Jason Genova: The Saga of a Publix Bag Boy Turned YouTube Bodybuilding Celebrity
Since 2009, Boynton Beach's Jason Genova has built a cult following on YouTube thanks to his strange and hilarious workout videos.
Photo by Michele Eve Sandberg
Dawn has yet to crawl up in the east, but 30-year-old Jason Genova is awake. No alarm need pluck him out of his sleep cycle. The first thought forming in his fuzzy-topped head is the same one that was sitting there when he blacked out seven hours ago: Get freaking huge.
It's 5 a.m. A dozen missed calls and texts from strangers sit on Genova's iPhone. The mystery digits are from all over — 506, 708, 510 area codes. Half the messages are from fans, he knows. Half from haters. "Hey, Jason, big fan here. Just want to say I love your videos," one might say. Or: "M'lord, there is a gorilla prick infiltrating your channel."
Genova's meaty thumb opens a YouTube app and checks his account. Brown eyes squint to see whether the number of subscribers to his channel has grown overnight. It has, slightly, to 20,389. Fans and haters, he knows.
A flat-screen TV washes the room in orange light. The rest of the condo is black: the tidy living room and the kitchen where fruit flies hop around a cityscape of supplement tubs and pill bottles. Up on his feet, Genova — 190 pounds stacked on five feet seven inches, 10 percent body fat, capable of benching 340 pounds — is wobbly at first. A buffalo stampede of shit is going through his system right now — supplements and anabolic activators and epicatechin and caffeine boosters and pre- and post-workout concoctions. He's a walking laboratory beaker.
Genova fires up the camera on the phone, his bleary face up close, Blair Witch-style.
"This is Jason, Lord Vader," he announces sleepily, his voice high-pitched with a helium wobble. "I'm about to go to the gym this morning to train at World's Gym. I'm going to do a video there with Andrew. Pretty sick. Pretty piss. That's all I can say."
Before signing off, he does a Yoda impression. "Away with your weapon — I mean you no harm," he Yodas into the camera. "Clouded, this boy is. Very clouded. So all right — peace out, fans."
The one minute, 59-second video is immediately uploaded onto his YouTube channel in late October. In less than ten hours, the clip will total 3,000 views; in three days, 13,800, with 382 comments from users. Maybe not quite the kind of brushfire web attention that fixes on a fresh Kardashian cleavage selfie, but damned incredible for a Publix checkout employee.
On paper, Jason Genova is a broke Boynton Beach nobody. But thanks to a combination of single-minded drive and the internet's weird magic, he's become a looming figure in the corners of the web devoted to fitness, weightlifting, and bodybuilding.
Even there, though, he's the unlikeliest of stars. He's awkward and innocent-seeming, a Star Wars nerd given to breaking into mischievous giggles, terrible impressions, and clueless statements — so much so that internet trolls have questioned his IQ and mental health for years. Still, Genova's complete earnestness about achieving bodybuilding success in a world swollen with 'roided-up egos has marked him as a sweaty folk-hero Everyman. And there's nothing viral about him: Rather than the internet's single serving of 15 minutes, Genova's fame has been a slow build.
"Jason has a legitimate cult following globally," says Andrew Fiedelman, a friend and fellow gym rat who films and edits Genova's clips. "It's like they're obsessed. It's the craziest thing I've ever seen. And his biggest fan bases are in the U.K. and Australia."
Genova kicked down the door of the YouTube world in July 2009 with a nine-minute-and-seven-second clip that would serve as his protein-shake-encrusted raison d'être: "My Story Part 1." Featuring all the production value of a kidnap victim's proof-of-life footage, the clip showed baby-faced Genova punching out bench presses to a soundtrack of chipmunk-screeching hair metal.
"It Has Alway's been my biggest dream growing up To Become One Of the WORLD'S best bodybuilder's," the text, in ransom-note spelling and grammar, said over the images. "And I Know I Have It In Me to out do the Compatishion And This Is My Bodybuilding Storie."
"I'll do whatever it takes to go to pro," Genova told the camera in his first appearance. "Even if I have to sacrifice my body to go to the pros. I'm the real deal."
Since then, Genova has filmed everything — mundane lifting sessions and trips to the mall, historic beefs and betrayals, midnight doubts and personal triumphs, his endless struggle for defined abs. "I wouldn't consider myself a celebrity," Genova says. "But I would consider myself a fitness celebrity because I've been on YouTube for so long."
