THE SUSPICIONS have been swirling around Emily Youcis for the better part of 2016, after the animated cartoonist known to Phillies fans as "Pistachio Girl" rebranded herself as a staunch supporter of Donald Trump and darling of the so-called alt-right.

Some people who know Youcis have insisted that it's a publicity stunt, an elaborate piece of performance art that the late Andy Kaufman would be proud of. They say she created the obnoxious Trumpster persona to drum up publicity for her Alfred Alfer movie and boost donations to her Patreon page.

Clout was intrigued. We decided to investigate.

Youcis, a 26-year-old Philadelphia resident, said her political conversion happened around April of this year.

She started wearing a "Make the Phillies Great Again" hat while hawking peanuts and Cracker Jacks at Citizens Bank Park. She was seen in a Breitbart News YouTube video, titled "Trump Girl Trolls #DemExit Protesters," yelling into a megaphone that Hillary Clinton is a rapist. She appeared on the The Gavin McInnes Show, where she asked him to join her in reciting the white-supremacist slogan known as the "14 words."

"We need to let people know this is a white movement," Youcis told McInnes. "This is about preserving the white race."

Last weekend, she made headlines again when she was involved in a dustup with angry protesters in Washington, D.C., outside a conference of the National Policy Institute, whose attendees like to use the Nazi salute and do other #NotNormal things.

"White Americans have been vilified in the media," she told our colleague Will Bunch. "We want to stand up for white America - we're the backbone of this country, the white working-class people."

Youcis is practically worshipped by white nationalists on Twitter. But, then again, she just created the @realEmilyYoucis Twitter account in June and has been unable to shake the suspicion that this is a long-running prank.

"All Emily truly cares about is cartoons and partying and rap music. She could give a shit about politics," one Youcis friend told Clout. "I'd bet my savings that Emily is just f-ing with everybody."

On Wednesday, Clout called Youcis - whom we met at a South Philly house party last year, before the country went to hell - and asked if she wanted to fess up.

Is any of this real?

Youcis insists that she's not acting. And from the tone of her voice, alternating between sullen and angry, we're inclined to believe her.

"People have asked me this repeatedly, and I keep telling them I'm being serious," Youcis said. "I don't understand why they can't get it through their skull."

Youcis said her political activism has been a mixed bag for her animation career. She said she's received death threats and "the whole city seems to want me dead."

"I've lost a lot of fans, basically all of my friends. I have gained a lot more fans though, which is great," she said. "I am getting a lot of sympathy. I'm sure white America is glad someone is standing up for them - which is the majority of baseball fans, let's be honest."

Youcis said she doesn't "hate anyone" and is worried about losing her vending job with Aramark at Citizens Bank Park. That's a valid concern, since both the Phillies and Aramark have been taking heat on social media about Youcis this week.

But then she went off about white "genocide" in America.

"You can have a Hispanic group or a black group, but as soon as we have a white-interest group, people want to ruin your life over it," Youcis said.

Clout's take on all this? Maybe Youcis will still have a job waiting for her in the spring. After all, the First Amendment applies to ballpark vendors, too. Maybe her cartoon will thrive with a new fan base of neo-Nazis.

But the Pistachio Girl that Philly knew and loved? It seems she's long gone.

Thanks, Trump.

Staff writer William Bender contributed to this column.

215-854-5255 @wbender99