Social media these days can lead to fame and fortune every bit as legitimate as the more traditional routes to show business. And in this climate, a select few Philadelphians have thrived. Vine lovers can thank the Philly area for the most popular woman on that network. A person involved in one of Instagram’s top ongoing feuds lives right here.
These are 11 of the most popular social media personalities who either live or have roots here.
Ed Bassmaster, YouTube, 1.9 million subscribers
Bassmaster, also known as Always Teste, rose to new levels of mainstream fame this fall after hanging out with hitchBOT and recording a hoax video of him kicking the Canadian “social experiment” while wearing a Randall Cunningham jersey. But his pranks have gone viral on YouTube for years. Last fall, for instance, he dressed up as a vampire and went around scaring people in Center City. He’s slated to get a TV show on CMT later this year.
Brittany Furlan, Vine, 9.5 million followers
Furlan, 28, is originally from the Philly area but moved to Los Angeles at 18. She started with improv and is now the most-followed female performer on Vine. Time named her one of the internet’s 30-most influential people. Furlan often plays male characters on Vine and makes Vines in which she inserts herself into awkward situations or tries to make other people awkward. Like this Vine of her pretending she’s being chased by a jogger.
Peter Heacock, Vine, 87,400 followers
Heacock was a waiter at a Philly restaurant who started making humorous Vines that often landed on the app’s “Popular Now” list. After gaining a measure of fame, he launched Unpopular Now, a joint account featuring many of Vine’s top stars. The company has also made Vines for major companies like Target and American Express.
Eric Jarosinski (@NeinQuarterly), Twitter, 116,000 followers
Jarosinski was an assistant professor at Penn struggling to write a book when he began crafting the personality of an absurd German intellectual on Twitter. His tweets drew a huge following and helped him earn work as a columnist and a book deal.
Sorry, sir. We’re all out of context. — Nein. (@NeinQuarterly) August 29, 2015
Makael Mclendon and Kevin Simmons, The Skorpion Show, YouTube, 142,000 subscribers
Kevin Simmons and Makael Mclendon are O.G.’s when it comes to viral popularity. They started Skorpion Show, a talk show, in 2008 from their neighborhood in North Philly about topics like celebrities, advice and gay lifestyle. Celebs stop by sometimes, too, with musician Brandy appearing on a recent episode.
JennXPenn, YouTube, 2.1 million subscribers
JennXPenn, 19, makes videos largely about life experiences and people love them. They range from getting her wisdom teeth out to offering advice to her younger self to prank calling other YouTube stars. Originally from Bucks County, JennXPenn — real name Jenn McAllister — moved to Los Angeles two years ago and has also starred in a movie released on Vimeo that featured Molly Ringwald.
Nick Santonastasso, Vine, 996,000 followers
Santonastasso, who is 17 and resides in South Jersey, was born without both legs and one arm because of a genetic disorder. His Vine videos have made light of his disability and featured him as a zombie, pranking unsuspecting strangers.
Jeana Smith and Jesse Wellens, Prank vs. Prank, YouTube, 8.8 million subscribers
Smith and Wellens started Prank vs. Prank in 2007. Their videos feature them mostly pranking each other but also other people. Wellens also interacts with Bassmaster. He filmed that hitchBOT video with him.
Tyrone (@NAPHIL_HD), Instagram, 669,000 followers
Tyrone’s videos on Instagram basically consist of him boasting about being Tyrone and bossing people around, mostly by saying he’ll have sex with their wives. He also likes to swat away people’s cigarettes (he calls them cancer sticks). Tyrone has a rivalry with Big Brody, who has a similar and famous Instagram account. They met on South Street earlier this summer and brawled.