- Caroline Calloway, the controversial Instagram influencer, disputed the essay written by her former friend and ghostwriter Natalie Beach Friday night.
- Beach's tell-all essay, which accused Calloway of being a manipulative friend, went massively viral earlier this month. Before that, Calloway drew controversy this past winter for holding $165 creativity workshops that were derided as scams.
- On Friday, Calloway also leveled new accusations against Beach, who she accused of framing their relationship in a misleading way.
- Calloway was a guest during a live taping of the Red Scare podcast. Like Calloway, the show has turned viral infamy into a lucrative business.
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BROOKLYN, NY — Caroline Calloway had come to spill the tea.
Those were her words, not anyone else's.
Sitting onstage at the Bell House in Brooklyn Friday night, the Instagram influencer made her first major public appearance — and first public statements outside of media interviews — since her former friend and ghostwriter, Natalie Beach, wrote an essay in The Cut documenting their toxic friendship.
Beach's tell-all essay, which accused Calloway of being a manipulative friend, went massively viral earlier this month. Before that, Calloway drew controversy this past winter for holding $165 creativity workshops that were derided as scams.
Addressing a packed house Friday, Calloway disputed some central facts about Beach's telling of events and hurled a few new accusations at Beach.
For one, she said, Beach was paid her share of Calloway's advance on the deal for the book Beach was meant to help ghostwrite, and unlike Calloway, Beach never had to pay that amount back when the deal fell through (Beach didn't doesn't disclose specifics of how she was paid for the book deal, but wrote that she had difficulty getting Calloway to pay her for other work).
"Natalie not only got 35% of the advance up front, which was maybe a little less than $20,000," Calloway said. "She also got that advance with the legal agreement that if something fell through, I would have to pay back my part and hers. So she not only got that money, she got it forever."
Calloway also disputed Beach's characterization of her wealth. In her essay, Beach wrote about being awed by Calloway's wealth and privilege and contrasted it with her own "railroad apartment that was sinking into the Gowanus Canal."
But on Friday, Calloway said Beach had several family connections in media. Calloway said Beach's aunt is Lucy Kaylin, the editor-in-chief of Oprah Magazine, where Beach has been published multiple times (an article published by Beach's father in the New Haven Register appears to confirm this).
Calloway made these revelations at the Bell House during a live taping of Red Scare, a "dirtbag left"-adjacent podcast with a relatively small but cult-like fanbase of urban millennials. Its hosts, Anna Khachiyan and Dasha Nekrasova, take a shock-jock approach to cultural commentary (the podcast's merch table Friday was selling "Red Scare" shirts designed to look like the ISIS flag decorated with raunchy women's silhouettes).
In many ways, the conversation between Nekrasova, Khachiyan, and Calloway felt like jarring culture shock. In contrast to Red Scare's edgy, irony-drenched schtick, Calloway's social media presence is entirely earnest.
As she sat on stage in an off-shoulder white crop top that could be plucked from an idyllic influencer's feed, Calloway repeatedly cut herself off and went on tangents. She seemed uneasy with the rowdy Red Scare audience, who regularly heckled her to "get to the point" as she teased "tea" about Beach.
Prodded by the hosts, Calloway opened up about her past Adderall addiction, which she said affected her interactions with Beach and all her other friends throughout her 20s. At one point, Calloway said, she was taking 90mg of Adderall per day, which she got from shady clinics throughout the city.
"If you want to get Adderall in New York you type 'Adderall' into Yelp and filter by worst star ratings first," Calloway said.
Despite the stark differences between the Red Scare hosts and Calloway — who apparently arranged the Bell House event after meeting each other for the first time Thursday night — they share strikingly similar careers: they have found a way to turn viral infamy into a lucrative business. Nekrasova and Khachiyan, who revel in sparking outrage among others on the left, rake in over $14,000 per month on Patreon.
Meanwhile, Calloway openly acknowledged that recent controversy has been profitable, hinting that she intends to sell the rights to her story to a studio. Beach is reportedly already doing the same thing — Calloway said on Friday that Beach has sold the rights to her essay to a studio adaptation headed up by Ryan Murphy for over $1 million, although it's not clear whether Calloway was joking.
"With everything that's happened since I was exposed as a scammer, I can't lie, it's been good for business," Calloway said. "Now I can sell my story for way more than my original book deal ever was."
Calloway revels in the spotlight she is able to whip up among her haters, supporters, and onlookers. Before the Bell House event began, I posted an offhand tweet about the fact that I would be covering it. Within an hour, Calloway — who doesn't appear to have a Twitter — had posted a screenshot of my tweet on her Instagram feed.
"Me after playing the media's obsession with me like a violin," she wrote. "Thanks in advance for the story that probably won't be flattering but I hope is flattering @businessinsider !!!!!"