ith a career mired in controversy and discord, Ice Poseidon, whose real name is Paul Denino, has become a bit of an infamous figure among the world of streaming since he originally joined Twitch back in 2015. Over the years, Denino rose from obscure RuneScape streamer to one of the biggest IRL streamers and internet personalities around in the 2010s. After being banned on various platforms to getting swatted and raided by the FBI, Denino is attempting to put his controversial past behind him by focusing on his mental health and building a more healthy, encouraging community on Mixer. Given his engrossing history and fabled notoriety, we reached out to Denino and asked if he’d be interested in speaking with us to recap his past and learn more about what the future holds for Ice Poseidon.
Q: Thanks for giving us the opportunity to interview you, Paul. So, could you tell us a little about what you’ve been up to more recently and how everything’s going?
A: I have been growing my Mixer channel and driving my community into a new era of reform. My current goal is to create a community as accepting and positive as I can, as I’ve had the opposite for most of my career. This change was much needed to improve the quality of my life and the quality of my mental health and the relationships of the people around me. It’s been going well so far, and my community has really changed for the better!
Q: Alright, I’d like to dive into a bit of your background and childhood next. Can you describe your early life in Florida and some of the important experiences that would shape the foundations of your history with gaming and your style as a streamer?
A: I didn’t do much as a child, I just played RuneScape and that was about it. I hated school and was bullied really badly, so I also had no friends. RuneScape helped me feel better about myself and keep me happy and sane. I started when I was 12 because RuneScape was free. I did have a PS2, but games were too expensive to buy and I had no access to online multiplayer. Nothing impactful really happened in my life before streaming, I was a college kid who was working a full-time job as a line cook hoping to major in finance.
Q: In high school, you were known for being a bit of prankster, which also reflected some of your content later on Twitch. Would you mind sharing a little more about that?
A: In high school and middle school, I tried to be a class clown because making my classmates laugh was the only “good” connection I would ever have with any of them, so it made me feel good.
Q: Specifically regarding RuneScape, what drew you to the game and why was it so formulaic to your early content? Could you explain some of your history with making RuneScape music videos on YouTube and how you got into that?
A: RuneScape drew me in as the first online multiplayer I played that had massive amounts of people and community. I started making RuneScape videos because I was bored after work, so I would smoke some weed and close doors on people as a prank. I did make some RuneScape music videos when I was 12, but the channel was deleted by a hacker and it never went anywhere.
Q: Many have stated some of your early inspiration for content stemmed from creators Voldesad and Silentcore. How did you meet them and what ways did they shape your initial content?
A: Voldesad was a RuneScape friend of mine for about 10 years, and he used to make RuneScape videos when he was 12 as well. I saw his videos because he was fairly popular back then, and he inspired me to make my own. Same with Silentcore, although I have never met him.
Q: At the encouragement of your fans, you ultimately wound up becoming a streamer on Twitch. Tell us what ultimately led you to the world of streaming and some of the first experiences you had on the platform.
A: My small YouTube audience encouraged me to stream on Twitch to make a fun, nonserious environment in the RuneScape Twitch scene (everyone was so serious who made content back then). My first few months of Twitch were growing slightly, and I just messed around with my viewers doing light-hearted things to get everyone involved and to have some fun. We did drop parties, fake Deadman Mode PKing (player killing) and clan wars. Besides being a nonserious troll, another gimmick I used for the beginning of my streaming career was song requests, which led viewers to submit funny, community-made troll songs and helped bring everyone even closer.
Q: Also during that initial period, the phrases “Cx” and “Purple Army” were born. Can you describe where exactly those came from and what the meaning behind them was?
A: Cx was just another way to say “XD” on RuneScape because it always capitalized the first letter in the chat room, first used by user “bikersCx.” Purple Army came because player dots in your clan chat were purple on the map and I thought it was funny.
Q: Regarding your community at the time, which was notoriously infamous, what did you make of this, and why do you think this type of crowd was drawn to your channel? How did you feel seeing this offensive language being spammed in your chat?
