Inside the Hollywood Home of Social Media’s Stars. (Don’t Be Shy.)

Inside the Hollywood Home of Social Media’s Stars. (Don’t Be Shy.)

2017-12-30 10:00:35

Some are comedians, some are models, and some are famous for being famous. But all are so-called influencers, social media speak for people with a huge digital audience.

1600 Vine offers a peek into the booming ecosystem of these social media stars. As in any caldron of attention seekers who live and work together in the same building, it’s an atmosphere rife with cliquishness, jealousy, insecurity and the social hierarchy of high school, except everyone knows precisely how popular (or unpopular) you are. And it’s amplified by the fact that influencers can become millionaires with a following on a par with any movie star’s.

Joshua Cohen, a founder of Tubefilter, a site that tracks the online video industry, described the talent at 1600 Vine as a modern-day version of the Brat Pack or the Mickey Mouse Club.

“You have all these people in the same environment who grew up together and getting their entertainment chops together,” Mr. Cohen said. “Now, they’re some of the biggest people on whatever platform they’re on.”


Katie, left, and Bri Teresi, sisters and swimsuit models who live at 1600 Vine, were tapped by a neighbor to appear in an Instagram video that has been viewed more than two million times.

Molly Matalon for The New York Times

Gaining Followers

The origins of 1600 Vine as a social media launching pad are rooted, appropriately enough, in the video platform Vine.

Around 2014, the stars of Vine’s six-second videos started flocking to Los Angeles to turn a hobby into a career. A few of the early stars moved into this contemporary, amenity-rich complex, above a Trader Joe’s and between Jimmy Durante and Clark Gable on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Within a few months, the apartments — notable for their floor-to-ceiling windows, modern kitchens and living spaces, and common areas that include a pool and hot tub — became a recognizable backdrop to the most popular Vine videos. It wasn’t long before 1600 Vine became the place to be.

It remained that way even after Vine shut down in 2016.

One of the early stars was Ms. Cerny, 26, who moved to Los Angeles from Florida four years ago to become an actress. Rejected by agents for a lack of experience, the former model started making Vine videos. Her goofy comedy sketches were a hit, and she moved into 1600 Vine to be closer to other Vine stars.

“It was perfect — we could film wherever, whenever,” she said. “Being able to surround yourself with other creative people helps.”

These days, Ms. Cerny is in the top tier of influencers, with 18.8 million Instagram followers and 1.1 million subscribers to her YouTube vlogs, the popular YouTube format that marries a daily diary with the artificial drama of reality TV. Sponsors like Guess jeans pay her six figures for promoting their products.

Hanging out at 1600 Vine can open doors, too. A year ago, the actor Ray Diaz had only 5,000 followers on Instagram, even though he was a regular on “East Los High,” a show on Hulu. Then one day, while he was lifting weights in the building’s gym (a friend of his lived there), he met Ms. Pons, a 21-year-old YouTube comedian with 20.9 million Instagram followers. Ms. Pons invited him to appear in her video “My Big Fat Hispanic Family,” a skit about introducing a boyfriend to her eccentric family and friends.

The video has had more than 12 million views, and soon Mr. Diaz became an influencer on his own, reaching more than one million Instagram followers a few months after it was posted. Still, Mr. Diaz wanted more, even after landing a regular role on “Lopez,” a comedy on TV Land. So last December, he moved to 1600 Vine, to one of the nicer, split-level two-bedroom units on the 10th floor.

Today, he has 3.2 million followers and boasts that he went from driving for Uber to driving a Bentley. “Instagram is what pays for the penthouse,” he added.


Residents of 1600 Vine include, from left, Katie Teresi; Gregg Martin, an actor; and Taylor Offer, an entrepreneur.

Molly Matalon for The New York Times

Success stories like Mr. Diaz’s are the reason wannabe influencers continue flocking to 1600 Vine, paying anywhere from $2,500 to $15,000 a month. Many aspiring photographers and video editors hang out in the common areas, hoping to get a foot in the door by working with a few prominent influencers.

The complex is one of many modern apartment buildings in the Hollywood area. There is always the whisper that some other, nearby building is the new hot spot with more welcoming rules for social media stars, but 1600 Vine remains the most prominent and best known.

