Struggling musician clocks 20 million TikTok views after covering himself in a ‘zebra tan’

Rich Fortuna, 25, who lives in Utrecht, Netherlands hopes his striped skin will lead to his big break through

Joe Pagnelli
Thursday 26 May 2022 07:20
Rich’s incredible zebra tan (Collect/ PA Real Life)
Rich’s incredible zebra tan (Collect/ PA Real Life)

A struggling musician hopes to copy Sam Ryder who broke through as a viral sensation to light up the stage at Eurovision 2022 – and his plan looks on track after a TikTok video of his wacky full-body zebra tan was viewed more than 20 million times.

Covered from head-to-toe with dazzling zebra stripes, Rich Fortuna, 25, turned heads whenever he went outdoors for walks – and since a video of his tan lines went viral earlier this month, he has even attracted the attention of “hundreds” of flirty women who were intrigued by his look.

To create his eye-catching skin, he spent 30 minutes carefully placing reflective strips all over his body and face to stop those areas being tanned, then another 15 minutes being sprayed at a tanning salon to produce the dark stripes in between.

The results lasted a week and singleton Rich, who is originally from Milan, Italy, but now lives Utrecht, Netherlands, where he works at a biscuit factory, is planning another “top secret” new tan for the summer, to promote his music career.

He said:  “Getting this spray tan has given me a different kind of attention, everywhere you go people will look at you.

“There are heads turning and you can see people losing their minds because they don’t know what the hell is going on.

“When you look like this, you can’t go unobserved, no one has ever seen anyone like this.”

Rich is hoping to become the next Sam Ryder (Collect/ PA Real Life)

Rich thinks the zebra tan may help him find love – something he hadn’t expected.

He said: “Since I’ve been viral on TikTok, I’ve been inundated by women who message me. My TikTok is 70 per cent followed by women.

“I think women quite enjoy the stylistic choice, and there have been some inappropriate images sent to me as well.

“This look is one that attracts people, which I didn’t expect at all. I think it will help me find someone.”

Rich’s incredible zebra tan (Collect/ PA Real Life)

Watching Sam Ryder perform in Turin at the Eurovision 2022 finals earlier this month inspired Rich to dream of reaching the same lofty heights while following in his footsteps.

The British sensation was a struggling musician like Rich before he began posting videos on the social media website during the pandemic, and has since seen his hit single Space Man become the highest-charting U.K. Eurovision entry since Gina G’s Ooh Aah… Just a Little Bit hit number 1 in 1996.

Rich, who amassed 20k followers and over 22 million views in the space of two months, said: “I would love to become the next Sam Ryder. I wanted to become a popstar when I was 13 and I haven’t stopped dreaming.

“The latest video did one million in the first day and by the third day it was at 12 million.”

Rich’s incredible zebra tan (Collect/ PA Real Life)

He added: “TikTok can really change your life with just one video. It allows you to put yourself out there and grow exponentially.

“If you look at Sam Ryder, he was struggling and then went on TikTok and ended up in Turin at Eurovision.”

For Rich, this could be a much needed turning point.

Rich is hoping to become the next Sam Ryder (Collect/ PA Real Life)

He said: “I’d been a failure in music my whole career. I have tried and tried and it never worked.

“But suddenly people were seeing me, and they could see my music.”

He was first inspired to create the mad tan lines after seeing a woman on TikTok get a thunderbolt tan in July 2021, but he thought “bigger is better” and wondered if he could cover his entire body in a pattern.

Rich’s incredible zebra tan (Collect/ PA Real Life)

His first attempt came during a sunny summer’s day in Camogli, on the Italian riviera, in August, when he placed tiny reflective triangles on his body before falling asleep under the blazing sun.

He said: “I fell asleep for a few hours, and then the pattern was there. My friends were all calling me crazy, because it looked so absurd.

“I was really happy with the results, even if it was so strange looking.”

Rich’s incredible zebra tan (Collect/ PA Real Life)

He added: “I am always trying to do different things.”

Chuffed with the results, when he was back in the Netherlands he went to a sunbed to try and replicate the results in September, but he opted for a vegan spray tan the following month as he didn’t want to harm his skin.

Rich added: “At the end of August, I did a UV tan at the sunbed, and I wanted to do it more often but realised I couldn’t go to the sunbed so often so I found a vegan spray tan in Utrecht.

“The woman was astonished and super excited about it when I told her about it. She was flabbergasted.”

Rich’s incredible zebra tan (Collect/ PA Real Life)

The £25 tan looked incredible and like “something out of a video game”, according to Rich, and since his video went viral his phone hasn’t stopped pinging with views and messages from astounded strangers.

He said: “I’d never really done a fake tan before, but I was really happy about it.

“I think it looks really cool, and it makes me feel confident. And I get messages from people every day who tell me how amazing it looks.”

Rich is hoping to become the next Sam Ryder (Collect/ PA Real Life)

Rich first wanted to become a pop singer in his early teens after being inspired by Justin Bieber, who became a teenage pop star after rising to fame on YouTube, as well as German rock band Tokyo Hotel.

He is releasing new pop music this year and hopes his viral videos will help him finally fulfil his dreams.

He said: “Since I was 13,  I was producing music from my bedroom on my laptop, and now I want to transform my dream into a career.”

Rich is hoping to become the next Sam Ryder (Collect/ PA Real Life)

He added: “I grew up with Justin Bieber who became a star from a young age, so when I watched him, he was my age and he was making it big.

“I wanted to become just like him. I liked the idea of doing cool music videos.”

You can follow Rich’s TikTok and Instagram on @rich_fortuna

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