Aπαγορεύεται (apagorévetai): English translation: it’s forbidden / prohibited [adjective] meaning: not allowed; banned.
Greek-American Tony Kariotis, otherwise known as @iamgreece on social media, is mostly known for his popular social media pages documenting his Greece travels and photography. Tony shares his work/ play trips to the motherland offering his followers tips and guides based on his extensive and frequent stays on the Greek islands and in the country’s capital, Athens.
It was only last year that Greek City Times caught up with Tony to hear about his travel experience in Greece during the peak of the pandemic crisis. At the time numerous countries faced border closures, with many disheartened travellers unable to either enter Greece or obtain special exemption permission from their residing country due to hardcore lockdown and restriction regulations. Those border closures for many countries carried through to 2021, so it was a good thing Tony didn’t break ‘Summer in Greece’ tradition and had his followers ‘Keeping up with Kariotis’.
A plethora of disappointed and envious travel lovers across the globe who were unable to visit Greece lived vicariously through Tony’s photographs and Instagram stories which, in usual fashion, included his island hopping, road trips, staycations, accommodations and everything else in-between.
Amongst his page’s daily posts, GCT came across a new video Tony had posted to his @iamgreece Instagram page whereby he is yelling “Ep! Apagorevete!” The video highly amused and entertained the team, so much so, that GCT shared it to our own Instagram stories. Tony replied upon seeing it and following some message exchanges thereafter, he informed GCT there were more of these ‘apagorevete-themed’ comedic skits.
The enthusiastic engagement received from followers who viewed the video prompted GCT to share the entire ‘Apagorevete’ video series and have followers vote for their favourite!
Reactions and comments were increasingly pouring in on all of Tony’s @iamgreece’s social platforms, and he quickly realised that he had gone viral! An overwhelmingly large number of re-shares, views, tags, comments and remakes of his skits lead to Tony being recognised in Greece for his videos, with passers-by, both local and tourists in bustling Athens city centre, yelling out to Tony as they caught sight of him, “Ep! Apagorevete!” – and the rest is history.
Tony had gained a whole new audience and fan base, all eager to either get a selfie with the social media sensation or to capture his attention by yelling out his famous line.
GCT spoke exclusively with Tony Kariotis to discuss what birthed the comical ‘Apagorevete’ catchphrase and video skit series.
Talk us through how ‘Apagorevete’ started
This past summer in Greece my girlfriend Maria (@thenerdygreek) and I had an experience during our time on Serifos that started the ‘Apagorevete’ videos.
One morning before our beach-day session, Maria suggested it was best I wait in the car with our friend Kristina, while she ran out to get coffees so that we didn’t have to find parking.
As I proceeded to pull up out front of the store, a motorcyclist came up right behind us and yelled “apagorevete!” when I had motioned to him I was there first. Seconds later, a lady bolted out of the store, grabbed his motorcycle to move it closer to me so that I couldn’t move the car any further and yelled out “apagorevete!”.
From that moment on I was scarred!!! I started saying that word all day, every day!
What prompted you to make this experience into a whole series?
The following week or so it’s all I was saying, except for the ‘Ep!’ part. I would say ‘apagorevete’ to everything.
So one day at a lunch, I asked someone to record me while I said it. I watched the video back and thought to myself, “There’s something here!!”
A few days later, I asked Maria to record me again on her home balcony while I pretended to yell it to people passing by.
After watching that video I really liked what I saw. A week after that I decided to turn it into a skit, where Maria does something that might be forbidden, only to be startled by someone yelling ‘Ep! Apagorevete!’. Our first episode with the fig tree was a huge success. Right away people were calling and texting us to make more!
Which skit video is your favourite out of the ‘Apagorevete’ series?
I would have to say the one where I run in flip flops to yell ‘apagorevete’ for the ‘No Olive Picking’ skit or the ‘No Diving in Swimming Pools’ episode. We shot a lot and they are all my favourites!!
No Olive Picking:
When did you know you went viral?
Honestly, I didn’t know right away. I knew it became a thing but not to the extent it had.
One comment on TikTok really left me speechless, it read: “You guys have no idea how famous you are in Greece. Everyone in every school says it every day, all day.”
That message stopped me in my tracks and I almost teared up.
Another moment was when Alexandros Kopsialis (from @kamm1tv) followed me on social media and messaged me ‘Apagorevete’ – also when a well-known media personality from a major TV show in Greece commented and sent me a direct message.
How many views have the ‘Apagorevete’ videos had?
Over 15 million views so far!
Which episode has been the most popular?
The baby video!
This video was never scripted or planned. We were hanging out with my cousin, his wife and their baby at the beach. The baby tried climbing up on my arm, I passed my phone to my cousin and said “Video me!”
I turned to the baby and gave him the company line! The baby burst into tears! His parents told me it’s the first time that someone has made him cry!!
That video alone has had over 2 million views!!
Tell us about the fan remakes
There are over a thousand now! People use my sound on TikTok from my ‘Apagorevete’ videos and create their own skits. Some are REALLY funny!! Some people even tag me in random videos so that I can go tell them ‘Apagorevete’ in the comments, they think I’m the police!! Two guys I don’t know sent me a video turning the catchphrase into a song!!
What more has transpired from all of this?
We were recognised a lot in Athens, with people coming up to us asking for photos or yelling out ‘apagorevete!’ However it wasn’t just in Athens, which is what really surprised us. People also recognised us during a road trip when we had stopped in Larissa for lunch and were walking, and then it continued to happen in villages and other parts of Greece!
One incident in Kalymnos really stands out. As we were walking from the car to the beach, a lady stuck her head out of a vehicle driving by us and yelled to Maria, “I know you from TikTok! Apagorevete!!!” Maria was in complete shock. She froze for a moment and asked “ME?!” It was the cutest thing, she had no idea what she was getting herself into when she agreed to participate in these videos with me.
To my surprise, when I returned to the States it happened there too! In the supermarket car park I was startled by a loud shout out of “Epppp!!! Apagprevete!”
I thought to myself, “You’ve got to be kidding me right now,” as having been so far away in Greece for months I didn’t at all think that many people – or anyone – in the States would be familiar with my videos.
To this day people always send us photos when they see an ‘Apagorevete’ sign in Greece! I think we have become so entrenched into everyone’s minds that when they hear or see the word ‘apagorevete’ they think of us, which is a good thing because hey, we all know it’s the most commonly used word in Greece, right!?
That was the goal from the beginning, to sound like that old Greek guy that never lets anyone have any fun, everything is always forbidden!! Or should I say, “Apagorevete!!”
Is there Apagorevete merchandise yet?
We recently released Apagorevete t-shirts and sweatshirts for our fans. People can find them on my website.
Shop merch: https://www.greece-media.com/apagorevete-1
How can people find you that aren’t familiar with you yet?
On social media of course!
Is it true you’re now on Cameo?
Yes!! You can get a personalised video from me or another Cameo celeb, saying my catchphrase “Ep! Apagorevete!” These also make a great last minute Christmas gift idea or virtual Christmas card greeting!
Cameo link: https://www.cameo.com/iamgreece
Tony has us reminiscent of that old grumpy Greek theio, pappou or dad that was always hovering over like a drone watching and ready to pounce like the no-fun-police, to sternly execute in a deep authority-like voice, “Ep! Apagorevete!”.
You can view the Apagorevete videos and follow Tony on the links listed below.
Images copyright © Tony Kariotis @iamgreece
Read also: My love for Greece is second to none