A little more than three years ago, the petite, platinum blonde enigma known as Poppy uploaded her first post on YouTube: one minute and 22 seconds’ worth of herself simply eating cotton candy. Whether or not there was any deeper meaning to that pastel-pink repast remains unknown, though the response to the video alone, which has racked up 3.5 million views to date, led Poppy to upload hundreds and hundreds more. By now, there are 400,000,000 YouTube views on her channel.
As entertaining as clips of Poppy interviewing a plant and reading aloud the Bible are, Poppy’s videos have also found such an intrigued audience because they’re one of the only texts available to those looking for an answer to the central riddle of Poppy: Is Poppy even human?
The Poppy who “come[s] from the internet” might not be, but the 23-year-old Poppy who described her avatar’s origins as such on a recent afternoon is most definitely living and breathing—an accomplishment for anyone, really, who’d just flown in from a few days of partying at Art Basel Miami Beach. Perched on the edge of a couch and clutching a pale-blue phone case that she’d covered in kawaii beads herself, Poppy maintained her usual poise but also spoke in a notably less robotic and slightly deeper voice than the one so familiar to her followers. (The video of her simply repeating “I’m Poppy” for 10 minutes has nearly 19 million views.)
But that was hundreds of videos ago, and there was a much more pressing one on her plate: a three-part holiday gift-guide series she produced for W (you can see the first video above), featuring champagne sabers and selfie drones (with the usual sense of disquiet unique to Poppy). As usual, she was working in tandem with the musician-director Titanic Sinclair, who’d also been with her in Miami—and pretty much everywhere she’s gone for the past year. Oh, and he’s also the only person Poppy follows on Instagram—at least on her main account. Learn more about her finsta, exes, and other IRL matters of interest she opened up about while answering W‘s Social Q’s, here.
Do you remember your first Instagram?
It was a shorter version of the Poppy Eats Cotton Candy video that I put up on YouTube. It seems to be a lot more popular recently, but I don’t think a lot of people saw it when it was first posted.
You only follow one person, Titanic. How long has that been the case?
A little over a year now. When you only follow a smaller amount of people, you get to see all of their posts. And I try not to pay attention to what other people are doing—I try to just stay in my own world.
About how many did you follow before that?
Maybe 25? It was mostly just fashion brands that I like: Miu Miu, Chanel, and Rodarte. And Louis Vuitton, of course.
Do you have a finsta?
I do…but it’s a secret. Is that the name for it, finsta? I just call it my secret page. Now anyone listening to this will try to find me, but they can’t! All of my friends have secret pages, and I follow people, but I don’t have any followers on that account.
Which accounts do you look at, whether you follow them or not?
Tame Impala, Rick Owens, Jack White, Alison Mosshart from the Kills, Yoko Ono, Cornelius, and my producers. And I follow a lot of art galleries—my friend curates the Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles.
What about Marilyn Manson? I hear that you’re friends now.
Yeah, it’s very funny that that happened. He’s a wonderful person and extremely intelligent—I think he and Titanic make sense as friends. [Laughs.]
As an expert in the field, what would you suggest giving him for the holidays?
Ooh, something scary. Maybe something dead, like some bones or something.
What are your tips for taking a good selfie?
I get my photos taken, but I don’t take a lot of selfies. I know what I look like, so I don’t think I need to save a bunch of photos that I took of myself or post them on the Internet. I’ve posted them before, but it has to be a really good one.
Any tips for getting your photo taken then?
You just gotta always be ready for it—and you better cover up your entire face and head if you’re not. But I suggest you wear makeup and have your hair done at all times.
Filter or #nofilter?
Well, filters make everything look better. So why not make everything look better?
What’s your favorite thing to post?
Photos from live performance; photos of my cat, Pi; and photos of places that I get to visit, like this one of me in Milan at the Duomo. We were there for Fashion Week, for Fendi, then we went to the Prada museum, which is really inspiring. That’s why I went to Art Basel. I’d like to have my own gallery show next year.
What type of art do you make?
I like to paint still life, but it’s as told by Poppy, so that’s what you get. [Laughs.]
Do you have any social media–related pet peeves?
I wish people could just post and forget about it as opposed to checking back in. I’ve seen people become almost neurotic with obsessing over who’s checking their Instagram stories or liking their posts. Kanye West said there should be social media that exists where you can’t see the numbers, and I’m sure if that was to be made, people wouldn’t be neurotic about it.
Would you also want that to exist?
Yeah, I think it makes sense. I love social media because without it, I wouldn’t be here. But everybody has a voice, and there’s a lot of people talking, so there’s a lot of room for error or misinformation. It’s like when you’re little and you play a game of Telephone—it starts out one way, and by the time it gets to the end of the line, it’s something completely different. It’s kind of like that multiplied by…well, however many people are on the Internet. [Laughs.] Things always end up being morphed into things so far from their origins.
Do you find yourself constantly checking things too, or have you always had more of a hands-off approach?
I feel like I’ve had a hands-off approach because there’s so much in my life that I want to create to entertain people. And if I’m constantly checking in on what other people’s opinions are, that would weigh into what I’m creating. It might steer me off my path of intention.
Do you ever read the comments?
I used to, but now there’s too many. And I think now I have a very clear intention and vision for what I want, and I don’t want anybody else to distract me from that.
Do you ever read your DMs?
I do, but not on Twitter or Instagram—just on this site I’ve created called poppy.church. We have a chat room for the church’s “guardians,” who I handpick to protect it, and I always read their DMs.
Do you have any tips for sliding into someone else’s DMs?
It’s always nice to start with a compliment, and then you just see where it goes from there. I do it with different artists sometimes, when it seems right.
What about people you’re into romantically?
It’s funny to say, when I come from the Internet, but no. I think when you’re trying to start a relationship online, it’s a little…it seems a little foreign to me. I know a lot of people do it, but I don’t think it’s for me.
Do you ever unfollow or block your exes?
I don’t really have any. Um, yeah…
I don’t really, either.
Is there anything you would never post?
Photos of food. Unless it was cute food.
Because food’s boring.
How do you unplug?
I turn off all of the technology. You have to restart fresh in the morning, so I turn it off every night.
Everything? Do you have an alarm clock?
No, I just have a Poppy clock. My body wakes me up every day at 7 a.m.