Entertainment And News

The (Allegedly) Disturbing Side Of YouTube & Instagram Beauty Influencer James Charles's Behavior

Photo: Instagram
What Did Tati Westbrook Accuse YouTuber James Charles Of Doing? History Of His Alleged Predatory Behavior With Straight Boys & Men

What would a new year be without a controversial scandal full of outrage aimed toward a questionable celebrity on Twitter?

Early on New Year's Day, #jamescharlesisoverparty started trending on Twitter, with New Year's Eve Instagram story sparking cries that the YouTuber is — yet again — officially canceled, this time for allegedly saying the N-word while singing along to the lyrics of rapper Saweetie's smash, "My Type."

What has James Charles been accused of over the past year?

The roller coaster of a scandal first ignited in May 2019, when beauty vlogger and influencer Tati Westbrook, 37, uploaded a since-deleted scathing 43-minute video to YouTube saying, "Bye Sister" to fellow YouTuber, model and makeup guru James Charles, 20. She then followed up with another video titled "Why I Did It ...," which she captioned, "Please be kind to one another, I will come back soon" — and which she has also since deleted.

While most of the tea being poured, sipped and shared during that strange time focused on Tati's tale of James's betrayal, a darker story appeared to bubble up from the surface, only to be ignored again — a growing catalog of stories from boys and young men speaking of James as an allegedly relentless sexual predator bent on pursuing allegedly straight men.

RELATED: Why Is James Charles Being Canceled On Twitter (Again)?

Westbrook's references to James's predatory behavior, however, were made in only a superficial manner — as one in a long list of reasons her friendship with James is now officially canceled — and most of the articles in mainstream media seemed to center around Tati and James's vitamin sales driven drama.

Is this a case of clashing financial interests and collaboration gone wrong, or are there credible MeToo stories being ignored because they involve heterosexual male victims and a gay male perpetrator? Do people hate James Charles, or are they concerned about their brand safety if they continue being associated with him?

Who accused James Charles of doing what, and why did he lose millions of YouTube subscribers so quickly?

Here are the details we know about the feud between Tati Westbrook and James Charles and allegations she and others have made against him.

1. What led to the current feud between Tati Westbrook and James Charles?

The drama revolves around disappearing Instagram stories, the first of which was posted by James on April 22, when he took a break from the Coachella festivities to post a since-deleted promo clip for Sugar Bear Hair gummy vitamins, a competitor of Tati's Halo Beauty supplements.

In Tati's subsequent Insta story, she didn't mention James directly, but rather said only that she felt lost after having been betrayed by someone she chose not name at the time.

James did what he must have thought was the right thing and offered a public apology to Tati in yet another Insta story. But Tati, it appears, was unimpressed, as her next move was posting her already infamous video breaking ties with her former protege — causing James to rapidly start losing YouTube subscribers to the tune of nearly 2 million followers in just over 24 hours.

"Tati said that she felt 'used'," reports BuzzFeed, "because she and her husband have negotiated deals on James' behalf, have mentored James, and have nurtured James. Tati promoted James' palette on her channel and constantly plugged his Morphe discount code in her videos."

2. Tati's video included accusations of James's alleged predatory behavior

Tati started her "Bye Sister" video with clips of fellow YouTubers goading her into being more direct about who she's upset with and why.

"This is absolutely not a video I ever thought in a million years that I would be making," she says, "but I feel after a lot of thought that it's necessary for me to have a chat with you guys."

She continues to explain why she felt "blind-sided" by James' betrayal.

"We've had plenty of in-person conversations that were at length about other influencers doing the same deal and him not liking Sugar Bear Hair and dragging the other people and being like Tati I'm I'm on your side. Like, 'You've got me,' like, 'I will support you,' 'Yes, mom,' like, 'You've got my my loyalty.' So I always felt really comfortable with that."

At the 24-minute mark, Tati — who'd just said she "felt really comfortable" with James's support — addresses her own experiences regarding James' inappropriate sexual behavior.

