One might describe "twerking" most delicately as an exercise in gluteal inertia, as posterior-forward movement, as ass-driven dance. It's also apparently something that amuses and terrifies the innocent, vaguely racist peoples of San Francisco. Before going any further, remove yourself to your nearest Internet portal and watch (or merely witness) the twerking video at SFWeekly.com.
Finished? Boggled by the acts themselves, or the comments? It's become something of a phenomenon: a video of three women experiencing rump seizures through Union Square, down the aisles of a grocery store, at a laundromat, and in a BART car, where the vibrations threaten the stability of the ride.
While it's properly viral, the video isn't properly random. And it turns out the minds behind it were already doing weird stuff on video before this whole episode.
Prior to unleashing booty upon the Internet, the guys behind Simple Pickup, a popular YouTube channel, were making videos about picking up women.
Jason, Jesse, and Kong (who asked that their last names not be used) were nerdy, shy, and awkward — and none of them had much luck with dating.
A couple of years ago, after some pretty depressing realizations and some inspirational, self-motivated lifestyle changes, they started filming themselves approaching women on the streets of Los Angeles, saying all kinds of interesting, off-the-wall, and possibly offensive things, in lieu of traditional pickup lines. The reactions they get aren't staggering, but definitely amusing and somewhat informative for the right audience.
The women on the receiving end appear (at least in the Simple Pickup videos) to be taken by the charm, irreverence and general affability of the guys, and after having heard ridiculous statements or questions posed to them, they hand over their numbers and, thus, the videos have done their job.
Jesse says that, while there is a thick veneer of comedy laid over their videos, the idea is to help inspire other shy, introverted men into action. "That's our dream job, pretty much to go out there and help guys out, and, obviously, be able to get girls — it's cool."
The Simple Pickup YouTube channel has more than 107 million total views spread among 94 published videos. They have attracted more than 47,000 new subscribers in the past month alone. Simple Pickup is their fulltime gig. Salon, Jezebel, and ABC's Nightline have profiled them, America apparently being hungry for information on nerdy pickup artists.
The trio of twentysomethings, living in San Francisco for the summer, were all in agreement that nothing could be cooler and more in-the-now than twerking in S.F. So the friends and business partners descended upon the streets of San Francisco and recorded themselves attempting the rutting-edge dance.
"We tried [it], and then we realized we cannot twerk for shit," Jesse says.
Enter: Cherry Red, Dollface, and Tastee, the three professional dancers in the video.
The Pickup team hired them through a management firm in the East Bay known as The Creamery Inc., which provides dancers to fill roles as video vixens, models, hosts, and even twerk video stars.
"It was real different than what I'm used to," says Cherry Red, one of the dancers in the video. She calls it an intense yet fun day of filming. The dancers and the Simple Pickup guys filmed for nearly eight hours that day.
"You only live once, so why not try it," she says.
Tastee says that for the most part they received positive responses from the crowds. And "they were perfect gentlemen," Tastee says of working with the Simple Pickup trio. "They didn't make me feel like they looked at me like a piece of meat."
Jesse says viewers and subscribers of their page can expect more off-the-wall videos like "Twerking in San Francisco" in the future.
"We've been doing pretty much the same videos for two years now," he says, "and just to keep our own sanity we have to start doing some new things."