The untold truth of the Crazy Russian Hacker

"What's up everybody? Welcome back to my laboratory, where safety is number one priority!" If this mantra sounds at all familiar to you, you're likely a fan of Taras Kulakov, the oddly charismatic YouTube sensation who works prolifically under the stage name Crazy Russian Hacker. As of August 2018, Kulakov's ever-expanding series of "life hack" videos and DIY scientific experiments have raked in over 10 million loyal subscribers, earning him a nomination for the coveted "Best in DIY" Shorty Award in 2016. (He was robbed!) 

It's not difficult to see the appeal here, as Kulakov is a man who clearly does it all: He soaks five-pound gummy bears in liquid nitrogen. He demonstrates what happens when you boil Coca-Cola (and it ain't too cute). If you're curious, he'll even show you the proper way to devour chicken wings. Although he's inspired countless memes and loads of fan art — and doesn't exactly seem like the introverted type — he's never once been profiled by a major news outlet, and he outright declined an interview request from Business Insider in 2015. (Maybe he doesn't want to give away free content.)

For such a popular Internet celebrity, details on Kulakov are surprisingly scarce, but fans can pick up some fascinating slices of autobiography as they scour through his videos. From his wholly dismal days working at Walmart to his lifelong dream of becoming a champion Olympic swimmer, this is the untold truth of Crazy Russian Hacker. As the man is fond of saying: BOOM.

​He loved being raised poor and in a huge family

In April 2013, Kulakov listed his favorite experiment as "How to Peel an Egg Russian Way!" These days, he can happily chow down on a hardboiled egg and not have to fight for it, but apparently that wasn't always the case. In a 2016 Q&A video, Kulakov revealed he has "a lot" of brothers and sisters: two brothers, three sisters, one half-brother, and one half-sister, to be exact. 

"Growing up, I was never bored," he admits. In fact, his childhood home sounds like something of a madhouse: "It was never, never quiet," he says, and that's why he's now blessed with the ability to sleep in extremely loud situations. 

Growing up poor, Kulakov claims, was actually "pretty awesome," since everybody had to learn how to think on their feet. Every day, the kids would have to split their treats amongst themselves — the cakes, the cookies, the candy bars. Stakes were high: "If you split it unfair, one piece is way bigger than the other one … I get the bigger piece." To sum up, he says: "I never regret having a big family."

Despite (or because of) all the brothers and sisters, Kulakov is still quite eager to have his own kids. "I really, really want lots of kids," he says, because kids are "fun" and they "keep you young." He's most looking forward to teaching his kids how to swim. 

​He's obsessed with American fridges

So Taras Kulakov doesn't live in Russia these days — he's in the United States now. He currently lives with two Siberian huskies, Luke and Hugo, as well as a perilously cute Alaskan Malamute puppy named Gus (a.k.a Pashtet). As of his 2016 Q&A video, they shacked up together in a "very secluded farm" right outside Asheville, North Carolina and it's "so beautiful … The climate is amazing." He's reportedly surrounded by a "bunch of hippies" and lots of mountains, waterfalls, and forests. Kulakov has also lived in Virginia and Los Angeles, and says he moved to America in the hopes of finding "money, girls," and a "better life."  

He claims he ultimately didn't find it hard to adjust to American life, but fondly remembers being transfixed by refrigerators when he first set foot on American soil. "I had never seen a big refrigerator," he explains — particularly a big refrigerator so full of groceries. "It was always empty for me."

Kulakov plans to continue living in the United States, but he's fond of travel and loves "all the countries." There's "something beautiful to see in each country," he muses. (His favorite subject in school was geography, after all.) Although Kulakov's net worth was reported to be $5 million in 2017, he still thinks it's too expensive to travel to all the places he wants to see in the world "so I'm going to try to pick the ones that I really, really want to go."

He was a hardcore swimmer

Taras Kulakov is a man who can do all the things. He'll teach you how to reuse the lids on Pringles containers, or demonstrate what happens when you dump thirty pounds of dry ice into a swimming pool. And if he happens to be near a pool that's full of water and not dry ice, Kulakov can swim like a fish. According to his 2016 Q&A video, for around 16 years, Kulakov had big dreams of becoming a celebrated Olympic Champion swimmer. (If YouTube hadn't entered the picture, he thinks he'd be a swimming coach.)

Kulakov, who stands at the staggering height of 6'7", took the sport quite seriously and would practice twice a day, waking up at six o'clock in the morning to swim for two hours. After school, he'd go back to the pool until 6 at night. From the ages 8 to 18, he swan "non-stop." The routine made him feel like an adult, and the sport was his "passion." (His U.S. Masters page breaks down some of his achievements.)

