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‘Catfish’ Justin Is An Actor Who May Have ‘Catfished’ MTV (And Other Interesting Details)

Catfish Justin

You remember Justin, the crazy-eyed online dating vigilante from the latest episode of MTV’s Catfish: The TV Show, right? What if I told you that he was an actor all along, that Artis was in on it, and that together, they pulled off the greatest “catfish” of all time… on the show itself? Pretty meta, right?

Let’s rewind for a moment. We spoke at length about Catfish: The TV Show’s latest in this post, where I simply shared my personal doubts about the legitimacy of the “Artis and Jess” episode. Particularly, I singled out what I regarded as a scripted “performance” by the episode’s “Catfisher,” the unsettling yet eloquent Justin.

Justin’s persona on the show seemed deliberately over-the-top. He vaguely detailed a history of abuse, homelessness, and depression, though how that rubbed elbows with his desire to entrap and expose “cheaters” online was not clearly explained. He seemed quite unstable at times, then at times merely mischievous, or protective, or loyal, or tortured, or cynical, even affable and reasonable.

If it was a performance, it was a masterful one fraught with ambiguity and layers that are pretty unusual even for a show like Catfish, which has been accused of being completely staged, even scripted, by some.

So… Who Is This Guy?

The search for confirmation of Justin’s identity is still going strong nearly a week after his Catfish episode aired. He doesn’t have much of digital trail. No Facebook, no Twitter account, nothing like that (unless he operates them under different names). He does have a YouTube account, but only one video, posted last summer:

This video is currently making the rounds on social media, and provides us with just about the only concrete look at who Justin is/was before Catfish. This video was made over a year ago, and as you can see, Justin doesn’t seem to act very different than he did on the show.

Hollywoodite published the video, along with a new biographical detail: His full name is Justin Voel-Pel, son of the late Ted H. Voel-Pel III who passed March 8 2010.

In the video, Justin claims to be suicidal, schizophrenic, formerly anorexic and bulimic, shows aggressive behavior, and says he’s working on a book about his life and experiences. So this Justin in the year-old video seems to match with the Catfish Justin we saw this week, and if we extend the benefit of the doubt that both depictions are not performances but reality, we could close the case right there like Hollywoodite did.

But We Won’t

Here’s where things start getting really speculative.

There are a ton of details being shared and a ton of conversations going on about this over at Twitter right now. Out of all the noise, we managed to find a guy who says that he knows Justin Voel-Pel and has (sort of) been answering questions about him.

His name is Ross Reeder, and he claims to be a childhood friend of the Catfish star. He corroborates Justin’s claims of childhood abuse, and says that if we knew what had happened to Justin, we’d understand why he acts the way he does. He emphasizes that his friend is “not a psycho” and considers it a “miracle” that both of them are “fully functioning adults” (Reeder says he’s a victim of child abuse, as well).


Ross also makes a very interesting claim… that Justin’s Catfish appearance was completely staged (like we thought), but not by MTV.

Wait, what?

One Twitter user asked: “You’re saying the two [Artis and Justin] knew each other beforehand and planned it Jerry Springer style?”

“Yup. It’s all fake,” Reeder replies. “Justin is that damn good of an actor.”

We should note that we reached out to Mr. Reeder in an attempt to verify his relationship with Justin Voel-Pel, but he turned us down. Therefore, we’ve included his tweets on the subject in the gallery above in full. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether he’s the real deal. At this point, we can’t vouch.

One Last Piece Of Evidence

The last thing I have for you is this account.

It’s a listing for a “Justin Voel-pel” at Explore Talent, a directory of actors, models, etc. It lists him as an actor, model and dancer. It shows he is 24 years old, 5’10,” with brown hair and eyes. He location is listed as Chicago, IL. Aside from that, there’s not much else. No photo, no contact information, no way to know when the profile was even created.

So could it be him?

In the YouTube video, Justin does say he used to be a model. Chicago is about an hour away from Marengo, where his episode of Catfish took place. So… maybe. Take it or leave it.

But the ultimate question is whether or not he’s just an actor who managed to pull one over on the boys at Catfish. My gut says yes, Justin Voel-Pel is a slightly unstable mastermind and actor. My reasonable side says no, the simplest explanation is the best one, and that would be that this is a seriously haunted kid struggling with who he is.

You’ve got all the circumstantial, you can decide for yourself. But if Justin managed an extremely meta-catfish of Catfish: The TV Show, then the only reasonable thing for MTV to do is hire him. Sorry, Max.

Oh, Here’s Justin’s Girlfriend

A lot of people are asking about Justin Voel-Pel’s mystery girlfriend. She’s real. Here she is:

Catfish Justin Voel Pel's girlfriend

Almost makes Catfish Justin look normal.

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50 Responses to “‘Catfish’ Justin Is An Actor Who May Have ‘Catfished’ MTV (And Other Interesting Details)”

  1. Jason Reeher

    Catfish is a lot of fun; it's also all fun and games until someone either kills themselves or someone else.

  2. Jennifer Brotherton

    As a psych RN, this guy presents as a possible schizophrenic with antisocial personality disorder traits and some PTSD features. Whether this is real or not, he needs help. Anyone who would simulate these symptoms has a whole other mental issue.

