Virgil Abloh Roasted for Only Donating $50 to Protesters

Today in the crumbling of the celebrity-industrial complex, cult Off-White designer Virgil Abloh is being eviscerated online for donating a mere $50 to a Miami community bail fund.

Related | How to Support Protesters in Every City

As protests have sprung up in over 75 cities following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and others, bail funds are freeing people jailed for rallying against police killings. Dozens of funds raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from via “match me” threads. While everyday people are chipping in between $25-50, celebrities are making hefty donations commensurate with their income. Rapper Noname encouraged her celebs followers to copy her $1,000 donation to the Minnesota Freedom Fund: Earthgang, Smino, 6LACK, Jessie Reyez, J.I.D, Rico Nasty, Yara Shahidi, Kehlani, Aminé and others all matched. Chrissy Teigen donated $100,000, then doubled it after being pressed by followers.

Related | Some Celebrities Are Getting it Right

“The Miami community ~ i’m crazy inspired. for the kids in the streets that need bail funds for George Floyd protests,” Abloh posted on his Insta story along with a screenshot of donation receipt for Fempower Mia, a Miami art collective that’s been providing food to and bailing out protesters. “Matching the local energy,” he added.

Given that Abloh’s net worth is reportedly between $4 and 15 million, and his brand is best known for $1,000 sweatshirts and $275 “industrial” belts, his check being the same as unemployed recent college and high school grads or underpaid New York City writers hit people the wrong way.

Trolls updated Abloh’s Wikipedia entry to read “Virgil ‘Cheap Ass’ Abloh” and are flooding his mentions with price comparisons between his products and his donation.

Abloh is also under fire for moralizing about looting, after protesters damaged Sean Wotherspoon’s stores Round Two and Round Two vintage in Hollywood in Miami. “This is fucked up,” he commented on Wotherspoon’s post about his store. “You see the passion blood sweat and tears Sean puts in for our culture. This disgusts me.” Wotherspoon himself replied to a distressed commenter: “I can’t stress enough, our shops are not what you should be worried about… We need our world to change, people should all be treated equal.” Marc Jacobs, after his store was vandalized, also expressed empathy for protesters. “A life cannot be replaced,” he captioned a photo of his graffitied Los Angeles store.

Celebs like Ariana Grande, Tinashe, Kali Uchis, Lil Yachty, Nick Cannon, Jamie Foxx, J. Cole, Michael B. Jordan, Amandla Stenberg, Kendrick Sampson, Porsha Williams, John Cusack, Camila Cabello, Shawn Mendes, Halsey and more have all actually shown up to protests in their home cities.

Of course, there’s plenty of white celebs who are also doing the least, or worse. Kylie and Kendall Jenner, Cara Delevingne et al were roasted for re-posting an Insta story chain post (“Tag 10 people who will not break the black lives matter chain”) instead of donating or turning out to protests. Jake Paul was spotted trashing a store for sport in Scottsdale, AZ (he’s denied he was looting), and Heidi Klum briefly tweeted an “All Lives Matter” graphic before deleting.

Related | Lil Yachty, Tinashe, Nick Cannon, More Celebs Join Protests

Celebrities’ ignorance about the protests adds to growing mass contempt for the rich and famous, already stoked by the pandemic’s clear class divide. Unclear when the revolution will hit Calabasas, but at least we can expect a Notes app screenshot from Abloh soon.

Donate to Fempower’s bail fund here.

Photo via Getty

Trump Designates Antifa a Terrorist Organization

This afternoon, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that he will designate Antifa a terrorist organization. It’s an announcement that will be difficult to enforce as Antifa is not an organization, but rather a 100-year-old far-left, activist movement of interconnected groups and individuals united against fascism.

While the Antifa movement has taken many forms over the last several decades, it’s become a prominent topic of conversation since 2016 when Antifa activists took part in a number of high-profile protests. This includes at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017 and the Portland protests last year, which led to Trump calling Antifa an “ORGANIZATION OF TERROR” in a tweet.

Related | Twitter Flags Trump and the White House Threats for Violence

In a statement, the ACLU said “Let’s be clear: There is no legal authority for designating a domestic group. Any such designation would raise significant due process and First Amendment concerns.”

While experts question the legality of the designation and how it would be enforced, the Trump administration doubled down. Attorney General William Barr followed Trump’s tweet with a statement that said: “The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly.” Trump and others within his administration continue to blame Antifa for the protests that persist nationwide.

Related | Saturday Protests Consume New York City

Nodding to the ignorance and gaslighting of Trump’s recurring Antifa talking points, one Twitter user joked “Feds are currently raiding Antifa headquarters, CEO of Antifa being led out in handcuffs.” He followed the tweet to say “Several GOP senators who knew this was coming divested all their Antifa stocks last week.” This could be a reference to Republican Senator Richard Burr who is being investigated for insider trading after allegedly selling stocks once he was briefed on the economic impact of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, #IamAntifa began to trend on Twitter as thousands of people used the hashtag to express anti-fascist sentiments.

Photo via Getty/ Scott Olson

How Cash Bail Is Tied to Systematic Racism

The issue of cash bail, the practice of paying a deposit for the release of a person who has been arrested, is in and out of the news. In the 2020 Democratic Party primary for president, several candidates called for ending cash bail within their platforms, including Senator Bernie Sanders who introduced a bill to end money bail in 2018.

The United States has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world, and research has consistently shown that its cash bail system perpetuates a flawed criminal justice system that disproportionately targets people of color. According to The Sentencing Project, African Americans are incarcerated in state prisons at a rate that is 5.1 times the imprisonment of whites. And in five states, that include Minnesota where Floyd was killed, the disparity is more than 10 to 1.

Defendants can be unable to afford bail for misdemeanor crimes like jumping a turnstile. In New York, that means staying in Rikers instead of returning to your family. According to the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, hundreds of people have died in New York City’s jails since 2001.

Related | How a COVID-19 Emergency Amendment Act Affects Incarcerated People

Cash bail has been in the news again over the last several weeks through the COVID-19 pandemic, which is having a devastating impact on America’s prison population. A tracker compiled by The Marshall Project shows at least 34,584 people in prison tested positive for COVID-19 by May 27.

Now, with protesters being arrested everywhere from Louisville to Los Angeles, thousands of people are donating to bail funds across the country. These funds are used to bail out those who are arrested for crimes that include protesting. Sometimes, when an organization receives a surge of donations as they are today, funds can go towards frontline supplies. This is according to Pilar Maria Weiss, the Executive Director of The Community Justice Exchange, a formation of over 60 community-led bail and bond funds.

Two such funds that have gotten a lot of attention this week are the Minnesota Freedom Fund (MFF) and the Brooklyn Community Fund. It’s been popular for Twitter users to screenshot their donation to either organization with a quote RT that says, “matched.”

There is some misleading information on Twitter, including this popular tweet that suggests the MFF is “white-owned” and “well-funded.” The organization, like many bail funds, is mostly volunteer-led with an executive director who is a white, formerly incarcerated female. That said, they have received a large number of donations, and so they’ve taken to Twitter to amplify other organizations and fundraisers in need.


we’re supporting a movement constellation of formations

you know what to do

make these fundraisers go wild (@BlackVisionsMN ) (@reclaimtheblock ) (@UR_Ninja )

add more

— Minnesota Freedom Fund (@MNFreedomFund) May 27, 2020

Similarly, as many give to Brooklyn Community Bail Fund and that money will go towards bail, there is a specific protest support fund in New York with Free Them All 4 Public Health. The Brooklyn Community Bail Fail has a pinned tweet directing prospective donors to the National Bail Fund Network.

Weiss says the nature of the movement to end cash bail is that it’s interconnected, “There is a community of people doing this work,” she says. “Across the country, there is a robust and diverse movement to end mass Incarceration.”

Before donating to a specific bail fund, Weiss advises checking your preferred organization’s Twitter feed to see how they are resourced and what they recommend.

Related | How Politicians Are Reacting to Nationwide Floyd Protests

Finally, there’s an issue of immediacy. Weiss describes how people are reacting in a very instantaneous way after the anger and trauma of the last several days. Given these heightened emotions, some want to be reassured that if they give bail money today, it will be used to bail out protesters tomorrow. The reality is our criminal justice doesn’t work like that.

In places like Louisville, it was announced that courts wouldn’t do arraignments today so anyone arrested must wait till at least Monday to hear about bail. In New York City, Weiss is hearing most of those arrested have yet to have their bail set. These delays are exasperated by COVID-19.

On top of the delays, it’s impossible to predict if or how protesters will be charged. This varies a great deal by jurisdiction, according to Weiss.

Regardless, any money raised now will be put to good use. “In a lot of places, the money that’s being raised, if it’s not being used for bail this weekend, will be used for bail next week or the week after,” Weiss says.

Until the American criminal justice system is reformed there is a need to keep supporting these funds.

How to Support Protesters in Every City

Photo via Getty/ Erik McGregor

Twitter Flags Trump and the White House Threats for Violence

Around 1:00 AM EST on May 29, United States President Donald Trump took to Twitter to criticize Minneapolis leadership’s response to the current protests taking place in the wake of George Floyd’s death earlier this week. In calling for an end to the looting of businesses, however, Trump not only threatened to send in the National Guard to “get the job done right,” but also directly threatened violence against those participating. Twitter swiftly flagged the tweet, stating that it violated Twitter Rules about glorifying violence, but the tweet remains viewable to users.

Related | How You Can Demand Justice for George Floyd

“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,” Trump’s since-flagged racist tweet reads in a thread of his rantings. “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

The very immediate threat of violence against protestors was evident to the people watching Trump’s tantrum on social media unfold, and takedown reports sent to Twitter seem to have worked. Although the platform allowed the tweet to remain available for click-through viewing, it attached a message to the original reply and disabled link sharing. The phrase “when the shooting starts, the looting starts” originated when it was first uttered by Miami’s police chief, Walter Headley, in 1967 as a racist threat against citizens in the Civil Rights movement.

Related | A Black EMT Was Shot by Police in Her Home

“This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible,” the warning message reads attached to Trump’s tweet. His reaction to having his tweet flagged was, expectedly, not happy — he took aim directly at the company this morning and vowed to enforce an executive order signed yesterday to expand social companies’ liability for its users’ postings under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Once Trump realized his tweet was only available for limited viewing to the public, The White House’s official Twitter account reposted the original message — and then also got flagged for violent speech. The account, which now appears to be as much a mouthpiece for Trump’s tirades as his personal account, calls for Twitter to be deemed a publisher and thus sacrifice its Section 230 immunity.

Photo via

Here’s What Audrey Mika’s Up to in Quarantine

Much like everyone else in quarantine, 19-year-old Audrey Mika is stuck inside, lounging in her sweats, streaming Netflix and watching as the days run together. As a singer/songwriter, Mika has also been able to use this time to focus on her music.

Related | Audrey MiKa Is Outgrowing Her Toy Microphone

If you don’t know the rising musician, you can follow her through YouTube, where she started in her room with a toy microphone making cover songs. She rapidly rose to popularity (with now 1.5 million subscribers) through her Billie Eilish covers and her simplistic, sometimes comedic videos to accompany them.

Now, she’s ditched the toy microphone for the real deal, going on tour earlier this year with her 2020 5 A.M. EP. In early May, Mika also released her newest single, “Just Friends,” and a week later premiered the track’s music video.

Related | Please Don’t Give Yourself Quarantine Bangs

PAPER checked in with Mika to see how she spends her days in isolation. From dressing for absolutely nobody to hanging out with plants, Mika’s photo diary is extremely relatable.

Stream Audrey Mika’s 5 A.M. EP, below.

Photos courtesy of Audrey Mika

Regina Spektor Is Having a TikTok Moment

Scrolling till you feel something? Look no further. Here’s a 15-second TikTok of a white teenager performing a Step Up-worthy dance routine to Regina Spektor’s 2006 hit song “Fidelity.”

The appearance of Regina Spektor on TikTok is truly a light in dark times. Please take note of how the dancer’s sweatpantsed legs jerk around like whatever ethereal string instrument Spektor plucks. The devastating look of concentration on his face as he pops and locks while she croons, “I never loved nobody fully/ Always one foot on the ground.” The dart board and album posters in his carpeted bedroom.

It’s a promising sign that Spektor, too, will see justice in the ’90s-aughts singer-songwriter revival, currently bringing Liz Phair and Fiona Apple to the ears of Gen-Z for the first time. Is a nascent Regina Spekter hive about to make “Fidelity” go number one 14 years later?

Related | We Fetched the Best ‘Bolt Cutters’ Memes

Probably not: the video has barely gone viral. It has 100,000 likes on TikTok and about 9,000 on Twitter. But to me? It broke the internet. If you’d like to support the work of this remarkable creator, his handle is @zockjat and he appears to be a very cool teenager and talented dancer.

We salute creators like him, bravely bringing noughties indie pop to TikTok. Okay, now who’s going to choreograph a first viral dance for “Daylight” by Matt and Kim? C’mon, it writes itself: “We cut the legs off of our pants/ Throw our shoes into the ocean/ Lay back and wave through the daylight.” Vampire Weekend’s “A-Punk”? The Fratellis’ “Chelsea Dagger”? Noah and the Whale’s “5 Years Time?” The Drums’ “Let’s Go Surfing?” Don’t sleep on it, TikTok teens. Educate yourselves.

Photo via Getty

Nova Miller Is Bringing Her Viral TikTok Vocals to the Mainstream

Swedish vocal powerhouse Nova Miller is taking her latest single from the TikTok tracklist to the mainstream. Her new song, “Mi Amor,” is premiering today on PAPER.

It would come as no surprise if Miller has already made her way onto your screen, again and again. The singer has more than one million followers and nearly 11 million likes on her TikTok, and the platform is home to her expansive vocal range.


my song mi amor comes out on this friday the 29th!!! thank you guys for helping me pick the name, now let’s bop to it !!!💜🌵 ##foryou ##miamor

♬ original sound – novamillermusic

Though Miller has taken on many challenges to imitate singers like Mariah Carey and Lizzo, “Mi Amor” stands on its own. The pop tune, inflected with disco production and Abba-like melodies, puts into song the confidence that comes with growth and self-betterment after ending a relationship. Of course, Miller’s vocals bring power to this message.

Related | Adam Ray Okay Has Reached a Pop Culture Peak

“Mi Amor is about evolving past an ex and loving the attention of knowing they still want you,” Miller said about the track. “You are lying if you say that you don’t feel good! Success and self-growth is the best revenge, it’s just a winning feeling knowing your former flame is kicking themself with regret — it’s the ultimate look at me now song!”

“Mi Amor” arrives today with a lyric video featuring Miller singing through a sultry, kaleidoscope filter that seems to embody her image. As Miller’s Instagram bio suggests, the singer may just be “the next 1960s popstar.”

Miller is starting summer strong — “Mi Amor” is the artist’s first single of 2020, following last year’s self-aware bop, “Do It To Myself.”

