Imagine not being able to walk to the Student Union without dozens of students pointing and asking for your autograph. Off campus, you’re somewhat of a local celebrity. People take photos of you with their camera phones and scream every time they see your face. To most UCF students, this sounds like the unattainable life of a celebrity, but to junior public relations major Mateo Nevarez, this is real life.
Nevarez’s life of notoriety came about with the release of the 2009 hit “I’m in Miami Trick” by LMFAO. Nevarez saw his life change because of his striking resemblance to one of the two famous LMFAO members, singer and hype-man Redfoo.
However, Nevarez says he has been sporting Redfoo’s famous fro and plastic glasses before the group even became known. He began growing his hair into an afro his sophomore year of high school and immediately went into the big-glasses fad when it got trendy that same year.
“When the song “I’m in Miami Trick’ came out and became a huge hit, overnight I became somewhat of a local celebrity. In my high school of 4,000-plus students, all of a sudden everyone compared me to Redfoo from LMFAO,” Nevarez said. “Not to sound like a hipster, but I was technically pulling off the fro and glasses months before LMFAO came into the picture.”
At first, Nevarez hated LMFAO solely because of all of the attention he was receiving for resembling one of the singers. However, when people continued asking to take pictures with him, the LMFAO group grew on him.
The attention and chaos associated with Nevarez’s resemblance followed him to UCF, where he became marketing director of Late Knights his junior year.
“I’ve come to accept the fact that ‘Hey, if I’m going to have this hair in the first place and I’m not planning to cut it off, [I’d] rather just accept it at this point,’” Nevarez said. “Once I did that, I started meeting people that I honestly thought I would have never met in my life.”
Although most of his friendships result from people comparing him to Redfoo, some of his friends don’t see much of a resemblance at all. Lily Rojas, a junior nursing major, has been friends with Nevarez before the look-alike chaos even began.
“We’ll be in public just doing a normal task like grocery shopping, and I turn around to ask him what seems like a better deal only to see someone walk up and ask for an autograph,” Rojas said. “I usually just stand there and watch in amusement. However, if I’m feeling really silly I pretend to be his manager or agent and agree to ridiculous requests.”
On June 13, Nevarez won four LMFAO look-alike contests in downtown Orlando. In total, he won two VIP Party Pit tickets worth almost $400, two general admission floor tickets worth $200, $300 in cash, $100 in a beer and restaurant tab and dozens of other small prizes.
One of the contests was hosted by local radio disc jockey DJ Nailz of Power 95.3, who took a picture of Nevarez with his smartphone and sent it to Sky Blu of LMFAO. Nevarez doesn’t want to ruin any surprises, but he is currently working with the LMFAO group to appear in future music videos.
One of the biggest misunderstandings comes from students and people believing he dresses up to look like Redfoo from LMFAO on purpose for the sake of attention and perks.
“The only main reason I do it, honestly, is to make people smile and laugh,” Nevarez said. “Yes, getting perks and gifts is always a plus, but I’m perfectly content making someone happy for at least those quick three seconds when they think to themselves, ‘Did I just meet LMFAO?’”
Still, a day doesn’t go by without the whispers and stares from dozens of LMFAO fans and critics.
“Once they judge me for half a minute debating whether it’s really him or not, they usually always come up to me to ask for a photo just in case I’m really Redfoo,” Nevarez said. “Some people jump in joy and scream and run up to me asking for pictures, autographs, my left shoe, whatever, and some people just make fun of me for my hair and insult me. You get them all.”