Despite his claim to being an “ordinary peasant from China,” Liu Shichao (famously known on the internet as Hebei Pangzai) is making a name for himself around the world. Living in Xingtai, Hebei province, 33-year-old Pangzai rose to internet stardom on China’s video streaming app Kuaishou (similar to TikTok/Douyin), where he has over 350,000 followers.
When he first began his social media journey, you could find videos of Pangzai pounding beer (and other liquids) at breakneck speed, as well as breaking bricks in half with his bare hands. Some of his most notable videos involve the ‘tornado’ beer drinking style, which he claims to have invented. More recently, he took his talents to Twitter and YouTube and now boasts a global fan base, with more than 140,000 followers and subscribers.
Referred to as ‘King’ by many of his fans, Pangzai also gives people in China and around the world an inside look into rural life in the PRC, with videos of cooking Chinese cuisine, working odd jobs around town and more.
After recently meeting with the King himself over food and tequila, long-time China vlogger and Barstool Sports Foreign Correspondent Donnie Does (also known as The Wonton Don) describes Pangzai as “an ordinary peasant with extraordinary drinking skills who values friendship and family over everything.” Sounds like a great companion to throw back a few pints with.
We reached out to Pangzai to discuss his online celebrity status, his life in rural China and more.
How did you discover the ‘tornado’ beer-drinking approach?
I like drinking beer, and I found that when I was drinking beer and I swayed the bottle around, then the beer would come out faster. I just wanted to figure out whether moving the bottle around would make drinking beer even faster. After that, I realized that this style also had a visual effect while drinking and was a faster beer drinking method.
You’ve accomplished some epic drinking feats. In your opinion, which one was harder – drinking 10 pints of beer in 57 seconds or chugging several pints of tofu nao (a Northern China soupy breakfast dish)?
I think the two were about the same, the beer and the tofu nao were both relatively filling. Although the tofu nao doesn’t have any alcohol content, you need more time to digest it.
Pangzai doing what he does best: eating and drinking. Screengrabs via Kuaishou
In addition to drinking and eating challenges, you have posted some videos of an honest day’s work (read: catching chickens and repairing sewage pipes). Your fans seem enthusiastic to learn about your way of life. What do you hope they will come away with?
I want fans to know what the authentic rural life in China looks like. I myself am a peasant and I wouldn’t say that I am the most cultured person, but incidentally I have gotten the chance to know more foreign netizens on Twitter. I am very interested in their lives and, at the same time, I also think they are certainly interested in my life, such as the rural idyllic scenery here [in Xingtai], food and culture, attractions and so on.
Did you expect to have so many fans from around the world so soon? What made you want to engage with people on Twitter?
To have so many fans so fast was completely beyond expectation. When I started on Twitter, I was just using it as my overseas version of Kuaishou. I thought that if I could have some fans, then people who give me likes would help subsidize some of our family expenses.
Pangzai giving viewers a look around town. Screengrab via Kuaishou
Your written English seems great! The videos you post on Twitter for the most part have English text. Do you write them all yourself or does someone help translate?
When I first tweeted, I would occasionally use Baidu translate. Later on, I realized that I could earn more likes and retweets by posting in English, so after that, I would use Baidu translate to help tweet. The English subtitles are added by enthusiastic netizens willing to help me.
Pangzai drinking tequila with Donnie Does. Screengrab via Kuaishou
How do your family and friends feel about your new celebrity status? You ought to be recognized more by people in Xingtai. How has your life changed?
My family and friends don’t have much of an opinion in terms of my reputation. Having hundreds of thousands of fans on Kuaishou made being an internet celebrity turn into my job, making money to help subsidize family expenses. My wife is very happy with my fame nowadays. She hopes that I won’t rely on booze to make money as I did in the past, but rather attract more fans by shooting videos of great food, great scenery and everyday life. Currently, I don’t think that many people in Xingtai know about me. It may be because foreign media have mainly interviewed and reported on me.
To see Hebei Pangzai’s videos, check out his Twitter handle (@hebeipangzai) or Kuaishou profile (河北胖仔).
[Cover image: screengrab via Kuaishou]