Perth teen's bizarre videos become internet hit

Dave Meddows, ninemsn
1:22pm May 24, 2013
May 24, 2013: An Australian YouTube star that has taken the internet by storm talks to ninemsn about his recent internet fame.

An anonymous Perth teenager has become an internet sensation with a series of bizarre instructional videos that have been viewed more than 100 million times.

HowToBasic has upwards of 800,000 YouTube subscribers and his videos have clocked up an extraordinary 114 million views since the first instalment in December 2011.

The brains behind HowToBasic, who has asked that we conceal his identity, has honed in on the internet's insatiable appetite for crazy videos.

In his short clips, which all focus around some kind of 'How To' premise, he provides warped instruction on how to complete simple actions.

One recent episode is called 'How To Correctly Wash Your Hair'.

"Today I show you how to correctly wash your hair. It's important when it comes to washing your hair that you don't damage your scalp," the synopsis teases.

May 24, 2013: This video shows you how to make a vanilla banana split. This delicious dessert recipe is simple and the whole family will enjoy. Simply follow the step-by-step instructions.

It starts with a mannequin's head on a bench with HowToBasic's now-famous hands furiously dumping an array of food and drink over it.

It soon ends up in the bath covered in an omelette before the video ends with the head being flushed in the toilet.

That's pretty much the gist of most of the videos, and each of them has an incredible number of views.

With 72 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, it's difficult for one to stand out and capture the attention of the site's one billion monthly users.

HowToBasic's early creations started off slow and it wasn't until one of his episodes was featured on the site's front page that things started to take off.

"I made about 90 videos in a day and they didn't really get any views so I started to think outside the box and do something different," he said.

Those first videos were far less manic and lacked what HowToBasic believes was the key ingredient in catapulting him into the realm of internet stardom: food.

"I came across using eggs in my videos and it kind of just hit off," he said.

For someone whose videos have had so much exposure around the world, HTB sat nervously as the cameras were set up around him and the interview began.

"I've never done anything like this before," he said.

His mum, who accompanied him from Perth, sat nearby as the video producers worked to create lighting that would adequately conceal her son's identity.

But it wasn't his mum who was concerned about giving it all away — it was HTB who was adamant he remain in the shadows.

"I think it adds mystery to the page. People just imagine what I look like. They don't know my age or what I look like or anything like that," he said.

"If people found out I don't think it would be as good."

And there's a lot riding on maintaining that mystery and the success of HowToBasic.

Without going into specific dollar amounts, it's safe to say the income generated from the 189 videos on his YouTube channel, combined with a rapidly expanding online store, puts his earnings above many workers in Australia.

Of course when someone online goes out of their way to hide their identity, the rumour mill kicks into overdrive and the conspiracy theories begin.

"Probably my favourite is that people are saying I'm Gordon Ramsay," he said of the many discussions that take place online about his true identity.

With the kind of exposure his videos are getting, it's no surprise HTB has approached by various brands to include their products in his clips.

He's more than open to the idea of product placement and even has a few discreetly included in some of his most recent work.

All of this internet fame comes as a bit of a surprise to HTB's mum who doesn't quite understand what all the fuss is about.

"To be honest I think it's quite bizarre how it has taken off," she said.

"At first I never used to watch them and then I started watching and now I don't watch them any more because I just think 'Arghh that's my house, that's my kitchen, that's my bathroom', but at the end of the day I'm proud of him for what he's doing."

A few videos are more bizarre than others, like "How To Stop A Baby Crying", where a baby doll has eggs smashed over it and is silenced by an egg-filled cooking brush.

These ones concern HTB's mum a little.

"Some of them that he's done I've thought 'ohhh' when he's using babies, and the one with the knife - how to kill a watermelon or something - that freaked me out a bit," she said.

Then there's the mess.

"His idea of cleaning is not quite the same as mine - especially the other day with the banana bread video - it looked like vomit," she said.

With daily views in the region of 500,000 - more than many shows on television in Australia - HTB has no plans to give up any time soon.

"I'm going to keep making How To Basic videos for a long time," he said.

Sources: HowToBasic

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