"The last phone conversation that James Charles and I had he said some things, telling me about a situation that happened in Seattle at my birthday, and it literally made me want to vomit. Oh my god. You tried to trick a straight man into thinking he's gay — yet again — and somehow, you're the victim. You know, it's really disgusting to manipulate someone's sexuality, especially when they are still, you know, emerging into adulthood and don't quite have everything figured out.

"You are using your fame, your power, your money, to play with people's emotions. You're threatening to ruin them. You're threatening to embarrass them. And you're doing that to have them behave sexually in your favor, even if they're straight. And you know what, that's not okay. That behavior is not okay.

"Whether you're a woman, a man, gay, straight, bi — whatever sexual orientation you are, that is your personal call. It is not someone else's to take. it's not someone else's to play with. It's not someone else's to mess with.

"And how dare you laugh about it and make meme after meme and re-Tweet and this and that and 'I love straight boys, I love straight boys,' and make it a joke. Because this behavior is not normal. It's not okay. Cracking someone's sexuality is not an escape room. This is s*** that will follow them for the rest of their lives and you need someone to tell you to stop it. And that's exactly what I did in your kitchen in front of Gabriel Zamora. So, I'm really shocked, Gabriel, that you really don't care about this at all and what is happening. You were totally complicit with the situation, obviously, with the video that you made, all right? I'm pissed.

"You did it at my birthday dinner and I made excuses for you then. You were talking in detail about things you wanted to do to the waiter, and when I said, 'James, he's straight,' your response was. 'Doesn't matter. I'm a celebrity.' So freaking gross."

It's worth noting that Tati's birthday happens to be on Valentine's Day, February 14.

So as disgusted as she may have been by James's behavior beginning at the very latest nearly three months ago, she didn't feel the need to make her knowledge of his predatory behavior public until after she felt slighted by his ad for her competition.

3. But before all of that, a video by male model Gage Gomez surfaced

Rewinding a few days back before the drama began between Tati and James, James posted a picture of himself at Coachella with a male model named Gage Gomez.

When fans asked about Gage's identity, James put out a since-deleted Tweet claiming to have been "played" by the 21-year old, 6'1" Wilhelmina model.

Gage wasn't having it, though, and on April 18, he posted his own brief video explaining his side of the story.

"There was a Tweet made about me and it was slanderous, bashful [sic] and skewed from the truth," Gage said. "The person who made this Tweet obviously realized that, or maybe if they didn't realize that, they understood that it was aggressive and maybe the wrong thing to do, and they deleted it."

Gage followed up with a longer explanation he uploaded to YouTube on April 29, in yet another since deleted video titled, "What really went down between me and James Charles."

"James then saw this as an opportunity to manipulate me as a person who may or may not have been trying to figure things out about their sexuality," Gage said, "after the fact of telling him that I was straight multiple times. He then started to begin putting a little bit of pressure on me, of getting to know me without ... like, disregarding the fact that I told him I was straight. Because as you all know this person 99.9, maybe even 100 percent of times, goes after heterosexual men. I told James I wasn't interested in any of that."

Soon after, a series of DMs were released to several "drama channels" on YouTube.

The messages included screenshots revealing James' attempts to keep Gage from making videos intended to clear his name in light of the hate he was receiving from James's fans.

"The reality of the situation is that you've only broadcasted your narrative," Gage wrote. "The extent of your one sidedness has cost me my reputation. For you to tell me to just 'deal with' the hate is selfish and unacceptable. You've decided for me how the situation will play out by refusing to clear my name and telling me I couldn't either. the last thing I want is to drag it on tbh but I won't allow this one sided narrative forced on me."

James replied, "Literally what would you say in a video? You're straight but flew to Coachella to try and see if you wanted to be with me? And kissed me there? You realize that doesn't make you look great, right?

When Gage stated that he would tell the truth about his being bicurious and exploring his sexuality, James insisted that simply couldn't be true.

4. Along came Lilac Grove, a Twitter user claiming to have attended high school with James Charles

On Sunday, May 4, on the trail of Gage's two videos but prior to Tati's "Bye Sister" video, a Twitter user calling themselves Lilac Grove and claiming to have gone to high school with James posted a thread accusing James of sexually assaulting a friend of hers in their high school bathroom.

