The Untold Truth Of Roy Purdy

Roy Purdy is the ultimate one-man party. The skater, dancer, rapper, and all-around Internet sensation — a giddy Los Angeles transplant born and raised in Appleton, Wis. — describes his many antics with disarming humility: "I make music and do weird stuff," he writes on his official YouTube channel. That breeziness belies the fact that, as of this writing, Purdy has more than 2.7 million subscribers. 

Purdy's "weird stuff" consists largely of YouTube videos in which he gleefully dances around in public wearing loud, eye-catching ensembles. As the Post Crescent reports, his first video to go viral was "the Running Man Challenge" in 2016, when he bopped down the halls of Appleton North High School. Things have gotten even zanier since then: He's dabbed at his high-school graduation. He's shimmied through a supermarket wearing a giant "mannequin head" tucked into his hoodie. He's careened through Times Square and Central Park on a skateboard (with Backpack Kid even making a surprise cameo in that particular video). "If I'm waiting in line at McDonald's or Starbucks, I'm dancing," he told Genius in June 2018, adding: "I feel like it's a way for me to get my energy out."

But who is the real man hiding behind those "geometric, 80s New Wave–esque pink and green sunglasses?" From his burgeoning rap career to his curious connection to Childish Gambino, this is the untold truth of the endlessly meme-worthy Roy Purdy. "Skree!"

​Why Noisey invited him to be a summer intern

"North student's dancing grad video goes viral." The Post Crescent published this workmanlike headline on June 21, 2016, along with a story describing Roy Purdy's now-notorious YouTube video "when u graduated af." The clip stars a then-18-year-old Purdy embarking on a seemingly impromptu dance routine during the 2016 graduation ceremony for Appleton North High School seniors.

"I wasn't really expecting that one to (go viral)," Purdy told the newspaper, "but as soon as I uploaded it to Facebook it got like 100 shares within the first 10 minutes and I kind of knew." Meanwhile, key members of the school's administration were far less footloose and fancy-free about Purdy's gonzo stunt: "We do not approve of the lyrics included in the music," said assistant superintendent Ben Vogel. Evidently "officials took issues [sic]" with the "offensive language" in Drake's "We Made It," one of two songs soundtracking Purdy's tassel-twirling shimmy and shake.

However, the Post Crescent got scooped on this story: The music website Noisey had already published an article on June 14, 2016, and it was adorned with a far jiggier headline: The staff announced it "would like to invite this kid who dabbed through graduation to be our intern." (We imagine Ben Vogel disapproved.)

How he celebrates Halloween

Every day is Halloween for Roy Purdy, and the holiday is evidently close to his heart. In October 2017, he ushered in the season of the witch with the aptly-titled "spooky boy" video, which features Purdy low-key terrorizing his neighborhood by dancing in the streets to the theme of Canadian horror anthology series Goosebumps, all while dressed in a pink bodysuit, loud vacation shirt, and obligatory pointy hat. ("Put a warning or something before you scare me like that," one commenter quipped.) 

His 2015 video "Giving Kids Random Candy For Halloween Vid" offers more thrills than chills, but it's a crowd favorite for good reason. Purdy beguiles trick-or-treaters by pawning off various random items from around the house: a celery stalk for the Stormtrooper. "A stick of butter" for young Jason Voorhees. "A squash for you, and some mouthwash for you." Then he hands a plunger to one lucky kid in a monster mask. 

More Halloween goodness: The earliest clip on his YouTube page — a November 2012 video called "Halloween skate montage" — features Purdy and his pals shuttling down the suburban streets performing skateboarding tricks. ("The moment a legend was born," one commenter says.) Fast-forward to Oct. 30, 2018, and that legend is in full bloom, with Purdy tweeting: "so who's dressing as me for halloween?" Fans quickly uploaded photos of themselves dressed as their favorite folk hero, jiggling and posing in pink shirts and green and pink sunglasses

​'Haters, beware!'

Please note: If you happen to be a hater, Roy Purdy is officially not having you. It says it right there on the "Love > Hate Embroidered Light Pink Hoodie," available on the official Purdy Gang website. The point is further emphasized on the "Good Vibes Only" T-shirt. To be clear, Purdy shimmies away from negativity in all its many guises. In December 2017, he posted an Instagram video in which he dances his way around several signposts jabbed into a front lawn: "Bad Vibes," "Drama," "Fake Friends," "Depression," "Failure," and finally "Success." (Spoiler alert: He dexterously side-steps every signpost except "Success.") Rest assured, that clip has been turned into plenty of gifs.

Purdy has dedicated plenty of tweets to the prevalent problem of haters. One features a photo of Purdy, his face obscured by at least seven pairs of colorful sunglasses, alongside the caption: "When u have lots of haters to block out..." A March 2017 tweet includes a photo of Purdy standing in front of a dumpster, giving the thumbs up. "Rare pic of me with my haters," the caption says. 

