Lindsey Pelas: “I’m Making Bank Off of What Should Oppress Me”
You might know Lindsay Pelas as an Instagram babe or as a former girlfriend of Dan Bilzerian. But in reality, she’s like that girl you always admired from afar, only to meet her and find out she’s a down ass b*tch and could totally be your bestie.
We got to know the model over a chat recently and here’s what we found out.
A lot of people might not see you as your own person because you dated someone so notorious. What does the concept of independence mean to you?
The concept of independence to me means the ability to make my dreams come true with no obstruction, and on my own merit. I really never was interested in a career where I was the boss. I never wanted to be the boss. I love showing up to work and doing what I’m told. But when I moved to Hollywood and gained this huge internet following and all these opportunities, it was just smarter and more productive to become my own manager at the time and I was more capable of doing it than anyone so far. Now, I’m responsible for my successes and failures.
I love the idea of answering to someone, I love being the best worker, getting the gold star on my forehead — I love that idea. But now I just give myself the star.
What was your plan when you moved to LA?
When I graduated, I was 23 and I had only flown on an airplane one time. I was very country. I traveled to Florida, DC, never really far, and I was bartending [in Baton Rouge, Louisiana] and making amazing money.
I was like, if I’m gonna bartend, I wanna move somewhere prettier. I wanna go to the beach. I wanted to be around people who thought like me. So I drove like 28 hours to LA and I got a bartending job within the first week, and it all just kind of worked after that.
I ended up having to quit my job in two months to manage Instagram stuff and do posts. I haven’t had an actual clock-in job in a year, which is scary. I don’t think I can go back. I’ve created a monster.
What made your Instagram blow up?
The first week I lived in LA, I was invited to the Playboy Mansion Halloween party. So I go there and this big security guy comes up and goes, “Hey, would you like to meet Dan Bilzerian?”
I had seen him on Instagram where I’m from in Louisiana, all the boys are obessed with him. So we kind of hit it off. I deterred his advances for a while because he’s a playboy — he’s not my style. I think he had something to prove and he said, “Lindsey, I’m gonna make you internet famous.”
I giggled and I’m like, “Whatever, Dan.” So he would do these posts — pictures of us going places — and had his publicist put my name in BroBible and boy-oriented articles. And he even set me up with really popular photographerss in LA. He paid for one of my biggest photo shoots, it was where I did a viral running video on YouTube. He had this knack for creating this internet fame which he’d done for himself, and he did it for me. I had a million followers in six weeks and it was all Dan’s doing.
What’s your job now and what does it entail?
I like to say my job is a social media influencer. So with the audience we’re given, we get a lot of opportunities for night clubs, appearances, merchandise opportunities. My biggest passion right now is to legitimize myself in a career further than the internet. I book my deals, I book endorsements and sponsors, I produce photo shoots, I’m setting up hair and makeup and location a lot of times.
You have to set up these content photo shoots — even next month I plan on flying a team out and I’m gonna shoot a calendar in my home state of Louisiana. It’s about merchandising yourself and utilizing your audience to make financial gains. My passions now are figuring out what I wanna do for a lifetime. I do have a really strong following, on Snapchat I have 500,000 that follow me. I’m not always sexy, sometimes I’m funny, sometimes I’m silly, and that garners me way more fans than anything I’ve done before. I’m getting into politics and pop culture and would love to be a personality in the long term.
What do you say to people who think Instagram models aren’t real models?
What I find interesting with internet and reality TV is that the audience gets to decide what they prefer and what they enjoy. For years, we’ve been given what we were told in magazines was beautiful: thin, high-fashion chiesled face models. It’s interesting to see when an audience gets to choose, maybe they prefer a curvy girl or an exotic girl with amazing hair. It’s really interesting that when you give the real world choices, they prefer people who look a little more normal and a little more similar.
It’s the same reason we enjoy reality TV. We want people who are a little bit like us. It’s how reality works. I think as far as maintaining an audience and captivating people and always growing an audience, it’s a skill. For me, it’s not as difficult as it seems. I don’t know why but for me, it’s because it also fell in my lap. I didn’t push myself, it happened for me. So I just kind of got to roll with it.
But I do know creating content, being an independent person, staying relevant and trying to push forward into the next phase definitely is work and it’s something really interesting. It’s so fresh and it’s so brand new. It’ll be interesting to see where these internet stars go in the next 10 years. Will we be around or will we be nobodies? It’s fun and scary.
Do you think you’d be famous if there was no Instagram?
It’s weird, I always saw my future being mapped out — I knew I was gonna go to LSU, I knew I wanted to be a Hooters girl. I had all these little things I knew were going to happen. But when I looked at my future post-college, it kind of erased. I think I was scared a lot, but my innermost passion was to move to LA. I always wanted to be someone people knew and I wanted to be popular, and it’s something I suppressed my entire life.
Growing up in Louisiana, all I was told is “don’t move there, it’s expensive, it’s hard, there are way more beautiful women than you, they have more money, they go to better schools.” No one’s telling you you’re gonna go to LA and do a good job. So it took me telling myself that for it to work.
