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17-Year-Old Tricks Millions Into Thinking He Sold His House to See Travis Scott’s Utopia

Charles Curle, a video editor and high schooler from North Carolina, duped millions of people online into thinking that he sold his house to finance a trip to Travis Scott’s now-cancelled Utopia concert in Egypt.

The 17-year-old says it all started with a meme. Following Scott’s announcement that he’d be live-streaming his show from the literal Pyramids of Giza, parodies — from people cleaning out their banks accounts to buy tickets, to movie stills repurposed to mimic the rapper unleashing the curse of the pharaohs unto the world — began to pour on TikTok feeds. As the fervor around Scott’s July date at oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World began to boil, Curle saw an opportunity to challenge people’s sense of reality.

In 10 minutes, Curle, enlisting the help of his brother, filmed himself jiggling keys in front of his house, edited the clip in Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro, added some sound and music, and popped out an eight-second TikTok. In the short video, a shot of Curle standing next to a “For Sale” sign in front of his house with the text “I actually did it” across the screen cuts to the wing of an airplane skimming across the pyramids.

Within days, the video racked up millions of views, with the number sitting at more than 6 million at this time. The reaction from the internet was swift and unsurprisingly ranged from amusement to indignation. There was the cheeky (“I hope you know it’s in utopia, texas) to the righteously skeptical (“Y’all so gullible”) to the distressed (“bro now you homeless and got nowhere to sleep plaus the show to cancel.”)

For Curle, who for the record, isn’t even a Scott fan, it was all part of the entertainment. “When I had made the post, I wanted to make sure it was crazy and unbelievable. So, I feel like that’s what made it so compelling, like this is super-high stakes,” Curle tells Rolling Stone. “No one else is really doing that. So I think that’s what really catches people’s attention and gets so much traction on the platform.”

While the viral TikTok left clues of its duplicity — the fake sign had no shadow and an uncanny blur at the base, there was suspiciously no footage of Curle in between selling his house and leaving for his 14-hour flight — the video was able to dupe millions into think that a 17-year-old high schooler bought a house, then proceeded to sell it for one concert.

For those inquisitive enough to fact check, one look at Curle’s TikTok @cjcvfx reveals a feed filled with surreal clips, reflecting his gig as a VFX (visual effects) editor, hence the social handle.

“I’ve been editing since I was 10, but I started editing for TikTokers two years ago,” says Curle, who collaborates with Nas, a well-known creator on TikTok who holds 3.5 million followers and nearly 90 million likes on the platform.

“When I graduate, I want to start learning CGI,” says Curle. “I want to work with big name companies that create films and different things like that. So I want to get a major in business and then a minor in film, and then start an editing agency.”

It’s a venture Curle is already working on. His latest upcoming project with Nas, Imagine Mayhem, is set to debut on Snapchat in the coming weeks and promises to offer their fanbases spoofs and renditions of favorite TV shows and movies like Star Wars and Harry Potter — a home for videos like their recent Rick and Morty homage which has racked up 37 thousand likes in under 24 hours.

“I put all my feelings into a video. So that’s just the best way I can express how I feel in the moment,” says Nas on his work with Curle. When asked where he hopes the future of TikTok as an art form is going, Nas tells Rolling Stone that he hopes it’s “the generation of creators I’m in.” He adds, “I’m hoping we are the next producers and directors in movies.”

Matthew Spiegel, who manages Nas and other young TikTok creators, says the impact of Curle’s video speaks to the changing media landscape. “The industry has been gate-kept for 50 plus years. And for once, now the industry is afraid of how to operate, how to maneuver because now a 17-year-old kid can produce with the highest quality that these these fully-funded budgeted movie production studios are working at. He can do it on his own, in his own bedroom, and put it out the next day, and millions can see it, and nobody can stop that.”


“I didn’t think they were going to fall for something like this, but also that people will get so riled up over something that doesn’t really affect them,” says Curle when reflecting on people’s reaction to the video. “It’s really funny. It’s awesome, honestly.”

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