Mariposa man's 'double rainbow' video an Internet phenomenon

07/08/2010 9:40 AM

12/13/2010 9:35 AM

Update: He's hired an agent and a manager.


Original post:

Paul Vasquez spent Thursday morning fielding phone calls from reporters.

"I'm taking the day off to go to Yosemite," he said, making it clear that his 15 minutes of fame is already starting to wear thin.

Vasquez, a Mariposa resident known on YouTube as HungryBear9562, was propelled to Internet stardom this week when Jimmy Kimmel linked one of his videos from his Twitter account. The video shows a set of rainbows shot on Jan. 8 from Vasquez's property, but it's his reaction that is getting so much attention.

In the video, which had nearly 1.6 million page views as of noon on Thursday, he screams out gems like "it's a double rainbow all the way across the sky!" And "it's so bright!" And "What does it mean?"

The 3 1/2-minute clip ends with him laughing. And sobbing. 

It's funny, and Vasquez doesn't seem to mind that people are getting a kick out of it -- he's been reposting the remakes and remixes that have shown up online in the past few days. One video, which itself has received half a million views since it was uploaded on Tuesday, autotuned his voice into a catchy song. Another mixed Vasquez's vocal track with Kermit the Frog's famous "Rainbow Connection."

But Vasquez, 47, says that people who say he was on drugs during the video are just plain wrong.

"I've been getting a lot of comments about it, and I just want people to know that I was not high. I was not having sex. I was not hiking," he said.

Vasquez told writer Nick Douglas that the rainbow's intensity simply "knocked me down."

"You could feel the rays, like from the sun or from a heat lamp, only it was rainbow rays," he was quoted as saying in Douglas' article. "It knocked me down. And that's why I had that reaction! The camera only captures 40 percent of the color. You can't imagine how intense it was."

Rainbows, by the way, make frequent appearances at the Vasquez property, as can be seen in some of the nearly 300 video clips on his YouTube profile.

He was interviewed by CBS' Shira Lazar on Thursday. And he's starting to get recognized in public, most recently while taking photos of the Mariposa farmers market for Mariposa Magazine on Wednesday.

Vasquez purchased his land in 1988 and worked as a truck driver until 2004, when weight issues forced him to make life changes. (He's since lost 175 pounds, but says he now pretty much stays in Mariposa and Yosemite.) Today, he says he's "basically poor," though he makes some money from his photography and dog breeding.

Is the video a future source of income? He has already entertained some offers for cash, but so far he's resisting the temptation.

"It's like selling out," he said. "This was spiritual. This was the universe showing me itself and I'm not going to cash in on it."

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