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The ‘Democracy Manifest’ Meme Guy May Not Be Dead, According To The Chats

The mystery behind one of Australia’s most viral memes may be about to be solved, with claims the ‘succulent Chinese meal’ man is alive and living in Brisbane.

And it could be thanks to an Aussie punk band most famous for their mullets, and songs about Centrelink and disliking Scott Morrison.

If you’ve been on the internet in Australia in the last decade, you would almost certainly be familiar with this video -- a moustachioed man being led from a restaurant and shoved into a police car, protesting and loudly yelling at the officers restraining him.

“Gentlemen, this is democracy manifest,” the man intones in a dramatic enunciation, seemingly to the cameras capturing his arrest.

“Get your hands off my penis!” he suddenly yells, before uttering one of the most famous (and meme-able) phrases in recent Australian history.

“What is the charge? Eating a meal? A succulent Chinese meal?”

The video, which has never been proven to be a real arrest, has been shared across the internet countless times since it first appeared online sometime in the late 2000s.

Various versions on Youtube have more than one million views each, and the video has been turned into innumerable social media clips, memes, and even merchandise.

But very little is known about the original video; when and where it was taken, or even who was in it.

Online folklore claims the man in question was Paul Dozsa, a Hungarian chess champion who was well-known in the 1980s in Sydney as a serial “dine and dasher” -- eating restaurant meals then leaving without paying.

Newspaper articles at the time called Dozsa "Sydney’s most famous restaurant runner", reporting he had racked up dozens of convictions for skipping bills.

Dozsa died in 2003 before the video went viral.

But thanks to a music video from Queensland band The Chats -- who went viral themselves, with their video for 2017 song 'Smoko' -- claims have emerged that not only is the man from the ‘democracy manifest’ video alive, not dead, and that Paul Charles Dozsa has nothing to do with it.

Claims emerged Friday alleging it’s a completely different man, named Jack, who lives in Queensland, and does lovely paintings.

Jack is still with us. Jack will tell his story. Jack wants the truth to come out ... and no, he was not a chef.

"His name is not Paul Charles Dozsa, he was not a chess grandmaster and he is most definitely still alive," reads a bio on the website mrdemocracymanifest.com.au, which The Chats link to in the description of their new video for the song ‘Dine N Dash’.

"Sorry to all you journos who reported this so very, very wrongly," the website reads.

The Chats’ new video, about the band skipping out on a meal bill, features a cameo from a man who bears more than a passing resemblance to the original ‘democracy manifest’ star -- and looks very different to Dozsa.

The years have passed, and his facial features are slightly different, but it’s an uncanny resemblance.

“I can 100 per cent confirm he is the original Democracy Manifest guy from the video,” a spokesperson for The Chats told 10 daily.

Band bassist Eamon Sandwith said The Chats were "stoked to find out he was alive".

"Our manager and video crew tracked him down, no idea how," he said.

“He turned up, had drinks with us on set, then he was gone.”

In a brief email, a person in control of the mrdemocracymanifest website also stood by the story.

“Jack K is the person in the arrest. Charles Dozsa was not in the original video,” they told 10 daily.

They cited an upcoming “exclusive arrangement for the story” as reasoning why they could not say more.

“You’ll be the first we contact once we iron this out,” they assured.

The website details that media outlets should make an “offer” for an interview because “Succulent Chinese meals aren't cheap.” The website also lists themed merchandise for sale, including $40 shirts and $12 stubbie holders.

'Mrdemocracymanifest' also has a new Instagram page -- where a man, appearing to be the gentleman in The Chats’ video, is shown working in a painting studio.

One of his artworks depicts the arrest shown in the original video, and the page suggests he will soon offer paintings for sale.

The claim that Dozsa was not the star of the original video has other credence.

Few photos exist online apart from pictures used in newspaper reports, the Victorian Crimestoppers website, and what appears to be his former website.

They show a face that does not match that in the ‘democracy manifest’ video.

Left: Paul Dozsa's website. Right: Paul Dozsa's mugshot. Images: Wayback Machine

Additionally, photos posted on social media by Matt Walton, the director of The Chats’ video, show a striking resemblance between the man in their video and the original arrest video.

Adding to the case, Australian viral video site Brown Cardigan posted a video in 2019 showing what appears to be the same man, reciting the famous lines -- 16 years after Dozsa's supposed death.

So what does this all mean? We still have a lot of unanswered questions.

Who is the ‘democracy manifest’ guy and where did the original arrest video come from?

Why was Paul Charles Dozsa implicated in it originally? Is the person behind mrdemocracymanifest.com.au legit? And if so, why has it taken more than a decade for them to come forward?

The long delays between the video going viral and the emergence of 'Jack' is unusual.

There's also the matter that the website is immediately selling merchandise, and asking for "offers" to conduct an interview.

10 daily put questions to the person behind mrdemocracymanifest. We’ve also reached out to the person who posted the oldest version of the arrest video on Youtube, to find out where they got it from.

We’ll let you know how it goes. This is journalism manifest.

Do you know more? Contact the author: jobutler@networkten.com.au