media, and were influenced by the writing of Marshall McLuhan, William Burroughs, and by the Situationist International.
The earliest activities of the group involved the use of their home: creating ersatz commercial shops, only visible to the general public through the street-facing window (a sign was always posted saying that the store would be open in 5 minutes), and creating installations and hosting exhibitions in their living room. They worked on an uncompleted film (God is my Gigolo, 1969) which starred the five co-habitants, and also included Honey Novick and Tina Miller. Bronson executed a series of chain-letter mail art projects, sparked by his interest in correspondence networks and mail art.