October 23, 2021


Is Food In You

How a 19-calendar year-old orphan with a drug behavior designed millions on TikTok

8 min read

“I will need to make a TikTok video clip, but to do it you’ll need to lie on the floor… Increase your hand who is ready to do it,” claims Danya Milokhin, a 19-year-aged guy in a pink shirt and an Adidas cap, at a session at the St. Petersburg Worldwide Financial Forum (SPIEF), the country’s key business enterprise forum, which has Russian President Vladimir Putin between its speakers and in which an entrance ticket this yr price nearly 1 million rubles ($13,830).

Anyone raises their hand, which include the marketing and advertising director of Russia’s greatest financial institution Sber, a vice-president at Aliexpress in Russia and a previous presidential prospect. A few of seconds afterwards, men and women in jackets and shirts are lying on the floor of the conference space, some with their legs lifted and resting on the chairs. Milokhin is lying down on the desk. Dozens of cameras are filming the proceedings, which seem entirely out of character for an celebration like that.

“Somewhere at a major event” 

Milokhin is one of the most well known TikTok bloggers in Russia he presently has 12.9 million followers. In accordance to Forbes, he helps make 2 million rubles a thirty day period (approx. $28,000). In 2020, he won GQ’s ‘Discovery of the Year’ award. He posts videos with dances, his tunes, jokes and troubles. The far more shocking, the better. At the St. Petersburg financial discussion board, right after the session and filming his TikTok video, he fled from journalists stating: “I have to have to pee.” Some were being outraged by the incredibly actuality of his visual appearance at these an function: “This is some kind of surrealism!” “The boy grew to become renowned not for his function, but for his trashy acceptance on social media.”

Not this sort of a lengthy time ago, Milokhin himself could not envision these kinds of reputation. Two yrs back, he was performing as a waiter in Anapa in southern Russia, shoplifting “for fun” and spending all his cash on prescription drugs.

Troubled teenager 

In between the ages of a few and 13, Danya Milokhin lived in an orphanage in Orenburg, with each other with his brother Ilya. Their mother experienced introduced them there immediately after divorcing her husband mainly because of his alcohol habit and choosing that she would not be equipped to increase two youngsters on her personal. Danya does not like reminiscing about individuals 10 many years of his existence. Agonizing reminiscences include beatings and not currently being allowed to try to eat outside the house meal situations. “In the first times just after I was taken from the orphanage, it was unconventional not to be overwhelmed for having a inadequate grade at university. At the orphanage, every person was crushed, that was component of the instructing approach. They conquer us in the confront, slapped us. A teacher could take a stick or a skipping rope and lash you twice – so that it would not be very visible,” Danya recalled in an job interview on the Pushka YouTube channel.

Business owners Dmitry and Yelena Tyulenev took custody of the Milokhin brothers. They by now experienced 5 young children of their have. The two brothers moved into their house close to Orenburg and, a 12 months later, the household moved to Anapa, closer to the sea. But matters ended up not straightforward. Danya was a tricky teenager: he refused to go to school, commenced to drink and smoke and did not generally come household at night. The Tyulenevs usually received visits from the police. The major lead to of conflicts was that Danya did not want to study.

“I did not want to do anything at all apart from earning income online. They did not permit me. And I did not want to examine, it didn’t perform.” Danya states that, by way of a compromise, he entered a technological school to teach as a car or truck mechanic and moved from the loved ones property to a hall of home. Absent from his foster dad and mom, he started to shoplift chocolate bars, chewing gum and other treats from supermarkets for fun and when he was caught, he lied that he had nothing to eat. His foster moms and dads did deliver him meat and cereals, but Danya was much too lazy to prepare dinner.

At 16, he commenced utilizing medications and telling every person that he would one working day develop into a blogger. He established up an account on VKontakte and commenced publishing all the things: a photograph from a supermarket wherever he is sitting down in a trolley loaded with instant noodles, or a selfie with a bare torso. He obtained tattoos and dyed his hair blonde, in search of to bring in followers with his look. By the age of 17, he garnered 2,000 subscribers and started out an Instagram account, wherever “he started to cheat men and women for cash: offering promotion and then not carrying out it and obtaining banned stuff [with the proceeds]”, he admitted. Later on, in an job interview, when requested “So it turns out that you deceived men and women just in get to have enjoyable,” he replied: “So it does.”