He's even penned light verse on the subject: "Haters like to spread rumors / and rumors spread like the wind... /  that's why I wear windbreakers / #StayWoke." His rap song "Walk It Out!" addresses haters, too: "They was hating on me / Now they wishing they could be me..." Even his Urban Dictionary entry spells it out: "Haters beware!" Any questions?

About dem sunglasses

Have you ever endured the 1987 comedy Mannequinwhich co-stars Kim Cattrall as a sentient department-store dummy? If Roy Purdy's sunglasses look familiar, it's likely because the angular design is quite similar to the shades worn by the character of Hollywood Montrose, the "flamboyant window dresser" portrayed by the late Meshach Taylor. 

But why does this colorful eyewear speak to Purdy? "I put 'em on and I feel like my sauce levels just go up incredibly," he told Genius in June 2018. When he wears the shades, he claims "the dance moves ... get a little more fine-tuned" and "the ladies, they just come flockin.'" You can put that theory to the test by buying your own pair from the Purdy Gang website.

Purdy claims he doesn't slide into some performance-art persona when he puts on the glasses: "It's really not, like, a character," he told No Jumper. One day, Purdy evidently "went out looking for my signature thing ... and I just found them at a costume shop.'" At the time, he thought: "I need a signature ... like, a staple piece that I'm always wearing." Those shades are now synonymous with all things Purdy: "If I go out without the glasses versus with them, it's like totally different as far as, like, how much I'll get recognized," he says.

He's way serious about the rapping

"I've always been the type of kid who loved the spotlight," Roy Purdy told Elevator in 2017, adding that "performing music and being a musician was and still is my biggest passion." Since at least 2015, Purdy has been posting videos for original rap songs, including "Icy Like Ice Cream" and "Guacamole." The latter video even features Purdy shopping for avocados, rapping: "My flow so smooth, just like some guacamole..."

Since then, Purdy has taken his musical pursuits to the next level. Check out the slicker production values on his 2018 "Oh Wow" video. As The Badger Herald reports, his 2018 single "Walk it Out!" scored "more than 300,000 listens" on Soundcloud "in less than a week." He told the publication: "I'm just getting into producing. It's not my specialty yet, but I'm excited to continue to get better at it as I make more songs."

In an interview with Wonderland, "Milan-based [production] duo" Santii praised his work. "Watching videos of Roy dancing at the supermarket or in line to get food never fails to put you in a good mood. Same goes for the music he makes. There is nothing but positivity and competence."

​Crash course: Banana, Mannequin Head, and more

As Vice notes, Roy Purdy is "in the process of building a career being seemingly the most likable person on the internet." And it's true. If his Internet stunts leave you cold, you're probably a bit of a cold fish to begin with. What's not to like about sticking a mannequin head through the collar of your hoodie to dance around public buses and Walgreens? That's to say nothing of Purdy's "Banana" videos, which feature him wearing a flimsy banana costume and grooving his way through school cafeterias and bustling Walmarts. The occasional breakdance on a busy street? Indeed.

Of course, some internet dwellers despise joy, like the person who shared Purdy's graduation video on Reddit in a thread headlined "God is dead and we killed him." As Vice observed, what looks like a character assassination attempt backfired because folks used the thread to praise Purdy rather than bury him. "This kid is bursting with silliness and I, for one, enjoy it," wrote one Redditor. Another said, "Kid's got moves, is goofy AF and doesn't bother people or make fun of strangers like other youtubers do. Good on him."

Purdy's antics aren't just unfettered silliness. He's ambitious. "I'm trying to hit all aspects of the entertainment industry," he told Genius, including acting, modeling, music, and fashion. 

Roy Purdy: Under the influence, or no?

You may have a question or two as you watch one of Roy Purdy's most popular YouTube videos, "In New York I Milly Rock." At just over a minute and a half, it packs quite the wallop of mischief — and it's racked up well over 22.9 million views as of this writing. The video features Purdy maniacally dancing through Times Square, jiggling alongside street performers dressed like Minnie Mouse and the Statue of Liberty, and clearly captivating a member of the NYPD. Purdy even treats us to an unexpected cameo from internet phenomenon Russell Horning, otherwise known as Backpack Kid.

Anyway, as you watch Purdy perkily skateboard and dance through the mean streets of NYC, evidently impervious to the chaotic environment, you may ask yourself: "How does he seem to exist in a different, altogether happier dimension than everyone else around him? Could this young man possibly be under the influence of extremely hard club drugs?"

But guess what? The answer is apparently no: "I am 100% sober when I make these videos," he told The Black Sheep Online in 2016. "I get asked that a lot, actually. People ask me what drugs I take all the time. I party on the weekends, but when I film my videos I'm sober." And that's one to grow on...

