If you spend any time on the internet, then you've probably already heard about one of Youtube's favorite stars: The Nelk Boys. But who were these internet sensations before they came into the spotlight? You might want to sit down because we're about to go full-send...
A Family Difficulty
Jesse Sebastiani was born in Hamilton, ON, Canada on June 27th, 1993. When he was two years old, little Jesse moved further north to Shelburne, ON, Canada. But sadly, these were not easy times for his family.
The move was the result of a tumultuous event in Jesse's life. He and his mother moved cities after the parents' difficult divorce. In Shelburne, Sebastiani grew up on a farm with his two siblings.
He Was A Young Troublemaker
Jesse had a relatively quiet childhood. Shelburne was a small town with about 8,000 residents, and the young boy and his siblings were surrounded by nature on their farm. Sebastiani enjoyed riding dirt bikes, skateboarding, and snowboarding. But his life wasn't always so calm.
It wasn't uncommon for the Canadian boy to get into trouble at school. In fact, Jesse almost didn't graduate from his local high school. Sebastiani's difficulties with teachers and classroom rules worried his family, who wanted him to have a bright future.
Juggling Various Jobs
While Jesse could at times be a tough child to manage, he was also an admirably hard worker. At a time when many kids were spending time at the mall with their friends, Jesse was also busy working a variety of jobs, including work at a hay farm and a scrapyard.
The diligent teenager was also an ambitious entrepreneur from a young age. At around 12 years old, Jesse created his own clothing line. He named his brand Dahlez. Early videos by the aspiring businessman show his best friends wearing Dahlez merchandise. However, not all of Sebastiani's projects were successful.
A Simple Handheld Camera
Around the time that young Sebastiani created his clothing line, he also began to make videos. Before he was even officially a teenager, Jesse began filming clips with a small handheld camera. While he may not have had much equipment, he wasn't lacking in inspiration.
The teen looked up to Johnny Knoxville, an American actor, stunt performer, filmmaker, and comedian. Johnny was also the co-creator and star of a popular prank show, which particularly interested Jesse. But did Sebastiani have the originality and creativity needed to be the next Knoxville?
A Breakthrough Moment (Almost)
Jesse's ambitions soon paid off, as he got a role in MTV's Careless Teens. The show was, as the title might indicate, about "3 best friends, hanging out, doing crazy things, taping crazy things." The cast pulled stunts from riding motorcycles to purposely getting bit by a snapping turtle.
The show didn't last past the first season, and Sebastiani was once again trying to figure out his next career move. "I was trying to get into YouTube... I had a channel... I didn't really understand it," he shared. Little did he know he would soon meet someone who would change his life.
A Bright Future
A little over a year after Jesse came into the world, and just over 50 miles from Shelburne, Kyle Fogeard was born. The Fogeard family welcomed their newest addition on July 12th, 1994 in Mississauga, ON, Canada. Unlike Jessie, Kyle grew up in his hometown.
Fogeard attended high school at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Secondary School. In the years before graduating, the young boy began making videos of pranks and jokes. He had no idea that somewhere close, there was another guy around his age pursuing a similar passion.
Some Early Success
Fogeard had some small successes early in his filming career. His first video to go viral featured him serenading elderly people. The prank got around 300,000 views on, which was quite a big number for Kyle. In July 2012, the passionate jokester started NelkFilmz.
Over time, the channel's members grew and they soon became a team of 4: Kyle Fogeard, Lucas Gasparini, and twins Niko and Marko Martinovic. Fogeard was soon off to college, but he would make sure to continue orchestrating big pranks in his new territory.
A Gutsy Prank
Fogeard continued making videos when he went to college and got creative with his new surroundings. His next viral video was of a humorous student walking into university lecture halls and serenading women. His gutsy stunt garnered about 600,000 views at the time.
The aspiring star started traveling around Canada, finding inspiration, and performing his tricks. He also made it out to Los Angeles a couple of times, pulling similar pranks everywhere he went. But the young man didn't know his hard work would soon pay off, big time.
On the Edge of a Breakthrough
After visiting a lot of cities and pulling countless pranks, it seemed Kyle was on the edge of a breakthrough. Forgeard was accepted to be a part of the second season of Internet Icon in Los Angeles. The show was an online video-making talent competition that premiered on YouTube.
The rising star was still going strong with his YouTube channel, as well. At this point, the original NelkFilmz had morphed into NELK. Kyle, along with Lucas, Niko, and Marko, were working hard to create entertaining content for their growing audience base. But a surprising message would soon cause big changes.
One Lucky Coincidence
While Kyle and his best friends/co-workers were hard at work with Nelk, Jesse was just a town over trying to get his foot into the door of YouTube stardom. But a simple coincidence would soon change everything. A fan of his old show, Careless Teens, was also a fan of Nelk.
This fan knew that the two pranksters lived close to each other, and encouraged Sebastiani to reach out to Fogeard. Longing for some YouTube success, Jesse decided to take a chance and sent a message to Kyle on social media. Neither of them could have predicted what would come next.
