Victoria Paris’ screen time is down. “I think because I’ve been moving that it’s less,” she says, reviewing her iPhone log during a sidewalk lunch in Nolita. In a few days, the TikTok star with nearly 1.5 million followers would begin extensively documenting her move from the congested, skyscraper-lined streets of Manhattan to the secluded hills and valleys of Topanga, 20 miles west of Los Angeles. She’s spent the past few weeks tying up loose ends, such that last week her average daily screen time was a paltry 10 hours and 25 minutes. It’s usually at least 11 hours a day. Sometimes 12. Occasionally 13.
While these numbers may appear staggering, they make sense given Victoria’s life. “Social media is my work and my play,” she says, adding that she dislikes using a laptop. “I work nine-hour, 10-hour days, and two hours are spent leisure-watching.” She began posting on TikTok in promotion of her Depop store after a fintech startup laid off her marketing manager job in March 2020. She quickly garnered a passionate following (the Victorians) by sharing her daily outings in Manhattan along with ‘fit checks and stream of About messy bitch strolls and c*ckblocking the pigeons who hang on her AC consciousness unit.
Her content recalls Emma Chamberlain’s aspirational vlogs turned up to the frequency of a Times Square news ticker, so it comes somewhat as a surprise that throughout our day Victoria is rarely on her phone. We meet a little after 10 am at her deli of choice, Morgan’s Market in Tribeca. At Morgan’s, Victoria orders her usual: an iced coffee with almond milk and an everything bagel with butter.
Victoria has lived in the city for nearly five years — some as a college student studying New York City history at The New School, others as a fintech employee — and mostly she’s loved it, especially her apartment. “I feel like I finally got there where I walk in and I’m like, Wow, this is my life. This is a home,” she says. So why is one of the city’s most prominent “internet girlies” leaving it all for LA?
Privacy, in part. Her followers are now locating her IRL a little too often, and her family and her girlfriend are experiencing unwanted attention, too. “The last straw for me was when people started showing up outside my door, [taking] pictures of my fire escape and just, essentially, soft stalking,” she says. “I don’t want to resent my audience, and I don’t want to stop making videos,” she notes, adding that she’s going where her fans can’t immediately access her. “There’s gates around it,” she says of her new place. “Not like Calabasas gates [where the Kardashian-Jenners live]but wood gates.”
This morning, though, only one person on the street approaches Victoria: her neighbor. She readily chats with him before we make our way back to her Tribeca loft. She usually works from home in between her daily errands and workouts. After a short elevator ride and a walk through an unassuming hallway, Victoria opens the door to her apartment, and I imagine this is what it’d feel like to enter Carrie Bradshaw’s brownstone.
Much of her apartment was furnished by Anthropologie via a partnership. (Urban Outfitters is covering her new place.) Victoria added her own touches like a modular orange couch, an expansive wooden room separator with a curved top called “the castle,” and a divisive stick-on kitchen backsplash. The castle is staying, and the backsplash era is over. (She filmed the latter’s tear-down on TikTok.) The couch and most everything else is going with her. Why? Because she partnered with Roadway Movers, of course.
It’s trite to say influencers turn everything into content, but for Victoria nearly everything really is content. Even her rent. Earlier this month, Victoria posted a YouTube video detailing the cost of her loft: $6,000 a month plus utilities. That’s another reason she moved. “My place in California is even bigger, even nicer, and it’s cheaper,” she said in the video.
Traces of her new life are hidden in the loft. A gray metal desk is tucked by her window, though it feels out of place with the warm colors and soft textiles. It’s for her girlfriend to use when she’s in town. There’s also a candle in the shape of a Volkswagen VW scenting the loft. She got it in Topanga.
When she finally gets out west, Victoria is renting her manager’s car and looks forward to the 20 minutes of no cell service it takes to drive into Topanga Canyon from LA. “I’m stuck in this cycle,” she says of constantly being plugged in. “This will force me to be off my phone, to be more present, and [it will] relax me,” she says.
