Last week a surreal video went viral on Twitter — a man standing in front of a screen showing an aerial view from Fortnite as he proclaims in a dulcet, assertive voice:
Attention, calling all Epic Fortnite Gamers. It’s time to rise and grind. John Wick is in grave danger. Our friend is trapped in Dusty Divot, surrounded by fake defaults with no shield or weaponry. And the only one who can help is you. To save him, what he needs is your credit card number, the three numbers on the back, as well as the expiration month and date. Be swift, gamers. You got to do it. The circle is closing and John Wick needs your assistance fast, so that he can acquire that bread — Naynay on those n00bes, and achieve another sick W. Yeah.
The statement was punctuated with a dab.
— ケンパチ・ラマサマ (@EuropoorMalc) October 23, 2018
For the uninitiated, it seemed like a terrible scam aimed at vulnerable gamers. But it was actually a meme, a riff on a joke that started weeks ago in the gaming community.
The suited man is Pete Accetturo, also known as VoiceoverPete, also known as Presenter Pete Ace. Accetturo worked in sales most his life, shifted to teaching spin classes part-time, then starting doing voiceover work around 2009. For the last five years, he’s been selling his voiceover and spokesperson services through the online freelance marketplace Fiverr — producing videos ranging from real estate to e-learning to cryptocurrency to medical marijuana.
Then about a month ago, he got a request that would alter the course of his voiceover career, and transform him from a mere everyday man spokesperson into a gamer meme.
“The first guy came forward — a YouTube gamer. And he said, ‘Hey, would you do this? It’s just a joke. All my friends get it. I’m not scamming anybody.’ So I check into it and I was like, ‘OK, sure, I’ll do it for you,’” Accetturo tells Gizmodo. “That’s the one that took off, got a couple million views, and then YouTube took it down.”
That video has been re-uploaded to YouTube several times. It’s a very similar monologue as the Fortnite video that went viral on Twitter last week.
“So from there,” Accetturo says, “all his buddies started placing orders, and their buddies started placing orders, and in the past month I did, oh [blows raspberry] 500 orders.”
Accetturo says a typical month of business for him was about 100 orders, which cost $US50 ($69) per clip, but over the last few weeks, he’s mostly been making different variations of the “Attention all Fortnite Gamers” video.
Some orders were weirder than others. Accetturo says he passed on any requests that included profanity. But for one video, he obliged a request for him to say “chair” 45 times.
When Accetturo films the videos, he does it in front of a green screen. He generally has no clue what people will put behind him, or what soundtrack they’ll add. Some videos look like a glimpse into the malnourished id of the internet.
“My son quipped: With memes, you can’t plan on being one — you’re picked to be one,” Accetturo says.
His son, PJ Accetturo, has been helping him navigate this recent career pivot. “When your 25-year-old son looks at you and wants to participate in anything you’re doing, I say that’s a win-win,” Accetturo says. “Absolutely.”
PJ broke the bad news to his dad earlier this week, after he received several Twitter notifications that Fiverr had banned them. As the Verge first reported, meme-maker Grandayy brought attention to the matter once his VoiceoverPete order was canceled.
???? ATTENTION ALL EPIC GAMERS ????@fiverr just banned @VoiceoverPete from their platform. He was one of the most wholesome people on their website, why would they even ban him? We need to get him unbanned. #JusticeForVoiceoverPete pic.twitter.com/Er3gVuMUbZ
— Dr. Grandayy ???? (@grandayy) November 5, 2018
PJ and Accetturo posted a video showing Accetturo learning about the banning. In the video, Accetturo reads an email from a Fiverr employee explaining that their Trust and Safety team learned that he was making videos that were being used for a credit card scam. “It’s a fake [scam]. That’s what’s funny about it,” Accetturo says in the video. “Hello! Obviously, people in legal have no sense of humour.”
— VoiceoverPete (@VoiceoverPete) November 5, 2018
A spokesperson for Fiverr sent Gizmodo a statement saying the company doesn’t discuss individual users, adding: “Any attempt to defraud or scam others is in clear violation of our terms of service and strictly prohibited. We have and will always act without delay against this type of behaviour in order to keep our marketplace safe for our community.”
The video Accetturo posted Monday concludes with him and his son explaining their next step. Accetturo is going to start fulfilling orders through Patreon for a slightly lower rate. And he started a Twitch channel where, among other things, he wants to play Fortnite with his fans.