THE NEW YORK TIMES: The guys behind ‘Hawk Tuah Girl’ would like a little credit

Joseph Bernstein
The New York Times
The pair say they are happy for Welch, but they are also wondering, just a bit, when they’re going to get a little credit.
The pair say they are happy for Welch, but they are also wondering, just a bit, when they’re going to get a little credit. Credit: Youtube

Right before they filmed the loogie heard around the world, Tim Dickerson and DeArius Marlow were getting ready to go home.

They were on the corner of Broadway and 3rd Avenue in the downtown area of Nashville, Tennessee, and as it crept past midnight, the pair, who shoot person-on-the-street interviews at nightlife hot spots around the country, thought they had enough footage for a good video.

Then, two women approached them from across the street, asking to be interviewed.

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At that moment, a viral star was born.

That star, of course, is Hailey Welch, better known online as “Hawk Tuah Girl.”

“Hawk tuah” is an onomatopoeia for the sound Welch made to simulate a sex act in a video captured by Dickerson and Marlow that has since been viewed millions of times.

Through dozens of reaction videos and an almost instantaneous merchandising push (think: “Hawk Tuah ’24” campaign T-shirts), the phrase has launched itself into the public consciousness.

And so has Welch.

Since Dickerson and Marlow uploaded the clip to Instagram in early June, Welch has sold tens of thousands of dollars in merch, appeared on a Barstool Sports podcast, and appeared alongside country star Zach Bryan at a recent show. (A representative for Welch did not immediately respond to a request to comment for this article.)

The pair say they are happy for Welch, but they are also wondering, just a bit, when they’re going to get a little credit.

“At the end of the day, nobody would know who she was if we didn’t bring it to light and post it,” Marlow said.

“A lot of the audience who hadn’t seen us before think we grew off this one clip. People were treating it like we’re nobodies and didn’t already have a platform.”

Dickerson, 25, and Marlow, 24, who post interviews to YouTube, Instagram and TikTok as Tim & Dee TV, are former college roommates and Nashville natives who started a YouTube channel in 2021.

Inspired by the WorldStarHipHop video series “Questions” — in which a host asked passersby “simple questions you’d think they’d know” — the pair typically sets up in a nightlife district, like Nashville’s Broadway, where revelers hop from bar to bar.

Their questions range from silly to extremely raunchy, and their subjects are often as enthusiastic as they are inebriated.

“It’s mostly just jokes,” Dickerson said. “We’re not pressuring nobody or nothing — we’re just capturing the vibe. That’s what we do best.”

Though the duo interviews men as well as women, their videos play a bit like a PG-13, Gen Z version of “Girls Gone Wild,” the early-aughts videos in which a host interviewed partygoers at spring break destinations.

It’s a crowded lane. TikTok and YouTube are full of man-on-the-street interviews these days, about nearly every imaginable subject: personal finance, personal style, fitness routines. But Dickerson and Marlow have had some success breaking through, traveling to Arizona and Miami to shoot videos, and amassing 100,000 followers on Instagram.

On the fateful night they ran into Welch, their interview began with what the pair considers tamer questions, such as, “What makes you wifey material?”

Eventually, they recalled, Welch encouraged Marlow to “spice up the questions.” Marlow complied, asking, “What’s one move in bed that makes a man go crazy every time?” — the prompt that catapulted Welch into internet fame.

After Welch’s response, the pair remembered exchanging a look signifying, per Dickerson, “Oh yeah, that’s going to be a good one.”

Still, they didn’t imagine anything like what happened next.

The next day, Marlow uploaded the clip to TikTok. Almost immediately, other accounts across social media began reposting it — but only after scrubbing the “Tim and Dee TV” watermark.

Dickerson and Marlow, who earn money for their videos based on how many people view them, estimated that they filed at least 50 copyright claims in the days after they first published the clip. (Marlow works on the side as a videographer, while Dickerson is a day trader and football coach.)

Soon, they said, they began to hear from bigger fish in the media pond: Complex, Barstool Sports, OnlyFans.

To the pair’s disappointment, though, these inquiries were only to find out how to get in touch with Welch, who had become the subject of a fire hose of online rumors about her job and the fallout from her viral moment.

Welch debunked many of them in an interview with Brianna LaPaglia of Barstool Sports.

Such is life in the viral content mill.

Dickerson and Marlow have seen their videos take off online before — though, they admit, never at this scale — and they figure it will happen again.

They have more videos coming soon. And Marlow said he thought there could be future collaborations with Welch: He was in touch with her lawyer.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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