Victoria Paris probably wouldn’t be famous if not for the boredom of the pandemic — and, of course, without her wanting it so much. Although to what end, it’s not entirely clear, even to her. Six months ago, she was just a former Equinox trainer from North Carolina studying history at the New School. Then, mid-lockdown, the 22-year-old started using her TikTok to advertise her Depop store, and quickly racked up 1 million followers. The “Victorians,” as her fans call themselves, come to watch her getting dressed, working out, injecting Botox, and sometimes ranting about “cancel culture” (“On my way to dismantle cancel culture and promote conversation culture”). She worked hard at it, posting upwards of 20 times a day and ironically nicknaming herself “the only living girl in NYC.” By last month, she’d become famous enough to be interviewed by Interview, declaring her intention to “Big Brother” her life.
In person, she’s the same strangely-transfixing-if-also-sometimes-annoying everygirl. But her success has complicated her life: If everybody her age is broadcasting everything they do, few of them do it as much as she does or for as many people. And now, everyone seems like they could be a clout chaser, which makes going out and flirting with boys not so easy. Her fame is something of a paradox: “I never wanted to be an influencer,” she told me on a recent Saturday night, on the rooftop of the McKibbin Lofts. “I think this shit is so fucking dumb. At the end of the day, I want to be free. And if this is a means to an end, then so be it. I’ll be the best influencer I can be.”
8:20 p.m. | We meet up to pregame at Victoria’s friend Fritz’s in the East Village. He’s a TikToking photographer with young Leo DiCaprio hair and a fridge filled with White Claws. “I’m the most hated person on the internet,” Victoria says not long after I arrive — it’s not clear what has inspired this revelation, or if it’s a sort of narcissistic humblebrag — picking up her phone (the wallpaper is fan art of herself, captioned “The Victorian Era”) and typing quicker than I’ve ever seen someone type. She’s clearly agitated, but she looks fabulous, wearing a black bikini top and platform Docs. Her gold eye shadow matches layers of gold necklaces (influencer swag) and the tiny streaks of gold in her Drybar blowout. On her arm is a lime-green Mansur Gavriel pencil bag (also free).
9:10 p.m. | Downing our drinks, Victoria rattles off about the trials of TikTok fame. She says nearly 30 people recognize her on the street every day, which makes me wonder how she keeps count. Girls from her high school tried to cancel her for being anti-Semitic (she’s Jewish). She became convinced the last boy she dated resented her success, which ruined things. And she reads all of her comments, many of which aren’t that nice. “You have to be a sick, sick, sick fuck to read all that shit. You either have to be a fucking masochist or crazy. I think I’m a little bit of both.” Strangely, some of the very online, fratty straight guys at the pregame don’t know who she is. “What do you do?” asks one, a YouTuber from L.A. “I do social,” she replies, demurely.
10:05 p.m. | Victoria is very anxious to move on to the next party in the McKibbin Lofts in Bushwick. “It’s not that I wanna be late. I’m just bored,” she tells Fritz, continually brushing her hair with a clip, which doesn’t seem to settle her nerves much. He reminds her it’s neither cool nor fun to arrive on time. While we wait, she steals mini-boxes of cereal from the pantry (Corn Pops for now, Frosted Flakes for later) and mixes a roadie in my water bottle, combining Grey Goose, Country Time lemonade, and Sprite. When I pop open a mango White Claw for the train, she adds some of that too. It tastes like candy.
10:15 p.m. | En route to the L train, the boys stop for a dollar slice. Victoria won’t wait for anyone, insisting we continue on to the subway. When they catch up to us, she asks for a bite of the pizza. “The city is healing! Bitches are wearing bathing suits in the subway. THE CITY IS HEALING,” she screams on the train, before asking the stranger next to her what he’s reading. “Esquire,” he replies, hoping to keep talking, but Victoria has moved on. All of her antics are a kind of charming farce of youthful relatability.
11:05 p.m. | The party is “underwater”-themed, in a very DIY loft with rooms built upon other rooms. Upstairs, young creatives mix drinks and chatter under a ceiling drooping with vines. Down a spiral staircase, there’s a dance floor with a DJ playing pop music. Bedrooms are built into corners of the ceiling, and there’s a literal workshop off the dance floor filled with drills and saws. The place is a warren for the Very Online, and many of the guests I meet have at least 20K followers on their app of choice, but no one seems to clock Victoria.
11:30 p.m. | Victoria lingers in the workshop, where the handsome host, wearing a Guy Fieri shirt and a pencil behind his ear, is holding court. They met a couple of weeks ago and took an out-of-state trip together for their second hangout (it’s all documented on TikTok). He’s her main focus, though she also seems intrigued by his friend, a skater-boy-looking model in a ball cap. She and I climb a ladder to a mezzanine overlooking the dance floor. “He likes me, he likes me, he likes me,” she says, looking down at the scene below and pointing at boys like a princess surveying her suitors. “I like to be above them,” she says. When “Say So” comes on, I half-expect her to dance to it, but the opportunity is cut short when it bleeds into Nelly Furtado.
11:46 p.m. | Back in the side room, one of the YouTubers from the pregame tries to teach Victoria how to take a selfie. “You’re on TikTok, you said, right?” She’s definitely annoyed. When he asks me to hold his Claw, I hide it several feet away to be supportive of her. Supposedly, the other YouTuber is trying to “organically” find somewhere to sleep tonight.
12:08 a.m. | Away from the host and relaxing in a corner, Victoria lets go of her girl-boss-claim-my-bag talk and gripes about wanting a boyfriend, pressing two fingers to her inner elbow TikTok-kid-style and letting out a “purrrr.”
12:24 a.m. | Word has spread that the party is moving to the roof. “It’s like a playground, let’s play,” Victoria says, spotting a couple making out in a hammock. “I want to kiss someone in a hammock,” she whimpers, doing the two-finger for what has to be at least the 50th time tonight. A couple of photographers debate whether they can take a photo of the hammock smoochers and decide it’s okay. Fritz tells me about starting the “ghost trend” on TikTok.
1:28 a.m. | Victoria is once more bored. “Yo necesito tacos,” she hisses at the host, who tells her they can’t eat until everyone is gone. She and I settle on a corner of the roof to chat about her last few months. “I’m trying to make money. And I’m trying to maintain this interesting life, but at the end of the day I’m bored, you know?” she says, fidgeting with her Silly Bandz. “I’m bored with this party and shit. I’m bored with this lifestyle.” Still, this is what she has now, after losing other friends in the wake of her internet fame. “At the end of the day I’m like, why do I care about boys? Why do I care about any of this shit?” before reminding herself it’s hard not to care when it comes to boys.
2:03 a.m. | What does break Victoria from her angst is a text from the host, asking where she is. Downstairs, the party has completely emptied out. As I say good-bye, Victoria jokingly throws me a very loud “Get the fuck out!” The next morning she’ll text me, “Got my tacos and my mans.”
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