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Behind the rise of TikTok stars Angel Mamii and John Dees, who met through the app 8 months ago and have rewritten the rulebook for viral fame

Published by Business Insider on Sun, 10 Nov 2019


Angel Mamii and John Dees are rising stars of TikTok ' since September, their surreal videos have racked up tens of millions of views.Their videos are best known for their absence of structure, usually lacking plot or punchlines, which the couple says is intentional.But they have achieved something made elusive by TikTok's opaque algorithm: lasting viral fame.The TikTok power couple opened up to Business Insider about meeting each other through the app, their creative process, and how they deal with their newfound fame.Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.A TikTok video shows a mother and son walking the aisles of an outlet store looking for a phone charger. At first they can only find Android chargers, until the son points his mom in the direction of iPhone chargers. She grabs one off the shelf, asking, "You ready to check out'" The video ends.That video has been viewed more than 4 million times.Even if you've never heard of the TikTok account Angelmamii7, there's a good chance you've seen one of its videos reposted to Twitter or Instagram, where they rack up millions of views and are shared widely by users who are fascinated or baffled by their surreal lack of structure.Most of the videos go something like this: Angel is at a public place with her kids or her husband, John Dees. They engage in some conversation, usually about buying something from the store in question. Then the video ends. The videos don't follow any obvious setup-punchline structure or meme template, and usually nothing of note happens.Losing it over the energy in this tik tok rn... not one point was made pic.twitter.com/LOmP2pyraC' alice (@ifinallythrewup) September 12, 2019Despite this structurelessness ' or perhaps because of it ' Angel and John have achieved lasting virality on TikTok, a rare achievement given the opaque algorithm that drives the platform's "For You" page. The married couple, who met via TikTok in March, have accumulated more than a million followers between their two accounts.Now, the couple behind AngelMamii7 is trying to build a following on YouTube, where it's much more feasible to make money from a social media following.i love how her videos are like when you put your sim on free will mode pic.twitter.com/wvrAtvxzcl' annabel (@THEVV1TCH) October 8, 2019Angel and John spoke to Business Insider about their sudden rise to viral fame, the behind-the-scenes of their creative process, and dealing with the onslaught of hate that has come with their notoriety.The couple first met at a TikTok creators' meetup in March 2019. Soon, they were dating and simultaneously collaborating on TikToks."We had a really really strong connection, and after that we became a couple," John said.The couple had their first dose of viral fame in September, when two videos of Angel and her son were reposted to Twitter and began racking up millions of views.Two videos posted to Twitter drove the bulk of early traffic to the AngelMamii7 account. One was the "chargers" video, while another depicts Angel and her son looking for milk in a grocery store:Angel and John said they take a free-wheeling approach to making TikToks, rarely writing scripts down or planning content ahead of time."We don't really write anything down. I wrote some skits that did very well but usually we show up to a location and we're out driving, and we're like 'Hey, let's go over here,'" Angel said. "Next thing you know, boom, we got a video.""Some of our skits we legitimately come up with right then and there," John said. "She'll start the skit, she'll be like alright record me, then she puts the camera on me and we go back and forth when we're filming."The couple is aware that people say their videos don't make sense, and even embraces it."That's what we intentionally do, we intentionally try to make ourselves not make sense in a way," John said. "And that's what's been working."John and Angel said the TikTok they're most proud of is called "That's my car," a sketch they came up with on the spot.The TikTok has nearly a million likes, and has led the couple to make a Part 2 and Part 3, as well as a sequel, "That's my house."The couple says that in recent months, people have recognized them when they go out to stores around New York City and Long Island, where they live."When we're together it's especially bad ... We can't even get off the highway and go to the bathroom without getting noticed," Angel said. "Last night two people were like, 'Hey, are you Angel Mamii'' and I was like, 'No.' How am I supposed to respond to that'"The couple says fame has its downsides, too, including a slew of backlash."We got people hating on us like we did something to their family," John said. "Like, 'You guys need to get hit by a bus, these videos are horrible you know.' But that's what we do, and we just shrug it off.""Honestly I don't even look at it," Angel said. "I look at the nice comments and I skip through the hate comments. If I see something hateful I'll just glare at it. Like, OK troll. I don't have time for negativity."They've caught the attention of critics, including YouTuber Cody Ko, whose video roasting their account has garnered more than 3.5 million views.However, the couple said they aren't upset by Ko's video."No hard feelings, but he's got four million subscribers and the video he made was mainly about us and that has nearly 4 million views on YouTube, so it's definitely gotten us some more exposure," John said.The couple hopes they can channel their newfound attention into a YouTube following. In the meantime, they plan to keep making TikToks."I don't take things to the head, we're really humble and down to earth. That's who we are, we're humble people. We're just trying to make videos and live our life and do the best we can," Angel said.The couple's YouTube channel can be found here.
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