YouTube's twisted brand of infamy can happen to anyone, anywhere. Tampa Bay has birthed its share of Internet celebrities, experiencing both the wild success and scary vitriol of the Internet video age. Here's a look back at some of our most notable YouTube stars. — Stephanie Hayes [email protected]
Michelle Phan, who grew up in Tampa and went to the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, started filming instructional makeup videos for friends in 2006. People were lulled by her soothing voice and flawless technique. She hit big with a Lady Gaga makeup tutorial and now has almost 2 million subscribers. Lancome hired Phan, now 25, as a spokeswoman. She designed a line of jewelry called Ever Eden and launched a premium YouTube channel called FAWN where she talks fashion and beauty. She roves the world for her online travel show, Wanderlust. People always ask how to mimic her good fortune. "Come up with really good idea of what your brand is about," she said. "That's the most important thing. From there, try to find a video style and stay consistently posting."
University of South Florida grad Charles Trippy started a homemade reality show with his then-girlfriend, Alli Speed, in 2009. He wore banana suits and tested dog treats and called it Internet Killed Television. In the three years since they started, the couple got married and continued filming their exploits. Trippy, 27, is also bassist for the band We The Kings. "Today marks Year 3," he said in a May video. The montage shows the couple riding roller coasters, snuggling on the couch, boogie boarding, driving go-carts and getting married. It concludes with Trippy's recent hospital stay to remove a benign brain tumor. He's better, back to filming himself stacking rocks on the beach and playing bass at Warped Tour, a relief for his hundreds of thousands of YouTube subscribers.
The Stack Boys
Not every YouTube venture has a sweet ending. Donald and Damian Stacks, 12-year-old Tampa twins, wanted to write a rhyme about their favorite hats, snapbacks. Their father, 34‑year‑old DJ Ian Stacks, helped them produce the rap song and film a video at a slumber party. He edited the Snapbacks video for a week and put it on YouTube in March. Hits were slow until the video made Comedy Central's Tosh.0. "Totally, totally bashing, spoofing on it," Ian Stacks said. "After that, it just started going nuts." The video was ridiculed across the Web. The students at Barrington Middle were called the new Rebecca Black, famously harangued for her insufferable song Friday. Ian Stacks said the boys got threats, and he had to disable Internet comments. "Things can happen so fast," he said. "Your privacy, it just can get totally screwed up." But the boys apparently liked something about it. They've made a new video called Socks and Slides, and they're ready to make a third.