In addition to his social media action, Milokhin marketed balloons, handed out leaflets, but did not continue to be wherever for lengthy, declaring he “got bored”. In the summertime of 2019, Dmitry Tyulenev organized for him to get his initially critical job, as a waiter in a cafe, but, two months afterwards, Danya deliberately got fired. He required to devote far more time with his friends. It was then that he established up a TikTok account, submitting “everything that came to mind” there. His movies were a achievements with viewers: he grimaced at the digicam, trolled other TikTok bloggers and lip-synced music.

“My foster father told me a tiny key: ideas are product. I believed it. So, each night, I would publish on a piece of paper: I am the most well-known boy in the planet, I am the most attractive, individuals like me, I have a lot of mates,” Danya says. His desire was to transfer to Moscow. As shortly as he came of age, he gained the 200,000 rubles (approx. $2,800) from the state that orphans are entitled to, invested the funds on a new cellular phone and a ticket to Moscow and cut off all ties with his spouse and children, such as his brother Ilya.

Russia’s prime crush 

“I place anything on the line. Either it would get the job done out, or, no make a difference how it may perhaps audio, there was no stage in residing,” Milokhin states right now about his transfer. It did do the job out, as customers favored his approach to information. By December 2019, he previously experienced 700,000 followers on TikTok and 150,000 on Instagram. His recognition was even more spurred by a frank video clip job interview, in which he talked about his troubled childhood and which was viewed far more than 6 million instances, as effectively as by his flirting with the matter of bisexuality (Danya says he is heterosexual, but the picture of obtaining alleged interactions with other gentlemen is drawing further notice to him). “I have a crush on you,” young people, each ladies and boys, publish to him in responses.

Then Milokhin received an invitation from Yaroslav Andreyev, the founder of the WildJam advertising and marketing company, which specializes in performing with bloggers. He was invited to be part of Russia’s to start with collective of TikTok information creators, Aspiration Residence, an equal of the Buzz Residence venture in the United states of america. In it, a number of TikTok influences reside jointly, movie articles for their very own accounts and for the “house” account, which boosts their audience figures. Danya, together with a different partner, have been in demand of picking out citizens for the home and making material. At to start with, Andreyev admitted, he expected the challenge to be decline-producing for a year, even so, it started to produce a gain in six months’ time.

In 2020, through Russia’s two-thirty day period lockdown, Milokhin came up with the thought of recording a humorous keep track of titled: ‘I’m at home’. Its traces: “Guess the place I am? I’m at home” referred to the self-isolation regime imposed because of to the coronavirus pandemic. The song was created in a working day and a limited excerpt from it went viral, as buyers finished up recording 1.3 million TikTok films with it. Milokhin took the up coming action and launched a video of the song, which now has extra than 28 million sights on YouTube.

By that time, Milokhin suggests, he had presently given up medicine: “I had an overdose. After that, I could not snooze typically, the seem ‘mmm’ kept enjoying in my head all the time. I totally shed it. It terrified me.”

“You do realize that with your status as a drug addict, huge brand names will not touch you,” he was questioned in the similar interview on the Pushka channel. “So what? If some never want to contact me, many others will,” he replied and soon proved to be ideal. Immediately after the accomplishment of his new music online video, he was approached by huge advertisers, such as PepsiCo, Honor, Huawei and other major brands. He has also develop into 1 of the faces of Sber.

“It is not at all stunning that they want an influencer like Danya Milokhin. He does not incorporate anything distinctive to the giant’s brand as such. But Sber is so sending a message: glance, everyone is with us, teenagers and aged gals alike, we are everywhere you go, we are for absolutely everyone,” says Anton Bulanov, an professional with the Competence Progress Centre for Marketing and advertising at the Bigger University of Economics.

Milokhin much too thinks that getting a multi-million audience driving him, he can in shape into any context and any business. Now he is acquiring a musical job, at the similar time brazenly saying that to turn into a singer, just one does not need to have to be able to sing. “What for? I want to sing, but I’m way too lazy to shell out time finding out how to do it. With Auto-Tune, you can tweak anything at all.”

He describes himself as follows: “I am not a qualified in something – apart from for character. I’m a qualified in character.” Not too long ago Milokhin, at the age of 19, purchased a Maybach for 10 million rubles (approx. $137,000) and introduced 21 tracks – solo and collaborations with popular hip-hop performers and bloggers.

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