In June, Bri and Katie Teresi, sisters and swimsuit models, moved into a small one-bedroom apartment, paying $2,700 a month, after they got a taste of what being around other influencers could do for them. Josh Paler Lin, a friend in the building, tapped them to appear in a video in which a Lamborghini’s exhaust blows off their clothes. It garnered more than two million views, and the sisters said they had each added 10,000 followers.

“Right now, I’m focused on growing and really getting my numbers up,” said Bri Teresi, 23, who has 419,000 followers on Instagram.

Others see living at 1600 Vine as a golden marketing opportunity.

Taylor Offer and Parker Burr moved in last year hoping to befriend social media stars not for their own fame but to promote their sock company, Feat Socks. When Mr. Offer first visited the two-bedroom unit, he said, it was like “walking into Jerry’s apartment building on ‘Seinfeld’” because he recognized it from Vine videos. He signed a lease on the spot, needing to prove only that he and Mr. Burr could afford the $3,700 monthly rent.

But Mr. Offer soon realized it wasn’t enough to live in the building; they had to help the influencers fill their daily need for content. So Mr. Offer bought a cute English bulldog puppy and a flashy Polaris Slingshot car. The puppy appeared in a video with Ms. Cerny while Logan Paul took an interest in the purple car, a three-wheeled vehicle that looks like a roadster.

A star like Mr. Paul has his pick of sponsorship deals, but he took a liking to his new neighbors, so he concocted a bet — or, more accurately, a social media story line. If Mr. Paul could sell 20,000 pairs of socks (printed with an image of his colorful parrot, Maverick), he would get the roadster. He promoted the bet in videos and, even though he fell short, Feat had its best sales month ever and Mr. Paul received a $200,000 commission check.

“As a business expense,” Mr. Offer said, “this place pays for itself.”

Reality Show

Calling 1600 Vine home is still no guarantee of influencer status. It also breeds a certain kind of cliquishness and backbiting.

Gregg Martin, a young actor who has landed bit roles in TV series including “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” said he felt the building’s stars looked down on him. He has 44,000 Instagram followers.


Mr. Offer with the Teresis. Hanging out at 1600 Vine can open doors, with residents working together on social media projects or marketing opportunities.

Molly Matalon for The New York Times

“That’s considered laughable for most people here,” he said. “People kind of look at you and just see the numbers.”

One influencer told him that he was following too many people on Instagram. It made him seem desperate. “I thought he was joking,” he said. “But he was dead serious.”

The building also attracts its share of fame seekers, like the Justin Bieber impersonator who has all the same tattoos as the actual singer and is often seen visiting a friend in the building.

It is also a magnet for bizarre behavior that doesn’t exactly make for good neighbors. Social media stars need daily content lest they be forgotten. It’s a dynamic that pushes them to do increasingly outrageous things to capture attention.

Consider Logan Paul, one of YouTube’s biggest stars, with close to 15 million subscribers to his channel. His escalating stunts in March alone included dangling a $20 bill from his balcony using a fishing rod to tempt passers-by, rigging a zip line over Hollywood Boulevard to send gifts to fans camped outside and pretending to be shot as fans watched in horror outside his window.

Building management told Mr. Paul that it was not renewing his lease. Naturally, he recorded the conversation for his vlog, before he moved to the building next door. (He was asked to leave there, too.)

After other neighbors started to complain, management has also limited where residents can shoot. First, it banned filming by the courtyard pool. Then it banned large professional cameras in all common areas. And in June, management went further and now requires residents to seek permission before shooting any video in common areas.

Danielle Guttman Klein, chairwoman of Klein Financial Corporation, which oversees the property’s management, said it needed to walk a fine line between embracing its stars and protecting the interests of tenants whose day jobs don’t revolve around getting likes on Facebook.

The influencers seem to sympathize, at least for now. Ms. Cerny said that she had been threatened with eviction but that management had allowed her to stay when she promised to not film in any of the common areas. But she said she could understand why many of the big stars had moved out.

“It does get overwhelming sometimes,” she said. “Eventually, you need somewhere to go and not post about your life for a second.”

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