In the fall of 2020, Nu Xiong, the man behind the Anchorage-based NuttyNu YouTube channel, posted a video message to his to his 28,000 subscribers unlike anything he’d done before.
“I feel like I should have made this video a long, long time ago,” he said sitting at his East Anchorage home, wearing a plain white T-shirt. “I have Tourette’s Syndrome.”
Tourette’s is a disorder characterized by nervous tics. For Xiong, who specializes in rough-hewn Go-Pro portrayals of Anchorage’s grittier side, it manifests as mostly as sporadic coughing and sticking his tongue out. It’s something that he’s mostly concealed or edited out of the 1,800 videos he’s posted on his channel almost every day over the past half-decade.
“When I made that video, it really made such a big difference. Like, it’s just such a big thing to just get off my chest,” he said.
Xiong began his career as a content creator with dashcam videos of car wrecks. Now he shoots everything from food reviews, to a walking investigation of a national ammo shortage at a local sporting goods stores, to gonzo-style bike tours around Anchorage neighborhoods like Mountain View, where he grew up.
His most popular video, a sensual close-up of his wife’s lips perfectly made up with glittery lipstick set to trippy electronic music, has almost 3 million views. (He said he produced that video at home on a whim, and it took off unexpectedly. Most of the views on the video are from India, he said.)
Nu has professional-level camera skills that he uses to support himself, producing music videos for local musicians or and virtual home tours for real estate brokers. On YouTube, though, he mostly keeps it rough, mainly shooting with a GoPro.
He’s not afraid to check out places many would avoid, darting through dark alleys and following police squad cars.
“I don’t wanna go anywhere where I might get caught up in a situation. So I have to be very careful where I go,” he says in one video posted from a helmet camera as he mountain bikes through Fairview streets. “Let’s go check out that alleyway though.”
He’s run afoul of the law at least once for illegal hunting of spruce grouse from a roadway, which he filmed.
His fearless, uninhibited style — and his growing popularity — have also led to some lessons. In October, he posted a video of a man yelling loudly who approached him at a gas station with a bloody face. The man’s brother reached out later to explain the harm it caused to his brother, who was suffering from mental illness at the time. They chatted over messenger and Xiong decided to take the video down (after making another video apologizing).
But for the most part, he’s not backing away from raw portrayals. He’s posted scenes of active crime investigations and abandoned homeless camps. He’s not afraid to talk to anyone he meets, and he has a knack for getting people to talk to him, from grizzled men on the street corners to police officers.
“A lot of people, they want to show just strictly the good of Alaska, but I also want to show ‘Hey, there are other things that’s not so great about Alaska,’” he said.
Mostly, he’s enjoying exploring the town where he was raised, with all of its quirks.
“It’s such a small city it’s just so diverse that you have to really explore it and just once you explore it, you see the good of it. Yeah, there’s so much good of it,” he said.