You’ve probably seen 28-year-old Tara Kulakov’s lifehack videos, but you probably don’t know exactly who he is.
You’re not alone! For someone with over 400 videos that have been viewed nearly 779 million times, very little is known about Kulakov. He has never given an interview and aside from two old Q&A videos, he rarely answers his fans’ questions.
But he is one of the most popular lifehackers on YouTube, so popular that he was able to ditch his job at Wal-Mart to make videos fulltime.
Though Kulakov declined our request for an interview, here’s what we do know: Kulakov moved to Asheville, North Carolina in the early aughts after coming from Russia [hometown unknown] as a former professional swimmer, according to him. Kulakov came to America for — in his words — money, girls, and a better life.
He started on YouTube back in 2009 under the username
origami768, where he gave origami tutorials. He also started another channel called SlowMoLaboratory that never quite took off.
Then in 2012, Kulakov — who was working at Wal-Mart at the time — started his Crazy Russian Hacker YouTube account.
Kulakov’s YouTube videos typically start with rapid-fire sound effects as a huge red star pops up on screen with a sickle and hammer. Overlaid are the words, in big block letters, “CRAZY RUSSIAN HACKER.”
“What’s up everybody?” Kulakov asks at the start of every video. “Welcome to my laboratory, where safety is [the] #1 priority. Boom!”
Kulakov stands at a shocking 6’7” and stares into the camera before putting on his tinted safety goggles. They look like sunglasses, making him in turn resemble some sort of cool, villainous super scientist.
But Kulakov is anything but a villain. His offbeat and good-natured humour is sometimes lost in the thickness of his Russian accent, but even so, Kulakov is immediately endearing. It’s no secret watching him why he became such an internet success.
“I got [a] camera, a basic cord, [and] I start[ed] talking, like ‘What’s up everybody welcome back, today we’re going to walk on eggs,'” he said of his first ever video. “And so I walked on eggs and they didn’t break and that was my first video and that’s how I started making videos, I think.”
Some of the commenters loved his personality and accent while others came for the science and explosions. There were even a few truth sayers that insisted that Kulakov wasn’t even Russian and that his accent was fake.
Some conspiracy-theorist commenters even claimed that Taras Kulakov wasn’t his real name at all, but instead it was Kyle Myers. Even today, comments pop up on the Crazy Russian Hacker videos wondering whether or not Kulakov is really Russian.
“Some people still think I’m not Russian,” he said to his fans in a Q&A from 2012. “And I don’t know why. Tell me why people think I’m fake Russian [in the comments]. Why would I be faking? Anyways.”
By 2014, Kulakov had one million YouTube subscribers. His survivalist and food hacks videos were also making headlines on The Huffington Post, Popular Mechanics, and Business Insider. He started making money through the YouTube partnership program, which allows creators to profit from running paid ads on their videos.
Today, Kulakov has over 5 million subscribers. His videos, like “10 Hanger Life Hacks” and “Homemade Dry Ace,” now frequently get over 1 million views. His most watched video of all time is “What Will Happen If You Boil Coke?” which has over 24 million views. (Spoiler: it looks like tar.)
“A lot of things I know before and a lot of things I have to search them on [the] internet and then put my soul into it, make them even better than what I find and make my own ideas,” he explained about his process. “I only choose the awesome ones.”
Kulakov is now so successful that there are fan Twitter accounts and fan art dedicated to the YouTube sensation. All the comments on Kulakov’s Instagram — which prominently features his beautiful white husky, Luke — are all idolizing the YouTube star.
His personal life has also changed as well. Back in 2012 when he launched his page, Kulakov said he was single and working at Wal-Mart. Now, if his Instagram account is to believed, Kulakov is engaged and he told fans he no longer has to work. Though it’s unknown how much money he makes from his channel, successful YouTubers can easily make over $US100,000 a year and as much as $US8 million.
“People just like my videos and they say I’m awesome,” he said way back in his 2012 Q&A. “They love my accent, you know.”