Photo courtesy of Nova Miller

This Meme Wants to Know What’s ‘Preventing You From Looking Like This’

Dear men, the internet is demanding answers from you through a new meme that asks, “What is preventing you from looking like this?”

It all began earlier this week after user @katiey_KE floated the question on Twitter alongside a photo of some rock-hard abs. But with almost 12,000 likes and over 15,000 responses, it appears as if she isn’t the only one wondering.

Dear men, what is preventing you from looking like this? 😍

— Katiey 😘 (@katiey_KE) May 25, 2020

And while some guys bristled at the joke and responded by posting model bikini photos, other responders took it as an opportunity to upload their own thirst traps. That said, since this is the internet, it also didn’t take long for people to start putting their own spin on the question — to pretty amusing results.

From blunder years mall pics to Twilight vampires, people far and wide have continued to ask what is preventing men from becoming chonky dogs or “going to war with cops.” And, honestly, valid question!

Dear men, what’s preventing you from looking like this?

— Jonathan Brown (JB) (@JB_AU) May 27, 2020

dear men, what is preventing you from looking like this?

— THE TWILIGHT SAGA (@Twilight) May 27, 2020

Dear men, what is preventing you from looking like this?

— Justin Whang 🐙 (@JustinWhang) May 26, 2020

Dear men, what is preventing you from going to war with cops?

— Citizen Ugly (@Citizen_Ugly) May 26, 2020

Granted, men aren’t the only ones facing this line of questioning. In the wake of the meme going viral, a large number of internet users have also extended the query to everyone from the working class to hackers.

Dear working class, what is preventing you from looking like this?

— brooke Ⓐ☭🍽 (@TooFrightful) May 27, 2020

Dear hackers, what is preventing you from looking like this?

— Phaith (@Phhaith1) May 27, 2020

And while we still don’t have a good answer to the question itself, in the meantime, you can still check out a few of the best memes, below.

Dear men, what is preventing you from looking like this?

— Mark Wilkins (@MarkWil67206795) May 26, 2020

dear men, what is preventing you from looking like this?

— ruby weapon (@clownpond) May 27, 2020

Dear men, what is preventing you from looking like this? 😍

— the posting menace 🙎🏻‍♀️➡️🕋 (@meohmyapplepie) May 27, 2020

dear men, what is preventing you from looking like this??

— uncle joonior (@sopranosdoomer) May 26, 2020

Dear men, what is preventing you from looking like this?

— Hannah Yoest (@ruthyoest) May 27, 2020

dear men, what is preventing you from looking like this

— Jill Gutowitz (@jillboard) May 27, 2020

Photo via Getty

Hailey Baldwin Threatens to Sue TikTok Plastic Surgeon

Hailey Baldwin is threatening legal action against a TikTok-famous plastic surgeon.

Last week, the supermodel hit back at speculation that she had gone under the knife — a claim that Dr. Daniel Barrett tried to debunk by comparing photos of Baldwin from 2011 and 2016. The video, which was uploaded over the weekend, suggests that she may have gotten multiple surgeries, including a genioplasty, lip fillers, and a nose job based on its position and the size of the tip.

Related | Hailey Baldwin Hits Back at Plastic Surgery Rumors

Now, according to documents obtained by E! News, lawyers for Baldwin and husband Justin Bieber have sent Dr. Barrett a cease-and-desist letter claiming he used her likeness to spread “uncorroborated claims that Mrs. Bieber has undergone plastic surgery,” amongst a number of other accusations.

Additionally, the couple accused him of copyright infringement over the use of lyrics from Bieber’s 2015 hit “Sorry” via the captions. They are currently asking Dr. Barrett to issue a public retraction and remove all posts related to Baldwin and Bieber.

That said, Dr. Barrett has yet to remove the video or issue a retraction, as he told the publication his content is meant to “educate people about plastic surgery.”

“The purpose of the video was not to disparage Hailey Bieber in any way,” he said, before dismissing the lawsuit as “crazy.”

“The purpose of my video was to share my opinion about the procedures that I believed she may have had done based on photos alone,” Dr. Barrett added. “This is at the request of many of my viewers who follow me for this type of information and for my opinion.”

Photo via Getty

Gaga and Ariana Prove There’s a 100% Chance It’s Already Raining

Last week, Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande graced us with a new song and video, “Rain on Me,” off Gaga’s forthcoming album, Chromatica, due out Friday.

Related | Lady Gaga: Life on Chromatica

Now, Gaga and Grande have offered us more content, this time in collaboration with The Weather Channel. Perhaps a nod to Grande’s documented affinity for Mean Girls, the singers report on the downfall from their homes, with Gaga in LA and Grande in Beverly Hills. Both hold umbrellas and heavy rain — or, water from a hose — pours on them.

“It was beautiful just yesterday but, oh, wow, how things have changed,” Gaga says. “Today, it is pouring rain. We are soaking wet. And while some are complaining of the recent downpour, we would like to celebrate the rain.”

Grande then chimes in, proclaiming “Rain on me, tsunami,” quoting lyrics from her Gaga collab. “Water like misery, but the people are still going.”

Gaga agrees: “So true, Ariana! The world is rising up in a massive act of kindness to celebrate the rain the world so desperately needs to quench the thirst of the Earth. Are we thirsty, or what?”

“Rain on Me” is one of many collaborations on Gaga’s upcoming album, which will also feature BLACKPINK and Elton John. Relive the video, stream the track and pre-order Chromatica now.

Photos via YouTube

Shawn Wasabi and Aly & AJ Are DJing PAPER x Club Quarantine

ZOOM CODE: 857 7282 0514

Last week, Love Bailey hosted PAPER x Club Quarantine from her massive hot tub on the Savage Ranch in Temecula, California. In-between turning her webcam to flaunt the West Coast sunset and splashing around with her housemates, Bailey called attention to her Artist Residency fundraiser and gassed up the party’s guest DJs with moans and her signature “yoo-hoo’s.”

Elsewhere in the night: DeathbyRomy played bops in a ski mask; BigKlit road a scooter inside her apartment next to a friend spinning wildly on a stripper pole; Tei Shi served ’80s glamour with an expertly positioned fan; and Tove Lo unveiled her first-ever DJ set with a preview of her new single, “Sadder Badder Cooler,” out now.

Related | Tove Lo Will DJ Tonight at PAPER x Club Quarantine

Tonight, PAPER returns with our weekly three-hour rave with Club Quarantine, the first and most persistent queer party on Zoom.

The lineup, per usual, is a mix of everything: Shawn Wasabi, the viral producer whose album Mangotale arrives May 29, is scheduled to DJ. (“Animal Crossing” and “Lemons” are both bubbly summer anthems). Disney icons-turned-avant-pop performers Aly & AJ will also drop by to build off the buzz surrounding their latest single, “Joan of Arc on the Dance Floor.” All the way from Sweden, COBRAH will make her PAPER x Club Q “Debut,” as well as Remi Wolf (stream “Photo ID” and “Woo!”) and Sizzy Rocket, who’s set to release her “Smells Like Sex” music video later this week. Rounding out the night is Bambi Banks-Couleé, Chicago’s self-proclaimed “princess” and a member of Maison Couleé.

For entrance into PAPER x Club Quarantine, you’ll need a Zoom code, which will be announced to the public right here tonight at 9 PM EST. Stans, you’ll want to watch this space closely — and run, don’t walk, to enter the party.

For party tips and etiquette, follow Club Quarantine on Instagram (@clubquarantine).

TikTok Stars Bryce Hall, Jaden Hossler Arrested on Drug Possession Charges

TikTok superstars Bryce Hall and Jaden Hossler have been arrested on drug possession charges.

According to People, Hall and Hossler were taken in by Texas authorities on Monday for the possession of marijuana. Both of them reportedly had less than two ounces — a misdemeanor — though Hossler also had less than 400 grams of a controlled substance, which is a felony.

roadyyyyyy 🔥

— Bryce Hall (@BryceHall) May 25, 2020

Hall and Hossler currently belong to the Sway House collective. Per their social media accounts, it appears as if they were on a road trip when they were detained by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. Footage of their arrest has since made its way online.

And while both stars posted bail on Tuesday, the incident spurred speculation that Hall’s ex-girlfriend and Hype House member, Addison Rae, helped him out.

As Seventeen reported, fans are now convinced that‘s alleged report about her bailing Hall out is true — despite the fact that Rae’s mother recently confirmed they were no longer together. There is also similar speculation surrounding the rest of the Hype House bailing out Hossler.

Addison Rae reportedly bailed Bryce Hall out of jail.
We will confirm this as soon as we can. #TikkerTokker

— TikkerTokker – (TikTok Support Forum) (@TikkerTokker) May 26, 2020

Jaden and Bryce got arrested because of drugs and Addison Rae bailed him out and the hype house is working to bail jaden out 😩 whyyy

— Khushi_x09 (@KhushiNoori) May 26, 2020


— hi. (@bobaxaddi) May 26, 2020

Hall, Hossler, and Rae have yet to address the rumors.

Photos via Getty

Meet Instagram’s Original Queen of Cottagecore

Aspiration without pretension: it’s the high-wire balancing act every influencer hopes to achieve. 50-year-old Paula Sutton, a self-described “social recluse” who documents her quintessential English country home Hill House on her blog and Instagram, has managed it. Sutton’s refined approach to the traditional has made her a design star, as well as a personality in her own right — something she says nobody, least of all herself, could have predicted.

Related | TikTok’s Cottagecore Influencers Explain the Trend

Sutton’s love of fashion started with magazines. “I remember when the very first issue of Elle UK came out — I was 16 years old and I was sitting on top of a red double-decker bus and I was so excited,” she recalls. Her parents nonetheless discouraged her from pursuing a career in the industry, so she studied town planning and architecture instead. But after graduation she was sucked into the world once more, and started interning at fashion PR firms.

In the early ’90s, she began meeting people in the modeling industry. The timing couldn’t have been better, as the era of the supermodel began to take flight. “I was looking up to and admiring the Linda Evangelistas and the Naomi Campbells and the Christy Turlingtons of the world,” she says. “And so it was almost like using them as a map, looking at those girls and thinking, ‘well who are they represented by?’ And in my mind I thought, ‘Well you start there and then you cascade down.’ It might not work. You might be turned away. But certainly that’s where I’ll start.” Shortly thereafter, Sutton landed at Elite Premiere, the top agency at that time, starting as an intern and working her way into the press office and eventually to head of press. “My theory has always been that you try the top and if that doesn’t work you go elsewhere,” she adds. “I think a lot of people, what they don’t realize is that if everyone is thinking that they’re not quite good enough there’s actually room at the top.”

But then life happened. She married, gave birth to a son in 2001 and twin girls in 2003. Priorities changed, and suddenly late nights at the office spent troubleshooting beachfront locations for photoshoots became less unexciting. After five years of balancing a family and a job that kept her on call at all hours, Sutton decided that a change of lifestyle was in order. The family decided to pack up and head to Hill House.

The furniture and possessions from their London townhouse barely filled two rooms. But with no income coming in, buying new furniture simply wasn’t an option. It was time to get inventive. Sutton started going to car boot sales, vintage markets and auction houses. “I started filling the house with all of this vintage stuff and then I learned to recover seats on my own and make cushions on my own and it was all very much a self-taught thing, purely to fill the house,” she says. “So it was actually done very cheaply. The whole look of it is very established English country house style but that style has always been based on faded fabrics and overstuffed chairs. It’s meant to look as though the stuff has been there for several generations. And that plays well into my aesthetic because I was buying things that weren’t necessarily new, they were a bit faded, but it gave it that lovely luxe feel.”

Related | ‘Real Housewives’ Couture Queen Sutton Stracke Tells All

She knows what she likes the moment she spots it, a skill she developed through her time producing fashion shoots. “When you’re helping the fashion editor pull things together your eye gets trained into knowing what will work well and the logistics of that. So even now I’ll walk into a market and straight away I’m drawn to things. I never spend hours and hours anyway. I haven’t got enough patience.” This includes antiques and textiles that evoke a different era, solid, chunky furniture; something with a Queen Anne leg or a turned foot. “It has to have that hint of days of old or some past life.”

She began blogging as a hobby while deciding where her career should go next. Then she noticed people posting on Instagram and thought the platform’s visual-first approach would suit her love of interiors. “None of it was intended to become a career,” she says. “I didn’t know that that could happen. I didn’t know that Instagram could be a thing. And I think in those early days, no one did really.”

So began what Sutton refers to as the “hidden years,” in which she photographed the house from behind the camera. “At that point my fashion was more about Welly boots and walking the dog in jeans and jumpers,” she says. “I wasn’t really the Paula that you see today. I was a lot shyer, because I was just unsure.” The doll’s house-like quality of the home quickly attracted attention, and her new followers wanted to know more about the woman who lived in it. Once a year, on her birthday, Sutton would appear in a photo on the page as a means of saying hello to the thousands of strangers following her. The reception was so positive that she slowly started featuring herself more and more.

Her fashion background suddenly came in handy. She has an eye for colorful dresses from Son de Flor and a quintessential English company called Cabbages & Roses. The clothes, she says, are meant to evoke a simple life: “I’ve never really been a sexy person. I’m not that. But I do love being well put together, red lipstick, I stick to a formula. I guess lady-like, I suppose. Although when I was younger I used to be in Dr. Martens the whole time. And I do like men’s brogues. So it’s lady-like, but with a men’s brogue thrown on. And tweed. Lots of tweed.”

Like many influencers before her, Sutton discovered that the algorithm favored faces. The more she posted photos of herself at Hill House, the more her following grew — and with that came negative attention. In late April, a British writer and editor tweeted that she was deleting Instagram, and that one of Sutton’s posts had been the final straw. This move sparked immediate backlash: of all the women posting stylized photos of themselves on Instagram, why go after a Black woman in her 50s who enjoys a country lifestyle that’s more stereotypically associated with Britain’s white upper classes?

“It was an odd situation really,” Sutton says now. “I don’t really do Twitter. I remember one evening on a Friday. I had already reached something like 115K followers so I thought I was doing okay. And then suddenly I started seeing these numbers going up and up and up. And I’d look at my phone and five minutes later there would be an extra hundred people. And then 150. And so on. And you can tell when something’s not right. You can tell something is happening. And it just didn’t stop. It was relentless.”

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Sutton admits the attention was overwhelming. “I wouldn’t go as far as saying that it was scary but it was overwhelming because you put yourself out on social media but it feels very controlled when you are doing it yourself,” she says. “And the people who were following me tended to be people who were really into country houses or country interiors or the fashion that I was into. Often people of a certain age and it was all very safe feeling and almost like people you’ve chosen to be part of your home. And suddenly I was getting thousands and thousands of people and I didn’t know who they were but they all knew who I was. It just seemed very exposed.”

