In this episode of “Going Out With Jake Cornell,” host and former NYC hospitality pro Jake Cornell chats with media personality Tefi Pessoa. Going by the name @hellotefi on social media, Pessoa is well versed in the world of pop culture and nightlife trends. The two discuss run-ins with celebrities, how going out changes in your 30s, and the problem with club promoters.
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Jake Cornell: The question to ask. The thing we’re here to talk about? What does going out mean to you?
Tefi Pessoa: Oh my God, it’s constantly evolving. It’s constantly evolving. There are moments where I’ll tell somebody I’ve gone out five times this week and one of them will be a movie date with my girlfriends to “Syndicated.” Nothing crazy. Another one is like, I went to my friend’s house because she’s getting dumped or there’s a situation with the relationship. I went to her house, you know? Another one is I go to Berlin, which means Black Flamingo in the basement. That place is very intense for me. Everybody there looks like that one roommate in “Parks and Rec,” the goth one in the corner. And I’m wearing this.
J: There’s something so special about that place that you love that you know you don’t technically belong.
T: They know I don’t belong.
J: Aesthetically, this is not for me. But I do come here often.
T: I know it’s not the best attention, but it is attention. And then another one will be like, I rode the Citi Bike. So I was drinking and I was like, “I have a handle on it,” anxiety-wise the next day. Recently I was like, “Why do I have to have a handle on it if I could just like, kick it?” To me, going out has changed since I turned 31. If I’m not in bed by 9 p.m. — and I was never this b*tch…
J: Damn, 9 p.m., Tefi? Single digits.
T: Woo! 9 p.m., getting in the shower, getting ready to oil my body, sitting down to watch “Pride and Prejudice.” Betwitch me, body and soul. Before, going out to me meant making fun memories, taking good pictures, maybe a picture for Instagram, and getting drunk. Doing something embarrassing, see my friends do something embarrassing, getting home at 4, 5, 6, a.m. Now, going out to me, if it f*cks with how I’m going to feel tomorrow, I’m not doing it.
J: So we’re moving from a pattern of extremes to a pattern of a lot more consistency, is what I’m hearing.
T: We’re moving from being a feral degenerate to a human person that has to do stuff during the day. So I can’t look like I was stunned by 100 bees. Because that’s what happens.
J: Macaulay Culkin at the end of “My Girl.”
T: That’s what I f*cking look like. I look at pictures of myself from when I was 25-26; haggard.
J: It’s wild. I have something that happens the second I have had one alcoholic beverage, there is something that changes very specifically on my face that I can see in photos. I can look at any photo from the time I was 17, when I started drinking regularly, until now. I can look at any photo and I can tell you whether or not there was any alcohol in my system based solely on the soft tissue beneath my eyes. What’s happening right here will tell the entire story.
T: I literally look like Steve Buscemi in “Billy Madison,” one has the eye on the prize and the other is watching for the bridge of the nose. Very much so. He takes the lipstick and he goes like this. And that is me after two sips of wine. But then looking like that, I’m like, “How come nobody wants to kiss me?” I think when you’re like 22, you’re like, “Aww, she’s slutty?” That’s so sweet.
J: She’s new.
T: Oh my God. The fact that I’ve gone to bars that I haven’t been to since before the pandemic and they’re like, “Oh, you’re the girl that always showed everybody your tits.” I was like, that does sound on brand. I’m like, “Are you sure that’s me?” And they’re like, “Honey, the mole.” Many people have a mole.
J: The curse of being gorgeous is that people will remember you.
T: It is my cross to bear.
J: You’re that stunning.
T: Those unforgettable tits, oh God. Do you want to see them?
J: Oh, dear. I think it is so commendable watching you go through this kind of journey back and forth with drinking and with exploring sobriety. The way that it gets handled in the public eye, or just in general talking about people’s relationship with alcohol, it almost kind of reminds me how it used to feel about sexuality. I remember when I was a teenager, if you even communicated that you were remotely romantically curious about the other gender, then you were gay. Similarly, if you even toy with the idea that alcohol is a problem for you or that you want to cut it out, then you have a drinking problem. Do you know what I mean? You either are totally chill and cool with it, or there’s a problem. I think it’s really cool how you have, for the past year now, existed in a gray area, and quite publicly. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anyone else do that. I’ve seen a lot of people get sober publicly. There’s a very consistent narrative to that of, “I got sober and everything got better.” Which is great, and I think people are getting sober is obviously objectively a very good thing. But there is something really powerful about existing in that gray area and being really open about that.