Yeah, no one is ever like, “You wanna be famous? Good idea! Give it a shot!” People are more likely to shame women who want fame.
People shame women for nearly everything, especially if they want attention or if they want to be independent and if they want to speak their minds. It’s no surprise that someone would shame a woman for her idea of wanting attention and power and success.
It’s funny, what I’ve noticed lately. My comments [on Instagram] a year ago would have been attacking my appearance. They would have called me ugly, break my confidence in that way. Now, the comments from men are less about my appearance and now they’re about success. “You’re only famous because of your breasts, you’re only famous because you dated Dan Bilzerian.” I speak on Twitter a little more politically. If you see me tweet, you know I’m not dumb. [On Instagram], they attack my intelligence and it’s so interesting the way it changes.
Why do you think it changed that way?
I’ve been on TMZ and paparazzi’d and in magazines. I’ve been around a little more. So I’m not a brand new face so they know I’m not going anywhere, so when they see someone who doesn’t have to show up to a job and has this free time, it really attacks a male ego. I’m making bank off of what should oppress me. I’m making bank off of my image and flipping it around and I think that’s what makes certain men angry. I throw it in people’s faces and it works in my favor, and guys hate the idea of a woman getting it on her own.
It’s crazy how you never hear a man being called an attention whore, on Instagram or wherever else.
Never. I’ve never seen Justin Bieber called a whore on his pictures and he posts his ass out all the time. He’s living, he’s naked, and he’s enjoying it and it’s a joke. Honestly what I find interesting is because I’m busty, my comments versus a woman who wears what I wear but has a smaller chest. Sometimes I don’t think they’re shaming me for what I’m wearing but for my literal body. It’s just weird.
Do you find people are judgmental about your dating history with Dan?
Absolutely. I discuss all these things on Twitter and online. They go, “how can you be a feminist? how can you be anti-slut-shaming when you dated Dan Bilzeria?” Dan and I hardly ever discussed politics and Dan treated me more respectfully than anyone I’ve ever dated in my entire life. He may be sexual and have a lot of women, but he treats them nicely. He’s made some screw ups but he’s not a bad guy. He’s very up front about what he wants relationship-wise. So I don’t find it offensive at all.
It’s interesting to see how people make that leap, because he’s not saying anything bad about the women he’s with.
They’re the ones instigating it and calling him and saying, “Can I come over and play?” You go over and he doesn’t make you feel worthless. He has a chef, he’ll feed every person there. He’s not what you would think.
What are some things people say to you that piss you off about him?
What pisses me off is the fact that because I’ve dated someone in the public eye who’s openly promiscuous and provocative, that I in turn must be the same way. I must have low standards and low self esteem and little respect for myself, and it’s the exact opposite. I don’t know what they were watching but I just watched a man give me an entire career. It’s a little bit absurd. People think you are who you date and I don’t think are subjected to the same kind of criticism. If a really hot guy dated Madonna, he’s not automatically labeled provocative and making out with boys. They don’t seem to be subjected to the same kind of standards.
No one ever uses a guy’s dating history to judge his self esteem, either.
No, they definitely don’t. And people think he’s an asshole, the low self esteem no self respect thing, they have no idea how nice he was to me and how respectful he was and how he pursued me. They didn’t see what I saw. They all must think that I’m thirsty for a certain kind of guy. And they don’t know I have a DM full of actors, athletes, big rich dudes. I don’t base relationships on that. I don’t date someone disrespectful.
And no one ever calls guys thirsty, either.
Half of me wants to do an Instagram where I’m the Dan and have 25 dudes around. I would love that, but I just can’t. I’m a little too lazy to do that. It’s a lot of work and money.
What would the female equivalent of Dan be, anyway?
I guess it would be someone super powerful with sexuality — in-your-face and honest. Like pop stars, someone like Rihanna or Beyoncé. Someone who’s just openly sexy.
Do you find that people want to project their beliefs onto you?
I had someone message me who saw the Young Turks interview where I talked about feminism. They tweeted me and said, “Before you spout off, you need to watch your tone.” I’m not a tea kettle, I’m a human. When I speak and speak intelligently you say I’m “spouting” because I’m a woman. If a man is talking, is he spouting off?
On my Facebook recently, this guy said something about how my “LA attitude was unbecoming.” And we were talking about a political thing! I’m like, you know I’m not trying to “become” to you. You’re not who I want to attract. Why can’t I speak without you telling me what makes me attractive or takes away your lust for me? It’s fucking crazy.
It’s very neanderthal, caveman, hit-me-on-the-head-with-a-club kind of behavior.
What happens in your DMs? I can only imagine.
My DMs are really persistent so I might get 25 to 100 a day. I don’t have time to go through them, but I’ll sift through because I still get excited when I see a famous person. It’s really cool to me. Sometimes it’s people who I used to fangirl over on TV shows.
You’d think famous people would be more paranoid and private.
Exactly. There’s one guy who’s high profile and always trending and he literally DMs me all the time. That would go viral if I just published that. And he already got in trouble because he sent stuff to another girl! It’s funny, fame and fortune don’t make everyone discreet. I send them to my friends and we get a good laugh.