A: Well I was a troll and I just liked to mess around with my viewers and crack jokes. So that attitude brought a lot of troll-type viewers to my stream, and some, obviously, would go too far in what they would say in chat, but as an inexperienced streamer, I didn’t really act on it because I thought it wasn’t very serious and I wasn’t getting in trouble for it. As soon as I hit my first Twitch ban, for 24 hours, after an offensive donation I accidentally let through, that is when I started to get more serious about this, even banning the TriHard emote in my chat for a short period of time to deter this behavior.
Q: Eventually, you moved on from RuneScape and began getting into IRL streaming, which some attribute your channel to popularizing early on. How’d you get into that kind of content, and how did it shape the later years of your Twitch channel and the Ice Poseidon community as a whole?
A: I got into IRL because I never really got to experience life or leave my house at all for most of my life, so I found it really fun to do nongaming content and share the experiences with my viewers. I guess it’s because I was so sheltered that it was just all very genuine with my viewers, and it was super wholesome and fun. It started with creative streams, then social eating, and finally onto Pokemon GO and IRL when twitch finally allowed it after months of trying to make it work.
Q: During the peak of your Twitch channel, you divulged in an emotional clip your frustrations as a streamer and content creator, as well as how a lack of meaningful communication, especially with family, was weighing on you. What led up to this, how was the reception and why did you ultimately share such a personal moment?
A: I was lonely, and that is what caused it. I had finally found some comfort in my life via streaming, so I did everything in my power to try to keep my viewers happy. One day my viewers thought the game I was playing was boring, and it really hurt my heart because I tried so hard. So that and with me having no support system I could talk to comfortably, I just opened up to the stream, and you know what, it felt good. Everyone was so kind and came with open arms to talk to me -- other streamers and viewers alike.
Q: Following that clip, you experienced some bans on Twitch after users spammed songs with offensive and explicit language on your channel. How did you react to this and do you think the bans were justified?
A: Yes, all justified. I didn’t have good enough moderation in place to halt that stuff, so mistakes were made. It upset me each time because I felt as though some trolls were taking advantage of my platform, so it was very frustrating because I just wanted to give viewers the opportunity to speak, but eventually, I just stopped all of that entirely and removed the song requests and text-to-speech after I was getting on my last leg.
Q: This leads us to the bomb threat on the plane. Can you summarize the story for those who aren’t familiar, what was going through your mind that moment, your thoughts after the fact and speak to the ultimate and final ban from Twitch altogether?
A: I did a stream at the airport on my way to a convention because I wanted to try to be the Twitch version of Casey Neistat and stream-vlog as much as I possibly could. Unfortunately, I had a few choice words and was irresponsible about my location and where I was, so when a viewer in my chat asked where I was going, I told them and even said which terminal I was at -- total lack of judgment. When the plane landed in Pheonix and I saw the cops outside, I knew it had to be for me. My heart dropped when they took me out, and I was extremely embarrassed and ashamed. I knew I had made a mistake streaming so irresponsibly, but at the time I had no idea this was even a possibility. I was questioned, then released to a hotel paid for by the airline. The next day I ended up getting banned and I didn’t know what to do with myself, knowing I just messed something so great up.
Q: Aside from that particular instance, you’ve been swatted several times over the years. What’s that like when it happens, how does it make you feel, and why do you think you were targeted by users online in particular?
A: When I used to get swatted, almost constantly, I really didn’t know what to do or how to fix it. At the time, IRL content was brand new and I was the biggest. Therefore, a lot of dangerous trolls and harassment came along with it, and it gave them satisfaction to see it all live. Obviously my mistake was filming it all as it happened, instead of turning off the stream and not giving attention to it, but you have to remember that I was still a new streamer at the time and had no guidance. It was all “off the cuff,” and I had to learn to adapt as it happened. Now, after all these years and experience, I understand platforming and I get how to avoid these things and how unhealthy it was to give attention to such disasters. I haven’t been swatted in a very long time, and it’s not something that happens anymore -- thank god.
Q: Alright, so after the move to YouTube, your content became primarily focused on IRL livestreams and an increase in community involvement. How did you decide upon this focus, and what led you to allow your fan base to determine the outcomes of things in your personal life, such as dating? What regrets did you have after the fact?