T: Do you know what f*cks me up, Jake? The people in college that were wild or always f*cked up are the alcoholics of today. And that was like 10 years ago. Or more, 13 or 14 years ago. They’re exactly the same when it comes to how they drink. I said this on TikTok, too. When I was a teenager and I started drinking; you’re drinking so fast in case you get caught or the cops show up to the party. So you’re trying to get f*cked up as quickly as possible.
J: It’s a limited resource.
T: I’m 31. Why do I have to pre-game before I go to Friendsgiving?
J: The ultimate red flag is me, over the age of 25, being invited to a pre-game. I’m sorry.
T: I go! I love myself a pre-game. But I looked at it and it’s definitely a confidence issue. I’m going to say this, I think that sobriety-wise, people would be more worried about me if I wasn’t so open about it. I’ve never gotten, “Come on, just drink.” Probably because of our age.
J: Also just the conversation now. If I ever saw someone be like, “Oh, I’m not drinking right now,” and someone else say to them, “Come on, just have one,” I would absolutely be like, “What the fuck?” I think we just all know that that’s a kind of unacceptable behavior.
T: Like what I have to say about my antibiotics. It’s like how I have a boyfriend when somebody hits on you. And the people are like, “What do you have antibiotics for?” And I’m like, “Strep.” And they’re like, “You shouldn’t be at this party.” Oh, for more reasons than one, you have no idea. I think it was a confidence issue when it came to alcohol when I was young, because I want it to be fun. I should have never watched “Coyote Ugly,” that’s for one. When I looked at people in movies, I didn’t want to be Kirsten Dunst in “Bring It On.” I wanted to be the dark gymnast new girl.
J: We wanted Eliza Dushku.
T: Exactly. In more ways than one.
J: I just want to say, Eliza Dushku late 90s, early 2000s, for me was the gold standard of hotness. Faith on “Buffy,” I couldn’t handle it.
T: Oh, my God. I’m a big “Buffy” girl.
J: Don’t even. Every episode, 10 times, maybe.
T: Sometimes I think about her and I’m like, “I hope she’s OK.” It’s Sarah Michelle Gellar, and another part of me is like, “No, she’s Buffy.” But I’m sorry when Willow’s girlfriend died.
J: Couldn’t handle it then and now and then.
T: Spike’s character arc.
J: Well, yeah.
T: Talking about this makes me want to drink.
J: You’re in therapy and are like, “So I started drinking.” Yeah, I talked about Buffy for 10 minutes.
T: That episode when she’s having sex with her boyfriend and she’s lost in sex and they’re in a dream world.
J: Oh, in the frat house. Oh my God, it’s beyond anything that has happened. I’m going to paint a picture for you, Tefi. This is a formative part of my sexual awakening. This is when I felt puberty hormonally start in my body.
T: If you say Seth Green.
J: It’s not Seth Green. Imagine if I’m just like, “I was in without a paddle.”
T: His legs are so short. I love him, though.
J: I love him so much. It was not Seth Green. I moved a lot as a kid. In one of the houses that was one of my childhood homes, the second floor of the house was a balcony. It only went halfway across the house and my bedroom was on the balcony and looked down into the living room. When I was a kid, I would sneak out of my bedroom and stand against the wall and watch what my mom was watching on TV for hours. Whatever she was watching late at night. So I would watch her watch old “Conan,” old “Leno,” “SNL,” “Survivor,” “Law & Order: SVU.” After 9 p.m., I would be against the wall.
T: You’re my nightmare.
J: One day I hear she’s watching something. I’m like, “Oh, I’ve never heard this before, this sounds fun.” I slid out. I’m 9 or 10 years old. I slide against the wall. On screen: Sarah Michelle Gellar.
T: No! Selma Blair.
J: Selma Blair.
T: She follows me on Instagram. I died.
