The video for Alison Gold's "Shush Up" begins with the pre-teen singer covered in gold glitter and wearing a gold lamé top and tiny shorts. She plays both a prison warden and a convict executed by electric chair before evaporating into a gold rain that falls on a dancing crowd as she shouts, "Crank it or just shush up!" over a clubby house beat.
This is the fourth music video Gold's parents have commissioned from Patrice Wilson, the 35-year-old owner of PMW Live, a vanity production company that, for $6,500, provides aspiring stars a custom-penned song, a music video, a photo shoot and promotion through the company's YouTube channel.
Raised between Nigeria and London, Wilson has worked as a fashion model, backup singer for a Slovakian pop star and manager of an air-conditioning-repair company.
But Gold and others come to Wilson because he is the creator of "Friday," a 2011 video featuring teen singer Rebecca Black warbling, "Kickin' in the front seat, sittin' in the backseat/Gotta make my mind up, which seat can I take?" Critics deemed it the worst song in history, and it is one of the most "disliked" videos on YouTube. None of that stopped it from pulling in more than 230 million views. Black went on to appear on The Tonight Show and in a Katy Perry music video. Lady Gaga called her a genius. Which is why these days people fork over thousands in the hope that Wilson will make them—or their offspring—the next viral-video sensation.
"The reason they go viral," Wilson says, "is because these songs are a part of me, things that I enjoy." Which explains "Chinese Food," a previous Gold video about "chow mo-mo-mo-mo-mein" (14 million views). There's also "It's Thanksgiving," featuring Wilson in a turkey costume and drumsticks used as microphones (15 million views), and "ABCDEFG," another Gold video, in which a godlike Wilson transforms the singer's friends into puppets (3 million views). These videos are oddly lovable, even if the lines between ignorance, satire and self-awareness become a jumbled mess. At the very least, they have catchy hooks.
That doesn't mean they're all international hits. Wilson's YouTube channel is littered with sub-500,000-view duds, from tepid pop to love ballads to flavorless girl-group songs, none of them Grammy contenders. "I'm immune to critics now," he says. "I've heard everything. If people want Patrice, if they want Fat Usher, let's give it to them."
This article originally appeared in the April issue of Playboy. Read more from our complete archives on iPlayboy.com.
Illustration by Eddie Guy