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The #StarbucksDrakeHands Guy Speaks

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Mon, Dec 9, 2013 at 4:00 AM

click to enlarge Brody Ryan - RYAN ORANGE
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  • Brody Ryan
Brody Ryan unzips his black Hugo Boss dress pants, musses his overgrown mohawk and swigs from a half-empty Champagne bottle. He sprawls shirtless on his living room couch and asks the makeshift camera crew, "Do I look messed up enough?"

On this Saturday afternoon, the 30-year-old rapper (and graphic designer and server) wants to recreate the moment, two months ago, when he realized his name would be linked indelibly to a hashtag: #StarbucksDrakeHands. The moment he woke, viciously hungover, to 26 new text messages, including, "Dude! Is that you in that video?" The moment he knew he was no longer just Brody Ryan, aspiring artist, but instead a joke across social media -- and instantly, if fleetingly, famous.

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"Maybe pull your pants down a little more," a videographer says. "Like you tried to take them off before passing out."

Today, Ryan -- who moved to L.A. 10 months ago from Columbus, Ohio -- is shooting a music video about the surreal experience. The song's title is "15 Seconds of Fame," and it's his last-ditch attempt to capitalize on just that.

"Everything in my life turned upside down," he says. "I couldn't register what was happening at first. I flipped on the TV and saw my face. I spit out the powdered doughnut I was eating."

It all started in October. Ryan, who lives in Santa Monica, says he connected with a Studio City woman on the dating app Tinder and began exchanging photos. He showed her his Rottweiler, Leo. She sent hiking pictures.

"Then she stopped responding," he says. "I wanted to do something to catch her attention. I thought it'd be funny to send her a visual voicemail."

The rest is weird web history: Ryan shot this "visual voicemail" (think: video selfie), intended for her eyes only, on his phone. He stares into the camera as Drake's "Hold On, We're Going Home" plays: I've got my eyes on you. You're everything I see. He breaks into a grin, looks down and slowly runs his hand across his forehead. It was meant to be a playful wink and nudge, he says. But it comes off as vaguely creepy.

Two weeks later, the 15-second footage surfaced on New York City DJ Ben "B-Roc" Ruttner's Instagram feed, captioned: "A friend met this guy at a coffee shop. He got her number and sent her this. Nice work bud."

It blazed across Facebook and Twitter, inspiring hundreds of #StarbucksDrakeHands parodies. Larry King, Snooki, Zedd and the Milwaukee Bucks, to name a few, released their own video selfie tributes.

The woman in question -- 20-year-old model Piper Kennedy -- repeated the coffee-shop story to Ryan Seacrest. It was twisted on Reddit and Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post until mainstream media described Brody as a well-meaning but misguided Starbucks barista.

"We're seeing a reality TV show, a biography and a possible line of cashmere gloves at JC Penney in his near future," Los Angeles blogger Jenn Harris wrote. "And to think, it all started at a Starbucks."

Meanwhile, Ryan, who battles anxiety and depression, considered moving back to Ohio. He felt trapped in someone's publicity ploy. The video selfie was humiliating enough -- but the Starbucks lie haunted him.

"Piper was embarrassed we met on Tinder," Ryan says. "She sent me a text, 'BTW, we met in West Hollywood.' But I didn't want to lie. She made me look like a loser so she could have all this exposure." (Kennedy didn't respond to L.A. Weekly's requests for comment.)

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