J: The surprise of when you get a follow like that, it destabilizes you to the core. I sometimes get dizzy.
T: At the VMAs, I was sitting behind Lance Bass, A.J., and Nick Lachey. I literally was drinking my water like this. They had no idea.
J: I’m so curious about the VMAs. Were people drinking at the VMAs?
T: No alcohol allowed, thank God. I mean, I was drunk. I went to the bar across the street before. I think it’s just because I felt a little out of place. I felt a little out of place. It was me and my best friend, and we never missed the VMAs, and now we’re here. I totally felt like I had been working my ass off so I could be here. It almost happened too soon, like your first day of freshman year. Woah, I’m just a kid. And then sitting behind me was Bretman Rock, and Dove Cameron was next to me, and Chloe x Halle.
J: No, that’s insane.
T: And I’m there and I’m squishing my water bottle in my hand. Molly is like, “Oh my God, Lil Nas X is coming up and he’s right there.” Kacey Musgraves is right there. And I’m like, “Oh my God, they’re going to look at the list and realize they made a mistake that I’m here.”
J: But then you showed everyone your boobs, and they let you stay.
T: I mean, that’s what I do everywhere. Before they even asked for my ticket. I’m like, “Titties?” I hate the word titties.
J: That’s not a word that I, as, like, a gay man, feel comfortable. A woman can choose to say that word, but I’m not going to just throw that word out at someone who’s not asking for it.
T: I think what’s really crazy, though, is me and my titties being at the VMAs and people recognizing me is weird. It’s always going to be weird. My go-to move is I hug them, but I grab the back of their hair to my bosom. I don’t know if it’s good or bad.
J: Wow. That’s your approach to people recognizing you.
T: People go, “Oh my God, are you Tefi?” and I go straight for the chest. I go for contact. I don’t ask for a vaccination card or anything. Straight to the chest.
J: Do you like that about yourself? Are you like, I need to stop doing this sh*t? I’m genuinely asking, because that’s not my approach.
T: Jake, absolutely, I don’t like that about myself. Sometimes, when I go somewhere with another TikToker or whatever, they do a little, “Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you.” And here I am like, “Hello, my sweet baby. What’s your zodiac sign? I love you. Do you want to take a picture?”
J: You need to take care of them.
T: I don’t understand. They assume I’m drunk and I’m drinking, and I’m like, “No, this is me sober.” That’s who I am. Do you know what’s crazy? People will send me photos of myself while I’m talking to my best friends.
J: That’s my biggest fear because I do so many videos in the park. My biggest fear is a video of my f*cking ass running around Fort Greene Park, selfie-videoing. Selfies.
T: They’re different takes?
J: Oh, I’m shooting for an hour. TikToks are one minute long. I’m filming in there for an hour.
T: I do one take and it’s done.
J: Yeah, you and I are different.
T: Yes, you do a skit. It’s different. Is it a Jetta?
J: To me, Jetta is gay and I don’t have anything to back that up, but they are gay to me. When I was 12, literally I was like, “Goals: Win an Oscar. Be in a movie. Own a Jetta.”
T: Fly JetBlue. To me, JetBlue is so f*cking gay.
J: Oh, JetBlue is gay. But do you know what the gayest of it all is, and I gotta do it once? Virgin.
T: You’re Jesse in the Pussycat Dolls.
J: I took Virgin first class to London back and forth. I had a friend who worked there and she got me the hookup. I cried both times on the plane. And someone asked me if I was OK and I said, “This is just so nice.” It was beyond anything I could have imagined.
T: I flew first class from London back to New York, and they were like, “Oh, do you want anything to eat?” I was like, “I’ll just have whatever is available.” Like a pasta or a salad, usually. And they’re like, “No, no, no, you get to order.” What if I had a coconut shrimp? We’re on the air. What would you do?
J: They’re going to stop by the “Lost” island, pick it up, and get back on.
T: Throw the net out. But I got to recline all the way down and watch “Bob’s Burgers.”
J: On my flight, a very lovely woman came over to me and said, “Would you like to go to bed now?” And I said, “Sure.” They flipped my whole pod into a twin-size bed. She laid me down in it. She tucked me the f*ck in, buckled me over the tuck in, and then tapped me on the head and said, “Sleep well.”