Unfortunately, it sounds like a handful of injuries made Kulakov revise those dreams. He once cut his heel badly on a sharp tile at the pool, and had to go to the hospital, enduring four stitches without the aid of local anesthesia: "I had to pretty much bite into my sleeve," he says. 

At least he still gets to wear goggles during his experiments. Well, Sperian safety glasses, to be exact.

​Yes, he's really Russian

For reasons we don't entirely understand, Taras Kulakov is reportedly asked on the regular whether or not he's really Russian. "Some people still think I'm not Russian," Kulakov scoffed bemusedly in a July 2012 Q&A video. "And I don't know why. Tell me why people think I'm fake Russian." Well, it might be because he's sometimes confused with a man named Kyle Myers, as was the case in a 2015 Business Insider article. As Gizmodo reports, Myers is a troublemaking gun enthusiast who makes his own YouTube clips under the name FPSRussia. "Why would I be fake in any way?" Kulakov asks. "Why would I fake my art? Why would I fake Russian accent…?"

Kulakov unambiguously proclaims his 2016 Q&A video that he was "born in the Soviet Union," where he reportedly lived for five years before it "fell apart." Prior to moving to America at the age of 19, he was allegedly living in Donetsk, and describes himself as "a refugee." He says his parents, brothers, and sisters all speak Russian. His mom is Russian, his father is Ukrainian.

As of September 22, 2016, Kulakov had been living in the United States for a decade, and started learning English when he was 19. He's a bit ashamed that he "still mess up English so bad." In the future, he hopes to collaborate with some of his fellow Russian YouTubers, so please keep your eyes peeled.

Another channel shows a different side of him

According to his 2016 Q&A video, Taras Kulakov had been creating YouTube videos for roughly six years at that point. But it took around three and a half years for Crazy Russian Hacker to come about. 

In a previous Q&A, Kulakov describes the origin of his more successful channel: One day, he simply got hold of a camera, a cord, and just started talking. BOOM. He says his first Crazy Russian Hacker video was a demonstration on how to walk on eggs without breaking them, and a bona fide YouTube sensation was born. (By the way, Kulakov happily admits he has absolutely no formal education in science whatsoever.)

He currently has a second YouTube channel called Taras Kul, which still has the url origami768. According to Business Insider, this was Kulakov's first-ever YouTube venture, launched in 2009. Originally, it was a place for him to explore his interest in origami, teaching viewers how to fold their own creations, like raptors and swans. "It wasn't super popular," he admits, and that's what made him try "something else." That "something else" was, again, the Crazy Russian Hacker channel — a place to test out "crazy experiments, and people loved it."

Taras Kul is where he posts videos he isn't sure will fly on Crazy Russian Hacker, and it's also where you can get a more intimate view of the man's personal life. "It's kinda good mix to have two channels," he says.

​ Before YouTube fame, there were many dismal jobs

During a 2013 Q&A, a fan asked Taras Kulakov what his "real job" was, and Kulakov empathically responded: "I thought people know that YouTube is a job for some people like me." He adds that, "When you love your job, it's awesome."

In a 2012 Q&A, Kulakov claims he didn't speak English very well when he first moved to America, making it impossible to land a decent job. When he was about 18, he got his first job, working as a busboy at a restaurant called Cheetah's Cafe. (He visited the spot in 2018 for a giggle, finding it exactly as he left it.) "It was hard when I had to get a first job," he says in his 2016 Q&A. "And it was really hard to understand my manager; what they wanted me to do." 

Of all his jobs so far, it sounds like his least favorite was Walmart, where he worked for about a year and a half. "I hated the job," he admits. While there, he decided to start making YouTube videos so he could be his own boss, he said in 2012: "I don't want to work for anybody."

Tabloids just love how he opens tin cans

During his short but illustrious career, media coverage hasn't eluded Taras Kulakov. The very fact of his existence reportedly helps one Brooklyn Daily scribe peacefully sleep at night. Boing Boing wants to tell you all about the time he munched on Durian, that "very smelly fruit." Meanwhile, Huffington Post is thankful for his advice on making potato chips in the microwave. For some reason, the British tabloids seem to be particularly fixated on him. The Daily Mail lovingly covered the video in which Kulakov dumped thirty pounds of dry ice into his pool, "making it bubble like a massive cauldron."