But from one negative comment came thousands of words of support for Sutton’s unique brand of joy inducement. “I don’t know if it’s because of my age, but I’ve started to be called Auntie Paula,” she says. “What this last few months has made me realize is just how many people love the whole process of a beautiful picture. One of the reasons I post so much in front of my house is because of the symmetry of the garden and the house and I think a lot of people just enjoy that kind of beauty, just a beautifully composed picture. It’s not about me being beautiful. It’s about the actual image being an attractive image. I’m not comparing myself to being in a gallery but it’s why we get so much pleasure from looking at paintings and images like that: it’s really allowed me to just let loose. And it brings a lot of joy to a lot of people so I’ll push it even farther. It’s all about enjoyment.”

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Sutton has felt a surge of confidence as a result of her new found fame. She might not resemble the often whitewashed or teen-centric world of cottagecore, but that’s part of what’s helping her stand out. There’s plenty of room for everyone in the world of interiors — especially those who have as honed an eye as hers. “Until you become confident in yourself, stop caring about other people’s standards of beauty, and really start believing in the beauty of your own quirks, your own imperfections and your own personal style, you’ll never be truly at peace with yourself,” she says. “Confidence is knowing that or course there are gorgeous supermodels out there to be admired, but believing that you have every right to stand tall next to them and be admired for your own individuality as well — regardless of age, shape, looks or ethnicity. Have fun, enjoy dressing up, be comfortable in your own skin, and don’t be afraid to explore and experiment. Ultimately there’s room for all of us, and how joyous is that!”

Welcome to “Wear Me Out,” a column by pop culture fiend Evan Ross Katz that takes a look at the week in celebrity dressing. From award shows and movie premieres to grocery store runs, he’ll keep you up to date on what your favorite celebs have recently worn to the biggest and most inconsequential events.

Photos courtesy of Hill House Vintage

Doja Cat Responds to Racism Accusations

Doja Cat has responded to accusations of racism.

Over the weekend, the star came under scrutiny after her 2015 song called “Dindu Nuffin” resurfaced. The song title is a racist slur used to mock Black victims of police brutality. Additionally, Doja was accused of appearing in racist chats in the past, which led to hashtags like #DojaCatIsOverParty and #OnlyKlans going viral.

In response to the backlash, Doja issued a statement via her Instagram on Sunday night to apologize “to everyone that I offended.”

“I’ve used public chat rooms to socialize since I was a child. I shouldn’t have been on some of those chat room sites, but I personally have never been involved in any racist conversations,” she began. “I’m sorry to everyone that I offended.”

Doja then went on to say that she is “very proud” of her Black South African background and where she comes from, adding that the aforementioned song “was in no way tied to anything outside of my own personal experience.”

“It was written in response to people who often used that term to hurt me,” Doja explained, before saying, “I made an attempt to flip its meaning, but recognize that it was a bad decision to use that term in my music.”

Doja also tried to reassure her fans she is “taking this all very seriously,” and that she’s “sorry for upsetting or hurting any of you.”

“That’s not my character, and I’m determined to show that everybody moving forward,” she said.

See Doja’s statement in full, below.

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A post shared by Doja Cat (@dojacat) on May 24, 2020 at 8:10pm PDT

Photo via Getty

Hilary Duff Responds to ‘Disgusting’ Accusations on Twitter

There are many reasons why Hilary Duff deserves to be a trending topic every day, but not for the reasons she trended on Twitter over the weekend.

In the most bizarre turn of events, people began accusing the Lizzie McGuire star of participating in sex trafficking after posting photos of her kids on Instagram Stories. The since-deleted clips show the star sharing some adorable family pictures, but people zeroed-in on a pic of her eight-year-old son Luca naked.

“Someone pointed out on Instagram that I did a nude of him, which I did, so we covered it up with a sticker,” she says in one of the clips.

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This got totally blown out of proportions, and trolls started coming at her.

The mom of two has since responded with a tweet. She wrote, “Everyone bored af right now I know..but this is actually disgusting….. whoever dreamed this one up and put this garbage into the universe should take a break from their damn phone. Maybe get a hobby.”

The actress’s rep has also issued a statement to E!, saying, “Let me say this in the strongest terms, this is all a fabricated disgusting internet lie, created and perpetuated by trolls and idiots. Hilary’s own post this morning is all that needs to be said on the matter.”

The statement continued, “Everyone who knows Hilary is fully aware what an amazing mom she is and that requires no further comment. If only people with this much time on their hands used their energy to solve real problems in the world.”

Photo via Getty

Nature Is Healing: Young People Are Returning to Facebook

Facebook is for old people. Everybody knows that! Usage plummeted in 2019, most sharply among Gen-Z and millennials. While Facebook reported growth by some measures, evidence of everyday scrolling — “likes, shares and posts” — dropped by almost 20%. In 2018, only half of teens said they were using Facebook, despite 45% reporting being “online almost constantly.” While 69% of adults overall used Facebook last year, people ages 30-49 on the platform outnumbered those between 18-24. Boomers are close behind. Profit margins were decreasing even before the TikTok craze hit.

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At least, this was Facebook’s landscape two months ago. Coronavirus has carved a fork in the website’s seemingly clear path towards boomer chatroom status. Since quarantine began, has seen a 27% increase in average daily traffic (in comparison, YouTube and Netflix only saw around 15% boosts). Use of Messaging and Lives are up by more than 50% in the hardest-hit countries, according to a company blog post from March, with usage up 70% in Italy. “The usage growth from Covid-19 is unprecedented across the industry, and we are experiencing new records in usage almost every day,” wrote Alex Schultz and Jay Parikh, two Facebook VPs in the post. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said later, in an April interview: “We’re just trying to keep the lights on.” The blog post assures us Facebook’s not profiting off the crisis: ad revenue is down, as for everyone else.

Every social platform has seen a user increase during lockdown, especially those with live streaming and video messaging features. But unlike Instagram and Twitter, Facebook needed the boost. The site loosened its grip on pop culture and viral media around the time Donald Trump was elected president and Post Aesthetics crashed. Our feeds grew sparser and and notifications fewer as meme creators and celebrities migrated to other platforms. Then the site was besieged by a series of disturbing data, privacy and hate speech scandals, from Cambridge Analytica (which lead to 2018’s #DeleteFacebook campaign) to the site’s role in platforming fake news that shaped the US election, to its use of a conservative PR firm to spread questionably anti-Semitic rumors that George Soros was funding the protests. (Instagram is notably owned by Facebook but hasn’t suffered the same hits to its image.)

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Not only is Facebook is boring — it has also been thoroughly cancelled. So why are we back, exactly?

Karen, a 25-year-old who was laid off a few weeks into the quarantine, reactivated her profile to join job groups like Binders (a women freelancer’s forum) and hunt for direct cash relief. It made sense to go to Facebook. Under coronavirus, Instagram and Twitter are for spiraling, mask pics and stressful news headlines. With its emphasis on longform text over photos, user-friendly direct messaging and niche community-driven “groups,” Facebook has meanwhile become a one-stop resources hub for the pandemic and ensuing recession. According to data provided to PAPER, 4.5 million people worldwide have joined COVID-19 related Facebook groups. Mutual aid groups, where neighbors can request or offer childcare, groceries, medicine, PPE, delivery services, translation help or simply rent money have sprung up for nearly every state and city. In New York City, the epicenter of the virus, there’s one for nearly every neighborhood in all five boroughs. Beyond tracking down jobs and cash, pandemic sufferers can find Facebook groups dedicated to everything from filing for unemployment (which around 30 million Americans did in April alone) and cashing federal stimulus checks, to parents educating children at home, brides affected by coronavirus, hairdressers out of work, and medical workers trying to locate RVs where they can quarantine from their families. There are buy and sell marketplaces for masks, hand sanitizer and plastic gloves. “It truly is this fully public message board,” says Karen, calling Facebook “the new LinkedIn.”

Put simply, Facebook has what the other social media girls don’t: a forum feature. “Facebook is the only platform with a good design [where] it’s easy to organize and communicate with groups of people at one time,” says Mike Desposito, 31, who started the Facebook HELP US – NYS Unemployment Issues in March as a helpline for the millions going through the bureaucratic nightmare of applying for unemployment in New York state. “Instagram et al are great for promotions and photos, but crap if you’re trying to ask and answer questions,” adds Alicia, a 46-year-old organizer of the group Bushwick Mutual Aid, emphasizing the ease of distributing materials to turn group members into additional organizers. “Facebook allows for actual conversations among large numbers of people.”

Pandemic resources on Facebook aren’t primarily being created and used by young people (Facebook didn’t provide demographic data about traffic and usership increases upon request), but given layoffs are disproportionately affecting millennials and Gen-Z, they’re certainly among those seeking out groups like HELP US. “We see many people saying this is the first time they’ve created a Facebook, or that they hadn’t been on their old Facebook accounts in years,” Desposito says, estimating HELP US’s age range is from 25 to 55. Alicia, who approves all membership requests to avoid trolls, says she’s seeing the same thing on Bushwick Mutual Aid: “Some say they joined precisely to join our group. Others said they were back on FB for the first time to connect regarding COVID-19.”

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Meanwhile Natasha Frid, 24, who recently wrote about her fraught experiences of applying for unemployment for The Cut, was a frequent Facebook user pre-corona. But for a long time now, she’s seen the site as a practical resource rather than a social network: “I use it as Reddit/Craigslist.”

From a young organizer’s perspective, Facebook’s popularity with older people, the hardest demographic to reach online, is actually a plus. “In thinking of all the platforms in use, I can’t think of a platform that has the kind of interactive multilingual engagement that Facebook does,” adds Maria, 33, another Bushwick Mutual Aid organizer. “Facebook is more familiar and most accessible by a larger audience,” which is crucial, Maria says, for a “group seeking to serve the most vulnerable.” “Everyone has Facebook,” said Desposito. Or at least if they had it once, they can have it again.

These organizers aren’t champions of Facebook, the company. Alicia cites how Facbook botched an attempt to cut down on price gouging of masks and PPE, also deleting all of Bushwick Mutual Aid’s posts about swapping fabric and patterns. Organizers are also concerned about the privacy we now know people risk when they use Facebook. “The main hurdle I see holding it back is the amount of personal information one is expected to divulge in order to get involved in even the first steps,” adds Maria. In general though, the urgency of the pandemic may have helped temporarily neutralize user distaste for Zuckerberg. Facebook has certainly positioned itself as a good samaritan: the site offers a “Coronavirus Information Center” on its homepage and hosted a virtual commencement ceremony for the class of 2020 featuring Oprah Winfrey, Miley Cyrus and Lil Nas X.

While some are using Facebook as a pandemic resource, others are using it to escape. The appeal of hyper-niche, highly interactive meme groups, a phenomenon fairly specific to Facebook, has massively intensified during quarantine. Emily Orenstein, 23, is one of the co-founders and administrators of New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented Teens (NUMTOTs), a Facebook meme group dedicated to urban planning and public transit popular with young leftists (the group formally endorsed Bernie Sanders for president). She says the 200,000-strong forum has seen a “huge increase in post submissions” since quarantine began, “to the degree that we can barely clear the queue.” Half their members are between 18-24, and 40% are 25-34. Orenstein says NUMTOTs mods are trying to strike a balance between “keeping the group as a place where people can escape the constant stream of pandemic news for a bit to have some fun” and sharing “information that could lead people to take positive action (e.g. mutual aid funds, info about strikes).”

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In general, Facebook is no longer the center of meme culture: Instagram and Twitter each function as their own giant meme groups, with mass in-jokes and codes of language and etiquette. However, given their social and political leanings, both have ceased to be remotely escapist. While Twitter memes are constant reminders of our collapsing society and toxic online dynamics, thanks to groups — where content flow is filtered to all revolve around the same topic — there’s a soothing, sane quality to Facebook’s strange, secluded nooks.

Who? Weekly, a Facebook group dedicated to humor about B (or lower) list celebrities with an affiliated podcast, also saw a surge in membership requests when quarantine hit. Moderator Jamie Lewis, 30, says the pandemic hasn’t necessarily changed the group’s dynamics, but has reinforced “how important it is right now to have a community or a place where you can escape and distract yourself from the general heaviness of our current events.”

A month ago this strange community had around 145,000 members. At publishing time, it had 1.8 million. “We went from having maybe 100 posts a day, to 85,000 pending posts in the span of a few hours,” says Tyrese Childs, 20, the founder of the group. He says the group’s members are as young as 13, though most are between 18 and 24. “It provides a space where you are only interested in one thing: being an ant. And that’s why the pandemic will increase Facebook’s relevance. People just want to escape to another world,” he says. Indeed, character is rarely broken on the site, and current crises are almost never alluded to. “Just want to say thank you to the creator of this page you’ve helped me get thru a lot of depression with this group during this hard time,” one earnest poster did break character to share with the group.

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There’s possibly no group more niche or escapist than A group where we all pretend to be ants in an ant colony. All posts, whether requests for “help carrying” a slice of banana back to “the queen” or sharing insect-related TikToks, are made from an ant’s POV, in a hypnotizing call and response format. “EAT” a photo of Flaming Hot Cheetos is captioned.” “C R U N C H,” “N O M,” and “S P I C Y” respond helpful ants. “Some of you guys are suppose to be working on tunnels today. Not sharing memes,” one ant chided, after a choice A Bug’s Life clip garnered responses such as “F U N N Y,” “N O S T A L G I A” and “G I G G L E.” “Guys, I think there’s something wrong with the H U M A N S I haven’t be seeing them out lately,” another ant-poster writes.

Highly polemic “Leftbook” groups of yore like Sounds like your analysis needs a bit more nuance but ok, and p o s t (the descendent of the Post Aesthetics) have gone quiet. But a whole new strain of wholesome play-acting groups, like A group where we all pretend to be roommates, A group where we all pretend to be bees, A group where we all pretend to be boomers, A group where we speak gibberish and pretend to understand each other and We Pretend It’s 2007-2012 Internet are averaging hundreds of posts per day. Facebook has become a place to live out a less complicated existence, or even a utopic one. Like many of its peers, A group where we all pretend to live in an anarchist collective together, created a month ago, forbids references to COVID-19, and its Group Rules includes a “vibe check” clause: “If your post brings down the vibe we reserve the right to remove it.”

Facebook — land of the boomers — has become a refuge, specifically because of its disconnectedness. For millennials at least, Facebook is transportive to a simpler time, even without “Groups where we pretend…” Navigating the website itself, let alone reading your old statuses, can feel like a throwback. I’ve found myself lingering on the “eight years ago today” photos appear on my timeline and scrolling through blurry travel, prom and red solo cup-filled photo albums. I’m comforted by boomer family friends’ posts of their gardens and quarantine art projects.

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The community organizing and meme group boom doesn’t mean Facebook is “coming back,” at least in the long-term. I text old Facebook photos to friends, or post them on my Instagram story, rather than sharing them to others’ timelines. That would just be weird! The fact that Facebook’s quarantine renaissance is mostly taking place within the groups feature reveals the niche direction the site was already headed. Facebook is no longer where the zeitgeist lives, or where we go to scroll or argue or score clout or go viral — it’s where we go to escape all of that. Or to find a job or an apartment — tasks so materially useful and practical that they defy the current notion of social media itself.

