Remember TikTok collab houses?
Alyssa Bereznak's new podcast, This Blew Up, chronicles the rise and fall of a wild pandemic scene.
Embedded is your essential guide to what’s good on the internet, by Kate Lindsay and Nick Catucci.
Wanna feel old? TikTok collab houses. —Kate
To me TikTok collab houses are synonymous with the height of the early pandemic; my brain remembers them both as kind of fever dreams. But while the effects of the latter remain a part of everyday life, the former has all but been eradicated from my consciousness. Hype House, Sway House, and Clubhouse—Los Angeles collab houses that were home to TikTok’s early rising creators and their ill-advised pandemic parties—are no longer the center of TikTok’s orbit, but for one brief moment, they represented the pinnacle of social media fame.
That’s the focus of the Ringer’s new podcast, This Blew Up, the first episode of which dropped yesterday. Host Alyssa Bereznak, whose previous work includes a narrative podcast about the rise and fall of HQ Trivia, stumbled upon these collab house creators—and subsequent lawsuits—while scrolling on her phone in quarantine.
“I started to piece together this one story [with] two parallel narratives,” Bereznak tells me over Zoom. “One where there's the influencers as front-facing people doing what influencers do, which is telling their story in personal terms, but not really going into more nitty gritty business details. And then the other narrative, which was told through these lawsuits.”
Episode one begins with Leslie Golden, a dancer who moved from Texas to California and ultimately joined a handful of other influencers to start the first Clubhouse BH collab house. It quickly became clear she was in over her head. Across six weekly episodes, Bereznak plans to capture what was so miraculous—and frequently fraught—about that era of internet fame.
In this interview for paid subscribers, I spoke with Bereznak over Zoom about how she stumbled upon the story and what she hopes This Blew Up can teach us about the deals happening behind the feeds of social media influencers.
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