Then there's the Daily Star, whose editors were apparently quite smitten with Kulakov, particularly after the "YouTube star" showed us all "how to open a can with your BARE HANDS." In his video Zombie Survival Tips #20, part of an ongoing series, Kulakov does indeed open up a can using only his hands, a slab of concrete, and the ineffable grace of God. As the tabloid reports, the video quickly "racked up 27 million views." In a feat somewhat typical of his life-hack videos, Kulakov upturns the tuna can on the concrete, rubbing it back and forth until the lid pops off. "Cat gonna survive too," Kulakov quips, as a feline nibbles delightedly from the now-open can.

Admit it: You're eager to try this the next time you make a tuna melt. 

He's a (not great) beekeeper

Here's a rather buzzworthy morsel. "A lot of you probably don't know that I'm a beekeeper," Taras Kulakov revealed during a 2016 Q&A video. The YouTube star actually cared for seven hives until something went terribly wrong. In January 2018, he realized that the bees in six out of seven hives — all of which were in great shape in September — hadn't survived the winter. 

In a "little bit of a sad video" posted on Jan. 27, 2018, Kulakov said, "It's a huge setback. … It's kind of devastating and discouraging." Nevertheless, he tried to remain positive and learn from his mistakes. He suspected moisture and condensation were to blame and caused his bees to freeze to death. He was pretty sure that feeding the bees sugar syrup in the winter may have also been a factor.

Well, Ron Miksha, the author of Bad Beekeeping Blog, didn't agree with those these theories. In a letter to Kulakov, he suggested "varroa mites and the viruses which mites carry" were the cause. Miksha suspects the hives were weakened by the mites, causing the bees to flee, and subsequently die from the cold and the "bloodsucking mites." Still, we're not here to play Miss Marple with a bunch of dead bees, so we'll move along.

P.S. This setback didn't make Kulakov retire from beekeeping. Instead, he plans to buy some new technology — like plastic bee hives that will keep the bees insulated — and keep on learning. 

Meet his fiancé Katherine

If you've ever visited Kulakov's other YouTube channel, Taras Kul, you might be acquainted with his fiancé, Katherine. As of August 2018, the couple has been engaged for at least two or three years. Katherine (Katie on Instagram) often pops up here. In a July 2018 video, she helps her fiancé open a raft of fan mail, a pile of gizmos that include tape measures, batteries, an "On Air" button, and a chocolate bar packaged in an iPhone box. "You look like you're on your way to some weird rave!" Katherine laughs, as Kulakov tries on a new safety vest.

In a May 2018 video titled "Are We Married?," the couple goes through the avalanche of responses they received after asking fans where they should get married: Asheville, North Carolina, or Las Vegas? "I really thought that more people were gonna say Vegas," Katherine revealed. "But it was 50/50," says Kulakov. Ultimately, it sounds like she's leaning towards Asheville, adding that "weddings just aren't my thing" because "it's a lot of time" and "money."

Despite the fact that it would displease their families, it sounds like Katherine is keen on eloping. She also wonders whether they should continue narrating their approaching wedding, or keep it all private. Kulakov clearly wants to share the joy with his subscribers: "I think it'll be exciting to see the wedding in a blog," he says. "I think they will enjoy it."

Is he a plagiarist? A DMCA abuser? Dangerous to his fans?

To find even the lightest sprinkle of dirt on Taras Kulakov, you have to do some digging. The closest thing to a bona fide controversy involves a takedown video posted by fellow YouTuber Thunderf00t in 2016, who accused Kulakov of being a plagiarist and abusing the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act). Over twenty minutes long, the video compares some of Kulakov's experiments with similar experiments by other vloggers, basically accusing him of plagiarism. In reality, it's not exactly an Earth-shaking revelation, considering Kulakov freely admits he gets many of his ideas from widely available books. Also, who cares?

A bit more sinister: Thunderf00t infers that one of Kulakov's experiments was "pretty much suicidal." He felt that a "Homemade Air Conditioner" that uses dry ice could potential kill people if used in a room with poor airflow. In the video's summary, he claims Kulakov "filed a DMCA takedown" of his original video, which "resulted in a strike against" his account, despite the claim being "baseless" in his eyes. Thunderf00t thinks the alleged move was disrespectful to his fellow YouTubers. He also says Kulakov frivolously invoked the DMCA, which he claims is a serious offense that amounts to perjury.

We're trying to get upset about all of this, but Kulakov just tested out a "Husky Coat Deshedder" on one of his dogs, and we're officially obsessed. BOOM.