It took the exaggerated dynamics of a pandemic to enlarge the picture, but for better or worse, Facebook has a future with young people. Framing it as a practical website full of wholesome content sounds strange in light of the political damage it has done — and especially to millennials who wasted their teen years hunched over Facebook sharing Buzzfeed quizzes and magazine covers to friends’ walls and feeling bad about not being tagged in enough photos. It remains a political liability, but while we once found ourselves toiling for attention on Facebook timeline, nowadays the platform is working for us.

Photo via Getty

Introducing Alexis Stone’s Latest Endeavor: EssentialXO

In the past, London-based illusionist, make-up artist, and drag performer Alexis Stone has focused his work on tackling issues surrounding modern beauty, social validation, and the Instagram aspirational — oftentimes using his own face as the canvas. However, with his latest project, Stone is externalizing these concepts and attaching them to another creation, dubbed EssentialXO.

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Inspired by the immersive world-building and makeup magic of film, Stone set out to create an otherworldly human-esque being upon which people can project their own expectations and experiences. “Created from a big bucket of claims, silicone, hair punching, wigs, and storytelling,” she is anything and everything you’d want her to be. But whether you’re enamored or unnerved by her, EssentialXO and her fantasy world is something that you can relate to, put your trust in, and fight for.

Granted, the most interesting aspect of the project will be watching her evolution in the public eye. In many ways, EssentialXO feels like a mirror of our collective obsession with influencers and celebrities — for better or worse. After all, as someone who’s no stranger to cancel culture, Stone also wanted to create a highly visible figure who doesn’t react or experience emotion. And the result is something that gets us to realize that the most human part of EssentialXO is you.

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That said, while EssentialXO was supposed to be launched next year, after recently celebrating two years of sobriety and Mental Health Awareness Week, Stone decided to “breathe life into something new that would not have been made possible without sobriety,” all while giving the world a bit of escapism amid the pandemic. And though there’s still a lot of mystery surrounding the reveal, he did tease that there are already “a couple things in the pipeline” — even if you’ll just have to wait to see what that is.

But until the big reveal, see what else Stone has up his sleeve with EssentialXO, below.

I think the best place to start is having you tell me a little bit about EssentialXO.

I think the main question I’ve received in the past 24 hours is “What is EssentialXO?” or “Who is she?” And I think to answer the question, without limiting her, would purely be: She is whatever the people need her to be right now. Whether it’s an overpriced sex doll, whether it’s a friend, whether it’s an avatar-like model, whether it’s the perfect human, it’s really open to people’s perception. Whilst I’m the person behind her — and as you’ll see in the next video, she is me to a major degree — I’ve always believed that as an artist it’s recognizing your entry and exit point, and whilst I’m not quite ready to exit, I really want to focus my time on creating something that will live on.

What differentiates her from similar endeavors like Lil Miquela?

Little Old Lame or whatever her name is [digital] and not done incredibly well. My whole aim was this: Why stop at the digital side, when we have the ability to bring something to life?… So there’s a digital element to [EssentialXO] –– that’s the world we live in now with prosthetic makeup and props and robots –– but I really wanted to turn her into a physical object. That if you were to walk into a room, you would be mesmerized by how incredibly striking and beautiful this woman was.

There’s nothing that has been done to this scale. It’s been attempted, there are similar products, if that’s how you want us to look at her. But in a digital world, I thought “Let’s combine every element that there is and bring her to life.”

Rewinding a bit, can you tell me about the making-of her and how you kind of came up with this concept?

I always work backwards. I work from the reveal. So there’s actually a fun video clip of me on my phone where I come up with the [name] “EssentialXO,” which is an anagram of Alexis Stone. That was the sort of eureka moment in me thinking, “Well, let me start over again.”

I’ve had an incredible career, and it is not going anywhere just yet, but amongst the highs, there have been lows, and I have thought, amongst those lows, would I do something different with the detachment of my own personal problems? And so, I thought, “Fuck it, let’s do it. Let’s start again.” So that’s where it began.

I then spoke to the incredible team at Millennium FX and I voiced this idea. They — like most people — say I’m crazy. We started the digital phase of 3D scanning me in before we went into the intensive digital manipulation of me: Repositioning and reconstructing my face, resembling how I could look in an ideal world, [to] bring her to life. So while she is her own entity, there is an element of it being an Alexis Stone 2.0, but just with her own world. So we started in November –– that’s when the hands on labor work started, and then I received her about a month ago. So it’s been a lengthy process, a very time consuming one given the situation we’re in as well.

You mentioned a world that you also created to go along with her. Can you give any more details on that?

I think when we watch movies, we’ve really forgotten to submerge ourselves in the world that we’re watching — whether it’s an hour-and-a-half long or sixty seconds on Instagram. [But I wanted] to create something visual as a distraction or to inspire people… So, to be able to create a bulk of work where people are so invested, [to the point where] people fight for someone’s corner and feel that they can relate to it, for me, that’s a world. It’s created from a big bucket of claims, silicone, hair punching, wigs, and storytelling. For me, that’s [the] fantasy. And as an artist, that’s my only job. Whether it’s to be liked or understood, there has nothing to do with me. But as an artist, I just want to create magic.

So, in some ways, is this a commentary on the polarization of the internet with stan culture? What is your opinion on how that plays into internet culture as a whole?

I mean, I’ve dealt with the cancelation culture my entire career. And I always joke saying that my ethos is to stay canceled, so I can’t be canceled again. It’s the world we live in — it’s not gonna go anywhere. You can use as many #RestInPeace when someone is pushed to the point of breaking that will last all of three days before someone else wants to attack someone.

I understand that for a lot of people, reading tabloids was our way of escapism and we could relate, and we could bitch about people’s lives and dramas. But now, with social media, we are so invested and we can see our impact with helping people grow in album selling and followers going up that we feel like they owe us something. And it’s a common confusion that we don’t actually owe anyone anything — despite people’s love and support.

There needs to be a sudden realization that we are human. So with this project, I was detaching the human element to it. So people can troll, people can try and cancel, they can insult. But she’s not human. She’s not going to react. You’re not going to get a reaction from her. So I suppose I’ve created a beautiful alien-like target board.

Does that mean you’re planning on doing some controversial, cancelable stunts with her?

No, she’ll be doing what I can’t do. I can’t go a week without [getting canceled].

Whilst I am the beginning phase of this, I have a great team of people that are supporting her and looking after her and taking that in a new direction. I’ll continue to do my thing, and she will flourish and do her own thing. Now that the world knows that I’ve created it, that’s it. There doesn’t need to be any more association with me and her. She’s gonna do her own thing, and she will probably one day live past me — which is an incredibly exciting idea. But I’m sure our worlds will collide in the future.

You mentioned sex dolls, which have presented some serious moral quandaries for the sex tech industry. Firstly, there’s the idea that they are objectifications of women. But secondly, there’s the theory that they’ll also have an effect on the way that people interact with each other and approach their relationships. Did any of those lines of questioning come up at all for you during the conception of EssentialXO?

I mean, one of the key points that I made throughout all of this, to help eliminate some of that comparison, was there was to be no genitalia. There is [nothing] other than her breasts. That was a conscious decision as to remove that connection. She’s made out of silicone. She has a skeleton inside her. She can be sexually objectified the same way any of us are sexually objectified, as a crossdresser, a trans woman, a gay guy, or as a cisgendered woman. That’s always gonna happen. I’m sure we have all been in relationships where we’ve looked at our partner and just thought, “I wish I could push that mute button just for an hour.” It’s a part of human interaction.

There are going to be a majority of people that just look at her as a doll, nothing more than that. But I said in the video, she’s so much more than that. And perhaps the world is not ready right now to be able to put their trust and emotion into something that can’t always or necessarily ever be able to return it. But sometimes we need that. When we talk about our higher entity or god, it’s not physical. We don’t see the presence, but we connect. So I hope if anything, I’ve created something that people can connect with. And whilst she is not typing everything herself, everything that is put online is stemmed from a real human — a human story, an emotion — just with a new cover across it.

How did you determine what she would look like?

That was the longest part. We had lots of mood boards. We had a mood board for every single piece, which I put together. It was eyelids, nose bridge, nose tip, lip distance, lip shape, chin, cheekbones, temple, head shape, collarbones, neck. We had her shoulders, we had her ribs. And as I mentioned, there have been times that I’ve conformed to beauty standards, and whilst this is only the first character that I’m introducing, I will be able to introduce different ideas of what my ideas of beauty are, which are inspired by people all over the world. From male to female, to characters that I grew up with.

I thought, “Why create a girl-next-door visual being when I could push it and enhance it even more?” Which is really where it confuses people into thinking that it must be CGI, because no one could possibly look like that. But it’s a real object. And it’s one of those things that when people meet her in real life, it’s just mind-boggling. So she’s a combination of things I’ve been fascinated and attracted to over the years.

How has quarantine affected the project, if at all?

I was meant to launch this project in a year from now, and I brought it forward because I feel like we were in a time of need of a little magic. Not only for myself and giving me a new venture to focus on — being self-aware of my own situation with Alexis Stone — but really taking this shit situation that we’re all in, and helping people be distracted and focus on something new other than refreshing the news and death count.

Whenever I create a project like this, I put my life into it. The only time I ever emptied my bank account, to fund a project was the plastic surgery project. And that was pre-makeup collaborations, pre-work. I emptied my bank account to create EssentialXO. It was everything I had at the time, and I did it for no other reason than I felt like I had to. So I hope people can just appreciate it knowing that I put a little bit of me into everything that I put out whether it’s great or small. And I hope that if anything, she can just act as a little form of blossoming life during a really bizarre time.

What is the ideal reaction you’re hoping to garner?

I think I’m pretty accurate when I can guess them. It’s either “I don’t understand,” or “Is she CGI?” It is fun sitting back and watching the conspiracies, especially pre-launch when I tease everyone into knowing that there is something coming up. I’m submerged in my own little fantasy world to really be able to take a seat back all the time, but I just hope people love her.

[I hope] people love her as much as they’ve loved and supported me, and understood that not everyone’s perfect — that people have their flaws and what is perceived to be beautiful by one person, may be perceived to be hideous as someone else. I just want her audience to share unconditional love with her, because I suppose that’s what we all want. Whether it’s great or small, I’m just intrigued to watch.

What exactly is supposed to be “flawed” about her?

I mean, she’s pretty nuts inside.

So that’s something to be revealed.

We’re all built up of things, whether it’s man-made or natural and what is perceived to be beautiful by one person is maybe not to someone else. If I wanted to have create a Megan Fox, we could have done that. That’s not what I wanted to do. I wanted to create this extraterrestrial like beauty, and I believe she is the future. I truly believe brands that want to work with artists and models, but are so scared of them having human emotions and a backstory, let me remove that. So we’ll see.

Welcome to “Internet Explorer,” a column by Sandra Song about everything Internet. From meme histories to joke format explainers to collections of some of Twitter’s finest roasts, “Internet Explorer” is here to keep you up-to-date with the web’s current obsessions — no matter how nonsensical or nihilistic.

Studio potos courtesy of Abdulla Elmaz

‘Notes on a Conditional Form’ Track-by-Track

“We are facing a disaster of unspoken sufferings for enormous amounts of people,” declares Greta Thunberg over orchestral flourishes in a call for civil disobedience on The 1975’s 2020 self-titled track. It’s no more chilling in the current context of COVID-19-induced mass societal restriction than it was when the song made its debut a little under a year ago. Although it might be easy now to take the teenage activist’s monologue as a prophecy, a reading assuming foresight comes up reductive. Human suffering has never been a conversation based in futurism, and The 1975 have never been a band concerned with “What if?”— only “What now?”

The current answer to that question for the band’s frontman Matty Healy isn’t exactly succinct, but nothing ever is for the man known for his lengthy track listings and titles. Notes on a Conditional Form, out today, clocks in at a massive 22 tracks and spans the genres of electronica, pop-rock and punk.

“Did you enjoy it?” Healy asks once we’ve finished rifling through Notes’ most perplexing and shining moments with The 1975 drummer George Daniel. The question is posed with surprising earnestness, given the slight friction he’s developed with the press in recent years.

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This bookend was the only time during our conversation where I found myself hesitating to respond — not because my feelings towards the Notes are negative, but because of how much ground an honest answer would have to cover in a single breath. Each track derives its identity from a variety of influences, sampling techniques and precedents in The 1975’s nearly decade-long discography; it’s difficult to have a hot take. I did tell him it made me miss going out dancing in New York.

I found myself re-thinking this reaction post-interview. Notes on a Conditional Form might be a lot of things at once, but rarely, if at all, is it a dance record in any traditional or modern sense. It doesn’t borrow from the same pop rulebooks as, say, Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia, or the techno backbones of a Gesaffelstein production. For every uptempo sway there are two songs to the contrary, with choirs and ambient sonics occupying a good bit of space. Nothing about Notes necessarily propels or repels movement, so why the sudden twinge?

The answer is production: house music’s influence on this particular The 1975 record cannot be understated. From Cutty Ranks’ booming “Shiny Collarbone” and the glitchy “I Think There’s Something You Should Know,” to the rich cache of UK garage-incited cuts, Healy and Daniel went to great lengths to at once bury and blare house’s most beloved tropes. Drum patterns aside, the sampling techniques used to achieve such an effect also end up bleeding into songs.

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Sampling is king and distortion its queen on any The 1975 record, but both are comfortingly on-the-nose for Notes. “Tonight (I Wish I Was Your Boy)” takes The Temptations’ “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)” and quite literally runs away with it, tucking it tenuously under a strain of pitch-shifting nodes; “Yeah I Know” splits up otherwise blasé spoken word clips, looping Healy’s voice in on itself; “Having No Head” ends up being the lengthiest track, as well as the most self-referential, featuring melodic drones reminiscent of their 2013 Music for Cars EP.

Perhaps Notes also gets its physicality from the cascade of voices that mobilize it, from the choirs of “Nothing Revealed / Everything Denied,” to the achingly familiar operatics of FKA twigs on “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know).” Healy’s father, Tim Healy, leads the charge on “Don’t Worry,” practically shielding his son from the confinement of the melancholy keystrokes laid out in front of him. Even Healy’s vocals themselves morph into instruments at Daniel’s clever disposal, interspersed at-will to carry listeners from one scene to the next.

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This squadron of compelling beats, neo-noir ambience, and earworm vocals backs listeners into a corner of nostalgia rather than allowing them to revel in the cinematic soundscape out in the streets or around friends and family. For every lonely studio apartment, there’s a miserable chord to match. For every frustration at the prospect of facing the days ahead, there’s an equally frustrating verse about some personal hell. For every whisper of hope, there’s something in the background that you might not catch at first. While the effect obviously wasn’t intentional, in a world bereft of movement as a result of COVID-19, Notes on a Conditional Form bargains with sanity.

PAPER sat down with Matty Healy and George Daniel to break down ten highlights from the new album. Read the full interview below.

