Bearing large-rimmed glasses, a red and white raglan T-shirt, a ball cap and a monotone voice, Ray Toffer has become synonymous with the things that make Muncie "beautiful and luxurious," on social media.
However, much like the “Mocal” version of Clark Kent, when the glasses come off Toffer becomes Muncie local Stevie Hahn.
Simply existing in the streets of Muncie, Ball State Students and Muncie locals alike stop and ask the pressing question: "are you that TikTok guy?" Hahn winks in response.
"I don't know what you're talking about. I've never met that guy."
The character comes from no inspiration, according to Hahn.
“The story goes, I was bored, and I wanted something to edit,” he said.
And so, he went out to a property his grandmother owned among a few other places in Muncie and shot his first video that came out in 2013.
“I came home, I edited it, and then, I watched it, and I was like, ‘This is the dumbest thing you've ever done,’” Hahn said. “So I was like, ‘alright, well, I'm not posting that. That's ridiculous,’ and then I thought, well, ‘What's the difference? You made it? You have like 150 subscribers on YouTube? Who cares?’”
The video, titled “Beautiful, Luxurious Muncie,” started a decade-long career for Hahn, one he would leave and come back to.
Hahn gave up on the character for “several years,” but then COVID-19 and TikTok revitalized the character.
Back in the beginning stages of the character on YouTube, Hahn filmed and wrote the scripts for the Toffer character by himself. Now, to help with filming and to ground him through the process, Hahn enlists the help from friends, like Liz Wray, a longtime friend.
Wray is the person behind the camera sometimes, along with occasionally helping with jokes and writing scripts.
She views the concept of the videos as “clever,” and that “you have to be a Munsonian to get it.”
“[Ray’s] such an unusual person with that kind of dry way of talking and dry sense of humor, and the idea that Ray doesn't even know he's saying mean things about Muncie,” Wray said. “He's just being factual.”
Wray believes the videos are how you treat a sibling, that Muncie is like a sibling to locals.
“I can make fun of my brother or sister as much as I want, but you better not say anything about it,” she said. “Me being someone who spent most of my life living in Muncie, just the little tongue in cheek poke that he does with the dialogue is so funny, and it's such a loving way to be sarcastically annoyed about Muncie. I think it brings out those inner feelings that all of us that have grown up there or live there have experience[d] on a day-to-day basis.”
The work between Wray and Hahn happens organically, but it’s not “super official,” Wray said. They interact with each other as friends, with the partnership making them closer.
Wray no longer lives in Muncie, but it “will always have a feeling of home.” She now lives in Fishers, and said driving back to Muncie “feels like going to a different part of the city.”
When Hahn made his Valentine’s Day video, a tounge-in-cheek TikTok capturing the “romantic places,” in “beautiful, luxurious Muncie,” that was posted Feb. 12, 2023, he said he gained “like 100,000 views in a day, which is double of what the [first video] did in a decade.”
Despite his successes, Hahn’s “just happy if the number of people that says follow me also correlates with the amount of views. What has kept me going this time is the amount of opportunities I've been presented [with].”
Hahn has had opportunities to do sponsored work as Toffer, such as with Prime Trust Financial Credit Union.
A recent opportunity he had was hosting Leisure Hour’s EP release party and kickoff for their tour on July 21 Be Here Now, a bar and music venue located in the Village. Leisure Hour, much like Hahn, is local to the Muncie area but has seen recognition behind the city.
At first, Hahn was skeptical of the direct message he received from the emo-rock band, but after listening to their music it changed his mind.
“The genre was something that I thought was long dead,” he said. “It took me right back to, like, the end of my high school and my college years, and I was like, ‘Whatever you want, you got it.’”
Isaiah Neal, a lead vocalist and guitarist for the band, learned of Toffer through his TikToks.
Neal and the band reached out to Toffer to make their release party “feel special” and “as big as possible.”
“[The release party] was one of my favorite shows ever because a lot of people came, and it felt like a big family, a big community,” Neal said. “We played well [and] all the other bands played well.”
Due to the success of the first party, Leisure Hour and Hahn will be doing a Halloween Festival tour kickoff called “Scaredy Kat” on Oct. 27, in the H House, Neal said.
Hahn's work in comedy videos have found uses outside of making people laugh. Hahn and Wray have joined forces to work on a project called “SURVIVE: Indiana,” a show based on the CBS reality TV show “Survivor.” In the show, 10 contests from places including Akron, Ohio, and Louisville, Kentucky, come to compete in challenges in Indiana.
Wray originally became involved because she competed, but she now helps out with filming the confessionals of the contestants. Wray is not the only returning member to volunteer their help. Former contestants come back each season to help with setting up challenges, work in production and hang around the crew.
“There's a community that has definitely grown up around Stevie's overall vision of [SURIVIVE: Indiana],” she said.
To make the project work, 10 contestants volunteer and apply to compete with two alternate contestants on the sidelines, ready to fill-in if needed, as well as having four cameras filming. Wray explained she does the confessionals, with two camera people following the teams and a camera filming the challenges.
Hahn acts like a Jeff Probst, who hosts the show and the challenges, but afterwards, he hangs up the Probst-hat, and he becomes the editor.
Hahn has been doing “SURVIVE: Indiana” every two years since high school, minus when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. They filmed in August 2023, with the videos estimated to come out in October or November.
“He's a good, good guy, and … he's not malicious at all about Muncie,” Wray said. “I think it's definitely a funny creative outlet for him, and I think it’s great that he's getting some reach outside of Muncie because anyone in a small city, small town can relate to the content that he puts out.”