T: That’s what I thought summer camp would be like.
J: I never got to go to summer camp because I wasn’t willing to poop outside of the house until I was 10.
T: Are you Jewish?
J: I am sort of Jewish. My grandfather on my mom’s side was Jewish but converted before I was born. So I have Jewish ancestry, but no upbringing.
T: Every Jewish girl I’ve ever met in New York learned how to suck a dick at summer camp. Where the f*ck was I? They talk about how good they are? That’s too much. The most I do, if you’re my boyfriend and you’re like, “Oh, can you suck my dick?” I’m like, it’s not your birthday.
J: In high school and college, there would come a time where a female friend of mine would pull me aside to be like, “I have to ask you a question.”
T: A gay guy taught me how to suck dick by sucking on my thumb and telling me what to do.
J: Oh my God, wow. Pre-Covid, we were fucking rotten. He sucked on my New York City thumb.
T: Do you know I learned how to suck a dick at 23? What do you think? I was 15 and I had a boyfriend that, when we were making out, I started trying to do this.
J: While we’re talking about it, if anyone young is listening or, an adult, don’t push down the head. Unacceptable behavior.
T: Also, don’t listen to this podcast. At least this episode. So we would park in his mom’s — what were those square cars that had the hamster commercial — the Kia.
J: Was it a Kia or was it that other one? Was it a Scion?
T: It was a Scion.
J: You’re from Miami?
T: Yes, born and raised. And I was literally and figuratively in the lap of luxury. I was like, “This is it, this is fantastic.” And then I was faced with the PP, and I was like, I have no idea what to do. Actually, I think he said, “Ow.”
J: All right, it’s over.
T: It’s done. I remember his name is David, and he made us all call him Gay-vid. We were a class of 68 people and 60 of them were gay. So I guess he had to make a name for himself somehow. I was like, “I don’t know how to.”
J: And he said, “Stick out your thumb.”
T: He goes, “Stick out your f*cking thumb.” And you know what else I was? I was a nail biter. And he did it. He did it for me. It was insanity, but I was in theater class, obviously.
J: The real health class in high school is theater. That’s the true health class. To circle back a little bit earlier, your public visibility has grown enormously over the past year.
T: I’m in denial. I feel like no one is going to listen to this.
J: Everyone’s like, “OK, I am going to hang up the phone.” This is not fun. Hang up the phone, that’s what I call it when you stop listening to a podcast. But I am curious how you handle it. In terms of being out on the town, out at the restaurant, out at the bar or wherever you are. How has it been getting recognized, getting approached. How has that been for you? How have you navigated that? Obviously, we’re pulling everyone into our bosom. But overall, I’m just so curious. Because I don’t get to talk to people about this.
T: I don’t know why I’m Madonna and child it. I don’t know. If I’m at a restaurant and somebody comes up to me and they’re like, “Hi,” I’m immediately excited. So I’m really excited, I’m really happy. The only times I get nervous are when I’m waiting for an Uber and I have nowhere to go. I have to stay here and I’m like, “Oh, f*ck.” Oh, I’m so sorry to hear about your dog.
J: Do people come to you with the emotional sh*t?
T: They come up to me crying.
J: I don’t have your strength. I couldn’t handle that.
T: That’s really why it started with the holding. If I could pick them up, I would. So I’m never nervous. Sometimes I need a hug, too. But in my mind, I always tell people, I try to be a 100 follower b*tch. I remember this interview with Lady Gaga. I think she was talking to Barbara Walters, and she was like, “What’s it feel like having like 80 million followers?” And she’s like, “If you say that again, I’ll never be able to upload anything ever again.” Even though I don’t have 80 million, even when I got to 80,000, I’m sorry, 80,000 people walk into your house right now, you’d be like, I have to leave. My house has been taken over. It’s like a stadium. So when people are like, “Oh, my videos don’t get any viewers,” I’m like, if 30 people walked in your living room right now, you’d be overwhelmed. So the thought of your video getting a million views, 2 million views, and then being shared to Instagram and then Twitter is kind of crazy. And I just feel very grateful, but I never, ever want to acknowledge how many followers I have. Honestly, if I never get one more, I’m fine with that. I like the people that I have.