The friend in question is said to have been 14 years old at the time.

The entire account has since been deleted, with several users noting that both she and her story appeared fabricated.

5. Jeffree Star then joined the feud, backing up Westbrook's version of the story

On Sunday morning, May 12, beauty superstar Jeffree Star shared his own thoughts backing Tati's word against James's.

"There is a reason that Nathan banned James Charles from ever coming over to our home again," Star wrote. "There's a reason why I haven't seen him since @GlamLifeGuru's birthday in February. He is a danger to society. Everything Tati said is 100% true."

While the tweet has also since been deleted, not only did Star unfollow James, but the growing list of celebrities leaving his camp at the time included Demi Lovato, Kim Kardashian, Shane Dawson, Ariana Grande, Tana Mongeau, Kylie Jenner, Shawn Mendes, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Iggy Azalea, Laura Lee, Emma Chamberlain, Ethan Dolan, Grayson Dolan and Zara Larsson.

RELATED: Does James Charles Have A Sex Tape? New Details About The Beauty YouTuber's Latest Scandal

6. Speaking of Zara Larsson, the singer accused Charles of hitting on her boyfriend as well

Pop star Zara Larsson initially replied to a tweet sharing Tati's picture, saying, ""I'm cackling cause he hit up my boyfriend in the dms several times knowing damn well he's straight"

But just a short time after, she hesitated, tweeting again, "I feel like deleting this cause I checked and it wasn't several times, only one dm and some comments under pictures."

Both of her replies have since been deleted.

7. And then there was another claim from someone alleging to have attended high school with Charles

Perez Hilton found another post from someone claiming to have known James in high school, this time a user calling themselves Espresshoe on Twitter.

On May 1, she tweeted, "Throwback to when James Charles catfished the entire soccer team in high school pretending to be a girl so he could get d*** pics, so glad to know he's still predatory!!!"

And on May 8, she followed up, saying, "There’s a lot of people asking me for “tea” on James Charles, but I don’t really have any. I went to high school with james charles, I don’t know him well but he was in one of my classes and has always been a bully and a predator."

8. But wait, remember the waiter from Tati's dinner?

In another shocking twist, on May 12, Sam Cooke, 20, posted a video (since deleted) titled "The Kid From Seattle — James Charles."

In just over seven minutes, Cooke, the now infamous waiter Tati felt so disgusted on behalf of, shared his own side of the now utterly story, including screenshots of subsequent text exchanges and a claim that ... wait for it ... "If I'm being honest, he's the worst kisser I've ever kissed."

Cooke says the experienced helped him realize he is, indeed, straight, but his story does not sound like someone who believes he was the victim of a sexual predator.

9. Next, the website for James's new line of merch, Sisters Apparel, disappeared

On May 13, Newsweek reported that James's "popular merchandise line, Sister Apparel, was seemingly discontinued on Monday by its distributor, Killer Merch. The company still lists the Sisters brand as one of their partners, the page is currently listed as "under construction."

Killer Merch, it should be noted is owned by none other than Jeffree Star, so ...

Our attempts to reach the site through a Google search lead to an error message at the time, and the link in Sisters Apparel's Instagram bio was redirected to James's YouTube channel.

Fortunately for James, the Sisters Apparel site was back up and running two months later after he worked out a deal with distribution company Mad Merch.

10. Friends like Nikita Dragon didn't do much to help his case

In an attempt to straighten things out, Nikita Dragon took to Twitter, sharing screenshots of the text messages leading up to James's fateful Instagram story promoting Sugar Bear Hair.

Unfortunately, most people following the story only felt these Tweets solidified Tati's case against James.

RELATED: Who Is Nikita Dragun? New Details On The YouTube Makeup Artist Who Defended James Charles In The Tati Westbrook Feud

11. Some, however, including Shane Dawson, called for a degree of compassion

No matter which side of this particular celebrity feud you align with, there's little room for doubt that backlash against James, who again, is only 20 and was just 19 at the time, has been severe.