PAPER: I want to talk about the lead track, “The 1975.” With Greta Thunberg’s monologue and message, I wondered if you had any updated thoughts or a different perspective in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

Matty Healy: The thing is, right, with this record, obviously there’s an element of it feeling a bit like, you know it kind of prophesizes what is to come a little bit. But I think, to be honest, in order for the record to not make sense, and to feel unjustified or to feel a bit scared, it would’ve, something on a global level like coronavirus that was positive would have had to happen. You know what I mean? Like overnight, the world got worse because of this, but if overnight the world had gotten better somehow, then maybe the record would feel, or a track like Greta’s, would feel weird. Well, not weird but —

George Daniel: It would feel weird to take any sort of credit, well not credit, but to be like, “Yeah it feels more powerful now.” Or maybe it will to some people, but we can’t really think about that right now.

Do you have any updated thoughts about having it stand alone, separate from the band’s other title tracks? It feels kind of different listening to the record now that it’s completed as a whole. Having that be so powerful right at the beginning.

Matty Healy: Yeah, but I think now it is a slightly different world and the only thing that I do care about or that I do put thought into is the fact that in 1000 years if we’re not here anymore, or if it’s now, if we all die out now. Like this record is an actual record of what’s being, I suppose, worried about right now. Do you know what I mean? From an individual’s perspective. But we have people like Greta on there, kind of laying it out as matter-of-fact as it is.

George Daniel: I mean, people are always going to miss having that vocal in that track, but in our minds we were always kind of ready to move away from that, but to keep the concept of keeping the title track.

Matty Healy: Exactly.

George Daniel: Well not the title track, but the soft title: “The 1975.”

Matty Healy: Yeah, that’s a thing that I got asked like quite specifically the other day, about that and where that came from. And I actually realized that I think we’ll always do that though, because it’s like, Microsoft or Sega or PlayStation. The worlds that I grew up living in.

The loading screen.

Matty Healy: Yeah, you have the loading screen and then you have a startup which was basically like every time, like a buffer, basically every time you hear it we’re kind of starting up again. And then you’re at a new time, and we’re checking in. And I think that we’ll always do that, but this time… Well, we were trying to figure out what the most modern version of that was. And then the conversation immediately became, “What is the most modern statement?”

George Daniel: Then came the song.

Matty Healy: Yeah then it became about Greta, and that was it.

The next track I want to move to is “People.” Having that come out so many months ago, it started the album era with a bang. Something that people were describing as surprising, but it doesn’t feel all that surprising looking at it in the record’s context. Looking at the other songs, how has that song has stood up to you? Playing it live, what was that experience was like?

Matty Healy: I think that this record, like when we put out those first two statements — cause people like to project — people were like, “Oh this is gonna be their environmental record. This is gonna be their heavy record.” It was always just an example of it being the same as every record, which is just a record about us and a record about me, and the kind of all-encompassing human experience. I think that “People” was about that kind of outward, fearful projection of what we saw. Young voices of progression being drowned out by regressive ideals. It comes from a place that’s really deep in our early DNA. Heavy music bands like Refused and stuff like that. It was just an example of what this record was going to be like, which is everything that we are. And then when we started playing it along with “Love It If We Made It” and “I Like America and America Likes Me” and Greta, and it started to become quite a vessel for being. It just became a vessel for us to express where we were at any given point.

The sonics being quite harsh, it’s not as easy listening as some of the tracks you named. Let’s say easy listening is having the headphones on, volume all the way up, and being able to sustain that over a long period of time. Having it be a bit abrasive, was that intentional? Or was it still just the message that was carrying the sonics along?

George Daniel: We were always pretty conscious of it being like, slightly abrasive. I mean, there’s a compromise when you’re recording something and want it to sound really aggressive and angry, there’s always a slight compromise. The example we always use is like, if you think about the Rage Against the Machine records in your mind, they sound really aggressive and really distorted. They obviously are, but if you go back and listen to the records, they evoke that way more than they are technically distorted and brutal. It’s really interesting because it means you have to leave that to the listener’s imagination. You will achieve it, you have to be confident about it. Hopefully we got it right without it being too unlistenable, basically is the point.

Do you consider “Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America” to be one of the more collaborative tracks in The 1975’s discography? You have Phoebe Bridgers lend a verse, you have a conversation going on within the song. I wanted to talk about where that collaborative perspective came from and how it connects to the message.

Matty Healy: It came from sharing memes, honestly. Like fucking Phoebe’s record, Stranger in the Alps, is one of my favorite female vocals that I’d heard in so long. I kind of expressed that to her. Just following each other online and stuff like that, we were chatting and talking about each other’s music and we’re fans of each other. Then her and Marshall, who is her drummer and a songwriter, they came and we all hung out one time and we all got on so well. By the time somebody had almost like, breached the studio you know, they were almost already inherently part of the record. We were just very into making that record.

George Daniel: We did have that song, sort of.

Matty Healy: We had that song just thinking, “It would be great to have like, a harmony.” Almost like a duet-style harmony, but that wouldn’t work if it was me. And then once Phoebe did that, every time we wanted like, a vocal tone that wasn’t mine on the record, we just got Phoebe to do it. So she ended up on like four different songs.

George Daniel: It was a little better experimenting with different tracks because we had to find the right one that was like, perfect range for her. Also, the content of that song is obviously perfect. Luckily that was one of the ones that was like, a brilliant match and it sounded amazing. We actually have a whole version that was her singing the entire song.

Matty Healy: We made it a nice version, so that we’ve got a Phoebe-only version for ourselves to sit and have a little teenage dream to.

The old school duet really doesn’t really exist in contemporary pop music. It’s sort of interesting to see that applied in your pop music universe. Especially The 1975, which feels very solitary sometimes as a project.

Matty Healy: Yeah, absolutely. I think that the whole record is a reaction to the deconstruction of culture at large, do you know what I mean? Like the idea of 2016, we’re making records like I Like It When You Sleep and social media and communication was a certain way. Everything was filtered and very curated. I think you fast forward to a couple years later and you’ve got like Cardi B talking to people on fucking Instagram Live and everything’s been deconstructed. It became about this real-time expression. I think that all of the ideas, all of the rules, that they even extended to personal comfort, kind of went out the window by the time we made this record so we were very open to anything like a collaboration. It became quite experimental. The idea of the duet… I’ve thought about the protest song, the transcendent ambient piece before. I’ve never really thought about the duet as a standard idea in pop music. I know a lot of them. It’s interesting to put it that way.

George Daniel: I guess now most of the time it’s features.

Matty Healy: That’s what I was gonna say.

George Daniel: Features aren’t like a three-dimensional space that you bring someone to where there’s conversation that feels like a dialogue. It’s not a linear verse and then somebody else’s verse.

Matty Healy: The idea of the feature used to be the idea of the duet. Like George was just saying, and you were saying, it used to be about this creation of a three dimensional space where it had a purpose to it. It inherently feels like the purpose to a lot of features now is, because of the nature of cross-pollination, is streams. Like, “You get this many streams, I get this many streams, let’s fucking do it bro.” Whereas I think there’s an authenticity to the collaboration on this record because it came from nothing but friendship and excitement of music.

Even when you’re thinking about where a feature is placed in a song, a lot of the time towards the three-quarters’ mark, you’re thinking about it being a build-up to someone new, having that space be their own, and then going back to the chorus or whatever to complete the song. Whereas a duet, especially “Jesus Christ 2005,” there’s a conversational tone. There isn’t that build-up, build-up, build-up.

Matty Healy: Yes, exactly. I think that the solitary element of The 1975 comes from a place of like, self-protection, to be honest with you. We’ve been a band since we were 13, we’re not like, pop songwriters who go into a room with loads of people and are like “Try this, do that, fucking, hey how are you doing? That didn’t work, let’s move into the next one.” We’re not like that. But we don’t have any ego in our band so if the opportunity to collaborate does arise, which it very seldom does just due to life, but if it does, then we’re very open to those ideas. ‘Cause we’ll never shut the door on a good idea because we’re scared or something. It’s just unfortunately the cultivation of those ideas sometimes doesn’t happen because of the way our life is set up.

Let’s move forward with “I Think There’s Something You Should Know.” I want to discuss the influence on this record versus your other records of house music and UK garage as a whole. You have it on “Frail State of Mind.” You have drum kits on “Yeah I Know.” I wondered where it all came from, because it was a really intense experience to listen to the record for the first time and hear that genre blended into The 1975 sound.

George Daniel: It’s something that has always been part of what we loved and listened to. To be honest, it wasn’t really dramatic or anything for us because we’ve been making that music since I was like 15 and we had just never put any of it out. I think we just maybe felt like it, based on the concept of the record, and how much space we were going to have to fill in terms of vast sonic variety. It just felt like a good time to do it. We then obviously had to experiment with turning them into songs and “Is it cheesy? Can we get it right?” It was a bit of that, but it was really, really nice and like a really fun part of the record to make to be honest.

Matty Healy: Obviously a lot of this record has been a reaction to A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships and how big of a moment it was for us. When all that happens, it makes you feel quite small. I think that we were a bit like, let’s just run with that. Let’s go back to being teenagers and making music that we want to make and really look at what our DNA is musically. Growing up in Cheshire, South Manchester, at that time after 7 o’clock every night every radio station is just dance music. Me and George, and the rest of the guys, we were just really into the culture of house music. Then, when we made our first EP, we were like, “Right, well let’s just take everything we learned from that and apply it to a band setting.” That’s why you’ve got something like “The City” which is just a series of loops. It’s been part of what we do for a while now.

It makes sense when you apply it to “The City,” but the acoustics or lack thereof within house music are very electronically based. How do you see the house tracks existing and being played in a live, full band setting? Do you see them sort of changing or existing still as very directly inspired by that genre?

George Daniel: Usually when we try and apply and take these songs to a live situation we get a bit scared about it. With “I Like America,” it took us a minute to get it right, but we were scared about doing too much. Initially we were like, “Oh, it needs to be really different and live and aggressive.” Hopefully what will really tie it all together is the aesthetic. Kind of talking about a combination of sorts.

Matty Healy: I don’t fucking know anymore, mate. You’ve gotta remember like, our shows are like, really weird.

George Daniel: It’s very conceptual and odd.

Matty Healy: Well, this is the thing that I’ve been thinking about. I’ve been thinking about doing a new show, obviously, because we’re not going to do that old show ever again. There’s this idea that we make loads of different types of music. Which we do, we go all over the place. But we kind of go to like, what, three places? We make ambient, left-leaning electronic music, we have a tendency to make that. We have a tendency to make ’80s inspired pop music. We make shoegaze, quite deconstructed alternative guitar music. Those are the three things. The reason I know that they’re quite defined is because if you go on Spotify, so many fans have made so many playlists that are all identical in their three sections, where all of these sounds equate to each other but they exist at different times on different records. It would make sense for me eventually to do a live show that is one of those, to compartmentalize who we are, because it is getting a bit fucking mental.

Trying to apply it all, yeah to the same stage.

George Daniel: It becomes actually stressful trying to make a show. It becomes good because you have a vast wealth of material to draw upon. But you’re also like, “Oh my god, how do we do a show that everyone’s going to like?”

The next track I have is “Tonight (I Wish I Was Your Boy).” I was actually really excited to talk about this one because of The Temptations sample.

George Daniel: I mean we’ve always really loved sampling anything wherever we can. To be honest, the way that song came about was: I had that sample for whatever reason. I come across a vocal and I end up in rabbit holes trying to find stuff to sample. Anyway, I had that and I did the intro, I did the piano arrangement from scratch, that’s not from the sample. That was its own thing and it existed as something that we loved and we weren’t really too sure what to do. Then we had the track that we’d been working on with No Rome, and that also had a separate sample. They were just kind of evocative of each other. That was some magic that happened, and they really just worked together.

Matty Healy: And it was like, yeah we don’t own like, any of that song because of The Temptations. It was very funny. The Temptations is like, 90% of it. The other bit is like, the other sample is Hiroshi Satoh, who is a Japanese city pop artist.

George Daniel: It’s an amazing song.

Matty Healy: It’s a fucking dope song. It’s kind of based around that song as well. Pretty much just that song is the chord progression, so that was like, a proper sample. But the thing is, we’ve always been weird with sampling because we sample in a different way. Like for us, we were always a band so we will even steal an idea and then pay someone… well, not pay someone for it. But for example, “Give Yourself a Try.” Are you familiar with that song?


Matty Healy: So when that came out, everyone was like, “Oh, that’s fucking Joy Divison! You stole that from Joy Division!” Joy Division owned 15% of that song. We were channeling Macclesfield, where we’re from, and those ideas. That riff is the riff of that town. I think that by the time it was so obviously a reference, it was like, I mean we wanted to turn that guitar riff up more and more as the mix went on. It became this obvious reference. I think that the way we think about sampling is that we reference so many different parts of culture, that sometimes it’s this weird hybrid reference.

George Daniel: You have to be prepared to not own it, because you actually don’t own it. And it’s fair enough. You love something so much you want to put it out sometimes.

The next song, “Shiny Collarbone,” relates to sampling as well. What an amazing vocal sample, especially with the drop at the end where the whole track changes.

Matty Healy: I’ll tell you where it came from. That song was a different song and I’d sung on that. I’d sung on the bit before the drop. It had this kind of repetitive, Chemical Brothers star guitar-y vibe. I tried to sing on it and I couldn’t get it to work. There were so many references to garage as well. I don’t think we wanted like, an insider, like a proper garage reference on a vocal, but we wanted something that felt like something from MC culture. So George found these Cutty Ranks samples.

George Daniel: Not to name drop, but we were listening to this Jamie xx record at the time, and it was like, “What sample would make you feel like that?”

Matty Healy: Right, OK.

George Daniel: And then we just ended up finding it. Those samples, a lot of reggae dancehall artists’ vocals are just amazing to sample because of what they actually just consist of and the tone of the vocal. They’re just really easy to manipulate and they still sound amazing. It was really that combination. Then we had to actualize it and make sure we could use it. We reached out, and it was cool — he was happy to rerecord what we wanted, which was totally great.

The drop at the end is also just glorious.

George Daniel: Yeah, all the vocals throughout are him. But then obviously it’s just different drums and weird percussions.

Matty Healy: That’s quite tribal, that moment. I really like it.

“If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)” was one of the last singles to come out, and people are loving it. Not to lean into the obvious, but do you have any thoughts on it being the big stadium pop song of the record?

Matty Healy: That song, we played it live and I think there’s an inherent quality in our music that’s really chimed in with people. In regards to this, it’s kind of like, uplifting and self-reflective. I think that, when we do “The 1975 thing,” people kind of seem to react quite well to it. I honestly don’t know man. It’s fucking —

George Daniel: Matty’s been relieved since it came out, I’ll tell you that.

Matty Healy: Yeah ’cause they wouldn’t shut the fuck up about… No! I’m not gonna talk shit on the amazing people that are fucking excited about our music, I’m joking. I’m just saying that you can never predict what people are gonna be like, man. We played that fucking song and then after two nights we had like 20,000 people singing it live. People knew that shit before it was out and it was this huge thing people were obsessing about.

George Daniel: I think you would have already got shit for it if you were going to.