J: I feel the same way, honestly. I don’t know if this was your experience. But trying to do this, working at comedy and working at performing and all this stuff for so long, you view these things as a success marker and think that they will mean something when you get them. But they are numbers on a screen. Truly just numbers on a screen. The more human stuff is what is actually so much more fulfilling, and the opportunities and the experience and stuff. I think it is definitely a red flag if you were starting to derive pure serotonin from the numbers.
T: That’s also what Instagram showed us. I remember my picture getting to 11 likes and being like, “Ooh, that was close.” That would have been very embarrassing. But there is this idea that a certain number means certain success with a video, or going viral. There are so many videos that I come across on someone’s page and it has something ridiculous. I saw a video today and it had 36 million likes. I’ve never seen this b*tch in my life. That must feel crazy, though, that 36 million people are looking at your couch boyfriend.
J: May God rest their souls.
T: I would die. You had a viral video that celebrities were talking about, that your boyfriend was cheating on you. Absolutely cheating on her 1,000 percent. Are you f*cking kidding me?
J: We all saw the video.
T: We all saw the video, I’m sorry. Let my grandfather see you not stand up when I enter a f*cking room. He would literally “Jungle 2 Jungle” you immediately.
J: Do you know who I was pissed at when I watched that video? Do you know who I was really f*cking mad at? Whoever the f*ck opened the door and knew she was coming.
T: Oh, that’s right.
J: The second that video started, I was like, “I’m sorry, we didn’t have a warning.” Hey, get off her phone. There was no way of knowing that it was going to be what it became. But if I’m the person that’s planning my friend’s girlfriend showing up as a surprise, I’m doing a little, You’re the producer, you’re hosting. You need to make sure that the run of show goes smoothly. Why is he cuddling next to someone else on someone else’s phone, not prepared?
T: Why does she have your f*cking phone? Do you know what kills me? If my best friend or my partner walked in and surprised me, and my friend had my phone, I wouldn’t give a sh*t because I’m not doing anything. The fact that that was so secret, that’s f*cking weird. It’s not weird. If you’re sitting with your friends on the couch and she has your phone, you guys are looking at it. It’s normal to check. It’s the energy of it. They didn’t do anything wrong, it’s the way they did it. So that’s what kills me. And also, these are college kids, right? So they’re using Snapchat. There are so many smarter ways to cheat. You’re going to have them in the crib? Get the f*ck out. Open up your Snapchat app. What could you guys be looking at on his phone? If I would have walked in, and he didn’t stand up, on a pretty low futon.
J: You can smell that futon. We all went to college.
T: I can smell. But this is what kills me. I know those people, we all know them, and they’re getting by on the technicality. That’s what kills me. The technicality of like, “Technically, I didn’t do anything wrong. I was hanging out with my friend.”
J: Do you know what really pisses me off? They’ll weaponize it and say, “You’re saying that he can’t sit next to another girl.” And they try to make it that you’re a misogynist or something. No, watch the tape.
T: I’m a feminist, because I’m trying to stick up for her. You’re the misogynist trying to make us feel stupid. And also, the girls that say that, I hope he texted you, babe. I hope it was worth it. Please. Every time I see a pick me comment, I immediately imagine them in a peplum top.
J: Peplum is the uniform of evil.
T: Yeah, it is. Have you watched “Mad Men?” Everybody that you hate on “Mad Men” is wearing peplum. It’s the absolute uniform. If I wore peplum that way, it would be my origin story. I would absorb the peplum into my personality. Why do some women still dress business casual at the age of 21? I will never know.
J: This is starting to bring up something that I’m very curious to talk to you about. I’m formulating this at the moment. Where did you go to college? Did you go to college?
T: I went to four. I went to four for a minute and I kept dropping out. My poor mother, I just couldn’t do it.
J: It’s not for most. It’s honestly not for most and it’s so expensive.
T: But my college years were spent in Miami.
J: Going out, I feel like the college I went to was very straight. I did not have a lot of queer people around. I did not get to exist in really queer spaces until I moved to New York. I lived in England for a year.
T: Were you out?
