Photographer: Jonathan Lee.
Xavier Di Petta and Nick Iavarone, dubbed “X” and “Ivy,” together form the most-followed Australian TikTok account with more than 19 million followers.
Di Petta, a Victoria native, and Iavarone, from California, use the name “Party Shirt,” for their immensely popular “fact or cap” videos, which seek to confirm or debunk TikTok trends. In each video, the pair predict and test whether viral videos––such as finding metal in household baby food brands, or charging an iPhone with a banana––are real (fact) or spurious (AKA “cap” in internet speak).
Party Shirt became the biggest TikTok account run by an Australian nearly overnight, gaining more than 10 million followers in just more than a month. Di Petta and Iavarone attribute their whirlwind success to a polarised media climate, one that’s especially prevalent in the U.S., where they’re based.
“People connect to ‘fact or cap’ because there’s a lot of fake media, and it’s hard to tell who’s fact checking information online,” Di Petta says.
“We’re now in a time when two average dudes in an average apartment are people’s only reliable source.”
The Myth Busters-like TikToks, which garner anywhere from 2 to 32 million views, have given rise to Party Shirt’s spin-off segment “snack or yack,” where X and Ivy test odd, viral recipes to see if they’re “incredible or inedible.”
The “snack or yack” videos are, like every TikTok, less than one minute long, and yet, the overnight celebrities plan to transform them into something lasting; Armed with Di Petta’s entrepreneurial background and repped by managers Brillstein Entertainment Partners, the group behind Brad Pitt and Vin Diesel, the Party Shirt duo will launch a restaurant chain of ghost kitchens, with three in Australia.
Their preliminary chain of ghost restaurants, which has yet to be named, will focus on unique, viral food pairings and have an ever-rotating menu. It will launch at the end of this year with a food truck to test concepts, and rollout will continue in mid-2022 with 10 kitchens in the United States, two in the UK, and three in Australia.
“We’re going to make interesting, one-of-a-king meals that you can’t get anywhere else,” Di Petta says.
“[They’ll be in] Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane – with a larger roll-up by the end of 2022.”
Although the name is now most associated with “Fact or Cap” and “Snack or Yack,” Party Shirt began in 2018 as Di Petta and Iavarone’s DJ group. Their single “Dancing Tonight” has reached more than 1.5 million Spotify streams, but they temporarily pivoted away from dance tracks during COVID-19, when nobody could go out to dance.
“We initially started making content as a vehicle for our music, but when everything shut down during COVID, it was hard to stay relevant in that scene because we couldn’t do live performances,” Iavarone says.
“Fact or cap is what really took off, but we’ve been working on so much unreleased music, so I’m sure we’ll come back to music in a bigger way.”
The young DJs, creators, and soon-to-be ghost restaurateurs are now based in Los Angeles, California, which Di Petta considers “home,” but the Victoria-bred star still champions his Australian heritage.
“I can have a bigger impact over here; There’s more people in California than in the entire country of Australia,” Di Petta says.
“I love that I can amplify the Australian message or way of life more here than I could back home.”
The Shepparton native has donned cork hats in some TikToks, and he has collaborated (and even eaten “shrimp on the barbie”) with several Australian influencers, such as Too Hot To Handle’s Harry Jowsey. Di Petta is excited to show Iavarone around Australia as soon as border restrictions ease.
“We already get recognised a ton here, like five to ten times every time we go out, and in Australia, a D-list celebrity is like the Beatles,” he jokes.
“I’m interested to see how it’ll be when we go there, and I’m excited to go back.”