An old man hobbled through Washington, D.C., and when he dropped his cane, he slowly bent down to pick it up. But what he did next shocked those nearby who never could have expected this geriatric to do what he did.
It’s normal for people to slow down later in life. As humans get older, so do our bodies. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Stephanie Siegrist told WebMD that as adults age, joint-connecting tendons and ligaments eventually become “stiff and leathery.”
On top of that, Siegrist described how osteoarthritis can lead to the disappearance of joint cartilage. Combined with the aforementioned stiffness in tendons and ligaments, aging adults are left with soreness, pain and aches.
So, it was nothing out of the ordinary for onlookers who witnessed a slow-moving man making his way through the streets of Washington, D.C. His joints, much like those of others his age, probably hurt too much for him to move any faster.
Unfortunately, though, the old man proceeded to drop his cane. And the process to retrieve it was slow: he laboriously bent his body in half to reach the wooden walking stick. But once he had a hand on it, he did something completely unexpected.
From his hunched position, the geriatric launched into a backflip, catapulting himself from the ground and into the air as if it was nothing. When he landed on his feet, he resumed his slow, hobbling pace as he walked away.
But his acrobatics hadn’t gone unnoticed. The old man had dropped his cane in front of a bench full of people. One woman, who appeared to be slightly younger than the backflipper, gasped when she saw his gymnastics.
Of course, there was a very good explanation for the balding man’s antics – he wasn’t simply able to backflip despite being old and achy. Instead, he was viral sensation Grant Fox, who had pulled the backflip stunt before.
It turned out that Fox was a mere 21 years old, donning a disguise to make himself appear younger. His first viral video featured him in his normal attire, but doing the same trick in front of unsuspecting tourists in Ocean City, Maryland.
In 2017 Fox told The Baltimore Sun that he “had too much time on his hands” when he came up with the gag for his video. He shared the clip – which shows unsuspecting people with their mouths agape after he flips – to Instagram.
He posted that first video in May 2017, and, since then, the surprise backflip has become his go-to prank. Fox’s clips have been viewed millions of times, and other acrobats have attempted to copy his antics.
But, for Fox, video-making was nothing new. He discovered his hobby as a teen, piecing together stop-action films featuring his LEGOs. Since then, he has taken his creations online and made himself the star, much to the delight of his fanbase.
But, because the prankster – who also worked as a gymnast and coach – had racked up so many fans, he started getting recognized. “This is the first time people have come up to me. They’ll be like, ‘I know you, you’re that flip guy!’” he told The Baltimore Sun.
Perhaps that’s why Fox adopted the disguise of the old man, the one who hobbled his way through the U.S. capital, only to shock onlookers with his ability to backflip. The six-minute clip of his antics, shared on October 28, 2017, has brought in more than 14.9 million views on YouTube to date.
Fox tried his old man disguise again in Baltimore, a few months after he shared the original montage of him tricking people in D.C. Again, he followed the same format: he dropped his cane, dramatically bent down to pick it up, before backflipping.
The video also gave a glimpse at the long preparation time it took to transform the 21-year-old into an elderly man. First, the make-up artist brushed white pigment onto his beard to make it look aged.
Next, she slipped a bald cap over Fox’s full head of hear, further camouflaging signs of his youth. A bit of concealer blended his skin tone with the color of the hairless headpiece to make Fox’s baldness believable.
Once he was dressed and ready, Fox hit the streets in his disguise. He not only leapt into unexpected backflips, but also made quick movements and jumped towards unsuspecting passersby to give them a scare.
Fox also showcased an interesting array of dance moves in this video. Despite dressing like an old man, he launched into some pretty modern moves, including the internet-famous dance “The Floss.”
Of course, all of his moves – from dances to backflips – got a rise out of the Baltimoreans who witnessed them. And, for Fox, that was precisely the reason why he made his videos. He told The Baltimore Sun, “They’ll question what they’ve seen, their imagination goes wild.”