Joanne the Scammer, the gender-bending comedian/Internet darling, broke out onto the small screen as he made an appearance at the MTV VMAs on Sunday.
Dressed in a faux mink coat, long nails, a dress and shaggy beard, Joanne earned a slew of celebrity fans since his Internet debut last year – and even made a cameo during Nick Jonas‘ “Bacon” performance during Sunday’s awards show – but just who is the man behind the persona?
Read on to learn more:
1. Joanne is actually a guy named Branden who lives in Florida and earned money doing porn
Yes, even the name’s a scam. In reality, “Joanne” is actually a 25-year-old man named Branden Miller who lives in Daytona Beach, Florida. Miller recently told Fader that he began doing porn at age 18, but his life began to change last year when he debuted “Joanne the Scammer,” a character that evolved from a character he created named Miss Prada, a former prostitute.
“At first, I was trying to do like that Media Take Out-type of humor, and honestly, it was depressing,” he told Paper earlier this year. “So I set out to do something more natural, and more me; something that’s actually funny. Joanne just kind of evolved.”
2. A drug overdose in 2014 changed his life
Two years ago, a friend gave him a crystal of MDMA for his first experience with hard drugs. He overdosed, dialing 911 after his third day of no sleep, according to Fader. Afterward, he suffered a bout of serious depression and anxiety, but got better slowly after he began making the Miss Prada videos.
All the Highlights from the MTV VMAs 2016
3. He was inspired by Chris Crocker’s ‘Leave Britney Alone’ viral video
Remember that tearful YouTube video of Chris Crocker imploring people to “leave Britney alone”? Turns out it had a huge influence on Miller, who watched it repeatedly on his family’s computer as a teenager.
“My goal was to upload a video on my dial-up computer and be funnier than Chris Crocker,” he told Fader. “I thought I was going to blow up on YouTube, like him, because I thought I was funnier.”