Tana Mongeau’s dizzy history of YouTube controversy

By Kaitlyn Fehr, Columnist

If you ask a fan, they’ll probably tell you that Tana Mongeau is most famous for her 2015 storytime video where she shouted the iconic line “he fucked me with a toothbrush”, or for her aforementioned fake marriage to fellow influencer Jake Paul

Someone who’s not a Tana fan would probably also mention her marriage, or the infamous Tanacon, a YouTube convention that Tana (poorly) organized in summer of 2018 that left hundreds of her fans outside in the scorching Anaheim sun.

Either way, it’s probably surprising to learn that Mongeau, 22, is launching her own “influencer agency.” Before we talk about that, and look into why her own agency is a guaranteed failure, we need to look back at where she started. 

Mongeau joined YouTube in early 2015 at just 15 years old, and quickly rose to fame for her iconic “storytime” videos, in which she would detail humorous or outrageous personal stories about her life and relationships.

One of Mongeau’s strengths as a budding influencer was her relatability, causing many of her viewers to see a part of themselves reflected in her. She was a young girl with a troubled past who used YouTube to escape from her life, only to join the platform herself and give other troubled teens an escape as well. 

Get This Week's News

All the big stories delivered to your inbox every Thursday morning 

Her storytime videos were often raunchy and inappropriate, as evidenced by the iconic toothbrush installment, but felt genuine (at least at first), and helped her audience see that they weren’t the only ones with messy personal lives. Her early videos felt ‘uncensored’ in a larger sense—Mongeau did not shy away from telling some of her more embarrassing stories, like when she was caught pretending to drink liquor from a Ciroc bottle filled with water, or getting scammed out of cash by a former Disney star. She appeared to be an open book about her past, and didn’t care if people judged her for it. 

Admittedly, I am a former fan of Mongeau. She seemed like a genuinely good person who was making the best of the shitty hand of cards that life dealt her. Mongeau speaks openly about how she had to essentially raise herself, and that her parents “were completely unfit to be parents.”

Scandals arose early in Mongeau’s career, and has stuck with her ever since. In 2017, she called out fellow creator iDubbbz, also known as Ian Carter, for his frequent use of racial slurs. Carter responded by posting a compilation video of every time Mongeau had said the n-word online, including times she said it with a “hard r.” 

At VidCon the same year, Carter came up to Mongeau at a meet-and-greet and, while posing for a picture, told Mongeau to say the n-word. Mongeau had not recognized her fellow content creator, and responded with two different apology videos on the situation. 

Mongeau escaped this incident relatively unscathed, although in recent months, it has frequently been brought up as Tana finds herself in new controversies. I started watching Mongeau in 2018, just before her next big scandal, and I had never even heard about the iDubbbz situation—despite being an internet gremlin who follows YouTube drama religiously. 

In Summer 2018, Mongeau announced that she would be holding her own fan convention, titled TanaCon, because of how VidCon treated her and other creators poorly. Mongeau worked with the relatively unknown event manager Michael Weist to put together the convention, and did it on a rushed timeline of six months. 

The convention would host popular creators like Shane Dawson, Miranda Sings, and Casey Neistat at the low-low price of free tickets, or $65 VIP passes, a considerably more affordable price than other conventions. Standard four-day passes to Vidcon in 2019 cost $180 a ticket, per Newsweek.

Dawson, still popular at the time, was known for rarely attending conventions, so his name alone would be enough to draw in thousands of viewers. Initially, the convention was supposed to host 5,000 people in a Marriott hotel in Anaheim, California, the home of Vidcon.

On the day of the event, Mongeau alleged that 20,000 people showed up, although crowd sizes would later be disputed. Fans waited for hours outside with little to no information of when they would be allowed inside the event. They had no access to water or food, and many fans suffered horrendous sunburns as they took to Twitter to voice their frustrations.

At first, Mongeau and Weist told fans that the event would be rescheduled for the next day, before ultimately canceling the event completely. It took months for fans to get refunds for their VIP tickets. Tanacon was quickly labeled the ‘Fyre Festival of YouTube,’ referencing a disastrous music convention in 2017 that stranded ticket holders in the Bahamas without proper housing or food.

While Mongeau and Weist claim that the unexpected turnout of 20,000 people is what caused problems, local police say only around 4,000 to 5,000 people actually showed up, matching initial estimates. The event was simply mismanaged and poorly planned, and the “unexpected” swarm of attendees that reportedly caused the disaster, was severely overblown. 

TanaCon marked the beginning of the end of Mongeau’s previously trusting relationship with her fans. The event also shows Mongeau’s inability to take the time needed to properly plan and manage anything, something that does not bode well for her current goals of influencer management. 

A year later, Tana Mongeau married Jake Paul in Las Vegas, after hyping up the wedding in her MTV show and on her social media. This marriage is when things really started to fall apart for Mongeau, as her association with Paul furthered her reputation as an irresponsible influencer.

It seemed as though Mongeau genuinely cared about Paul, while he just saw this as a business opportunity and later admitted the marriage was fake. Mongeau struggled to get back on her feet and ended up walking away from her storytime roots, something that cost her a lot of her old fanbase.  

The actual ceremony itself was supposed to be live-streamed to fans for $50, a hefty price tag for a fake wedding, if you ask me. Not to mention that the live stream barely worked, and free copies of it were easy to find online. I watched it live on Twitter, and I certainly did not pay $50.

Those who did pay for the live stream were met with a feed that constantly buffered and froze, and audio that cut out randomly. Many fans demanded refunds after the event. 