He's not alone. Fiedelman's camera has also caught a crew of similar South Florida common men whose feats of strength and hilarious banter have earned them their own online following. Dubbed the "Delray Misfits," their YouTube channel has 18,036 subscribers and 5.4 million views. Combined with Genova's 8.5 million views, that's 13.9 million. Both channels have inspired fan sites and video tributes.
"It's big and complex, like a whole universe," explains Roy Jones Jr., a Canadian megafan who runs genovapedia.org, a website devoted to what he calls the "Genoverse." "It is better than any reality show. It's better than anything on TV."
Now, with internet fame serving as a regular trampoline for other types of exposure — reality TV, mainstream acting gigs, business success — the world's most famous Publix bag boy is waiting for the right bounce to launch him somewhere new.
Andrew Fiedelman (right) realized the characters working out in his gym were as interesting as anything on reality TV. Hence, the "Delray Misfits."
Photo by Michele Eve Sandberg
The legs didn't even look like legs. Big, lumpy, orange — they looked like giant Buffalo chicken wings supersized in a radioactive lab, then attached to a man.
But Jason Genova, then 17 years old, stared at the 2002 copy of Muscular Development magazine, gaga over the spread of Tom Platz, the pro bodybuilder known as the "Quadfather" due to his blown-out bottom half. For Genova, a troubled beanpole teenager whose life was already loaded down with loneliness and death, those legs shifted everything.
"I wanted to be an absolute freak like Tom Platz," Genova says today.
Genova wasn't alone. For generations of kids, it's a turning point: realizing the human anatomy can take on funhouse-mirror proportion with a couple of hundred hours in the gym.
Most experts cut the timeline of American fitness into the pre- and post-Arnold ages. The Austrian Mr. Olympia stomped into the country's consciousness with the 1977 documentary Pumping Iron. Schwarzenegger then redefined movie stardom thanks to his iconic '80s action-flick roles. Pretty soon, American males were sucking in their guts and hitting the weights themselves. An entire industry sprang up.
The then-to-now sea change is considerable. According to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, in 2014 the U.S. fitness industry pulled in $24.2 billion in revenue.
Gyms spawned their own culture. Here, broscience was born. Broscience is, for example, when Bro #1 casually approaches Bro #2 at the gym to say that Bro #2 shouldn't wear those fingerless gloves because they'll hurt his grip strength or that squat didn't count 'cause it wasn't past parallel, total butt wink. Of course, Trojan-horsed in this seemingly helpful gesture is the suggestion that Bro #2 is just a clueless schmuck who would know fuck-all if Bro #1 didn't deign to correct him. Hence, why broscience is tied closely to the gym's second oral tradition, shit talk, which comes with raging testosterone, low-brow humor, and casual homophobia that unfortunately characterizes locker-room life.
When this gym-rat culture migrated online, capitalism was waiting with its vampire fangs out. Around 2006, the first fitness-oriented channels popped up on YouTube. They featured guys like Nick Wright, a toothpick teen filming himself doing reps in his basement, and Scooby, a smiley, chisel-chested middle-ager who always appeared in videos topped with a fishing hat and preached natural fitness on a budget. These channels came to rack 40 million and 200 million views, respectively.
Soon, fitness gurus were able to translate their online success into real money. Supplement and clothing companies began to ink endorsement deals with anyone who had a substantial audience. Beginning in 2007, YouTube offered payouts based on ad revenue to eligible accounts. Dollar signs were now attached to clicks and subs.
Jason Genova sensed all this back when he was just a wannabe bodybuilder who walked about the World Gym in Delray Beach with a full tank of moxie but a gut that buried his abs and muscles in need of serious carving. He figured jumping online would bring him attention.
But he knew he was walking into a minefield. Logging hours in any gym, where one-upsmanship and shit talk rule, talking openly about aspirations or dreams is to become a target for ridicule. But Genova was thinking long.
"There is so much marketability in the internet," he says. " You can get so much out of it — clothing, supplements. So I just said, 'Fuck it.' "
Curtain up on the clip: The camera fastens on a naked Genova crouched in the grass, à la the time-hopping Arnold in the opening shot of Terminator. Then it cuts to a scene of a clothed Genova stomping around in his best cyborg walk to ominous pounding chords.
The remaining six minutes of the video — "My Story Part 3" — show Genova ripping through sets in the gym, doing pushups on the floor of a supplement store, and sitting for an interview with a guy calling himself Angel-J.
"They're classics, of course," Genova says today of his first videos, voice empty of irony, as if he were discussing Sunset Boulevard. "You can't beat the classics."
