Sometimes I get really depressed about all the ways TikTok is flattening culture, how it bombards its users with one completely random trend or subculture that becomes a nationwide talking point for roughly three days and never matters again.
It’s depressing to me because the joy of TikTok is supposed to be about getting lost in the thick of it, and yet so many of us find ourselves in the same places, even as we assume that the videos we see are somehow a reflection of our own hyper-individual tastes. It’s depressing because if you spend enough time on TikTok, you’ll start to notice how many of the creators start to adopt each other’s cadences and editing conventions, and how an entire platform of weird and totally dissimilar content can end up labeled as “TikTok humor.”
But every once in a while, I’ll stumble across a TikTok user who’s so funny and so captivating that it makes me completely forget all of that. One of those people is Alex Consani, a model and funny person about town whom I started following because I needed to know where she bought a certain dress, and after watching more of her videos I realized I needed to know everything about her life.
Like all the best people on TikTok, though, she leaves the details a mystery and instead shows herself in absurdist situations (the outside of the Pasadena Scientology building in a pretend MTV Cribs episode in which she tells people they can buy the Hunger Games book series there, for instance), while contorting her face in a way that is, inarguably, art.
Alex Consani’s internet life existed long before TikTok, however. She’d gone viral back in 2016 at the age of 12, after a feature in Cosmopolitan Germany about her life as a trans model. Which, yes, makes her just 18 now, a number I was shocked to learn considering how she’s managed to build such a unique brand of humor and more than 600,000 followers.
From the Bay Area — though she’s headed to college in New York City this fall — Alex chatted with me over the phone about her TikTok fame that, like many creators, exploded after the pandemic. The interview has been edited and condensed.
What came first, modeling or being professionally funny?
I started modeling in about 2015. My mom saw this really scary, dingy Facebook ad for some modeling agency, and she was like, “Oh, Alex, would you want to do this?” And I was like, “Wait, that would be fun.” It was actually a really good experience and it helped me a lot in my career. It was an agency based in LA, so it was a lot of traveling down to LA, basically learning the ropes of the industry.
How’d you start on social media?
I’ve always had a Play-Doh face. I’m very expressive. When Instagram was at its peak after Vine died, I used to try and be one of those, like, finsta Instagram creators [a.k.a more alternative, edgy Instagram influencers who shitpost freely rather than curating a polished aesthetic]. I took pride in the stuff that I post because I always thought it was so funny. So when TikTok came up and we were in quarantine, I saw that as an opportunity for me to post that to a broader audience. And obviously, I never expected anything to come from it, but it ended up happening. I don’t know if my modeling agency likes what I post sometimes. It can be a little crazy.
What was your first introduction to the internet?
I grew up on YouTube, obviously. I remember watching a lot of makeup tutorials from the 2000s and 2010s. Also just seeing movies and TV shows like Hannah Montana where they were like, texting and using social media apps and stuff.
What was it like when you started to blow up on TikTok?
I’ve changed a lot since I’ve started doing social media. I’m following my own sense of humor, instead of getting inspiration from other creators or other things like that. Having that unique sense of humor is really what TikTok specifically lives for. I still don’t really feel like I’m funny. But once I found my ability to be comfortable on the internet, and just post whatever I want in the moment, was when I started looking at myself as a funny person.
You have a popular shop on Depop; is that where you find most of your clothes?
I like Depop, but a lot of the time I can’t find the things I want at the right price because I’m very frugal with my money where I can be. I really like supporting thrift stores, and a lot of my friends do clothing resale, so I’ll just go buy from them. [My style is] like, Kesha mixed with early 2000s Rihanna.
What does your For You page look like?
Oh, god. I feel like my For You page is very mixed. It’s like, strange audios. I don’t really get much of anything other than just random compilation videos of random things. I love watching hair tutorials.
How do you deal with all the brands that reach out to you about sponsorships?
I want to make sure that my content isn’t brand-focused because I like the personalized aspects of other creators, and I’m at my most funny and my most positive when I’m posting things I genuinely want to post. So I am getting those brand sponsorship offers, but it’s really hard to choose what to take on. When it comes to, like, bigger deals, I’ll definitely hit up my modeling agent to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Honestly I haven’t made any money yet, believe it or not. I’m not in the Creator Fund, I just like to do [social media] for fun. I feel like there are other, more profitable, more “Alex” businesses.
Where do you want to take your social media following?
Modeling and being a content creator, they’re very short-lived careers. I’ve always had a goal of starting a business, and that’s kind of why I tried to move to Depop for a little bit, just to see how I could do in the business world. That’s something that I could genuinely see myself doing and genuinely see myself loving, a fashion related business. I’ve worked in the fashion industry for long enough that it might be something that I get tired of quickly, so I don’t really know, honestly.
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