Immature Thoughts: An Interview With Yankton’s Viral Vine Celebrity

TravisPotts

Travis Potts (captured in character above) of Yankton has amassed a following of 178,693 Vine users. That places him in the top 320 most popular Vine accounts out of the service’s approximately 40 million registered users.

They may be immature, but they are often darn funny, too.

That’s what I’ve thought of the Vine videos made by Travis Potts, who posts under the name Travis ImImmature Potts.

Vine, for those of you who don’t know, is a video-sharing app that allows users to make 6-second videos that loop continuously until the viewer stops them.

While much younger than me, Potts comes from my hometown of Crofton, Neb. I first became familiar with his Vine videos and success through his uncle, who I count among my best friends.

Funnily enough, I see A LOT of this particular uncle in Potts, and I am waiting for them to team up. Ha.

Potts has amassed more than 178,000 Vine followers — placing him within the 320 most popular Vine accounts out of the service’s approximately 40 million registered users — and some of his videos have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.

If you don’t like male nudity, crossdressing, questionable judgment and, well, some immaturity, you should probably steer clear of Potts’ videos.

But when I watch his work, I see someone using a social media venue to express his fun creative vision and reach out to an audience that may appreciate his sensibilities more than the somewhat reserved culture of the rural Great Plains.

While I admittedly shake my head at some of the material (because I’m OLD, guys), I more often find myself laughing. Potts and his friends seem to be having fun. It is infectious, and if you want to join in the party, they seem like the kind of people who would be cool with that.

Potts agreed to do an interview with An Inland Voyage so we could get to know more about him and his Vine success.

1) Tell us about where you grew up, what you do and who you are.

I actually grew up in Crofton, Neb., and lived there the majority of my life. I attended middle school and high school there. After high school, I wanted to further my schooling and went to Northeast Community College for wind energy. I had pursued the wind energy field for about a year and realized it really wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life, so I quit there and ended up getting a job at Hatch Furniture (in Yankton), where I currently work. I manage the Delivery, Service, and Warehouse department there.

2) How did you begin using Vine? What was the first video you made?

I began using Vine a couple months ago when I saw a few of my friends using the app. They weren’t making videos at all. They had just made an account to watch other people’s videos. I downloaded the app when I was at my sisters house and had made my first few videos there involving my niece and nephews. Needless to say, they weren’t very good videos. Ha. When I first downloaded the app, I saw it  was all about stop-motion videoing, which the 6-second app is intended for, so that’s what I aimed to do.
3) Based on your output, I assume you really enjoyed the experience. How long did it take for you to realize you were pretty good at it and other people were taking notice?

The more videos I ended up posting on Vine, the more responses I was getting from surrounding friends, or people within the local community. It didn’t take too long for me to realize that people were taking notice of my vines, but it did take me a while to actually realize I had a comic niche when it came to making them.

4) You have more than 178,000 followers. Have you been surprised by the success and have you felt any pressure to keep producing videos and gain more followers?

I have been very, very surprised by the success of my vines! I have always used social networks as some sort of comic relief, and never take any of them too seriously. I always use my Facebook/Twitter as a place to make people laugh as well, but not on the level that I do with Vine. I really am stuck between the line as of right now of either pursuing getting a larger follower account and seeing if this Vine thing could pay off for me, or just laying low, and continuing making goofy videos for my own humorous pleasure. Yes, from time to time I feel pressure to keep producing videos, but as soon as I do I just take a step back to realize that it is just an app, and I do it purely to make my friends and I laugh. I don’t do it for a job, so why feel pressured?

5) Has your Vine success changed your day-to-day life at all?

My Vine success really hasn’t impacted my life much. I don’t get free meals, or anything like that, but most of the time when I go out in public now I get asked to take a picture with someone, or someone will come up and tell me how much they enjoy watching my vines. It’s almost like being famous in a small town. Ha.

6) Your videos are generally humorous pieces. Is that a reflection of your personality, or is there something else that pushes them in that direction?

My videos do reflect my personality. I have always been an outgoing, humorous person. I am not one to care too much about others’ opinions of  myself.

7) Have the “Jackass” productions had an influence on what you do? What woud you say are your influences?

I cant say that the “Jackass” productions have influenced me much as far as making my vines goes. I guess my biggest influence when it came to making vines was YouTube. I have been an avid YouTube user for years now, and I’ve always wanted to make a YouTube channel, but never had any motivation to do so, and had lacked the knowledge to do so. So when I figured out about Vine, I knew this was similar to YouTube and would give me the chance to try out video making.