Following his first "My Story" installment in 2009, the 24-year-old Genova began regularly putting out videos, first with a director he met at a vitamin store, then with a scraggily haired Boca Raton producer named Jonas. "Part 3" was their first collaboration.
"The next Jay Cutler, the next Lou Ferrigno — you're looking at him right here," Genova announced in an early classic. "I'm only 23 years old. By 30-something, I could be a monster. Right now, I'm growing like a balloon. I'm going to be worth millions. I just graduated high school. I didn't go to college. I'm right out of the basement, baby. I'm a rarity. So accept it. Peace."
The Genova films developed stylistic tics all their own. There were awkward supplement-product plugs and shirtless bodybuilding poses in parking lots ("My famous Arnold pose! Yeah, baby!"). Genova called himself "The Spaniard" for no reason and Lord Vader, from Star Wars. "Pissening" and "sickening" meant "good" or "cool" in Genova-speak.
These early works might have gone unnoticed except that Genova began to shoot harsh words at established bodybuilding celebrities. Here was some nobody, from some strip-mall nowhere parking lot in Florida, mean-mugging at a camera and shotgunning shit talk at WWE star Kurt Angle. Or backyard brawl legend Kimbo Slice. Or three-time Mr. Olympia runner-up Kai Greene.
"Kai Greene, you're a big role model to me, and someday I'm going to get you," Genova announced into the camera. "When you get older, I'm going to kick your butt onstage, and I'm going to beat you, and I'm going to dominate your ass, and I'm going to dominate your ass with a big blow."
The clips began to gain traction in corners of the internet devoted to the muscle game — the "misc" section on bodybuilding.com and forums on fitmisc.net and musculardevelopment.com. His dis clips kicked up a groundswell of haters who took Genova seriously enough to comment on his videos and even create parodies. Anti-Genovists put together a clip ridiculing the "My Story" saga. "You think you're Terminator? Come on, man, more like the Stinkanator," one hater posted. "You do 30 to 45 minutes of cardio a day? Really? Really? And you still have zero abs and you're still fat as shit?"
Genova doubled down and began spending a good deal of his YouTube minutes belligerently blasting back: "I saw you haters on YouTube who watch my videos, and you know what? I'm not fat, by the way," he said in one. "I'm offseason. That's what bodybuilders do, they bulk up offseason. You don't know science. I know science."
Wrapped in a headband handwritten with "No Homo," Genova filmed a clip in which he took plywood boards, handwrote the names of his online haters, and placed them between cement blocks. "This is your boy Jason Genova," he straight-faces into the camera. "I've been taking karate for two years now. I'm going to break it... like Jean-Claude Van Damme."
His fist cracks the board. "That's it! Peace out, baby!"
A funny thing happened. The anonymous nobodies grazing bodybuilding sites for endless hours? Many of them began rooting from the sidelines.
This Jason kid is pure gold entertainment! I love this kid!
Hes by far the most entertaining psychopath we've had on this forum!
this guy never fails to bring the lulz
Either this guy is the best real life troll ever or he has some type of mental problem.
Who films them, who are those tools interviewing him? And how the **** does this guy own a boat?
Such was the case for Roy Jones, a bank employee from Alberta, Canada. "Basically I'm just a lower-middle-class guy and live in a ghetto neighborhood," he says. But then one day he stumbled on a clip. "I was immediately drawn in," he remembers. "I was thinking, 'What's wrong with this guy? Why is everyone in the gym paying him so much attention?' "
Jones tries to explain the allure: "Jason Genova is really the ultimate underdog story. When you usually see people in the YouTube fitness community, they have every advantage. They are ripped, they have sponsorships, they're selling merchandise. A lot of times, they're making six figures off YouTube or are driving around in a Mercedes. Jason Genova doesn't have any of that, but he's still trying to make it.
"I was hooked."
Fitness guru Adam Harper (right) originally stirred up resentment among Genova Witnesses. But today many acknowledge he got Genova as close to his goal as possible.
Photo by Michele Eve Sandberg
Downtown Fort Lauderdale is humming, restaurants and bars coughing out streams of booze-dizzy revelers. Outside Tarpon Bend, Genova stands shirtless on a stone plinth, firing off bodybuilding poses to gawking pedestrians.
Cackling comes from behind the camera. "Pose for them! Show them your shit!"