He Was Not Impressed
After Kyle told Jesse who he was and his interest in the kind of pranks the YouTuber was filming, the two agreed to talk on the phone. When they spoke, Fogeard asked Sebastiani to spit out a few ideas for a successful video. Jesse's first idea involving a police station was not impressive for the upcoming prankster.
But Sebastiani's next idea caught his peer's attention. Fogeard met up with Nelk soon after that call, and he did his first joke with them. Light Me On Fire was performed on a busy sidewalk where Jesse was caught on fire by one of his friends and the public's reaction was filmed. After a fun day, the group planned a shocking next move.
A Daring Move
The day Kyle joined Jesse and his crew for the filming of Light Me On Fire, it was clear that the new friends had a strong, almost immediate connection. They also worked well together as they planned and executed their big joke. But what the Nelk boys asked Kyle after their day together was surprising.
The Nelk crew suggested Sebastiani go with them to California. Jesse was shocked that they were inviting him since they had only met that day! An excited Jesse accepted the invitation and they moved to LA together. But the big move didn't exactly bring the five friends closer together.
They Reached 1 Million Subscribers
When Jesse initially joined Nelk, the group was made up of Kyle, Lucas, and the Martinovic twins. But during their time in Los Angeles, Marko and Niko decided to leave Nelk and create their own channel. In late 2017, Jason Pagaduan joined the remaining members.
But before Jason joined, something else altered the course of the YouTube channel. In September 2017, Nelk broke out big time. They went from a couple of million views per month to over 10 million and finally reached 1 million subscribers. Little did they know their wild ride was only beginning.
The Spread of "Full Send"
With the sudden take-off of the rising YouTube channel, a kind of lifestyle brand started to develop amongst the crew members and their fans. While the channel's name, Nelk, didn't have a particular meaning, the boys popularized and coined other terms that quickly spread on the Internet.
One of their most popular slogans became "full send," something the jokesters often said as they embarked on a new adventure. "Full send" meant that something film-worthy was about to occur. But the word also had another meaning that inspired subscribers.
"Full Send" Became a Lifestyle
"Full send" became a crucial part of what Nelk represented. "We're going 'full send'" meant that you were committed to doing something extremely awesome, with little regard to consequences. The YouTubers frequently used the slogan and then asked "is the camera rolling?"
The idea of diving into wild situations became a theme of the channel, and "full send" encapsulated this. The phrase became a brand, as the entrepreneurs began selling sweaters, tees, stickers, and more. Merch drops began selling out in minutes. But not everything was as good as it seemed online.
He Struggled With Their Lifestyle Image
Not all of the Nelk members found instant happiness in the channel's sudden success. While most of them were enjoying the benefits of their newfound stardom, one member did not feel as fulfilled. Lucas had concerns about the lifestyle the brand was perceived to encourage.
He was troubled by the way the channel portrayed him. Worried that he would miss future opportunities because of his participation in Nelk, Lucas left the team in 2017. His concerns would soon prove valid as the remaining members got themselves into some serious trouble.
They Joined Clout House
Shortly after Lucas departed from the channel, Nelk got another exciting opportunity. They were invited to hang out with members of the notorious Clout House, a multi-million dollar mansion in Hollywood Hills. This was a chance for some serious exposure.
Some of the richest and most popular YouTubers lived in the Clout House. The rising stars were excited to spend time in the mansion, filming with others who had similar passions to them. But when they posted their adventures on Nelk, some fans were not nearly as happy.
Some Fans Were Upset
Some subscribers didn't like the idea of the pranksters joining the Clout House group, fearing that the genuine young men would end up selling themselves out. "When they start wearing Gucci and Supreme, collecting Yeexes, then we will have a problem," wrote one user.
Still, others came to the stars' rescue. "I'm stoked that [Nelk is] making moves. Just because they're joining clout gang doesn't mean they're gonna change," said a fan. "The only difference is that they'll finally be getting the exposure and rewards that they deserve." And oh boy, that exposure was turning into dollar signs.
More Money, More Problems
As they became better known, the hard-working boys continued filming the kind of content their audience originally fell in love with. Staying true to their "full send" motto, they filmed pranks in parks, libraries, lecture halls, Apple Stores, Best Buy, and more.
The channel now had a couple of million subscribers and hundreds of millions of views. The group began seeing the monetary benefits of their rising fame, with their collective net worth now estimated at $1.5 million. But with more money came more problems, a lesson the boys were about to learn.
A Prank Gone Wrong
In early 2019, Nelk planned a prank different from anything they had ever done before. But the outlandish joke landed them in some serious problems. It started with Jesse walking into a bookstore wearing a simple white jumpsuit... that was smeared in fake blood.
Unfortunately for everyone else, no one could tell the blood was fake. But that's not all. The cherry on top of the scary joke was when Jesse asked store employees if they had books on covering up a crime scene. A concerned bystander soon called the police. Little did Nelk know that more trouble would follow.