How he responds to questions about his sexuality

On Feb. 10, 2017, Roy Purdy made an enticing offer to his tens of thousands of Twitter followers: "ask me some random / weird questions." Inquiring minds immediately unburdened themselves, asking frank, far-ranging questions, including whether or not he likes ducks, prefers "potatos or tomatos[sic]," or has a personal favorite among his ten fingers. Meanwhile, almost lost in this avalanche of queries, one fan eagerly asked Purdy: "Would you or have you ever thought of being gay? ... I think you're a stud."

By that point, Purdy had already addressed this particular question at least twice before on Twitter. In November 2016, he tweeted a photo of rapper Lil Peep flipping the bird to the camera, proudly swaddled in a fluffy pink sweater. Purdy's caption: "Lol this is so me... people always ask me if I'm gay cause I'm flamboyant and wear bright colors." This led one fan to make a keen observation: "Lil Peep was bi tho... does that mean what i think it means?" Purdy didn't respond to that, but he did circle back to the subject a few weeks later, tweeting: "nothing against people who are gay! I'm just clarifying that I myself am personal not lol."

Still no word on whether he prefers "potatos or tomatos."

How to do 'the Roy Purdy'

The New York Times calls him "rubber-legged." Noisey believes he can execute "a more than adequate dab." Suffice to say, plenty of ink has been spilled over Roy Purdy's dancing, including what Vice describes as his "signature dance move, where he bends his legs left and right, arms swinging wildly, while his knees nearly touch the ground." 

Could there be a little Purdy inside of you, just waiting to get out? If so, let him be unleashed. Purdy has provided at least one kicky dance tutorial to help you locate your groove (as have plenty of other jiggle-happy YouTubers). During Purdy's informative dance lesson on Revolt TV, he reveals that "it's all in the knees. ... It looks like you broke your ankle, but really you're just, like, bending it." 

These groovy moves have hardly gone unnoticed in the wider world of entertainment. His fancy footwork can be seen in the video for Snow Tha Product's "Myself," in which Purdy makes a characteristically upbeat cameo. (Vice reports that he was "paid to appear.") Meanwhile, The New York Times name-dropped Purdy in an article about Childish Gambino's "This is America" video, sagely noting how "the uniformed school kids" are "doing the gwara gwara and the Roy Purdy." Yes, even The Gray Lady knows about Purdy's moves ... but does she know how to do them?

​His mom is way into it

Roy Purdy certainly didn't do it alone. His mother, Brenda, is evidently determined to give stage moms everywhere a good name. She's really something of an Instagram sensation in her own right, and her 2bPurdy account is definitely worth taking a look at. In several photographs, she gamely helps advertise Roy's merchandise, like the above selfie. As Brenda insists in the caption: "GOOD VIBES ONLY!" 

Elsewhere, see Brenda out in the snow, huge smile plastered across her face, rocking her own pink and green shades, or posing with Roy in Hollywood, both of them looking suitably golden. How about when she presented Roy with a gigantic cake for his birthday? Yes, the cake was most assuredly styled like a big yellow smiley face wearing pink and green sunglasses, with "GOOD VIBES ONLY! #21" spelled out in frosting.

According to Vice, Brenda even "stage-dived at her son's ... show in Madison," Wis. Afterward, she gushed about his performance, telling Vice that "the energy of [Roy's] positive vibe" seriously elevated the show. "I believe the expression is, 'It was lit!'"

​He's moving on up

Life in Los Angeles evidently suits Roy Purdy. "Growing up in Appleton, Wis., was cool, but there's not a lot going on," he told Genius in 2018. "It's fun to be in L.A. now where it's like more poppin'. I can finally meet all my internet friends and stuff." He can also go ahead and get signed by a powerful talent agency. As Variety reported in October 2018: "CAA has signed Roy Purdy, the digital star who boasts 7.6 million followers across his social media channels." The agency reportedly has high hopes for Purdy and is busy "[creating] opportunities ... in all areas, including motion pictures, television, touring, digital, and endorsements."

According to Vice, a man named Sam Leigh is Purdy's manager, and he "signed Purdy in mid 2017." So far, it sounds like it's been a fruitful partnership. Leigh has helped foster relationships with various companies such as Axe Body Spray and SeatGeek. Purdy is subsequently paid to mention those brands on Instagram. "Gen Z has the highest buying power of any demographic," Leigh said.

As for what's down the line for Purdy? "Eventually the goal is to do a headlining tour," he told No Jumper in 2018He also intends to "film more music videos... [and] really expand the merch." Basically, he says the plan is to "keep doing what I'm doing, but also grow it." In other words, the future's so bright, Purdy's got to wear green and pink shades. Skrrrrreeeeeeeeee!