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By the last installments of the "My Story" saga in 2012, Genova was at a crossroads. Little screen time was any longer devoted to workouts. Instead, you see Jason failing to break a flaming board with his fist; Jason wearing a fake mustache while sitting in the shower; Jason speed-eating a whole chicken; Jason talking about masturbation. The footage was increasingly channeling cutting-room leftovers from Jackass. It also began to seem like Jason wasn't in on the jokes.
But he was also starting to get attention from actual fitness-industry types. In mid-2009, local fitness guru and supplement company head Aaron Singerman had Genova on his radio show. By late 2010, Genova was picking up posing tips from pro bodybuilder Ron Harris, and in summer 2011, Skip LaCour offered on-camera lifting advice. In 2012, Genova signed an endorsement deal with Singerman's and P.J. Braun's Iron Man Labs.
Genova's pro bodybuilding mentors like Singerman laid it out: He'd never get endorsements or be taken seriously trying to be Johnny Knoxville. He broke with Jonas. "The comedy was really getting out of hand; he was making me do really stupid stuff," Genova admits today.
Enter Andrew Fiedelman, a 40-year-old country-club employee who worked out at the same gym. A communications major in college, Fiedelman could film and edit video; plus, with All-American looks and the cheery patter of a TV news weatherman, Fiedelman was the perfect straight man for the lifter.
"When you film Jason, you walk a very fine line," Fiedelman says. "You want to have fun and you want to be funny, but you never want to sound like you're making fun of Jason.
"I found it fun to film Jason," says Fiedelman, who has never made a dime off the project. "You never know what he's going to say and what he's going to do. Some people think I'm crazy following this guy around. I don't give a crap. It's fun."
As with any good subculture, Genova's fans obsessively tracked his videos, even filling threads with Roland Barthes-style analyses. "His self-aggrandizing delusions are an exaggerated apex representation of modern society in the social media/selfie generation as a whole," one wrote.
These self-titled "Genova Witnesses" were in luck, because the new collaboration produced the Golden Age of the Genova Cinema. Whether capturing the protagonist leg-pressing 800 pounds or just strolling Boynton Beach Mall with a toy lightsaber clipped to his sweatpants, Fiedelman showed a special touch with the material — equal parts provocative and protective.
"I want to have a talk with you," a gym regular the size of a midcentury Cadillac once said to Genova while Fiedelman was filming. "Last night, my daughter was on Facebook."
"Yeah," Genova said quietly.
"And she was talking to you, and you were saying shit to her that I don't like. Vulgar shit."
"I don't want you fucking doing that anymore," the lifter growled. "I'm fucking pissed off because I find out it's you talking to her dirty. I don't want to have to tear your throat out and shit down your neck. I'll fucking cut you up and dump you in the Everglades."
Once the guy left, Andrew panned in close on Genova's spooked face. "Jason. What were you doing last night?"
"I don't know. I don't know these people on Facebook. I have so many fucking fans, bro."
"If you don't know them, that's why you should be careful what you say to them, correct?"
"I want you to remember what just happened."
"Stay away from women."
Fiedelman soon realized the people popping into the frame of videos he was making with Genova were as interesting as his main character. There were guys like Big Lenny, a massive bald and bearded powerlifter who glowed with a rotisserie tan; Big Richard, a 60-something Lothario who dispensed lurid sex stories; and Brad, a tattooed smartass.
"It just dawned on me that we were filming a reality show in the gym," Fiedelman says. "It's not on A&E or Bravo, but it has the same perfect blend of characters."
Dubbing the crew the "Delray Misfits," Fiedelman began taping the regulars too. He uploads about a video a week; they each take anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours to edit.
Who watches them? "A bunch of degenerate guys who like to watch degenerate guys."
Still, the heart of the Genoverse continued to be the relationship between the main attraction and his loyal director. In September 2012, Genova was disappointed to not place in an Abz of Adonis Championship competition in Deerfield Beach. The next day, with the camera running, he sat down with Fiedelman.
"I looked at side-by-side pictures of you from 2010 and now; you looked better in 2010," the cameraman said. "It seems to be the general consensus, Jason, that you're light-years away from being able to step onto a stage and being able to seriously compete. What are your thoughts on that?"
"Well, the spray tan was better, that's why."
"Yeah, but you were bigger then; you had more muscle then. Where do you go from here?"
"Well, I dieted down a lot — what the fuck?" Genova snaps, clearly agitated. "When you diet down, you're going to lose a lot of muscle. That's what's going to happen."
"Do you still think you can actually be a competitive bodybuilder?"
"Yeah with fucking time! This stuff doesn't happen overnight."
"You're not 15. You're almost 30."
