I realize that everyone and their brother has been following Chris Crocker for months, but I’m late on the Youtubosphere tip, and even more off MySpace. I delved into Chris’s world on the tail of the “Leave Britney Alone” video buzz. In May, Eli Stranger profiled Crocker for the Stranger.
the internet is the reason he didn’t run away long ago. It’s been a salve for his isolation, and improving communication technologies (the cell phone, the digital camera, the text message) have helped Chris thwart, at every turn, his grandparents’ attempts to keep him distant from a gay life….Another example of how the web made him more than his town and family ever could have: the way that Chris, a white Southern kid in an almost all-white Southern town, learned to talk like a ghetto black woman. In his This and That video, Chris closes with a line that seems to have confounded most of his YouTube imitators, and certainly confused me. He is saying, “What’s your tea like that?” When I asked him what this phrase is all about, he told me that he’d picked it up on the party line. “What party line?” I asked.
It turned out it was a party line that he’d found through the website talkee.com, which compiles lists of free phone party lines around the country. This particular line is run out of Los Angeles and is filled with flaming black men, black drag queens, and trannies from Compton. They take on names like Candy Cane and Chocolate and Charmane (“She’s like my muse,” Chris says), and they dial in to the party line to berate each other about their breath, their weight, and so on.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the Chris Crocker phenomena are the responses he engenders from other teens, many of whom appear to be neither gay nor white nor Southern (all of which Chris apparently is).
For those who missed his Britney defense,