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A liberal arts college in upstate New York caused a sensation this week when students on social media exposed its secret: a shrine to actor Danny DeVito, hidden in one of the school’s bathrooms.
The tongue-in-cheek homage to the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia star appeared mysteriously at SUNY Purchase earlier in the semester. This week, the bathroom shrine became an international news story, only to be sealed off by the school — just as the media exposed its creator. And even the star himself has spoken out about it.
Your shrine honors me. My heart is filled with love and garbage.Tomorrow, as you may know, is my name day. Do something that makes you feel good. Above all be kind to each other. Pick up trash, recycle, and be aware of plastics in the ocean. https://t.co/UER6uZY886
— Danny DeVito (@DannyDeVito) November 16, 2018
Here’s the bizarre saga of how an art major’s prank took over the internet:
Our story begins in October, when a SUNY Purchase student tweeted a picture of the “secret room” to DeVito, urging him to come and visit.
— Kait (@terreeslavie) October 10, 2018
In subsequent weeks, other students began discovering and posting about the shrine. Images revealed that the DeVito tribute could be accessed by pulling a broken paper towel dispenser out of a bathroom wall, exposing a secret space covered in graffiti. The shrine itself consisted of a cardboard cutout of the actor and a note reading “Leave an offering for our lord and savior Danny Devito, patron saint of trash men” — a reference to the wrestling persona invented by DeVito’s character in It’s Always Sunny. The cutout was surrounded by “offerings” of religious pamphlets, empty water bottles, and various forms of garbage, as well as notes to DeVito.
i love going to an art school.
— emma (@emfriedchicken) November 10, 2018
the best thing about my school is the danny devito shrine hidden behind the paper towel dispenser in one of the bathrooms pic.twitter.com/3jFe0V9eK6
— snootosphere (not responding to dms about shrine) (@slackerdook) November 13, 2018
Vidana doesn’t have twitter but if you want to find the legend herself she’s Vidana_Queen on Instagram pic.twitter.com/JlrQYUP10Z
— ol’ babyhands (@bizluckley) November 14, 2018
One student took a video exploring the shrine, which racked up hundreds of thousands of views.
Hole in a school bathroom that leads to a cavernous shrine to Danny devito pic.twitter.com/Xsdg22IxzL
— FREE PANERA (@pisslorde) November 11, 2018
On Tuesday, the shrine became an official Twitter Moment. Later that day, a friend of the creator posted the mystery teenager’s first name and a masked photo on Twitter.
I know you’re all wondering who made the devito shrine. Im sure the whole school is. The shrine was made by a friend of mine named Phillip! Lets get this kid trending! Give credit where its due! pic.twitter.com/zqGPerClwj
— illuminatetheart (@illuminatetrash) November 14, 2018
Then Mashable posted a report that revealed the approximate location of the shrine. But by that time, students were tweeting that the secret room had been sealed shut.
if you saw the tweet about the danny devito shrine, just know;
that is my school
and the secret room was sealed up after it went viral
— hailey (@haileyaatkinson) November 14, 2018
news from a friend who attends the college where the Danny DeVito shrine was:
The Shrine Has Been Sealed Away pic.twitter.com/7LhJzYPCUq
— Cris (but Festive) (@ArchangelN7) November 15, 2018
SUNY Purchase posted that the shrine had been closed “for safety reasons” (which makes sense, seeing as it was located in a giant gaping hole in the wall).
While the spirit of the shrine lives on, sadly, it was closed for safety reasons. We hope it can be installed elsewhere.
— PurchaseCollege SUNY (@SUNY_Purchase) November 14, 2018
Nevertheless, Fox News and other outlets continued to pick up the story. And on Friday, Vice posted an article revealing the identity of the shrine creator: sophomore Phillip Hosang, a visual artist who located the rumored “secret room” in a SUNY bathroom and decided to turn it into a shrine to DeVito. “I was like, ‘This is just the perfect person to go with. He’s just weird enough that people would accept that this was a thing,’” said Hosang. The student expressed surprise that his work hadn’t been destroyed earlier — rather, it got bigger as students continued to bring offerings to the “trash man.”
Now the shrine is no more, but the spirit of DeVito continues to spread. In recent weeks, the actor’s face has shown up on social media at colleges, middle schools and high schools all around the nation.
— Rice MS Choir (@RiceMSChoir) November 14, 2018
Our Devito, found in the history class pic.twitter.com/NdHesjLCs3
— Quee(r/n) (@kmsmydudes) November 13, 2018
this is just as wild as someone sticking drawings of danny devito on mine and my roommate’s door for the past few weeks and us having no idea who did it pic.twitter.com/RhDkCRrLXb
— (@eversincenyc) November 14, 2018
I’m dead. I made these a few weeks ago and have been passing them around my campus. Clearly I’m at the wrong school pic.twitter.com/Gf7EL41pTo
— Molly (@hawkeyebartcn) November 14, 2018
Just not, apparently, in Arkansas.
There are no Danny DeVito shrines hidden in any of our restrooms. Please stop asking.
— Arkansas Union (@ArkansasUnion) November 14, 2018
A SUNY Purchase spokesperson told Vice that the college had kept the contents of the shrine and was working with the artist to install it elsewhere on campus … where DeVito is welcome to come see it.
We’d like to say we’re surprised, but our students are well known for their creativity and sense of humor. @DannyDeVito we’d love to welcome you on campus to meet your super fans. https://t.co/DqHoN9lCSu
— PurchaseCollege SUNY (@SUNY_Purchase) November 14, 2018
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