A Timeline of Jeffree Star’s Many Controversies
When I was first introduced to Jeffree Star, he was a MySpace musician who played the Warped Tour in 2009. Jeffree Star was an underground alternative queer pop star who broke the strict early aughts gender binary. In 2009, Star was an androgynous cult internet fave my friends and I followed, which totally dates me and unfortunately makes me an accidental witness to all of Jeffree Star’s chaos.
The MySpace days
Jeffree Star grew up in Orange County, which—for those unfamiliar with California and L.A. in particular—is a relatively conservative place. Star used MySpace to write pieces about self-image, confidence, and beauty. Thanks to his hot takes and scene fashion, Star blew up on the site. Those who were there at the time knew Star was an asshole. People would leave nasty comments about his appearance, calling him a “monster” and “freak.” Star would retaliate twice as viciously.
Star used the platform to promote his music as the tides shifted on Myspace. This was when the internet celebrity’s violence and racism were first documented. There’s still a video of Star pulling a fan after she grabbed his crotch while performing. Even though Star was justifiably upset over the public sexual assault, he had no problem assaulting another person—and on video.
Jeffree Star’s behavior varies from gross to criminal. He once insulted someone by calling them a “poor Mexican.” There’s a compilation video of Star cat-calling and using misogynist and racist language to insult white women in retaliation to anti-queer rhetoric. He’s on video threatening to kill people. There are also weird skits in which Star threatens to throw battery acid at someone while poorly using a crude version of AAVE.
Jeffree Star’s sexual assault allegations
One of the most egregious of these incidents was what occurred with Gage Arthur in 2008. Arthur had aspirations of being internet famous, so he decided to do what all internet celebs do: he moved to L.A. to crash with friends and collab to boost each other’s presence. Star, who was 22 years old at the time, sexually pursued the 17-year-old Arthur. Arthur accused Star of drugging him, performing non-consensual oral sex, and tasing him in 2009. These accusations resurfaced in 2020, in the midst of all of the other allegations against Star during the height of his YouTube career. Star’s lawyers have denied these accusations.
Star left the music industry after mishandling by his label, and probably to escape a lot of the backlash he was receiving on MySpace.
Kat Von D fallout
First of all, it’s important to note that Kat Von D has been linked to Nazis and antisemitism for years, but has denied the rumors. She dated Jesse James, who, after being photographed wearing a Nazi hat and giving the Hitler salute in 2010, claimed that he wasn’t a neo-Nazi but enjoyed collecting and wearing the memorabilia. Then, Von D released a lipstick shade called Selektion, a word that refers to the practice Nazis used to select people to execute in death camps during the Holocaust. So this was the company Star decided to keep.
Before Star had his cosmetics line, he enlisted his close friend, Kat Von D, to show him around the industry. Von D claims to have introduced Star to manufacturers and helped him learn the ins and outs of the business. She also claims to have witnessed Star stealing art and his casual racism, which is interesting considering her own past.
When Star created his YouTube channel to promote his makeup line, he did what all YouTubers do: he announced a collab. He became a part of the go-to beauty gurus on YouTube between 2015 and 2017. The names that come to mind are NikkieTutorials, Manny MUA, Laura Lee, Gabriel Zamora, and Nikita Dragun. These beauty gurus were at the height of their fame during this time. Whatever they promoted, sold.
Star became a part of this motley crew and they often applied makeup on camera together. Two creators became besties with Star: Manny MUA and Laura Lee. The three were inseparable, posting with each other on Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube. They took pictures on Snapchat flying on Star’s private plane together for vacations with Star’s then-boyfriend. He thrived, even when beauty guru Jackie Aina called Star out for racism—including his frequent, casual use of racial slurs.
In 2018, the YouTube beauty community came to a standstill for what has been nicknamed Dramageddon. Manny MUA and Laura Lee stopped hanging out with Star and would collab with Gabriel Zamora or Nikita Dragun instead. Their audiences smelled trouble.
Star went to Twitter (his favorite place to tear into people) to say that Lee was “pure evil.” That officially ended the friendship. Star’s YouTube series with Shane Dawson, “The Secret World of Jeffree Star,” painted a sympathetic view of the controversial internet persona. So even with Star’s casual allusions to what happened between him and the other beauty gurus, he portrayed himself as the victim.
It did seem like the beauty gurus were not a fan of Dawson and Star’s series because Gabriel Zamora sub-tweeted Star and officially kicked off Dramageddon:
Fans turned against one another, leaving nasty comments on creators’ platforms. Then the old tweets started resurfacing. This led to her dropping an apology using the oft-ridiculed YouTuber video formula: no makeup, sitting on the floor, dry-crying, and lots of edits. Lee lost 400,000 subscribers due to the racism allegations and poorly received apology video.
No one was safe. Drama channels would drop multiple videos daily for months about every follower lost and gained in the beauty community.
Star then instigated another instance of beauty community infighting. This time, it was between James Charles and Tati Westbrook. When Star and Dawson fell out of public favor (which happens routinely for both internet celebrities), Tati posted a video saying that Star was “gaslighting” and “manipulating” her against Charles.
The whole Dramageddon saga is the mildest of Star’s controversies, but it permanently changed the beauty community YouTube space.
Now Star is laying low again. This time it’s at a yak ranch in Minnesota that he purchased in 2020. Even in his post-YouTube career, he’s still managed to cause trouble. Star has posted various videos of his yaks, calling them “family” and his “babies.” However, when it was revealed that he was selling yak meat, fans were angry. Star’s cosmetics company is vegan, but Star never claimed to live a vegan lifestyle. Still, the whole yak farm really upset some folks.
It looks like the quiet life isn’t entertaining Star enough because he’s back on Twitter and YouTube. He’s putting all of his bad takes all over the internet, including the fact that he’s critiqued non-binary identities and pronoun culture.
(featured image: Rodin Eckenroth, Getty Images)
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