A: I started to focus solely on IRL after my Twitch ban because that’s what got viewers, and I was so afraid of my career being over I just decided the only way to save it was to sacrifice my life to my viewers and give them full reign of everything around me via Reddit. This was the biggest mistake of my life and career. Not all viewers want the best for me, so when these people ended up getting the required upvotes on Reddit, I listened and it hurt me in the long run. I was doing certain content that was viewed as toxic and just ended up losing touch of myself and what I wanted my channel to ultimately become. All in the name of content, a sad story, truly.
Q: Despite a lot of the hardships you discussed in the past revolved around this time period and the decision to sacrifice a lot of your privacy and personal life, you also reunited with your parents during that phase. Given how controversial your channel was, what did your parents make of your lifestyle and career as a whole?
A: My parents just want the best for me, they don’t care what I do. My mother didn’t want to be on camera because of privacy reasons, and my dad didn’t care, so he would come on occasionally. My relationship with them is sometimes awkward, but it works.
Q: Many online have pointed out that your community used to be extremely toxic, and your subreddit, r/Ice_Poseidon, was banned after previously being quarantined due to this. Do you personally feel that much of this was outside of your control, or do you have any regrets with how this was handled?
A: I was a pretty sheltered kid growing up, as I said earlier, so I always thought freedom of speech was what should be the norm and strived for. Eventually, I realized that not everyone should be allowed to say whatever they want, and especially not on my platform. So that’s when I locked my subreddit. Eventually I unlocked it to try to stop an even more toxic version of my subreddit from growing out of my control, but it didn’t work, so I just reported my subreddit and the other one to the Reddit admins and it was ultimately shut down (I didn’t have the ability to manually close my own subreddit). This could have all been avoided if I just had the experience, in the beginning, to know how to moderate my community better so it wouldn’t get to that point, but we live and we learn.
Q: In March last year, your home in LA was raided by the FBI over a case that involved wire fraud related to the Cx Network. What exactly happened and what was the ensuing aftermath like?
A: The FBI broke in and accused me of stealing money from a church online. I talked to them for a few hours and eventually convinced them that it wasn’t me and the IP address that hacked the church was actually a spoofed version of my IP address. I haven’t heard from them ever since. After this happened, I just gave up on all this and decided to move out of LA and take control of my life again, because I had lost complete control by that point and it had to stop.
Q: More recently, you shifted over to Mixer and have begun redirecting your efforts as a streamer to this platform. What prompted the move, and how has your channel and the overall focus of your content changed since then?
A: My vision has always been to have a nice place full of like-minded people who can come together to create something great. I lost touch of that for the past three years on YouTube, but I’m coming back to it. For the first time in a long time, I have control of my life, content and career without having to face backlash and toxicity if I didn’t do what my community wanted. It is so nice and life-changing, and that is what prompted my change -- and I’ve kept it that way. I moved to Mixer to do all of this because after I moved to Austin, Texas, I still tried to stay on YouTube, but the community on there just became so toxic that I had to start over somewhere else with my core community for the sake of my mental health.
Q: Regarding memes, which you’re well immersed in, can you tell us a few of your recent favorites and why? Have you made any yourself that you’d like to share?
A: Andy and scuffed are the two major memes to come out of my community. Andy comes from Andy Milonakis being my friend and another Andy showing up, which my viewers called “Mexican Andy” because he was Mexican. From there on out, the Andy meme started as a funny joke. I don’t remember how scuffed started, but everything I do is scuffed so that’s why it was used so heavily.
Q: What about memes featuring yourself? How does your community use your likeness in memes?
A: I do the arm thing, and I don’t know what that is.
Q: Looking back on the history of your career becoming a streamer and everything that’s transpired since the beginning, would you do anything differently or forge another path entirely?
A: I would tell my past self to always look out for yourself first and not worry about pleasing the wrong people, because building the right ones is more important than trying to please everyone.
Paul Denino is an American streamer and internet personality best known for his work in the IRL genre. You can watch his livestreams by visiting his Mixer and YouTube channels, or follow him on Twitter and his website for additional content.