  3. Erica Veronica

    He apparently has a brother, Jeremy Voel-Pel, who has a fb page… I wonder if anyone has tried to contact him? I'm intrigued. He seems genuinely crazy, and if he's an actor, he's not very good bc the performance was way overdone and seemed fake, hence why we're all skeptical.

  4. Jessica-Faye Watters

    "You can't have your characters announce how they feel; that makes me feel angry!" – Robot Devil was all I could think of when this guy spoke. The above video is simply PR for his book. I mean, if he really doesn't care why would he waste his time even sitting down and recording it. And you notice how the end of the video sums up EVERYTHING that will be in this book of his. Sorry just… "drink till you can't drink no more and live no more, but that wasn't the case. I'm right here and all that's documented too." This is him saying look at me I'm a bad ass; come read about it! I'm not saying this stuff didn't happen to him, but people who experience such hardships don't throw them out looking to get rises out of people. Sorry, maybe it's cause I'm having my own problems right now, but EVERYONE'S GOT PROBLEMS but we don't all get books published! You want to publish a book, go do it then! You want everything, go get everything, but sitting around being a douche bag doesn't accomplish anything.

  5. Jessica-Faye Watters

    This guy definitely needs to see some sort of professional, and I mean that sincerely. His life is wasting away and he's cheating himself out of a future.

  6. Jessica-Faye Watters

    Haven't slept so I might view this with fresh eyes and a different outlook later, but am I also the only one who thought it was odd he didn't seem to know his motivation for talking to Artis? He shouldn't have had to be told by Nev he could be gay. It's like he heard it and was like "Oh, yeah I can work with that . . ."

  7. Holly Lynn Arters

    this episode made me laugh….i wonder how sane is "gf" is or if he has one its prob his sister since he looks slightly off must run in the family…thanks for the laugh Justin! ps. I hope your "gf' cheats on you in return!

  8. Kelli Curran

    Justin's real name is Evan Goldberg and he is a actor and co-writer of the movie THIS IS THE END! ! Not sure if MTV knows or not….lol

  9. Kelli Curran

    I am dying for somebody to google the following writer, actor comedian Evan Goldberg….its "Justin" he cowrote This is the end….

  10. Courtney Konopasek

    All of you who are saying you know Justin and he really is "psycho"… You're all idiots. Do you seriously believe everything you see on TV? It's just a TV show, get over it people.

  11. Courtney Konopasek

    Uhhm.. no. His real name, is in fact, Justin. Get your facts straight.

  12. Pete Shamlian

    I agree with the prognosis… And would like to add that today's MTV sucks. Jus sayin :)

  13. Michele Forgione

    Dude, you're as bad as Neve and Max at "investigating." In about 2 seconds I found him mom, his brother, some other family members, his girlfriend and Ross Reeder on Facebook. My question is where that book he wrote is.

  14. Anonymous

    He's not that good of an actor. It was pretty obvious he was trolling irl.

  15. Tim Fletcher

    This was definitely not a fake encounter. Justin clearly has some sort of personality disorder and is very unwell.

  16. Stephen Cole

    Most of the ppl on that show are 'actors'. Get on tv, get paid and all you have to do is pretend you're in love with someone. I really don't know how people are falling for this show, I mean seriously. These people do not contact the show because they want strangers to force their loved one to meet them…no they answer a craigslist ad that the show put out to get people to 'apply'. Nev said in an interview he'd love a catfish wedding….hmm wonder how long till this happens..I bet there's an mtv ad looking for people who are engaged and in need of a free wedding as I write this.

  17. Marite Rossi

    I think he's an excellent actor (although near the end of the show he DID look seriously stoned or drunk). Nev and Max were WAY TOO calm and relaxed when they met him, for him to be a real nuts.

  18. Tim Fletcher

    Lol, Demi where does Artis claim it was fake? As I said (6 months ago), Justin is clearly unwell, your link is further evidence of that. Looks to be like the rantings of someone very unwell, which fits exactly with the episode. Of course the show is staged… it's "reality" TV. The encounter (as in coming across Justin, who, trolling or otherwise) was real though, because Justin really does appear to be unwell; this video only confirms it, so thanks for the link.

  19. Richard Cundiff

    Dude was wearing a mic. He hit it when he beat his chest lol.

  20. Timothy Rath

    He is trying way too hard to be this intense guy because he doesn't know any other way to be. He is naturally dark. Please don't give this guy the compliment of being a good actor.

  21. Derek Turner

    His name is kyle newacheck and he's an actor, he plays kyle on comedy centrals workaholics. Really funny show. But yeah, he's an actor, i recognize him.

  22. Janet White

    That is absolutely NOT Kyle Newacheck. You clearly have never seen Kyle in person because if you had you would know that is not him. Kyle is not only an actor on Workaholics but the creator and director. He has also directed several other major sitcoms. Kyle doesn't have the time or desperation to have done this.

  23. Janet White

    That is absolutely not Kyle Newacheck. He doesn't just have a reoccurring role on Workaholics, he is co-creator of the show, directs nearly every episode, and has directed several big sitcoms. He doesn't remotely have the time or desperation for this stunt. I have seen Kyle in person and I promise you that the man on Catfish is NOT Kyle.

  24. Janet White

    Craig Alexander Hamil You are correct. They don't look alike because they aren't the same person. Just a couple of silly posters who are speculating but are incorrect.

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