SmokinCigs23 is the pseudonym of a 17-year-old girl from Columbus, Ohio, who’s Instagram-famous —she has almost 20,0000 followers—for posting selfies and party photos while bashing on “haters.” She writes that she’s “the baddest bitch in the world,” a budding businesswoman who wants to build a media empire. She recently launched a T-shirt line, has a music video coming out, and just started her own YouTube show, Cig Break. She’s hosted fan meetups and even inspired tattoos of her logo, a crossed pair of smoking cigarettes.
But she’s not what you might expect from an Instagram celebrity: She doesn’t wear makeup or spend hours debating which selfie to post. She doesn’t do the “hand-on-hip” pose; she doesn’t dress up—and she certainly doesn’t care what you think. She wears T-shirts and hoodies for grainy close-ups that receive hundreds of likes. She posts selfies at Golden Corral and HomeTown Buffet. Her goal? To show America what America is really about. For her, that’s smoking cigarettes and weed, chugging cans of cheap beer, and going to a buffet.
Do people at your high school know you’re Instagram-famous?
I went to online schools for a few years, I skipped two years of school, and now I’m a senior and I’m going to regular school. I go to Whetstone High School in Columbus. I didn’t want to tell them or nothin’, but I started blowing up on Instagram and people started calling me Cigs and stuff.
You’re 17, and you post photos of illegal stuff like drinking, smoking, and doing drugs. Have you ever run in to a problem legally?
No, I don’t think anything will happen from that. [The police] have got bigger fish to fry, so I don’t think they care.
“Ohio people are different. It’s pretty much a whole new country. We just don’t care, you know?”
What do your parents think?
I live with my parents, yeah. They think it’s sweet.
So they’re supportive?
Yeah, yeah. They couldn’t believe all the followers at first, but you know.
When did it all start?
Like two or three years ago. I was big on Twitter and YouTube, then I fell off my Twitter and my YouTube got banned.
me infronta bob evan about to slam holding up @columbusalive mag screamin @smokincigs23 for instagram of the week!! how u not gone post me yet im puttin on fo my city like young jeezy A photo posted by smokincigs23 (@smokincigs23) on
Why did your YouTube get banned?
My original YouTube [channel] got banned ’cause I was posting sick fight vids and stuff and someone reported them.
Were you trying to get Instagram-famous?
I thought, “Hey, I take some really good pics, so I should get an Instagram.” It just took off.
I think people just don’t understand: Ohio people are different. It’s pretty much a whole new country. We just don’t care, you know? [The partying] is 24/7, and I live on OSU campus, so I see some pretty crazy stuff every day, you know? People from other places are like “Whoa, this can’t be real.”
But it’s real, it’s all real. It’s just how people from Ohio act.
So you go to a lot of OSU parties?
I’ll go to any party there is, as long as it’s not lame. As long as there’s alcohol there. I’m like, “What’s the people to alcohol ratio?” That’s the number one question.
Are you getting other sponsorship and commercial offers?
My number one thing is that I want to become an actress, but you can’t do that in Columbus, Ohio. There’s no acting [opportunities] you know. This ain’t Hollywood. I auditioned for The Voice but didn’t make it, and it’s whatever, you know. Instagram has done a lot of things for me. I got a clothing line and all that. I sell these shirts on screens. I make the shirts myself—like not physically—but I make the designs; they frickin’ ball that and then send them out. [Retailers] who read my Instagram, they send me tons of free clothes and they’re all sick. I don’t plan on making money off of it unless somebody comes to me. I got a rap coming out, and once my rap drops… I’m thinkin’ it’s really about to blow up.
“I’m like, ‘What’s the people to alcohol ratio?’ That’s the number one question.”
Do you have a team of people?
On the videos and stuff, [I have] my friend Mason. He’s a pro: He went to college for that and he’s got a green screen in his house, so we be doin’ it there. But pretty much I’m just hustling everything on everything else.
You must have some digital media skills. Is this what you want to make of a career?
I just want it to blow up, you know? I don’t even know; I just want it to be cool, be on TV, get big—but I want to get big for all the right reasons.
What are the right reasons?
I’m showing America what America is, you know? I need people to realize that.
How do you feel like you’re representing America?
I think what I post is what people are doing in their spare time. A lot of people don’t like to say what they’re doing in their spare time because they think they’re going to get in trouble or something, but where I’m from that’s what everybody does.
Everybody parties; everybody does whatever. I think the people that hide it—I think they’re hiding their true selves. America, I feel like it was built on beer and turning up. In Ohio, we’ve got the top party schools and everything. Everything here is one big party. Ohio is the next Chicago. It’s getting pretty ghetto here. We’ve got parties, we got music, we’ve got tons of rappers here. It’s about to be on the map.
America, I feel like it was built on beer and turning up.
And you feel like you’re showing a true picture of that culture?
America is the best country out there, I’d definitely say. We’re pretty diverse. Everything goes down in America. I feel like every other country in the world is based off America. There’s a lot of weirdos here, but in reality we’re all normal people, we all do normal things.
Who would you say is your inspiration? Who do you want to emulate?
I’ve got alot of heroes—Britney Spears, she’s the baddest bitch out there. I’ve got tons. She’s one of mine, I’d definitely say. I went to her concert when I was in fourth grade. She’s an inspiration. Her and K-Fed, it’s crazy.
Is she someone you would want to emulate?
Oh yeah. I could definitely see myself hanging out with her.
What do you plan on doing after you graduate?
I’m going to hit some casting calls. It’s hard—there’s not many in Columbus. There was a John Travolta film that was going on here, and I was trying to get in as an extra but they were jackin’ me.
It’s hard to find a casting call where you can be 17. I’m trying to find an agent too. I’ve had some headshots taken and sent them into some agencies, like John Casablanca, and they scammed me. I don’t fall for that—I expect to hustle, but it’s not going to happen on me.
I can act in anything. You hand me a script and I’m there. I think it was my calling for real. But definitely not plays or anything because that’s lame, but maybe like movies or TV shows, all that.
Illustration by Max Fleishman