Not What They Expected
In August 2019, the Nelk team decided to participate in the 'Spin the Globe' trend. All the content creators needed to do was spin a globe while blindfolded, place a finger randomly on the globe, and then travel to wherever they were pointing. Simple, right?
The group had a not-so-casual approach to the challenge. They took their newly purchased globe to the Veld Music Festival in Toronto and spun it on stage with DJ Julian Dzeko. As 20,000 people watched in the audience, Jesse pointed his finger. And then they got a disappointing surprise.
Questioned in a Foreign Country
Sebastiani's finger had landed on Russia. Hoping for somewhere more young and wild, the boys couldn't help but exclaim about how upset they were. But a deal was a deal, and they had to travel to the chosen destination. No matter how big or cold it was.
"Kyle, Jesse, 905 and Steve were pulled aside at the security checkpoint," the team shared from their layover in Germany. "Questioning has been going on for over an hour thus far." After contacting their lawyer, they were released. "We are all good and free," they wrote.
A Dangerous Fan Meet-Up
After their Russia trip, the boys found themselves in Dublin, Ireland, where they spontaneously organized a get together with their Irish fans. But what would happen when an audience of full-senders united in a public space? Hundreds of teenagers took over the local park, jumping fences and letting off fireworks.
"I don't know how many people showed up, but the cops... closed the gate, they shut the place down," Nelk reported. "We chose a public space on purpose so we thought they couldn't shut it down." The boys had once again messed with the law, but it was nothing compared to what happened next.
Fans Were Shocked That He Left
Since the channel's inception as NelkFilmz, the modern family of cast members had changed a few times throughout the years. Yet fans were flabbergasted when the YouTube stars parted ways with their longtime cameraman and editor Jason Pagaduan, otherwise known as 905 shooter.
Subscribers had no idea Pagaduan would be leaving the team and were disappointed that their long-trusted cameraman was breaking ways with the rest of the crew. The Nelk fanbase began speculating the reason for his leave, but little did they know the shocking story behind the decision.
"He Was Our Cameraman, but He Wasn't Doing Any Work"
Finally, the group of pranksters decided to open up about the sudden change in the channel's members. Kyle Forgeard and SteveWillDoIt spoke on Ripper Magoos podcast on the difficult decision. Fans appreciated how honestly and openly the two were about what had been happening behind the camera.
"He didn't do any work behind the camera at all," Foregeard shared. "He was our cameraman, but he wasn't doing any work... He was very lazy. He would huff and puff when you asked him to edit, taking midday naps. For someone to be lazy and not believe in it, it's not fair." But that wasn't all.
905 Had Issues With Some Fans
But 905's faults went beyond his work ethic, as was further revealed. The cameraman allegedly had issues interacting with certain fans. "When I brought him on three years ago, there were a lot of creepy messages he was sending to girls," said Kyle. Steve also told a story from a different time that painted 905 in a bad light.
During a trip to Ibiza, the former team member mishandled a situation in which one of their fans was hospitalized. 905 allegedly "didn't understand the responsibility" of having audience members invited on a trip. It wasn't long after these revelations that Nelk once again astonished viewers.
"I Hate Fame"
"Honestly love what we do, but... I hate being such a target. It's cliche... but I hate fame. I've only had a taste of it, and I already experienced how much you have to give up for this life choice. It sounds petty, but I've lost almost everything I use to love about life."
He wasn't shy to open up about his true feelings regarding fame and internet stardom. He claims there is always a price to fame and it's not all it's cracked up to be. At the end of the day, they are the only ones in their shoes, experiencing this journey.
"It's all exciting, then you realize this is your life."
When asked by a fan what about how the lifestyle made him feel this way, he said, "It's hard to explain until you're in it. It's all exciting, then you realize this is your life. For some, they feed off of it." Most of the time, fans feel like they know the celebrity personally.
Some may be surprised to learn that Jesse felt he almost 'lost out' on a lot, thanks to his fame. "Personally, [I] feel I lost natural interactions, relationships... You're always at the center of attention, every conversation's about you," he said. Jesse has expressed an issue with this several times in the past.
More Legal Issues
In May 2020, Nelk was arrested in Mississippi for a prank they did. During the skit, they pretended to be employees at a Target store, but it is still unconfirmed as to what exactly happened. It seems as though they took this prank a little too far.
Jesse Sebastiani revealed on NELK's Instagram that many of the channel’s frequent stars such as Kyle Forgeard, SteveWillDoIt, and Salim had all been arrested along with their crew of cameramen. However, fans are eagerly awaiting for the moment the truth is revealed.
Watch this Space
As for these internet superstars? Well, who knows what's to come. The stars have shown no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Regardless of being flagged and reported on their social media platforms, multiple times, the NELK boys are staying strong.
But with their sudden rise to fame, we're only left with one question. Are Sebastiani and Jesse genuinely all they make themselves out to be? Who are they when the camera stops rolling? We'll let you decide.