It’s a brave new world, and perhaps the best illustration of that is the wacky phenomenon of YouTube celebrity. In this always offbeat, frequently narcissistic, and occasionally downright bizarre realm, top content creators are often embroiled in off-camera “scandals” and catfights. The details are later recapped for their drama-hungry followers — all while creators rake in the cash, of course.
Successful creators can earn big bucks from brand deals. And there are plenty of brands eager to deal with these internet celebs — histrionics and silliness be damned — in return for access to their massive teenage fanbases. Thus, the top YouTubers can rake in tens of millions per year. More than A-list celebrities, in some cases.
Yet YouTube, and social media in general, is also an exceedingly fickle platform. No better example of that exists than the case of James Charles versus Tati Westbrook.
Last week, Charles was the 19-year-old wunderkind who emerged from nowhere to become YouTube’s most-subscribed beauty blogger. Rumored to be worth $12 million, Charles had amassed 16.5 million YouTube followers and lucrative brand deals with social media-focused brands like Morphe and SugarBearHair.
Yet that all changed last Friday when fellow beauty guru Westbrook posted a 43-minute takedown video on YouTube. Within four days, Charles had lost 3 million YouTube subscribers — or 18% of his audience — and counting. (Westbrook, meanwhile, added 3.5 million to her own subscriber count during that same timeframe.)
Is the Charles brand permanently expired, or “canceled” (in social media terms?) Who knows, but it’s been badly damaged. His recent apology to Westbrook is already one of the most-disliked videos in the annals of YouTube.
Yes, this drama may seem silly. But it’s also the fastest anyone has ever lost (or gained, in Westbrook’s case) subscribers in YouTube’s history. And it perfectly illustrates the fleeting nature of fame and fortune in 2019 — social media can be both an incredible tool and a fearsome weapon.
But anyway, Charles can still comfortably hunker down in his new Encino mini-mansion.
At 4,255 sq. feet, the leased house is roomy but not oppressively so. Built new in 2016, the property was sold for just under $2 million that same year to a non-famous San Diego-based businessman. By 2018, said businessman had punted the property onto the rental market, and y’all already know the rest.
The Cape Cod-style pad has a two-car garage, a fireplace-equipped living room, an eat-in kitchen with fancy stainless appliances, hardwood floors, and a glassy wine closet (presumably filled with soda and apple juice for the underage Charles, right?)
Upstairs, the master has a fireplace, a balcony, and dual walk-in closets. The home’s starkly austere black-and-white color scheme is meant to be chic — and it sorta is — but the singular lack of color manages to lend an un-homey feel to the premises.
Though the property is located in a rather unfashionable pocket of Encino — and the .15-acre lot is slightly dinky — the backyard does include all the requisite luxury amenities. There’s a full outdoor kitchen with BBQ and bar-style seating, plus a pool/spa combo with a nifty waterfall feature.
For whatever reason, the San Fernando Valley has always sported more than its fair share of eccentric YouTuber residents — particularly in the decidedly suburban neighborhoods of Encino, Sherman Oaks, Tarzana, and Calabasas.
Besides Charles, other social media-famous folks out yonder include Jenna Marbles, Jake and Logan Paul, Eva Gutowski, Rosanna Pansino, Jeffree Star, and Shane Dawson.