Matty Healy: Well, I was worried about it.

George Daniel: No, no I get it.

Was the worry stemming from a thought, “Once fans get it, will they really have wanted it?”

Matty Healy: No, no it was because since the time we finished this record, me and George have not started a new record. We’re very much reflective of the place where we’re in and in-the-moment, we’re kind of looking forward to this next statement. To be honest with you, I keep saying, “The things that I see in the world are the things that I want my creative statement to be in.” And it’s kind of like, unattainable beauty, violence, and anxiety. I think that this song was kind of written in a moment where I relinquished that fear.

George Daniel: I think we were just worried if people would still find us doing that really exciting. And they have, so that’s great.

Matty Healy: Yeah that’s it, that’s pretty much it. I think that we’re always really actively pushing forward who we are, so sometimes if we kind of reinstate that, it almost makes us nervous. Whereas bands do that for a whole fucking career.

George Daniel: Well, we don’t want to feel like we’re being contradictory. ‘Cause I also think that that song is a better version of those previous songs that you could reference against it. Hopefully people agree with that. That’s kind of what we aim for when we do those songs.

Matty Healy: Yeah cause there’s no point in doing it again, but if you can do it better, then do it.

Yeah make it bigger, make it more maximalist.

George Daniel: Ridiculous.

Matty Healy: There’s always one of those on the record as well, because I’ve always said our records are a distillation of the records that came before them. They basically take everything that was good about them, and they kind of refine it and distill it. And I think that there’s a different way of looking at the record, but if you look at it like that, then I think that that moment on the record has gotten more clearer and more on-the-nose, you know. The poppy moments have gotten poppier, the heavy moments are now heavier. The introspective moments are more introspective, you know?

For “Playing On My Mind,” I wanted to start the conversation off with a sort of motif that I noticed throughout a couple of songs. It’s also on “The Birthday Party.” Whispered lyrics, so quiet that you would almost miss it if you were playing off of a speaker — where do those moments come from?

Matty Healy: Emo. It comes from Drive Like I Do. We used to do that shit all the time. If I just couldn’t decide if I wanted a melody there as well, I would just go off the mic and be like, “Ah no.” That comes from… that comes from…

George Daniel: Fucking Bright Eyes.

Matty Healy: Yeah, I was speaking to Conor yesterday. Me and Conor Oberst were talking yesterday for like hours and then I was talking about all Bright Eyes kind of things. What was amazing about Bright Eyes was that he was kind of in an emo band, kind of pre-cursor band, then he was also part of a folk singer-songwriter kind of scene. He was kind of like, in between. I think that those artists, Elliott Smith—

George Daniel: It always lasts.

Matty Healy: I think that’s where it comes from. I don’t know though, man. To be honest with you, we just try and trust our instinct now.

George Daniel: It’s a similar situation with what you were talking about with “Jesus Christ.” Where it’s like, a duet was approached more like that. I know it’s sort of less present in that track, but it was really thought out and then, as a song, as a whole thing.

I wondered if you had any thoughts about for this album, differences in where it’s played and how it’s played. So I’m talking headphones vs. earbuds vs. speakers. In a concert hall or stadium. Are some of the songs experienced differently, and do you feel at all like there’s a synergy between that and the meaning of each song?

George Daniel: Especially with “The Birthday Party,” I think it’s a pretty intimate record. I know it’s fast, but I think, again one of the things that Matty might agree with, is that where it’s personal, it’s more personal. In terms of the lyrical content and then therefore the listening environment perhaps.

That makes sense.

Matty Healy: To be honest, for me it’s just like, music for cars. Like that’s where I can see a lot of my music. Audio quality-wise, it’s different.

George Daniel: Depends if you have your headphones on.

Matty Healy: Yeah I don’t know really about that. Well, let’s think about it like this. If you’re in a different frame of mind or if you’re not listening properly because of what you’re like looking at, for example, then you’ll miss some of what I say. Right? That will happen. If you’re in the best audio environment in the world, but you’re looking at something else and you’re concentrating on something else, then you’ll miss some of the lyrics. So if you’re not in the best audio environment, you’ll miss some of what George is doing. If you’re not in the best social or visual environment, you’ll miss some of what I’m doing. It’s like what George said to me at one point, how basically, the guys don’t really do interviews for the simple reason that they don’t really want to. I think George said this to me once, that, I have the facility, not necessarily the ability, but the facility to express myself through words all the time in interviews and in my lyrics. He felt a real responsibility to himself as an artist to kind of be as expressive sonically, you know what I mean? I think that the record is, not to make it lofty, but, a work of art from both of us. I’m not saying that it’s this definitive work of art, I’m just saying that it is essentially two creative statements rubbing up against each other.

For, “What Should I Say,” I wanted to talk about the process of warping vocals. There’s something really pleasing and pleasurable about it on this track.

George Daniel: I don’t want to talk about warping [laughs]. Just making a joke. Is that the oldest song on the record?

Matty Healy: Yeah, yeah it is.

George Daniel: Yeah I think it’s the oldest idea on the record and that’s why Matty—

Matty Healy: Oh yeah, this is it…

George Daniel: —periodically fell out of love with it. I had to make him finish it. The high vocal thing, that’s not Matty. That’s an instrument which is just sick. It is sampled vocals, but it is an instrument and we just always had it in the bag of things we wanted to use. To be honest, we just had that beat and it just resonated. Everyone spoke about it. We had it and didn’t use it for A Brief Inquiry for some reason. We didn’t have “What Should I Say,” like it wasn’t anything near what it ended up being, but we had the beat, then it just stuck for reasons that are hopefully obvious.

I feel like attitudes towards vocal modulation, at least in pop culture when you’re talking about autotune or having that high-pass instrument accompany it, have changed. Especially when you look at other artists, like the proliferation of PC Music and autotune-heavy labels and artist projects. I wondered if you felt any differently about using vocal modulation and warping and distortion on this record than you did in the previous ones?

Matty Healy: We’ve never been worried about it. I think that like an obvious example of it on the last record is “I Like America.” But I think that obviously with what Alex [A. G. Cook] is doing with PC Music and Charli, Rina Sawayama — all of these artists are really embracing it as a style.

George Daniel: To be honest we took a step towards that on the last record more than this one, ’cause we never used completely wet autotune on a vocal until A Brief Inquiry. Whereas, if you listen to I Like It When You Sleep, there’s nowhere near that going on at all.

Matty Healy: No.

George Daniel: Maybe on an effect, but not on a lead vocal. So that was the big step, really.

Matty Healy: I think if you go back and listen to the first thing we ever put out, Facedown, you’ll see that our early stuff was essentially just really heavily manipulated vocals.

George Daniel: Weird, because you couldn’t record a good vocal. We didn’t have the budget to record a good vocal back in the day.

Matty Healy: So we made it our style!

George Daniel: Yeah, we just had to fuck it up.

Matty Healy: So that’s why we have all those harmonies and layered vocals.

George Daniel: That’s also why we have the ability to do it. Because we learned to cover up our shit vocals. [Laughs]

The last song I have is “Don’t Worry.” Ending on a tender note, I don’t really have a question about it. I just wanted to hear your thoughts on where that song started and how you ended up completing it. It’s incredibly delicate.

George Daniel: That’s totally a Matty question.

Matty Healy: Oh yeah, we didn’t do anything. Like, my dad wrote that song in 1990 or something. It was kind of the first song that I remember being really familiar with. This record became an investigation into our history, like musically and personally. I kind of remembered that song and thought, “I wonder if I’m imagining it being better than it was.” So then we got my dad to get it out and play it for us and it was fucking beautiful. I was like, “Oh shit, that’s like my songs.” Our songs are part of our story and it felt like that one was it. We just recorded it a couple of times, got him to do the vocal a couple of times. We sang it together and that was it.

George Daniel: He wasn’t up for doing it very many times.

Matty Healy: Yeah, he wasn’t up for doing it very many times. My dad’s not like a ten-take kind of guy, he’s more like a one-take kind of guy. So after he was more into that and just chilling. It’s a really beautiful song and it’s the only song on a The 1975 record that me and George didn’t write.

George Daniel: It’s also Jamie, our best best friend, Matty’s friend from like birth, he’s playing on the keys with Tim in the room and they grew up together, and he’s, you know… you can tell the story.

Matty Healy: My dad is like Jamie’s uncle. You know, me and Jamie, we were kind of symbiotic. My dad and his dad were best of friends.

George Daniel: And also Johnny plays for us there across the record as well.

Matty Healy: Yeah, both of our friends who kind of grew up with us who are in the band as other musicians are on the record quite a lot.

It really is like a return to like musical roots and a sort of family environment.

Matty Healy: It’s sort of like band practice at school and then going home.

Stream Notes on a Conditional Form below.

Meet the Memelord Behind the Viral ‘Lana Del Rey Cursed 2020’ Conspiracy

While virality is a fickle beast, once in a while you get a post that’s just so off-the-wall absurd that the internet can’t help but latch onto it. Case and point? A tongue-in-cheek conspiracy theory about how Lana Del Rey‘s Grammys loss kickstarted the garbage fire that is 2020.

The brainchild of Facebook meme page Miki Minach, the viral post was the work of admin Mark Mhr, who “cited” occurrences such as the Australian wildfires, the coronavirus pandemic, and Kobe Bryant’s death as repercussions of Lana’s snub.

“We were all very angry that she didn’t win, because all of us really loved [Norman Fucking Rockwell!], and it was a crime for her not to win Album of the Year,” the 23-year-old meme creator explained.

Related | The ‘March 1 vs. March 31’ Quarantine Memes Are Too Real

“So I thought that maybe the world being on fire was karma for not giving Lana what she deserves,” Mark said. “We all have this idea that Lana’s a witch… so when anything bad happens, [I wrote that] it’s because she’s here for revenge.”

Partially thanks to the Lana post though, Miki Minach (and its back-up page Dora the Whora) have now gotten so popular that Mark expanded them into a website filled with everything from speculative posts about celebrities to satirical articles like “Woman Named Karen Complains About the Karen Meme.” And while both pages and the website are growing at an “amazing’ rate, according to the Turkey-based programmer, his initial ambitions were much smaller.

Started in 2018, Mark initially began the page out of boredom with his friend Yazan as a way to “fill [his] time with something [he] loved” — namely, celebrity memes. However, it didn’t take long for his posts to start going viral and, with that, came tens of thousands of new followers from all over the world.

And while Miki Minach initially bolstered its following thanks to Nicki Minaj stans who believed it to be a stan page, Mark made it clear that it’s purely focused on memes sans any particular celebrity allegiances — even if he does prefer to post about his personal favorites, like Lana Del Rey and Shawn Mendes.

Per Mark, most of the memes are original and celebrity-focused, with the occasional “funny conspiracy theory” thrown in for good measure. After all, as we all know, celebrity content is the name of the game. And while the website may still be less than a month old, Mark believes his site is popular because it’s obvious a peer is writing these posts, as “a lot of celebrity websites today don’t really connect with people.”

“These other sites, they’re trying to be one of the gang. But they’re not, so it seems awkward,” he explained. “The way they write their articles seems cringey to me. They’re trying to be more relatable than they are. It’s like, ‘We’re just one of you.’ But you’re obviously not, so stop acting like it.”

He said that he tries to retain the irreverent tone and keep the content “as lighthearted as I can” — though he was also quick to add that he’s not trying “to be hateful to celebrities.”

And while most people understand that the content isn’t meant to be taken all that seriously, Mark said that Miki Minach has still run into a few problems with overzealous stans, who have flooded their posts with “nasty comments” and threats. That said, he insisted that it “never really bothers me, because a lot of these stans are little bit younger.”

Related | The Chain Challenge Is the Latest Quarantine Trend

Instead, Mark takes issue with the current state of stan culture, which he feels — as a former stan himself — has gotten far more “toxic” as of late and leads people to gang up on content creators like him.

“I still love these people, but I dont stan them anymore. Like, I wouldn’t fight anyone for them. I wouldn’t hurt anyone for them,” he said. “I think that’s the problem with stan culture. They think these people are more than just a celebrity. They’re family, they’re mom, and it’s not really worth it, in the end. She’s just your idol, so you dont have to keep fighting people for your fave. Your fave is a millionaire living their best life and nasty comments will not hurt or affect them in any way.”

However, he said that he still wants to keep himself as anonymous as possible, given some of the online vitriol and the fact that “a lot of people think of us as bad people” — something he said has also led to numerous reports from stans who have gotten the page blocked by Facebook multiple times.

That said, Mark went on to insist that he isn’t in it to “start rumors” or “spread fake news” for clicks or engagement, which is a criticism that’s been lobbed at similar sites. Rather, he said that he wants people to realize it’s more about “just enjoying the laugh,” especially when the joke is something like his Lana theory.

“I don’t want to make people believe things they shouldn’t believe,” he said, before arguing that all of his posts — while “funnily written” and maybe accompanied by a “clickbaity headline” — are all “general enough” and rooted in “facts.” And though he acknowledged that some may still take issue with this, Mark cited the overall positive response as reason to keep working on the website and “trying to make it bigger and going as far as I can” in the interim.

And so, with the help of his friends — Jonas, Majd, Michael, Yazan and Ghaith, who help him brainstorm content — he said that he will continue to write as Miki Minach and seed “funny content” about celebrities into the internet ether. After all, as he put it, “it’s connected with people because it’s so messy and chaotic, which is something people dont have in their average lives.”

He concluded, “It was the same for me, because my life wasn’t really exciting. But that’s why I have memes.”

Welcome to “Internet Explorer,” a column by Sandra Song about everything Internet. From meme histories to joke format explainers to collections of some of Twitter’s finest roasts, “Internet Explorer” is here to keep you up-to-date with the web’s current obsessions — no matter how nonsensical or nihilistic.

Photo via Getty

Doja Cat Has Entered the Chat

Lana Del Rey wrecked everyone’s morning of concentration with a long Instagram post firing back at a decade of criticism that her music “glamorizes abuse,” and taking perplexing shots at seven other women in pop.

Related | What the Hell is Lana Del Rey Talking About?

“Now that Doja Cat, Ariana, Camila, Cardi B, Kehlani and Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé have had number ones with songs about being sexy, wearing no clothes, fucking, cheating etc – can I please go back to singing about being embodied, feeling beautiful by being in love even if the relationship is not perfect, or dancing for money – or whatever I want – without being crucified or saying that I’m glamorizing abuse??????” she wrote.

The post has over 92,000 comments. Doja Cat was the first of the named pop girls to hop in the ring. “Gang sunk that dunker” she commented on the post, via PopCrave (the comment was quickly deleted). What does it mean to sunk a dunker you ask? No one knows. At first, Doja appeared to be siccing her fans on Lana, however commenters say it’s a basketball reference that means “points were made.” Is Doja here for Lana’s critique of the music industry?

Doja changed her handle to “Gang” and repeated the phrase as a fill-in-the-blank on Twitter.

Fans don’t seem to know what she means either, but they’ll sunk any dunker Doja requests.