"No, bro, let me tell you something: Some pros don't go pro till 50," Genova says.
"Do you want to wait till you're 51?"
"If I have to, yeah. If I have to."
"Hey listen, you have a dream; who am I to rain on it?" Fiedelman says gently. "You have goals and dreams, I would be — "
"You know how many people," Genova cuts in, "have goals and dreams? Nobody."
"Well, you're right about that."
As a kid, the future YouTuber had been a me-me-me attention grabber, all energy. "I remember I couldn't even hold him down," Genova's mother, Jane, recalls. "He was a very active young kid."
Genova was born outside of Los Angeles in 1985. His mother was the daughter of a globetrotting entrepreneur who made millions with the first food-distribution business on St. Thomas in the Caribbean, where Jane grew up. In California, she worked in the restaurant industry and as a bookkeeper. Genova's father was an engineer. The family moved near San Francisco.
Growing up, Genova was prescribed Ritalin to hogtie his ADHD; the drug killed off his appetite, leaving him 75 pounds at age 10. "I used to have to beg him to eat," Jane says.
After back and hip injuries, his father, Stan, decided to take early retirement. The family planned to move to Delray Beach, where Jane's mother lived. Then Stan became sick. Very sick. Cancer. From construction-site asbestos. In five quick months, Genova watched his once-robust father wither away.
"We moved here anyway, because we really had to start a brand new life, put ourselves together," Jane says. "Jason had just turned 16, and he didn't have a father figure. I had to be both parents."
California was crumpled mountains and vineyards. Delray was a flat expanse of strip malls and parking asphalt. The people on the West Coast had been friendly. In Florida, the twerpy 16-year-old found himself bullied at Olympic Heights High School.
But then he found that muscle magazine — and those freak quads.
For a kid whose father was torn away, it makes sense he was drawn to the hypermasculine world of bodybuilding. He set up a weight bench at home. After seeing her tile floor cracked one too many times by dropped weights, Jane told her son it was time to join a gym — where he found the rotating case of temporary father figures that continues today.
"The bodybuilding is great; it's something he loves," Jane says. "I just don't want to see him being exposed in a negative way. There are some mean-ass caca people out there," she says.
The internet has claimed many. In 2013, trolls lurking on 4Chan targeted Scooby, the YouTube fitness pioneer, calling up his friends, family, and coworkers and blasting Scoobie with gay slurs. The guru went dark and hasn't reappeared since.
Genova's own personality — the pure-hearted goof whose every cell is straining for bodybuilding glory — has made him a particular target for internet haters. Many have wondered if he's not autistic or handicapped (he's not, he says). Still, his mother worries. "Sometimes I wonder if something happens to Mom, what's next?"
In 2013, a sad-faced Genova voiced his true feelings in a late-night video. "I'm very depressed and very sad," he said. "I don't want people on YouTube to make fun of me anymore. I'm sick of it. I'm sick of the negative comments and the shit I have to deal with every day."
That November, he posted a comment on his Facebook wall about suicide. The lifter later told friends it was just an overreaction. But the post caused Braun and Singerman's Blackstone Labs to end an endorsement deal with Genova.
Still, even at his lowest moments, Genova says he's determined to keep going. "If I didn't have fitness," he says, "I would have nothing."
Fiedelman (right) says he'll continue filming Genova.
Photos by Michele Eve Sandberg
Hope came through the whooshing sliding doors at Publix.
Adam Harper stands six-foot-even, with a jacked frame and the swagger of someone used to giving marching orders — which he does, weekly, at a fitness boot camp he runs in Bexley Park. At the store, Harper, an ex-cop, struck up a friendly banter with the kid who rattled on about bodybuilding as he bagged the groceries.
"Then I made the mistake of giving him my number," Harper jokes today. "He texted me right away."
The trainer hooked Genova to a diet — chicken, broccoli, no sugar or carbs — and invited him to workouts. The goal was those coveted abs. "At the time, his body fat was so high, I just thought he needed to shred up and watch his caloric intake so he could look as lean as possible," Harper says.
Genova followed Harper's recipe of punishing exercises like burpees and obstacle courses. The camera came along.
"I didn't believe him, to be honest," Harper says when Genova told him about his online following. "But then I saw it."
Right away, Harper was fresh chum for Genova's followers. First off, he wasn't even a bodybuilder but came out of the CrossFit world — anathema to traditional weight junkies. Second, his cocky attitude aggravated doubters.
