In the world of social media, where a simple video can turn an ordinary person into an overnight sensation, John Gilmete, a 30-year-old barber in New Bedford, recently experienced a whirlwind of attention.

One of his prank videos caught the eye of an MTV producer.

With a TikTok that gained over 400,000 views, Gilmete's unexpected journey to television fame began when a company scout reached out to him on Instagram. He questioned the legitimacy of the offer until he saw the Instagram account was not only verified but also had millions of followers.

After connecting with the producer, Gilmete decided to pass along the copyright of the video exclusively for use on the popular MTV clip show Ridiculousness. The pay wasn't what he had hoped for but he was happy to have the opportunity nonetheless.

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“It’s not as much as I expected, but for one video, it’s worth it and I’m grateful for it regardless. I have fun with my videos no matter what,” Gilmete said.

Courtesy John Gilmete via Instagram
Courtesy John Gilmete via Instagram
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The viral video in question showcased a playful prank involving one of Gilmete's regular clients, William Mascarenhas (better known in the SouthCoast as "Ill Will"). Targeting only good friends and clients for the best reactions, Gilmete kept the camera hidden as he surprised Ill Will with a light kiss on the forehead while lining him up. The client's shocked reaction resonated with the online audience, boosting the video to nearly half a million views.

@its_ink_ My boy didint even know what to say 😭😭😂😂 it’s all love fam 😭😭😭😭 @illwilll_ ...... #kissprank #foreheadkiss #prank #barberprank #joke #funnybarberss #instaprank #itsink ♬ original sound - ITS_INK

Gilmete's most successful prank video features a straight blade pretending to cut a line through a client's eyebrow to his temple, amassing an impressive 14 million views.

Operating out of Ink The Barber shop at 230 County St. in New Bedford, behind Romina’s Hair Salon, Gilmete has been grinding since 2010. Starting at home before taking a more serious approach by working at Tropical Barber Shop on Purchase Street, he learned the ropes and discovered his passion for cutting hair, a skill that runs in his family.

Born and raised in Cape Verde, Gilmete moved to the United States in 2004 when his mother married someone from New Bedford. Having been in the city ever since, he has become a well-known figure in the local barbering scene. Each year, he volunteers with New Bedford Public Schools, giving complimentary back-to-school haircuts.

"My goal is to start a program that gives kids in need free haircuts," Gilmete said. "Whether they're kids in foster homes or hard-working single parents that don’t have time to take their kids to go to the barbershop, if I can help in any way, that's all that matters. I've been working hard all these years. I just want everyone to win and if we stand together, we grow together. My dream is to help this city to the best of my ability, especially the young kids who grew up having a rough life."

While the air date for Gilmete's Ridiculousness episode isn't known, his journey from a New Bedford barber with a talent for pranks to the national spotlight is a testament to the power of social media in transforming lives and making for unexpected opportunities.

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