Shane Dawson shared an Instagram story that stopped short of asking people to show James mercy, but acknowledged the harshness of the current reactions to the drama.

Others got straight to the heart of the matter concerning fears for his mental health.

12. Charles came to his own defense in a video titled "No More Lies"

In his second video within this saga, Charles shared screenshots of Instagram DMs defending himself against the accusations circling social media like wild fire. He also expressed the toll the entire fiasco was taking on his mental health.

Later the same day, he followed up on Twitter.

"I made my video today NOT to start a war, but to take responsibility for my actions & clear my name," he wrote. "There ARE two sides to every story, & now you’ve heard both. I’m sure more will be said, but I’m moving on. You can form your opinions, but PLEASE do not send any hate to anyone."

13. The following day, Jeffree Star and Tati Westbrook both backed down

In a video titled "Never Doing This Again," Star said, "I don't want anyone that is inspired by me to think that gossip, hate and negativity is how you get popular. It's not respectable at all and I've had to learn the hard way," Starr said. "I want you guys to know I am not who I used to be and I haven't been for a while. I will never handle a situation like this again."

For her part, Westbrook shared a somewhat sterile statement on Twitter.

"I have been in contact with James Charles through an intermediary over the last week, and we believe that it is the best interest of our community, our viewers and our own mental health to put this matter to a rest," she tweeted. "For that reason, I will not be making any further public comments and I hope and pray that no one else will make anymore hurtful statements on my behalf."

14. But at the end of May, Charles decided to cancel his U.S. tour

His "Sisters" U.S. tour had been scheduled to begin at the end of June. but at the last moment, Charles issued a statement in an Instagram story announcing his decision to pull the plug.

"This was 100 percent my decision, I want to make that clear," Charles wrote. "I made the decision for a lot of personal reasons."

15. And then ... waiter Sam Cooke recanted his story

Two weeks after the tour would have begun, Sam Cooke came forward with another video of his own, this time apologizing to James for what he now said was

"James, the things that I said in my past video are not all true," Cooke began, "and I wanted to come clean about it."

He went on to explain that he had indeed been questioning his sexuality, and regarding James' having believed Cooke was bisexual he said, "I mean, I led him on to make him think that, so he's not in the wrong for thinking that."

"I want to clarify that I was feeling a lot of pressure from my friends and family," he continued, "who was telling me to make a video and publicize it and gain followers, gain whatever I could from it, and so I did. And as soon as Tati's video released where she talked about me as the waiter, I saw it as a perfect opportunity to use ... to ride the wave of the hype and the clout that was going on around this situation. And me being mentioned and anonymously two times, I was just gonna run it up and make a video. In all honesty, we made the video and painted James Charles in a light that wasn't right. We villainized him for our own good and that is wrong and I am acknowledging that publicly now."

And in August, some speculated Cooke may have paid a visit to James Charles at his LA home.

16. Where the fallout and subscriber counts currently stand

While Westbrook's accounts now seem bizarrely quite on the whole matter, a look at both of their current subscriber and follower counts seems at least somewhat telling regarding public opinion.

As of today, James Charles has 16.4 million subscribers on YouTube, 15.9 million followers on Instagram, and 4.4 million followers on Twitter.

Tati Westbrook now has 9.68 million subscribers on YouTube, 2.9 million followers on Instagram, and 1.4 million followers on Twitter.

Is James, as Tati alleged, using his fame, power and money "to play with people's emotions"?

Or is he a young man with an unfortunate habit of finding himself attracted to bi-curious (also young) men who aren't yet clear or confident about their sexual orientation?

The answer remains unclear as of now.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on May 12, 2019, and is being updated as new information regarding James Charles surfaces.

RELATED: Shane Gillis, Dave Chappelle, Kathy Griffin & The Myth That Liberal Cancel Culture Ends Careers Over One Mistake

Deputy Editor Arianna Jeret, MA/MSW, has been featured in Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post, Yahoo Style, MSN, Fox News, Bustle, Parents and more. Find her on Twitter and Instagram for more.