That trainer is a complete douche.....damn Jason is dumb to give this guy free advertising.
yea you can tell this bald faggot is just trying to promote his shit and doesnt give a fuck about jason, and this type of workout will burn off even more of jasons muscle. id like to punch this bald piece of shit in the head
The hate only made Harper double his efforts. Harper became a constant in the YouTube saga — working out in his garage with Genova, hanging and joking with him on the weekend, even scolding him to be nicer to his mom or to say please and thank you.
But Harper's biggest challenge getting Genova those abs was the lifter himself.
During one training session in January, Harper held onto his protégé's wallet while Genova gassed himself on an obstacle course. He dug around and found a stack of receipts from Dunkin' Donuts. Genova had mentioned he went to the chain often — for water. The receipts showed daily purchases of coffee, with cream — off-limits on the diet.
"You just care about success on YouTube! You don't care about looking like shit!" Harper yelled. "'I've been giving you what I thought were pretty motivational speeches on a god dang daily basis, wasting my freaking time to help someone out who just cares about YouTube."
All of this made for captivating, and interactive, entertainment. Fans emailed Harper to say they'd spotted a Burger King cup in a clip Genova posted to his channel. He denied it, so Harper made Genova drive to the fast-food spot's drive-in, where the coach quizzed an employee whether he'd been in recently ("He hasn't been here in a while," she told him). The lifter's own mother even narc'd him out for eating two pieces of pizza.
Genova denied cheating, but eventually the coach, like sweating the truth out of a murder suspect, got him to cop.
The clips made good comedy but also grated Harper. Here he was sinking time and effort into Genova. The lifter didn't seem like he was serious. Harper's wife began complaining. Trolls had even begun insulting her in internet forums.
"He can be very selfish," Harper says today. "All the time I gave him, he was only in it for himself. I was doing this for free. He was not very grateful. My wife did not like that."
The choice was pretty clear. "I just gave up, because I was about to lose my marriage."
In May 2014, Harper broke up with Genova — on camera, of course. Standing in Harper's tiled kitchen, the would-be bodybuilder took the news with a face as stone as a statue's.
"Love you, bro, seriously. You're a good guy," Harper told the lifter, watching Genova climb into his Hyundai. "I'm the one that's actually about to choke up. I'm such a pussy."
When the clip made it online, the reaction from Genova fans was heartbreak: well
Hot lights singed the auditorium stage. The "Imperial March" from Star Wars echoed off the speakers. Wearing a red Speedo, body glistening with canola-oil cooking spray, Genova writhed through his bodybuilding poses. He bent forward, curling his arms before him, his face hitched in a snarl like some movie monster about to chew up a Japanese port city. The full auditorium screamed and whistled.
In late September, Genova finally got a taste of bodybuilding success. Competing in the light heavyweight section of the NPC Ruby Championship National Qualifier held at Olympic High School in Boca Raton (his sixth competition), Jason landed third place, walking home with a trophy. In the hallway afterward, the Delray Misfits and fans chanted his name.
Today, the Genova Saga is entering a new phase. The win put him in place to compete in larger, national shows. He's scheduled to appear in a November 28 competition in Hialeah.
In October, YouTube paid him the biggest check yet — $1,300. According to tracking site socialblade.com, at this rate, Genova could make $50,000 a year. To maintain his numbers, he obsessively tracks his subscribers, even going to the lengths of starting beefs with other YouTubers to mobilize his fans to action.
It works, because there's a real connection, says superfan Roy Jones.
"If you were going to compare me with Jason on who has accomplished more, it would obviously be him. People are writing about him, following him online, sponsoring him, talking about him. Who am I in comparison? I'm just a random guy."
In the future, Genova hopes to sell branded T-shirts, supplements. It all depends on the YouTube clicks, though. "A lot of YouTubers are just into money; they don't care about their fans. I care about my fans. I'm good to them. They are dedicated to me."
Genova also wants his saga to go mainstream — reality TV. The Genoverse is somewhat divided on the question. Jones says the lifter and the other Misfits deserve a wider audience. Fiedelman, the auteur, says you'll lose the magic if you throw a real production around the grimy escapades inside the gym.
Regardless, he'll keep shooting.
"I'm in too deep, honestly," Fiedelman says. "If I said, 'Look, this has been fun, but I'm shutting down my YouTube page,' I think someone would blow up my house. I really do."
Not to worry. "The whole story of Jason is him trying to become a professional bodybuilder," Fiedelman says. "He tries and fails, tries and fails. Every time he gets close to succeeding, he slips down and starts from square one. It's a story that has no end."
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