Even if it wasn’t a warcry, her fans didn’t need one. The Beyhive, Bardigang, Barbz, Arianators, Camilizers, and Kehlani’s fans (god bless) were already armed. It remains to be seen: will the other girls jump in the chat?

The reaction people really wanted was Azealia Banks. She and Del Rey famously beefed over Lana’s opinion on Kanye’s MAGA hat selfie, prompting the “Summertime Sadness” singer to threaten: “I won’t not fuck you the fuck up.” The rapper began trending almost immediately this morning alongside Del Rey’s post.

Photo via Getty

Olivia Jade’s Parents Are Going to Jail for a Few Months

Last year on March 13, 2019, CNN reported what they called “The largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted,” which implicated Hollywood stars and other members of the wealthy elite –– fudging test scores and athletic resumes and paying high-priced hush money, in an effort to secure admission to the nation’s top academic institutions. “Operation Varsity Blues” has seen its reckoning with 50 people being charged with fraud, and actors like William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman serving jail time.

But according to a Los Angeles Times report today, former Full House star Lori Loughlin will finally enter a guilty plea in exchange for two months jail time, 100 hours of community service and a $150,000 fine. Her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, who has also plead guilty, will serve 250 hours of community service, five months in jail and have to pay $250,000

Related | See the Fake Olivia Jade Resume That Launched the Scandal

The couple was first arrested last March for conspiring with “Rick” Singer, who was at the heart of the fraud operation, to pass her two daughters whose qualifications were at the low-end of USC’s admission, as talented rowing recruits. They reportedly paid Singer up to half a million dollars altogether, and had been conspiring with him since April 2016. One daughter, beauty influencer Olivia Jade, promptly lost lucrative branding deals in light of the scandal.

The couple had insisted for more than a year that Singer had guided them to believe that the money would be used for alleged university purposes and not a bribe to corrupt school employees. A report stated that, “Federal prosecutors and the couple’s attorneys agreed to ask a judge to sentence Loughlin and Giannulli to two and five months, respectively, in federal prison, the plea agreements say. Loughlin agreed to pay a fine of $150,000 and serve 100 hours of community service; her husband agreed to a $250,000 penalty and 250 hours of community service.”

The payments from Loughlin and Giannulli were dispersed through Singer’s charity, whose mission statement had included, “helping underprivileged students.” The tax-exempt status for Singer’s “Key Worldwide Foundation” allowed some of Singer’s clients to write off bribes as charitable gifts on their taxes, authorities said.

Here’s how the internet is reacting to the news:

Photo via Getty/ Donato Sardella

Dr. Ourian on Cosmetic Surgery’s ‘Holy Grail’

Cosmetic surgeon Dr. Simon Ourian is the A-list’s go-to injections expert in Hollywood, counting among his openly vocal celebrity clients Miley Cyrus, Iggy Azalea, Lady Gaga and the entire Jenner-Kardashian clan, including Kylie and Kim. (All of his clients come in for either non-surgical treatments or elective/ aesthetic surgeries; Ourian is not board certified, a requirement under California law to perform medically-necessary or emergency surgeries.)

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In January, I sat down with Dr. Ourian in the glitzy waiting room of his Rodeo Drive enclave, Epione, in Beverly Hills to discuss the ways in which the omnipresence of hi-def cell phone screens was beginning to wield noticeable influence on global beauty trends, a conundrum analyzed by British academic Dr. Heather Widdows in her book on the subject, Perfect Me, and dubbed “Instagram Face” in a New Yorker article by Jia Tolentino. It was the beginning of a new decade. Neither of us could’ve foreseen the radical lifestyle changes ahead.

But, as part of a larger thinkpiece on the subject for PAPER, I also wanted to pick his brain about what he thought might characterize “the face” of the 2020s. Social distancing will no doubt stall some of the wild-bordering-on-insane sci-fi procedures he describes. But in its reliance on social media, the Zoom-sphere we’ve collectively come to inhabit only magnifies the power of the trends.

We know that a highly sculpted, contoured face was the face of the last decade and we seem to be at the same kind of tipping moment like the one in the ’90s when we went from a Cindy Crawford face to a Kate Moss face as this cultural symbol and beauty ideal. Given that, what are you seeing, beautywise, for the decade ahead?

There’s a certain beauty standard that has stayed around for many centuries that hasn’t changed much, but from decade to decade things could change… more chiseled or sculpted. When times are harder and people have to work harder, more chiseled, masculine features become more desirable. When things are easy and life is good, people tend to appreciate more feminine features. Society dictates what features we appreciate more.

What is the thinking on that, that women want to project strength?

Strength and grinding and rolling your sleeves up. You’re not the girly girl but you’re strong and willing to fight your way up. Those are some of the characteristics that we traditionally attribute to masculinity. As those gender roles change, feminine and masculine features are becoming more intermingled. Men are appreciating more feminine features on their face and women are gravitating to more masculine features; it’s not as clear cut as it used to be. Because of this, in the last decade, you saw a lot of chiseled features come into play. Entering into the mix is also our desire to be more healthy and live a longer life. Longevity and health go hand in hand with looking lean and [having] chiseled features.

In this moment, where are we at with that dynamic?

We are gravitating more so than ever before to youth being the strongest value of anything. If you start to look too chiseled you start to look older and if you’re too plumped, you start to look childish. Somewhere in between is my goal: for someone to look [like they’re] in their best 20s. Of course, we don’t have the tools or skills or knowledge to make a 50-year-old person look 25, but we’ve learned a lot of ways to hack it. Hack: the new word for cheating!

“The problem is, they have looked at so many of their own pictures on filter that they believe that is their face. “

Is there a feature that you’ve seen people newly thinking about or focusing on?

Cheekbones. Nobody thought about cheekbones before. I stumbled upon it by accident. I’ve always sculpted and I’ve always enjoyed making the cheekbones higher because I was influenced by the models of the ’80s and ’90s who had really nice, high cheekbones. I started transferring that result onto my clients who happen to be influential in their own way and people started to realize you could really change a person’s features by giving them higher cheekbones and by contouring the jawline. Those are features that make a person look not just younger but also attractive and that goes back to the way that beauty has always been perceived: symmetry. Even furniture looks more beautiful when it’s symmetrical.

So cheekbones, what’s next?

One of my personal challenges is: as people age, the eyeballs sink back. And that’s because we’re missing a fat pad in the back of the eyes. So we can put a fat pad in the back of the eyes surgically, but not in a quick procedure, so that keeps me up at night. How do I put fat pads back behind the eyes without cutting faces?

Which of the next breakthroughs are you closest to cracking?

Skin very nicely. We are achieving 25-50% correction just by using these devices, which create heat. Basically, it’s like putting a steak in the oven. Everything shrinks and shrink wraps around your neck and the results are impressive, given that you don’t have to do surgery.

Related | Get Cheekbones Like Gaga

Now that Instagram has banned the plastic surgery filter… were those filters accurate?

No. They were overdoing it. They were showing you things, telling you to do things that can’t be done. People were bringing that filter in assuming it could be achieved and then they were disappointed that it couldn’t be achieved. It’s like thinking Monopoly’s a real game and wondering why you’re not making a million dollars in real life.

So is it common for people to apply a filter to their face and bring it into you?

Umm yeah. The problem is, they have looked at so many of their own pictures on filter that they believe that is their face. For example, I do their face and it looks good, then they show me a picture of their face on Instagram from six months ago and they’re like, you know what, I used to look better. And I’m like, that’s not your picture. That’s your filter. And they’re like, yes but it’s only a little bit of a filter. And I’m like, but that one filter is five different surgeries. With a click of a finger you can make a person look five years younger, and they assume that you should be able to do that.

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What’s the most popular filter people reference?

Aside from puppies? Catface? There’s one on Instagram that a lot of people use: Subtle. That’s how you want to wake up in the morning.

Who are you thinking about, celebrity-wise, in terms of a new beauty ideal? Who are clients newly coming in asking to look like?

I’m going to answer your question in a different way. I try to be a student of beauty and not an influencer of beauty. I don’t think from my little office in Beverly Hills I have such a big ego that I could change the standard of beauty internationally. Luckily, I can look at trends. Interestingly, noses [can now] be different. Noses could be much larger than before. I don’t see the kind of Barbie noses that used to be associated with beauty. Larger noses are considered to be much more beautiful [now] and I think part of that is that attractiveness and beauty is associated with affluence and exclusivity. So many people you aspire to look like are wealthy and wealth is now coming from so many different parts of the world.

“Now that instead of seeing a thousand people our eyes are used to seeing millions of people because of the internet — our average has expanded. We are considering beauty to be a larger portion of that middle.”

One of the biggest things that’s happened in the last ten years in beauty is that now we have a range. What is different in this decade? Our spectrum is so much larger. Ten years ago if you showed someone with a larger behind or a larger nose or a different skin color, few people would jump at it and say that’s beautiful.

In keeping with that shift in the definition of beauty, while researching this piece and talking to young, female photographers and casting directors working in fashion in LA, almost all of them say that what’s new for them is that brands and magazines now want uniqueness. So, someone with a unibrow, for instance.

There’s a difference between strange and unique (or beautiful). One definition of beauty has been average. One of the standards of beauty is that you take a thousand people in a society and you superimpose that face and the average of those faces is what’s considered to be beautiful by the people of that society, because they are not very strange. Now that instead of seeing a thousand people our eyes are used to seeing millions of people because of the internet — our average has expanded. We are considering beauty to be a larger portion of that middle. But it’s important not to mistake crazy with beauty. There is such a thing as beauty and beauty still matters. It’s important to consider what is the standard of beauty? Because if you don’t have a standard, then nothing is beautiful.

The spectrum of beauty may be widening, but with the rise of online feminism, women are also more eager and feel more empowered to take beauty into their own hands.

Yes and because beauty has been so associated with women, for many years the feminist movement wanted nothing to do with it. Because it was a value that was given to women by men. But now women see beauty as a powerful tool, and why not use it? It used to be that either you were born beautiful or not, now you can work towards it. Now it’s more acceptable to elitists because it’s attainable.

Related | Instagram Bans Plastic Surgery Filters

Dr. Simon Ourian – Epione on Instagram: “Thank you for trusting me with your beautiful faces, dearest #kimkardashian and #khloekardashian ! 🙏🏻 – #beautifulwomen #kardashians…”

Because of Instagram and how fast our culture moves now, many women want to be able to change their look very quickly or they may take a filter or look from Instagram and want to resemble it. So one way of looking at the face of the next decade is to ask: What does the face need in order to do that?

I can give people certain results that will last a month or two months that will help them express their feelings at the time. For example, one of the things we do is a summer breast augmentation. For some people who want to experience it, but don’t want to commit the rest of their life to it, they can get a summer breast augmentation. Temporary breast augmentation started a few years ago because now we can inject fillers into the breasts and they go away after a few months. So if you don’t want to commit the rest of your life to being one or two sizes bigger, you can try it for a summer and fit better into your bathing suit. The concept is interesting but most people do it once and then decide to do it permanently or not. It’s like trying something on in a dressing room.

That appeals to the concept of the Instagram generation who want to [try] a filter and see how they look. You can do the same thing with your face. You can get a filler in your face that lasts a month or two and if you don’t like it, it goes away. That’s probably one of the reasons facial fillers became so popular. The fact that they are so reversible, unlike the former generation of cosmetic procedures where people got stuck in that face.

What about repairing the skin’s youthfulness?

Well, that is truly the holy grail of cosmetic dermatology. What makes a kid’s skin perfect aside from the fact that they haven’t been exposed to the environment? Their skin repairs itself much faster. We do stem cell injections that help reverse sun damage, we have lasers that have come a long way that can reverse sun damage, but in the next five or ten years we will achieve a level of age reversal that will be able to mimic the way your skin was in your twenties or pre-teens.

And that’s what? Injections?

Right now it’s through injection. But that’s going to change and we’ll be able to do it through topical agents. Right now we achieve it by injecting your own stem cells into your skin and the results are impressive but in the next five or ten years we’ll be able to achieve the same results with topicals. Also, we’ll be able to not only reverse sun damage, but block your skin from having the memory to damage itself further so that we can do this once every five years.

Will stem cell skin treatments become the new Botox?

Yes, stem cells are going to be the biggest thing. Now there’s a version of it that I don’t think does anything. PRP treatments. They draw your blood, spin your blood and separate the part of the blood that has the highest concentration of stem cells in your blood. In PRP, they use a needle to scratch your face and they put the stem cell serum on your skin. It’s called a Vampire face lift. In theory, it should make sense, but in reality, it doesn’t do much. Now, if you take the same stem cells and inject it deeply into your skin, that has really nice results. You get a 20% suppleness and youthfulness in your skin.

“It’s important to consider what is the standard of beauty? Because if you don’t have a standard, then nothing is beautiful.”

What’s the average cost of that and how long does it last?

$10,000 (for the combination of cool laser and stem cell injections) and it lasts three to five years. If you’re not going to go out in the sun, you can make that last much longer. If you do this when you’re in your thirties, it can last a decade.

Five years from now, how will we see stem cell advancements embodied?

Newer skin, better hair, better bones, better joints, better heart. Nowadays, in a sci-fi version of it, doctors in certain places and countries are doing that by giving you your own stem cells or stem cells from placentas. Once that becomes FDA approved, once it has mainstream support of doctors, then we will have real science behind it. Right now, it’s the wild wild west. We do a version of it [in our office] that people in the US do where we take your own stem cell and separate it from your fat cells and re-inject that back into you. That seems to work very well. But number one, it’s very expensive. Number two, it’s very limited in terms of what we can accomplish.

What will change with the process in the decade ahead? Will it become cheaper and easier?

It will become more standardized. I’m hoping it becomes so mainstream, just like Botox. For a few hundred dollars you can get it done.

Any beauty hacks?

Other than no sun, no smoking, no drinking, which everyone knows and they don’t follow: Have a humidifier next to your bed for at least eight hours a night. Also, use a low molecular weight moisturizer that doesn’t clog up your pores. A lot of people think oils are bad for you, but not if they’re lighter. Almond oil or algae oil are very good moisturizers.

Photo via Getty

Woman Sends a Ton of Onions to Make Her Ex ‘Cry as Much’ as She Did

Exes just seem to bring out the petty in us. That said, one woman recently took this to a whole new level with the help of some vegetables.

The Daily Mail reports that the incident happened in the province of Shandong in eastern China after a woman — known by her surname Zhao — found out her boyfriend of over a year was cheating on her.

However, after he dumped her, she came up with a pretty creative way to “make him cry as much as [she] did.” Her solution? To send him a literal ton of onions.

Related | TikTokers Are Dancing to Voicemails From Their Toxic Exes

In pics published by the Chinese media, the cheating ex can be seen despondently staring at a pile of red onions plopped on his doorstep, while a second photo shows another truckload of onions — which apparently took a total of four hours to deliver — waiting outside his apartment complex.

Not only that, but according to their reports, Zhao included a note with the delivery that read, “I’ve cried for three days, now it’s your turn.” She also timed the onions to arrive ahead of “520 Day” on May 20, which serves as an unofficial Valentine’s Day in China.

