Vancouver's YouTube sensation Peter Chao the offender of the realm
Perhaps because there are no tween-pop pretty boys on the restaurant stereo, no Asians slurping noodles at the next table, and no superfine mudabitches to get him hot and bothered, the man known as Peter Chao is remarkably mellow on this sweet summer day.
This will come as a surprise to the millions of viewers who’ve made him a certified star on YouTube. The man who’s kicking back at the Reef on Commercial Drive today is anything but laid-back on the Internet. Fire up Google, punch in “Justin Bieber + Chinese Guy”, and you’ll find him ranting about the fresh-faced teen idol’s “Baby” video, his outrage sparked by the fact the Canadian singer and his “stupid white-ass friends” have the gall to dance in the lanes at a bowling alley. Or, as Chao puts it, “da bowring arrey”. Do a search for “Chinese Guy + Facebook”, and you’ll see him ripping Facebook addicts for the way they’ll update their status with things like “sleeping” when it’s clear that they aren’t really “sreeping”.
And enter “Chinese Guy + Black Man” and you’ll end up watching Chao pushing buttons with a clip in which a rasta who looks suspiciously like Peter Chao in blackface stops by his home for a meal consisting of fried chicken and watermelon.
The latter video ended up getting him suspended by YouTube for two weeks, which, funnily enough, only made him more popular. And make no mistake: Chao, whose clips find him speaking with an accent that suggests a street-smart update of Sixteen Candles icon Long Duk Dong, is insanely popular. “Chinese Guy Eats Sooo Loud!”—one of his 78 videos on YouTube—is sitting at nearly 1.8 million views, with many right around the million mark.
What makes this amazing is that, even now, he’s in many ways flying completely under the radar in Vancouver. If Chad Kroeger or Michael Bublé are out on the town, they can’t step up to a urinal without someone wanting to shake their hand. The Vancouver-based Chao, however, is still at the point where being recognized is a novelty to him. The 23-year-old recalls one of his first public appearances in Lotusland, a few months back at the Modern nightclub in Gastown.
“I sat there in my own VIP section,” he says. “It was very weird—there were girls actually fighting to get in line. I was like, ”˜Why are they treating me like a celebrity?’ I’m just a guy who makes videos on YouTube.”
Chao might be just a guy who makes videos on YouTube, but even he will admit that he’s become a phenomenon. Completely unknown two years ago, he’s now the 62nd-most-popular personality on the world’s biggest video-sharing network. In terms of YouTube celebrities from the Great White North, Bieber holds down top spot, but Chao is currently sitting at number three. Or, as he might say in his hilariously exaggerated, fresh-off-the-boat accent, “numbah free”.
Politically incorrect? In the tradition of Borat, South Park, and Tropic Thunder, totally. Hilarious? Absolutely, which explains why Chao’s status as the most famous Vancouverite you’ve never heard of is quickly changing in a big way.
“I was in Tiffany a while ago—you know, the jewellery store,” he recounts. “This security guard—this massive, buff guy—runs up to me and he gets, like, severely giddy. There’s this massive guy who kicks people’s asses every day for stealing jewellery, and he’s standing in front of me going: ”˜You’re so funny—so fucking funny. Keep it up, man, because you’re awesome.’ That’s when you realize there are people out there who really appreciate your work.”
Chinese Guy STILL HATES Justin Bieber.