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A Virtual Unknown: Meet 'Moot,' the Secretive Internet Celeb Who Still Lives With Mom.

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The Joke's on Him

There are two great ironies within Christopher Poole's life.

The first is the broad, gaping chasm between his personality and the crassness of 4chan. In person, Poole is considerate and measured, with Michael Cera appeal -- a dork who hasn't realized that he's also kind of cute. He confesses that he used to be fat before a healthy eating kick a few years ago. Now he's just "skinny-fat," he says. Slim but soft. Surprisingly sweet. A guy who still takes children's chewable vitamins, and talks in silly voices to his cats.

"You know what my favorite joke is?" Poole asks a table of friends over dinner at the hole-in-the-wall vegan restaurant near Union Square. "A baby seal walked into a club.

"That's it. That's the whole joke." Almost cute, just a goofy play on words. "I'm sure people expect my favorite to be 'The Aristocrats' or something," Poole says. "I'm sure they would be disappointed."

The porn and potty humor found on 4chan aren't really Poole's style -- he'd originally founded the site as an image-sharing hub for anime fans -- though he lets them stay in the interest of letting the community grow organically. But "I don't want to run ads with nudity above the fold," he says. It's just tacky.

"He's a very polite person," says pal Jessica Andrews, a student who met Poole when he studied at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. (He dropped out after a few semesters.) She was only casually aware of 4chan before meeting him, and didn't think much of his creator status until she tagged along to a conference where he was presenting. "That's the first time I learned he was a big deal," she says. "There were a thousand people seated, and the whole room was screaming."

The second irony in Poole's life is that he can't get a job.


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