8) You and your friends seem pretty comfortable with nudity on screen. Are you just pre-empting any damage future sex tapes could do to your career, or is it a demonstration of the lengths you will go for art? 🙂

Haha. Im not really sure what is up with all of the nudity in my vines, but my followers get a kick out of it. It’s kind of weird how comfortable we are around each other naked. Haha. It’s easiest just to say that I have an odd group of friends.

9) You’ve done a lot of stunts in public places like retail stores. One video even had your friend supposedly being arrested after you got naked and pulled a fire alarm at a well-known chain. Is everything you do for real, or are there some theatrics involved?

I won’t give away my secrets, but yes, there are theatrics involved! We have never gotten in trouble for a vine we did. Also, whenever we have a Vine scene in a retail store we ALWAYS make sure to go back and clean up our mess! We never damage anything either, but if we were too, we would gladly pay for it!

10) Have you felt pressure to do crazier stunts as you become more popular?

I’ve never really felt pressure to do crazier stunts as I became popular. However, I always am thinking of ways to do crazier stunts because that’s just who I am. Without Vine, I’ve always found myself doing some pretty odd things. Ha.

11) Several of your videos have addressed the followers who have questioned your sexuality. How do you feel about that issue, and do the commenters take that issue to a negative and derogatory place?

Actually, growing up I was always made fun of for being a “faggot,” “queer,” “gaywad,” etc., by relatives, classmates, strangers, etc. Believe it or not, I have actually been called those names by teachers, old bosses, and co-workers, also. It’s just something I’ve learned to deal with. It’s water under the bridge. So upon making my Vine account, I knew that was going to get brought up quite often as my follower count rose. So I just took that opportunity to make humorous vines about it. Yes, the commenters do take that issue to a negative and derogatory place a lot, but I don’t pay much attention to negative comments on there.  That’s always a downside of using social networks. There is always hate and bullying. You just have to know how to handle it properly.

12) You’ve involved your mom, girlfriend and friends in videos. Are they happy to participate or does it take some convincing? How have they reacted overall to your Vine success?

My mom shares the same humor as me but isn’t really too proud to be in my vines, as they aren’t really family-suitable material. My friends have no problem being in them and always get a kick out of being in them. It’s always their little “claim to fame.” My girlfriend, on the other hand, doesn’t like being in them at all. It always just depends on the day, I guess. Ha.

13) Which videos are you most proud of?

I cant say I am really proud of any of the vidoes I have made. Haha. Listen to this: I am really proud of one of my vines that went viral. It has almost 300,000 re-vines, 300,000 likes and 100,000 comments. What’s the video of? Oh, its a video of a kid pooping out of a moving vehicle … Haha, yeah its hard to say I’m proud of something like that! But I can say that I am proud of the responses I’ve received from my Vine account! I’ve had a growing fan base, and my vines are posted on all sorts of websites, one of the most recent ones being worldstarhiphop.com.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Click on the link at the end of this story if you really want to see the aforementioned video. I certainly understand why it went viral, but you should know it is exactly what Potts says it is. Its description is “The Most Messed Up Thing You Will See On Vine.”)

14) Is the 6-second video format a creatively satisfying outlet? Do you have plans to branch out into other formats?

I don’t really feel as if the 6-second video format is a creatively satisfying outlet. It’s pretty challenging, actually. As of right now, I do have a few small plans to branch out into other formats, just nothing too serious yet.

15) Has Vine success led to any unexpected opportunities and/or do you have hopes that it will?

As of right now, Vine hasn’t led me to any unexpected opportunities, but I do have hope that it will! A lot of people on the app do have sponsors and are getting paid to make vines, but my vines are a little too explicit to be able to go down that route. That’s something I’m OK with.

16) What future goals do you have in mind?

I don’t really have future goals as far as Vine goes, except reaching a certain follower count.

17) Other thoughts?

Overall, I just like to use my Vine account to make people laugh. Yes, I tend to cross the line a bit, but that’s who I am. The app has an age rating on it of 18+, so I don’t feel too terribly bad about it.

———

If you don’t have a Vine account, you can check out Potts’ videos (which are sometimes very NSFW) here: http://seenive.com/u/940366284149948416

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