Pete Accetturo, a middle-aged father of two in Tampa, Florida, didn’t know if he was ready for a second act when he was laid off from his corporate sales job. But then his 20-something son told him about Fiverr, an online platform for freelancers, and the demand he’d noticed for voiceover work.
Today, Accetturo, better known as Presenter Pete Ace or voiceoverpete, is a viral star of the gaming world. His off-the-wall “spokesperson” videos reach millions of viewers. He’ll read anything you want (within reason) for just $5, though he’s best known for reading a script pleading gamers to send in their credit card info (it’s a meme). He built a $50,000 studio in his garage and ultimately grossed more than $400,000 from Fiverr, he says. Just this week, he boasted about $12,000 worth of requests in his queue.
And then disaster struck. On Monday, he was banned from Fiverr indefinitely.
Ace grew up in Chicago. He always enjoyed doing theater, but never got paid for it. “Instead, all my career has been in corporate America, in sales,” he says. “My particular role was usually some type of a presentation to executives, so I’m used to getting up in front of people and giving all sorts of presentations.”
When he first discovered Fiverr, he borrowed a friend’s studio and started doing some spokesperson videos. “They just blasted off. I exploded overnight.”
Soon, he says, he was working 20-hour days doing spokesperson work: “It was crazy. After three months of having a good run rate, I decided, you know what, this is a sustainable business plan. So then I pulled the trigger, designed the studio and had some guys build it. Fifty thousand dollars later, here I am today, from a dead zero to up and running.”
“I live here seven days a week now,” Ace says, moving his laptop around to show me his setup. “You see the lights, the teleprompter in the mirror? There’s my little voiceover station, sound panels and everything. I employ two to three other people on a regular basis, so that’s good too.”
The Day Pete Ace’s Life Changed
In September, Ace recorded a video that would change his business forever. YouTuber Material Design reached out to voiceoverpete with a script pleading gamers to help Fortnite character John Wick escape Tilted Towers and provide their credit card info to do so. It’s an old meme mocking bad scammers, and it’s known as Attention All Gamers.
Within the first month, Material Design’s video hit 1 million views on YouTube (before the channel got deleted), and Ace caught the attention of the gaming community. “Typically when I do a green screen, that person hired me just to be talent, so I hand them the green screen and don’t know what they do with it,” he says. “Nobody knows me? Fine.”
So he was shocked when someone told him his video had over a million views. “I was like, ‘Well, what?’ I couldn’t believe it. Call it fortuitous, all of a sudden it came — [they] found out who I was.”
Out Come the Trolls
If your shtick is to say “anything” for $5, it won’t be long before you get some unseemly requests from the darkest corners of the internet. So it wasn’t surprising to hear Ace explain how many scripts he’s had to deny.
The day after the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, he says, “one guy sent me a script with all this anti-semitic talk. I’m like, ‘Do you know Fiverr is headquartered in Tel Aviv? They monitor all these conversations with keywords.’”
As for where Ace draws the line, he says, “No profanity. No vulgarity. No bullying. No defamation. Nothing race-related. Do we have to go there? We don’t. My attitude is it’s my business, I don’t want to go there and I’m glad to see Fiverr doesn’t want to go there either.”
Some videos Ace has produced for the right-leaning media database Grabien might muddy this sentiment, however. For example, this video, which asks out-of-work millennials to join George Soros’ paid protesters:
Or this video, a Michael Avenatti parody, which offers “free publicity” to women who’ve “accidentally been gang-raped — or even if you didn’t really”:
That said, a large portion of Ace’s videos are the same — asking gamers to give their credit card information to help another character escape, which is actually the thing that got him banned from Fiverr. “When you have a thousand other people doing the same joke, it’s obviously a joke. In fact, you know you know it’s a joke when you’re on KnowYourMeme.com,” Ace says.
It wasn’t a joke to Fiverr’s lawyers, however. When reached for comment, Fiverr tells me that they don’t “disclose information about specific user accounts,” adding that “any attempt to defraud or scam others is in clear violation of our terms of service and strictly prohibited. We have and will always act without delay against this type of behavior in order to keep our marketplace safe for our community.”
After being booted from Fiverr, Ace is now on Patreon and Twitch, hoping he can continue his gamer spokesperson work there. He says he’d love to work with someone at Fortnight to do a livestream on Twitch, “and of course, I would love to be in some video game as a voiceover.”
Minutes following Ace’s ban from Fiverr, the gaming community surrounded him with support. Gaming meme account @Grandayy was the first to bring attention to the ban, with a tweet that now has 7,200 retweets and 31,000 favs. Shortly thereafter, Ace produced a video explaining his situation, and in under 24 hours, the video reached 125,000 views and 1,355 comments on YouTube, vowing support and the hashtag #JusticeForVoiceOverPete.
Even if gaining viral popularity in the gaming community after being laid off by corporate America isn’t quite the American Dream, Ace is perfectly happy where he’s at. He hasn’t been recognized on the street yet, “but if I go to my local middle school, maybe somebody is gonna go, ‘You’re that dude!’
“Yeah, I’m the dude.”