Four years ago, Daniel McIvor went viral on Police 10/7. Soon after, he fled to Australia. He speaks with Josie Adams for IRL about what it was like to become social-media famous, and life afterwards.
In 2017, Police 10/7 was filming in Hamilton. It was a quiet night, but in the distance quick footsteps and a drawn-out yell could be heard. “Hiiiiiiiii!” yelled Daniel McIvor, then just 24 years old. The camera quickly found him, clutching takeaways and running across the road. “I’ve got no meth on me, but if I pull a bag of sugar out would you put me on TV?”
McIvor, now based in Auckland, remembers the moment he spotted the cameras. He was on his way home from town when he saw them, roughly 70 metres away. “There was police with probably five camera crew there. I think it was one camera, someone holding a light, someone holding a boom, and someone holding a clipboard and then, obviously, the officer. I think they were doing drunk driving checks.
“I just turned to my friend and was like, ‘do you think I should just go for it?’ and he’d already realised that he’d lost control of me by that point. He was like, ‘do what you’re gonna do’.”
When he walked into work the next day, he made a prophecy. “I was like, ‘holy shit, you guys, I think I’m going to be famous’”.
He was right. When the episode went to air nine months later, it took just three days for the one-minute clip to rack up 625,000 views. It was on the Daily Mail and Buzzfeed. It’s hard to say how many views he has now, given how often in the years since it’s been uploaded to Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and – most recently – TikTok.
I called McIvor halfway through Auckland’s latest lockdown, when he was halfway through shaving his head. He normally works at a bar in Auckland’s Viaduct, but recently spent a week picking kiwifruit on the city’s fringes; he’s getting the wage subsidy, but he was restless.
He’s frequently restless. He wants to be a lawyer, a writer, and a flight attendant; he wants to help the homeless and pay back his parents for all their good deeds; he’s been a handyman and a barman and a McDonald’s worker. “I want to be so many different things,” he said. “I’m very aware of the fact that I’m aging and there’s only so much that you can do in this life.”
Even stuck inside his Auckland central flat for lockdown, he’s brewing beer and making mozzarella and learning to sew. And despite all the rustic hobbies, he’s also extremely plugged in.
“I still live a lot of my life online,” he said. He’s recently started posting on TikTok, but Snapchat is his happy place; he’s a millennial, after all. But despite basically demanding Police 10/7 make him a viral star four years ago, he’s come to feel online fame is a bit of a rort. “It’s just very temperamental,” he said. “And it’s very looks based.” He believes going viral in the TikTok age isn’t about making high quality content; it’s about looking the right way and tapping the right vein. “It doesn’t matter if it’s any good or if it’s funny.”
He worries that developing online personas can lead to a lack of fulfillment in the real world. “People’s personalities tend to be, when you’re out and about, way less crazy and vibrant than they are on the internet,” he said. That can lead to a disconnect between who you are online and off.
It’s a disconnect he’s seen play out firsthand. “I feel like people had this idea of who I was based on this one minute clip that was really just not that accurate,” he said. He’d go to parties for months after the show aired, and people would be disappointed in his lack of shrieking exuberance. “I was just doing my thing that night, you know, that was one minute of however many minutes I’ve been on this earth.
“Also, not many people can run around screaming like that all the time, because that’s a lot.”
He ended up moving to Australia to avoid the pressure, and landed in Sydney with $200 in his pocket and a dream. Sadly, he did not become a flight attendant; nor did he escape recognition.
“Most of the jobs I had, I either got them because people knew who I was or, you know, they’d seen the video.”
One of his first jobs was on Australian odd-jobs app AirTask, driving a drunk man home in his car. Then it was bigger leagues: barwork, Flight Centre, and even his own handyman business, where seeming familiar to customers can be a boon. “There were definitely positive outcomes in my life from it,” he said.
He regrets not making those outcomes more meaningful. “If I had that time again, I would rather have said something I thought was worth people hearing,” he said. “But no one wants to hear the things that are worth hearing.”
Whether or not people are listening, he hasn’t stopped talking. On his TikTok, he’s pro-vax. On his public Snapchat he details his day-to-day life; according to his latest story, he was punched in the face last Saturday. He’s moved to Australia and back twice in four years, coming back home initially because of a broken ankle and the second time because of the pandemic. Last year, he spent part of his MIQ stint on The AM Show.
Speaking with me, it’s clear he has a strong drive to change the world; he just needs to be pointed in the right direction. “I was homeless in Australia quite a bit, and always had a couch to stay on, but it was still hard.”
This has sparked a passion for helping the homeless. “I don’t know what I’m going to do about that in my life,” he said, clearly determined to do something. “I might save it for my 40s or 50s.”
In the past month the video has popped up again, this time on TikTok. ‘I do love reading the comments,” he laughed. “I feel like I won the internet with Police 10/7. But also that’s something that happened, it’s something that was, it’s not really in this part of time. And it sort of makes me feel like a has-been.”
Despite continuing to make content, McIvor isn’t trying to go viral again. He wants to hone his creative voice, not live in the public mind as one singular moment for another four years. “Maybe I’ll have another moment by chance, or maybe I’ll work really hard to get another moment.” But that’s not something he needs or wants right now.
“I was TikTok famous before TikTok famous was a thing,” he said. “I’m quite happy with just being the guy that serves people food for now.”