From Meme-Maker to Tastemaker: Meet Sebastian Tribbie Matheson of @Youvegotnomale
BY: ALEX PAULY
Even if you don’t recognize the name Sebastian Tribbie Matheson, chances are you’ve come across his work while scrolling through Instagram. Sebastian, AKA @youvegotnomale, rose to fame for his memes, which poke fun at fashion and lifestyle tropes. Initially a strategy to promote shows for comedy clubs, Sebastian’s memes have since garnered him 58.8 thousand followers on the social media platform, and have grown into a full-fledged business—Gucci recently hired him, among other Instagram-famous meme makers, to create captions for an ad campaign aptly titled “#TFWGucci” that promotes the design house’s new watches. We spoke to the online influencer about fame, the business of meme-making, and celebrity haters.
Can you tell me a bit about your back-story? Where you grew up, and when and why you moved to New York City?
I grew up in Ohio in a small town outside of Columbus, and moved [to NYC] after college when I was 20. I went to Kent State in Ohio. Everyone knows my school because it’s where those people got shot. I moved [to New York City] and met a guy, and moved to Los Angeles for four years to be with him. Then I broke up with him and moved back to the city. I’ve been back for five years. I started to work in comedy, in marketing and booking for a lot of comedy clubs. My first client—I think I can’t say what it was—was a food company. I did a play on “you vs. the guy she told you not to worry about,” and that ran on billboards in Europe. Then Gucci slipped in the DM, and I got tons of work because of that.
At what point did you decide to turn meme-making into a full time career?
When I realized how much I could get paid for it. The problem is that I can’t hire people to do what I do, because I’m getting hired for my brain and my influence and my concepts. So that’s stressful, juggling twelve clients all on your own.
Do you find there to be a lot of competition among meme-makers in terms of getting hired by brands?
No. Before the Gucci stuff came out, people thought [memes were just] an Internet thing. People got really upset that a meme account “sold out,” but I’d been doing that for over a year. I would get into fights with people about it. They would say, “how dare you take Internet culture and make it mainstream, especially for people who can’t afford a $900 watch!” I was like, “well, that’s cheap for Gucci.” Alessandro [Michele] is a genius. It was brilliant marketing, to have [a meme] go with a product.
Nightlife is also a big part of your career. Did clubs start approaching you to host parties after your Instagram blew up, or have you always been a part of that scene?
I’ve always gone to Paul’s Baby Grand because I used to go to the Beatrice. I’ve been going wherever Paul [Sevigny] has been, even Morrissey night on Sundays at Sway, which is now Casablanca. There was a girl, Nellie Blue, who hosted Paul’s and when she didn’t want to do nightlife anymore, I took over her thing. If I’m going to be there, I might as well get paid and have my first drink for free, and have a bottle—why not? I’m a regular at a lot of places; I don’t really like to expand my horizons. I don’t carry ID anymore, because I know I won’t get ID’ed anywhere [I go]. I always said I would never work in nightlife, but once you [host] one thing and bring a lot of people, other people start coming. Basically, I have a lot of followers. My ex just broke up with me because I can’t walk down the street without getting recognized. He said I give too much attention to strangers and not enough to him. But I have a brand—I have to keep building it, and it’s building rapidly.
What’s the craziest thing a fan has ever done?
There are so many. People scream “youvegotnomale!” at me a lot. These girls in Miami waited outside my hotel because they knew where I was staying. Padma Lakshmi follows me—she went up to my friend, thinking he was me, and was like, “why do you hate Anna Kendrick?” I have a lot of weird celebrity followers that I don’t know about. The boy I’m seeing now was like, “I can’t believe my favorite comedian follows you,” and I asked who. It’s Chelsea Peretti, Jordan Peele’s wife. I didn’t even know who that is.
What do you think makes you such a successful meme account?
I’m not mean, but if you put something out there, I’m going to put it right back at you. Lena Dunham put out that photo of her as a mermaid and she looked like Ursula, so I called her out for it and got blocked. Even though I come for Anna Kendrick non-stop, or Katy Perry, I talk about their personality rather than their looks or body. I don’t want to be a Perez Hilton. I don’t want to be a bully. But if you look like you’re still coming down from Burning Man, I’m going to call you out.
The number of celebrities who block you is insane.
I think there has to be a team of people who just look at negative comments. Jonathan Cheban literally blocked me in 8 minutes and I did not even tag him. People just can’t handle it.
Any predictions on who will block you next?
I’m shocked Katy Perry hasn’t blocked me yet.
Do you have any projects in the works that you can talk about?
I’m doing the Full Moon Festival for Matte Projects. I’m working with a huge fashion house, I can’t say [which]. I just worked with Santigold; I made memes to revamp her social media buzz because she’s got new stuff coming out. I’m in talks to work with Gatorade. I’m literally running around the city picking up checks right now! I work a lot with my friends’ brands. Obviously I don’t give them the Gucci price, but I’m always about helping young designers. I should’ve worn Gucci to the Gucci party, but instead I wore my friend from RISD’s line. Everyone thought it was Gucci.
Describe your brand in three words.
Triggering, pop—as in pop culture because I always know what’s going on, and wit because I do a lot of play on words and puns.