A few months later, in January 2020, Mongeau came under fire for her perfume line. Mongeau launched a bottle of perfume because (according to Tana’s commercial for the perfume) she used to steal perfume when she was younger, and when she did buy it, it was the cheapest bottles possible. Years later, Mongeau launched her own scent—similar to the self-described “hooker scents” she used to steal—that retailed for $48. 

Fans and critics of Mongeau alike pointed out that the bottle component looked cheap, and similar to something that could be found at Hot Topic. A few critics even found listings for similar bottles on AliExpress for less than a dollar, despite Mongeau’s claims that her bottle was hand-crafted with good quality glass and metal components. 

In the summer of 2020, Mongeau came under fire for how she treated her manager Jordan Worona on her MTV show, MTV No Filter: Tana Mongeau. Worona had been Mongeau’s manager for most of her time on YouTube, and oftentimes seemed to fill a parental role in her life. 

Fans felt that Mongeau often came across as rude and entitled on the show, especially whenever it would show her screaming at and fighting with Worona. The show frequently painted Mongeau as irresponsible and bratty, especially in moments when she berates Worona for being concerned about her physical health, or when she couldn’t wake up on time to accompany her best friend while he underwent surgery.  

Mongeau had gone from a genuine girl who made people laugh with relatable storytime videos, to a disrespectful and unbearable Hollywood influencer who screams at those who cared about her the most. By this point, I had stopped actively watching Mongeau, and checked out of her life as a fan. 

A few months later, Mongeau faced one of her most serious controversies to date, when two of her former friends and collaborators came forward to discuss her past racism.

Nessa Briella, a former client of Mongeau’s manager, and Kahlen Barry, a former member of Mongeau’s collaboration channel “Trash,” both uploaded videos detailing Mongeau’s racist actions and microaggressions against them in June 2020.

While Mongeau always insisted that the problem between her and Briella was petty drama, Briella told a different story. In her video, Briella details how Mongeau and Worona would constantly talk about her behind her back, publicly gaslight her, and act racist towards her. Breilla also claims that the pair started rumors about her having schizophrenia.

“I just 100 percent believe that Tana and Jordan were trying to paint me out to be this angry Black woman,” Briella said.

Barry reported similar incidents in his video, saying the microaggressions started in 2016 from the very beginning of his time on the channel. As the only non-white member of “Trash,” he said he felt the need to address Mongeau’s problematic past with her in private. Namely, her use of the n-word and old resurfaced racist tweets. Barry alleged that Mongeau did not react well, making him feel as though she was brushing him off as an “angry Black person.”

According to Barry, he had reached out in private to Mongeau before going public, hoping to find closure that way. Mongeau ignored the message until the public backlash prompted her to respond.

Mongeau then tweeted a public apology to Barry, instead of reaching out to him directly. As someone watching this happen in real time, it felt like she wanted everyone to forgive her. If she apologized privately, how would anyone know she had done it and forget about the whole thing? 

Months later, in September, Mongeau finally uploaded an apology video that she had been promising to post for months. Unlike Mongeau’s other apologies, which often became emotional, this apology felt scripted and robotic—like she quickly wanted to get the apology over with, not because she actually felt remorse. 

In the video, she continues to deflect and place blame on other people and her upbringing. Mongeau said she feels that the “Nessa situation” is more complicated than what happened with Barry, as she feels that they were just fighting as “catty teenagers.”

The video currently sits at 40,000 likes to 115,000 dislikes, and the top comments are mostly negative. Soon after the video was released, Mongeau quietly fired her manager Worona, and neither of them have publicly discussed the reason for his dismissal. 

Despite Worona’s role in the situation, it’s worrying to me that Mongeau might not have anyone around her to say “no” anymore. Mongeau mentions in the video that she only ever surrounded herself with yes-men, but from the outside, it seemed like Worona was one of the few people who had any influence over what she said and did.

Around the same time, Mongeau made a career move that boosted her internet success, and likely led to this influencer agency.

In May 2020, Mongeau joined OnlyFans, and has made millions from it ever since. Her page, labeled “Tana Uncensored,” has brought Mongeau massive success, and is likely a big part of the reason why she barely uploads on YouTube anymore. 

Despite the career boost from her OnlyFans, Mongeau found controversy again in May 2021 when she told paparazzi that she supported TikTok star Bryce Hall in his boxing match against YouTuber Austin McBroom. This came as a shock to fans who remembered an old video of Mongeau’s that criticized Hall, where she said, “unsubscribe from Bryce. We just don’t stan victim-shaming, slut-shaming, lying, assaulting, cheating, bad people.”

Mongeau has a long history of scamming her fans, treating those around her terribly, and doubling back on her own word, which is why I was shocked when she announced that she would be starting her own influencer management agency.

Tana’s Angels Agency is currently taking submissions for new talent, although it appears Mongeau is specifically looking for young women in the influencer field. Mongeau stated that she has been taken advantage of and been led astray throughout her career, and that she wants to be a mentor and guide other girls through their own rise to fame. 

In the Instagram post announcing the agency, Mongeau explained her reasoning behind the decision, stating, “I want to use my experiences, platform, connections, knowledge and creativity to help small creators win- in the right way. I want to give everything I have back to a community that gave me everything.”

I don’t know how anyone could trust Tana Mongeau to be their agent and help them get famous after everything she’s done. Sure, having your name attached to hers might bring you some recognition, but is it really the kind of recognition that you want? She’s also clearly shown a tendency to cast the people around her aside. Why wouldn’t she do that with her clients too?

No matter how much you want fame or to be an influencer, Mongeau is not going to be the person to get you there. After reviewing her entire sordid history, I think it would be best if Tana Mongeau took a step back from the internet as a whole—not starting a company coaching other people on how to present themselves online.