After a brief chat on her couch (it’s more comfortable than it looks), we head out for an early lunch, and that’s when I get a real sense of Victoria’s vibe. Walking through Lower Manhattan with her is like playing Maze Runner (Victoria’s Version). It involves weaving in and out of traffic while collecting tokens, except Victoria is collecting photos of strangers with great style instead of coins. She quickly identifies and photographs a woman’s pink Birkenstocks. Later, she pulls out her phone to confirm another gal was likely wearing Target men’s boxers as shorts. She plans to buy a pair later.
Next we arrive at the celebrity watering hole Cafe Gitane in Nolita, and Anthony Kiedis, the lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, is sitting a few tables away. Victoria is less interested in his presence and more curious about the hostess’ cream-colored crocheted set. The hostess says she made it herself and this spurs Victoria to momentarily consider taking up crocheting. Her girlfriend told her she needs a hobby. “My hobby is work. I love working,” Victoria says. “I think it’s because I’m a Capricorn rising.”
That’s the other reason we’re at Cafe Gitane. In between bites of hummus tartine and fruit salad, Victoria sips a mint iced tea and tells me it’s here where her girlfriend asked to be her girlfriend earlier this year.
The story goes like this: Her girlfriend took off a sweatshirt to reveal a T-shirt with the words “my friend” scrawled suspiciously near her armpit. “I was like ‘My friend? That’s nice. I like the colour.’ She goes, ‘Sh*t.’ And she pulls [it] out of her armpit, and it’s a shirt that she got made. It said, ‘Will you be my girlfriend?’” Victoria recalls. She now wears the shirt to bed.
Though Victoria is famous for oversharing, she won’t name her girlfriend and covers her face online. Her girlfriend isn’t famous, which presents a conundrum. How can she keep it real while respecting her girlfriend’s boundaries? Victoria turned to the data for an answer. “If it makes people wonder who she is and what she’s about and what she does, that’s the wrong video,” she says of her content.
This strategic approach is seen elsewhere too. She reportedly privates TikTok videos that don’t perform well and tells me she likes and responds to viewer comments. Doing so brings users back to her page to consume the same videos they just watched. If it all sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is, which is one of the many reasons influencers look to develop careers outside of the apps. Does a move to LA presage a pivot to acting or singing? “If somebody writes an email that’s like, ‘Euphoria cast member needed,’ why the f*ck not?” she jokes.
Mostly, though, Hollywood isn’t on her mind, even if she’s learned to be hopeful of life’s opportunities. “I was super suicidal when I was younger and I didn’t see myself living very long, so I didn’t have any goals,” she says. “So everything I do is, like, ‘I’m so proud of myself. I’m so amazed.’”
Could she go the Emma Chamberlain route and pivot from relatable influencer to elusive celebrity? “I think she’s amazing…but I think that we’re totally different,” Victoria says. She didn’t get her start on YouTube, and Chamberlain isn’t on TikTok. That said, Victoria is a fan of Chamberlain’s content, specifically her style posts. “Would I wear it? Probably not,” she says. “Do I still watch every single outfit? Definitely.”
In the short term, Victoria wants more magazine coverage. She’d like her apartment (or perhaps her Topanga home?) to feature in Architectural Digest, and she wants to make Forbes’ 30 Under 30. She’s got seven years to try. She’d also “love” to be in Vogue. “Those aren’t indicative of a successful person, necessarily. They’re just cool things,” she says, before rattling off relatable aspirations like owning her own home and car.
Until then, her north star is like that of many who make the move west: the Kardashian-Jenners. “If I saw Kylie Jenner, I would sh*t myself,” she says. Victoria marvels at the family’s ability to commodify the minute details of their lives. “Their lip gloss, or the supplement they were taking, or how they like to shake their salads, [they’re] influential in every meaning of the word,” she says. “I think there are people who are born influencers, and people who become influencers.”
She demures when I ask her which camp she belongs in. “Oh my gosh, that would be so pompous to say born,” she says. “But I would say through a lot of trial and error, I stumbled upon it.”
Photographs by Poupay.