There are plenty of ways to get TikTok famous . One Texas man has racked up nearly two million followers and over 25 million likes on the popular platform by disguising himself as a potted bush and scaring people.
Dubbed the “Texas Bushman,” Joe Jones, 33, dresses in a green ghillie suit covered in fake leaves, sits in a large planter and quietly waits for unsuspecting passerbys to walk past him before he suddenly springs to life, producing plenty of screams and frightened jumps.
@texasbushman Offered him $20 but he declined #bushman #bushmanprank #texasbushman #scareprank #funnyvideos ♬ original sound – Texas BUSHMAN
And no one is safe when it comes to Jones’s pranks. Celebrities like MLB All-Star Matt Kemp and WNBA champion Chelsea Gray, as well as children and law enforcement officers have all fallen victim to his sneak attacks. In July, Jones tricked media personality Richard Rawlings of the Discovery Channel series “Fast N' Loud.”
“Haha, that's a good one,” Rawlings said in the clip as he clutched tightly to his coffee cup to prevent it from spilling after a jump scare. Nearly each of Jones’ videos have garnered over a million views and thousands of comments on the platform. He also posts full-length videos of his pranks on YouTube, where he has over 216,000 subscribers.
@texasbushman Scared a Celeb @rrrawlings #bushman #bushmanprank #texasbushman #scareprank #funnyvideos ♬ original sound – Texas BUSHMAN
Originally from California and raised in St. Louis, Jones says he got the bushman idea a few years ago after his mom sent him a video of another YouTuber doing bushman pranks. “I couldn’t stop laughing,” he said. “I binge watched all their videos and decided to give it a shot.”
A licensed pilot, Jones said he also wanted to make some extra money from YouTube to help further his flying career. Jones previously worked as a mechanic in his own diesel vehicle shop, which he ran for seven years. “I told myself that if this prank paid me consistently more than my running shop then I would start doing the prank full-time and that’s exactly what happened last November,” Jones said.
In 2021 he moved to San Antonio from Midland, Texas, transitioning to making videos his sole source of income. He recalled that the first time he ever did the prank, he drove five hours away to Austin in 2019 with no solid plan, buying a planter on the way. “I loved the reactions I got that day and the diversity of complete strangers that would stop to take pics and videos and be able to laugh with other strangers,” he said. “It was like magic to me so I kept making the videos.”
While Jones mostly spends his time pranking people at popular tourist spots in San Antonio, like the River Walk, his hijinks have also taken him across the Lone Star State to Houston, Austin, Lubbock, Dallas, Galveston, as well as outside of the state to Santa Monica and St. Louis.
“Out of everywhere I’ve filmed San Antonio always gave me the best most positive energy and plenty of foot traffic from tourists so it was the perfect city for this prank,” Jones said.
Most of the reactions Jones gets are pretty hilarious but sometimes people appear to be unfazed by the jump scares. He said his pranks haven’t ever gone terribly wrong, but there have definitely been some close calls. “No one has ever been seriously hurt so that’s a huge blessing, which is also my biggest concern,” he said. “I’ve never been punched doing the prank but I’ve been smacked, pushed, grabbed, had water poured on me, had my life threatened, cops called on me regularly, security trying to run me off, etc.”
However, Jones said he tries not to take any of it personally. “I tell myself if you’re not laughing with me I’m not laughing at you. I don’t scare everyone and I don’t scare everyone the same,” he said. “I am literally asking people to give me a reaction in public so I take the bad with the good and the good with the bad.”
Not many know the sacrifices Jones makes to put out his content, he said, adding that before moving to San Antonio he would frequently drive more than five hours away to get to his prank spots and would often film in 100-plus degree weather wearing his ghillie suit.
“I would immediately drive five hours back home sore legs and all,” Jones said. “The next day edit for sometimes 20 hours straight. Then run a full-time diesel shop. I did that for over two years so I didn’t have a lot of days off.”
Despite the struggle, seeing the positive impact his videos have on people makes it all worth it, Jones said. Having lost his father last month, Jones had taken a month-long break from filming but said he is ready to get back to it, with additional plans to soon work on a horror comedy feature-length movie and sell coffee online as a side gig.
“I literally get thousands of people telling me how much my videos mean to them and how they help them get through some of the darkest times in their lives so I owe it to myself and my online family to try to deliver videos consistently that will at minimum make them smile,” Jones said.
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