“I heard from my friends that he was not upset at all after breaking up [with me],” Zhao told the publications.

“I spent three days at home crying. I was so heart-broken. So, I ordered a ton of onions to his home. I’ve got money,” she said, before adding, “I wanted him to know the taste of tears.”

As for the ex, he apparently told Shandong Net that he broke up with her due to her “dramatic” and “over-the-top behaviors.”

“She is telling everyone that I haven’t shed one tear since our break-up,” he told the website. “Am I a bad person for simply not crying?” And though he may not be crying, a neighbor reportedly added that they’ve definitely been a little teary-eyed, as their whole complex “stinks of onions” now. Oop!

Photo via Getty

Eva Victor on The Sims, ‘Sex and the City’ and Kristen Stewart

Eva Victor is just as horrified by that Entertainment Weekly Pride cover as the rest of us, but she still photoshopped herself into it. Specifically, over the face of legendary lesbian Lily Tomlin, mostly so she could be close to the illustrated Kristen Stewart. “I really want to put my mouth on Kristen Stewart’s mouth,” she laughs. Love wins, even in the uncanny valley.

Victor is someone you’ve probably seen on Twitter, where she’s racked up over 300,000 followers thanks to her hilarious front-facing camera videos. These range from satirical bits about the straight pride parade, impressions of Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and most recently a reimagining of Portrait of a Lady on Fire set in quarantine. Victor’s comedic timing, impeccable French, and quickfire editing make each clip endlessly watchable.

Related | Megan Stalter Is Faking It ‘Til She Makes It

Under lockdown with only our phones for company, many of us are turning to Victor’s chosen comedic form. But she remains the master. Over Zoom, PAPER spoke with Victor about her first screenplay, flattening the curve, which Sex and the City character she identifies with and when she first realized she was funny.

So what’s it like being queer in quar?

Oh, did you make that up?

No, absolutely not.

You should have.

Okay. I’ll copyright it.

Oh, it’s awesome. No, I think it is the same as it was before, and it’s completely related to my queerness and then also completely detached from it. But my anxiety is really intense and my depression is generally, without this, quite intense. So in a lot of ways I am the same, but I don’t like knowing that everyone else is feeling sadder too. I think I liked the thing of like, okay, well at least people are out there functioning and having a nice time. But now it’s like, okay, I’m sorry. I know, it sucks over here. I’m really sorry.

See for me, it’s more like, “Hey, that’s my thing!”

How dare you?


My job was sitting at home and writing before this all happened. Now that my job remains sitting at home and writing, I’m like, why is this hard even though it’s always been this way? But I think it’s knowing that everyone else isn’t going to their jobs [that] is upsetting, but I don’t know.

What are you writing?

Well, I’m working on a script. I don’t think I’m allowed to talk about it, but it’s a very long script, and I’m excited, it’s kind of a personal story. So, that’s cool and definitely been very different from anything I’ve written before. I wrote a pilot at one point, but then I also have mostly been writing sketches for the last year or short articles for the last two. So, it’s definitely a different scope of a project and it’s definitely the most personal story I have tried to write. It’s such an incredible thing to be trying to write something that’s about you, even though it’s also intensely devastating.

What do you think of yourself as first — a writer, a comedian, an actress? What is the soundbite that you would give someone?

Right. Well, first it would probably be “worried,” then after that, I think I like writer because it feels private and I get to decide when I do it. I have never been able to say I’m a comedian. That’s never been something I’ve been able to own, which is probably internalized sexism. [Victor dabs] Just to dab that one out. And actress is like… It all has so much baggage that I’m not willing to take on for myself. I’m like, well, the minute I call myself an actress, I’m like, “Well, who told you you could say that, idiot?” Or [with] writer I’m like, “Who do you think you are? Okay, you have a computer, you’re a writer, idiot?”

So, the brain does a whole spin but, I like writer first because it does feel like what I’m spending most of my time doing. I was an actor on a few episodes of Billions and it was so amazing. The amount I sweat worrying about how to be an actor was so intense, but I am trying to not be so mean to myself. It’s not working, but yeah. They’re all insane and it’s cool to try any of them. I want to die right now. I’m sorry.

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So, I discovered you, I’m not saying I discovered you, I’m saying I first became aware of you.

You did, you did.

I did discover you. I first became aware of you from your very viral Twitter videos. That have now become everyone’s outlet on the internet in quarantine. So do you feel like people are coming for your shtick or do you feel like you were ahead of the curve?

Well, flatten the curve, first off. But no, I think the front facing video medium has… A lot of people have been doing it for a long time. I think it’s a free sketch you can make on your own without anyone else. A lot of people turn to it because we are lonely and also it’s free and it’s on your phone and it’s more accessible than a lot of the way that sketch is made. But now, Alyssa Limperis and Rachel Wenitsky and Natalie Walker are all people who’ve been doing it for so long. And if anything I took on their medium, but no, I think it’s amazing. I think everyone should be making free sketch if… No, I don’t think everyone should be making free sketch.

I think we should all be paid to do anything. But if you’re going to make sketch for free, front-facing view is an easy way to do it. Everyone should get paid to do everything and it’s so insane to me, that platforms make so much money off of free shit that people put up.

Have you been feeling pressured to be productive outside of the writing that you’re working on? Has your social output slowed down during quarantine?

Yeah, it’s definitely slowed down. I’m trying to, and this has been true for a few months now before quarantine started, but I’m trying to only make a video if it kind of comes to me organically. And if I have an idea and I’m like, that fits really well into this space and would be really fun to make. I love making the videos. I think it’s so fun to try to come up with the ideas on the spot and say the lines as many times as I want and then edit them. I love to edit them. So the whole thing is often therapeutic in itself because I get to be in complete control of it all and I get to make something fun that I can put up, like the same day I make it, which is a nice change from a lot of the things everyone’s always working on, which take years to develop.

But I definitely have slowed down on the internet just because I need to breathe and sleep and cry a lot, and I’ve been watching everyone else’s stuff and I’m like, this is amazing. I’m so glad people are finding productivity right now. And I’m trying to not feel like I have to be in a hundred spaces at once and, if I have artistic energy to spend, to expend it in a space that it feels appropriate for that day. So if I have this writing project, I’m like, “Okay, well then that feels like what I should give myself to today.” But if the videos come, oh baby, I’ll make them. What? Ugh, okay.

When did you first realize you were funny?

Well, I think I stole a lot of this girl’s personality that I was friends with in seventh grade and I found that people loved her personality when I was using it. So, that was fun to take on her complete personhood. And, I don’t know, I tried to be really serious in college for a year and then I auditioned for the improv team and I [realized] this is really fun, and then kept doing that. And then when I graduated college, I was like, “You’re not going to do comedy anymore, you’re going to be a serious actor.” And then I was like, “Okay, that’s impossible.” So I kept circling back to it, and most of the friends I had in college were people in the comedy space where I went to school and it was very fun to exist in that space and make sketches with them.

Are there other aspects of comedy that you’ve played with? Have you done stand up? When did you decide that sketch and improv were it for you?

I really did things because people let me do them. I auditioned for a lot of really serious plays in college and a lot of people didn’t cast me. So I was like, “Okay, I guess I won’t be doing those plays.” And I auditioned for the improv team and they took me, so I was like, “Okay, I guess I’ll be doing improv and I chose this.” But since being in New York, I’ve done stand up, which is sort of a combination of standup and characters, is what my set ends up being.

And then when I got to New York, I also started writing for Reductress and working there. I think so much of what I’ve ended up doing has been because I’ve truly tried a thousand things at one time and two people were like, “Yeah, you can do this here,” but everyone else was like, “This is not going to work out for you here.” So I [followed] the things that were taking me and good things happened, the right things happened, so I feel grateful for that, but so much rejection in different spaces and now I have no choice but to be here, but I also love it here.

As someone who primarily performs as characters, what is it like to now be writing something that’s about you and that’s deeply personal?

It’s definitely weird. It’s very scary to be writing something that involves a darker part of me and also believing that it’s worth telling a story that is my own. That’s been the whole hurdle of like, wait, does anyone even fucking care about what this part of my life is like, but then, you know, when someone’s paying you to write it, it’s sort of like, well, let’s just get over that so we can get this done. I like the idea of taking myself seriously, even though I don’t know how. But I like the idea of being like, “Well, yeah, I’m dark and funny and then also sad a lot and that doesn’t have to go through a funnel that isn’t me. It can be a version of me that’s complicated.” But it’s definitely a challenge to write myself because I don’t even have a sense of who I am at all because I’m inside the shell of it all.

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If we weren’t stuck inside right now, would you be doing the same thing?

Oh, 100%. Oh my God. If we weren’t stuck inside, I’d probably just be over on that side of the apartment instead of this side. But I’d be really happy knowing that people were happy out there and that what was happening out there wasn’t people dying.

A lot of people are dying and a lot of people don’t have jobs. So that’s a weight that already existed, but is heavier now obviously, and I liked knowing that my depression was solo depression and knowing that it’s happening to a lot of people I love and being worried about them is something I’m not incredibly prepared for. But yeah, I definitely would not be outside. It’s fucking hot outside today, are you kidding? I would not be outside. I went outside for 20 minutes and came back and my shirt was stuck to my body. I’m not really interested in that right now.

What is the thing that you miss most about normal life, besides getting to choose to isolate yourself?

I miss going to eat at a restaurant and being like, “Do you want to go eat at a restaurant?” and my friend being like, “Oh, now?” And I’m like, “Yeah, let’s just do it.” And then we’d go and sit at the restaurant and then we have a menu of options that I would not be cooking. And then I would talk to someone who was probably nice and say, “This is what I want, thank you so much.”

And also probably, I would get a Diet Coke, my friend wouldn’t, but she would understand that I love Diet Coke and then spaghetti would come out and then there would be cheese and stuff and we’d be like, “This is so good.” And then we’d talk over the spaghetti and then the waitress or waiter would be there. And it would be really sort of like fluid and fun to chat, but also maybe not, depending on their energy. And then we would sort of wrap it up and maybe get dessert to share, then pay the bill and tip. Don’t forget the tip part, we always tip a LOT of money. That’s the only thing you should include. And then I would go home and I would think, let’s do that again sometime.

What’s the first meal you’re going to eat in a restaurant a year from now when restaurants reopen?

Oh my God, oh my God. I don’t know, how about you?

I think Italian. I want to go out and get a really good pasta that I didn’t have to cook.

I know, because they know how to cook it better. I want to go to a place where they bring bread out first, which is an Italian thing to do. And if there was butter on the side, you know how sometimes there’s olive oil with little bits of olive in it. You know there’s sometimes a little thing and then there’s a wine menu and you don’t know the difference between the wines, but you pretend. You know at those fancy restaurants, which I don’t really want to go to a fancy one, but when they come out and they grind the pepper for you? I would like… I would die to see someone grind the pepper for me.

​I don’t know if you remember that Sex and the City episode with the fresh pepper and Samantha makes a very obvious joke about it.​

Like, [Kim Cattrall voice] “Why don’t you grab my pepper?”

That might be exactly what she says.

And she’s like, [Kim Cattrall voice] “Mmm, more.” Ugh, she’s so hot.

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Which of the Sex and the City women are you?

I’m… I just almost said something embarrassing because it was a compliment to myself, which is that I’m Steve, but I’m not Steve because he’s nice. And I think I’m like Trey in that, I can’t accept people for who they really are sometimes. And, I blame other people for my problems. This was not your question.

And you have erectile dysfunction?

And my mom’s always there with a mallard. Wait, is that right?

Yeah. I don’t know if there’s a sadder sound than the Sex and the City theme song coming from someone else’s apartment in the middle of the day.

When I was like 11 or something, we were at someone else’s house and they had the Sex and the City box set because box sets used to be a thing. And I remember playing an episode and it was the episode about the guy with the small dick that Samantha tries to fuck a lot. It’s really not that cool of an episode, as many of them aren’t. But my mom saw us watching and I had so much shame surrounding her having caught me watching this episode that I don’t even know what it was. For a really long time, I thought the Sex and the City theme song included the HBO logo. So the next time I saw a HBO show I was like, “Oh my God, wait, I always expected it to be like DUH DUH DUH DA-DUH DUH DUH. And now it’s just all fucked up and anyway, which Sex and the City character are you?”

As shameful as it is to admit, several quizzes have told me I’m a Carrie and I really hate that.

You know what though? Carrie thinking that Carrie is the lead of the show, I relate to sometimes. You should not be a lead and yet you are. Yeah, Carrie is complicated. Let me say one other thing, which is that in this conversation, I think I did realize I might be Charlotte, because I have prudish tendencies and I have these fantasies about being pregnant and I’m not interested in being pregnant.

What’s the last thing that made you laugh?

Well, the last thing that made me laugh was… So I’ve been playing a lot of Sims and I’m sorry to say that, but that’s true. And I started creating many Sims of myself and creating hot people I know, and don’t know, that I would like to sleep with. And I’ve created all these different alternate realities where I have seven lovers and they all find out about each other and then one dies out of heartbreak, whatever, whatever. And I told my friend, who has a crush, right? And I was like, make your celebrity crush into a SIM. And then you can just watch yourself fuck the celebrity. And she sent me a lot of photos of her fucking a celebrity and that really got me going. I was LOL-ing at that.

Who was the celebrity?

I cannot reveal. It’s just unfair.

If you could have sex with anyone’s Sim, not the real them, but their Sim, who would it be? And I don’t think you’re a Sim in this scenario. I think you are a real person.

Anna Paquin.

That is really not the answer I was expecting. Are we talking True Blood Anna Paquin or Almost Famous Anna Paquin?

No, we’re talking about The Irishman Anna Paquin. I just saw her in a movie so that’s why I’m thinking of it. So you mean I’m a human and I fuck a Sim version of themselves.

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That’s completely inappropriate. But, God you know what I’m realizing in this conversation is I don’t think I have that many fantasies about celebrities because… I don’t know why.

Do you kill your Sims?

No, I don’t like that. And also, they’re all me. So if I kill one, that would be difficult. In every Sim of myself and alternate reality I’ve created, we get to a point where I’ve been pregnant like eight times. And then I just have to raise all of these kids. And, I, as the player of myself, get incredibly bored of my life and then create a whole new family. And I imagine a world in which I kind of go like Medea on my Sim world because I’m so bored. I don’t remember your question.

That’s triggering because I saw Rose Byrne in Medea and now I’m thinking about her wig line.

Wait, what was it?

No, I mean, she had just a very clocky wig and you could see the lace.

Wait, that’s insane. That’s like the whole point of a wig is that you don’t see it. Wait, was it good?

It was fun, but it was also kind of bad.

My favorite thing in the world is when celebrity couples decide to play at something together, like A Quiet Place. It turns me on to watch them act together.

So if you’re in a celebrity couple someday with Kristen Stewart, would you star in a movie with her?

You know what? Absolutely. And you know what else? I would write a really good sex scene.

Photography: Emron Mervin