“Well, it’s your decision. But I will warn you: Literally everyone in the audience will be wearing a onesie.”
This is sage advice from YouTube star Tyler Oakley, whose live variety show, “Tyler Oakley’s Slumber Party,” will be at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco on June 25.
He describes the live show as a cross between a talk show and “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse,” complete with games, special guests and exclusive stories that Oakley has never revealed in his tell-all YouTube videos.
“It’s a show that’s easy to understand, whether you’ve seen every video or seen zero videos,” Oakley said in an interview with The Daily Californian. “(The show is meant to) introduce you to the world, because it is a whole different world. The YouTube phenomenon is something that a lot of people don’t get, but once you discover it, it’s like, ‘Oh my god — this has existed, and I had no clue!’ ”
But the “YouTube phenomenon” that Oakley described didn’t exist when he started making videos on his webcam in 2007 as a freshman at Michigan State University. Over eight years of consistent vlogging, however, Oakley’s sassy demeanor, hilarious drunken anecdotes, pastel locks and signature cackle have won the hearts of more than 6 million subscribers — all of whom agree that Oakley is currently “slaying” the Internet.
As an openly gay vlogger, Oakley has become a champion for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, working closely with the Trevor Project to raise funds for LGBT youth suicide prevention. His success as an activist and vlogger has granted him numerous opportunities, such as meeting with President Barack Obama, collaborating with First Lady Michelle Obama, winning two Teen Choice Awards and being a guest on “The Ellen deGeneres Show.”
“It was everything!” Oakley said. “It was one of those things where you never dream you’ll ever do that, because I used to watch her show every day after school. … To meet an idol of mine was terrifying and scary and humbling, and it was amazing.”
Many of Oakley’s dedicated fans idolize him in the same way that Oakley looked up to Ellen when he was growing up. In fact, it was his desire to interact with his fans that motivated him to go on a world tour.
“I want to go to them,” he said. “When it comes to all the people that make my life what is and give me the opportunities I have, I want to meet them, and I want to see them and go to their hometowns.”
Because Oakley lived in San Francisco before moving to Los Angeles to pursue YouTube full-time, the San Francisco stop of the Slumber Party Tour is one that holds a special place in his heart.
“It is 100 percent like a homecoming,” he said. “When I was living in San Francisco, I had, maybe, just a few hundred-thousand subscribers. Now I’m almost at 7 million.”
While YouTube has given Oakley the opportunity for new experiences — such as writing a book, hosting red-carpet events and creating his own podcast — performing onstage for the “Slumber Party” tour is a familiar feeling.
“All throughout high school, I was in drama club — I was drama club president, and I was in every show,” he said. “When I first started the “Slumber Party” tour, it was like I got to have that feeling again of going out onstage and performing. … I get to have the vibe of the response from the live audience.”
But to Oakley, the most surprising — and rewarding — part of going on tour is seeing his fans interact with one another and identify with the community that his videos helped create.
“It’s not just about me onstage and them enjoying the show — it’s a vibe that the entire audience feels that I’ve never seen exist anywhere else,” he said. “It is something that the Internet culture kind of lends itself to. When I was growing up, I didn’t have Facebook or Twitter — I wasn’t making these communities online. But now it’s where a lot of people turn to when they feel like they may not fit in at home, and to kind of facilitate the coming together of it all is a thing that I never thought would be an outcome of it all. But it’s a great thing that has come from the tour.”
“Tyler Oakley’s Slumber Party” will visit the Warfield Theatre on June 25.
Rosemarie Alejandrino is the assistant arts & entertainment editor. Contact her at [email protected].