J: Oh yeah, I came out my junior year of high school. So I was out. I went to UVM, it’s in Burlington, Vt. Any Vermont gay who could get out, gets out. There’s just nothing happening there, or there wasn’t at the time. This is all to say, I was around a lot of young, straight people existing as a bystander to the early 20s going out nightlife, dating, mating, ritual dance. What was your experience in that hellscape of a world?
T: It was dark. But also, I wish I went to a college town.
J: You’re in and among the pros.
T: I’m in Miami. So the nightlife reminds me a lot of when I hear people talk about Vegas. The people there that work in Miami are either wealthy, like investors, banks, whatever, or something to do with nightlife and events. They work regular jobs like a cosmetologist and administrative. But the people who have the most money or who are the most successful are people who, generally, work in nightlife and with hotels and clubs and restaurants and stuff like that. So these promoters are picking out girls like sophomore, juniors in high school. And they’re plucking you out. The promoter is prevalent in Miami. I’ll tell people, “I met a guy, but he gives me the worst promoter energy,” and you immediately know what I’m talking about.
J: This might be controversial, but we need to abolish that system.
J: I hear about how it works in New York, and you pay a man to go find 20 19-year-olds.
T: A harem of women. You don’t ID them, you don’t care about their personal safety.
J: A hostess at this restaurant I used to work at would tell me things. She would be like, “Oh yeah, I went out to an iconic club in the meatpacking.” I was like, aren’t you 19? She’s like, “Yeah, I go with a promoter.” We all get free dinner and then I’m there ’till 4 a.m. on bottle service.
T: I’ve been clubbing since I was 15.
J: That is insane, Tefi.
T: People are like, “Oh, it’s because you’re tall.” No, no, no. My friends, who were very much 5 ‘1, were clubbing with me. It was the availability and also everybody that surpasses a certain age and wants to do something, that sh*t gets tired and tacky. So they need to like Scott Disick. Do you think that somebody his age is going to party with him and not be like, this is so tacky? This is very boring. Like Kourtney with Scott. So he has to hang out with 19-year-olds. Those are the only people that are impressed by that sh*t.
J: And you have to keep it in rotation, because it doesn’t seem interesting.
T: If you and I were like, let’s go on a brand trip, and we see Scott Disick and he’s popping Ace of Spades for breakfast. You and I would be like, no.
J: Do not let me be in the back of this Instagram.
T: I would be like, “Did they run out of green juice?”
J: Do you want to hear one of the most humiliating stories I can tell about myself?
J: When I moved to New York, it was me and my two best friends. We got an apartment together. My best friend, David, had to come three months later because he had to finish his lease back in Vermont. So we sublet his room out to this girl who I’m still friendly with, she’s amazing. But she had gone to school in New York and she’d just graduated college and she had a million friends and she was super connected. Me and my friend, Holly, just moved to New York. I had a miserable job, I’m depressed as shit. And when I’m not at this job, I’m trying to figure out how to live my life. No friends, nothing to do, no money. You know, you were there.
T: Oh my God, what did you say? No money. I do want to rap Iggy Azalea. Whatever, keep going.
J: One night, this girl Eleanor was like, “Hey, me and my friends are going to go see Tyga at a club tonight perform, do you want to come?” She caught me in the one month of my entire life where the answer to that question was yes. Do you know what I mean? I have nothing else. Yeah, I’m going to go see Tyga.
J: I’m so depressed that I was like, “Yes, a fun plan, I’m down.”
J: We get on the train, we go to the club. My friend Eleanor was like, “I know the person at the door, we’ll cut the line, it’s all good.” Sure enough, we got there, there’s a huge line. We see the person at the door who I cannot name but is very famous now. They are a very famous actress now. They see her like, “Oh my god, Eleanor.” They welcome us over. She turns to the security guard and she’s like, “They can go in.” We go to cut in, you know I get a stiff arm. Why? Because he’s wearing shorts. No one told me, my Vermont ass had no idea. They’re cute shorts.
T: I don’t doubt it.
J: He’s like, “You can’t wear shorts in here.” The person at the door is like, “Oh yeah, that’s non-negotiable.” So here’s the thing, I haven’t done a fun thing in three months at this point, I will be getting into this club. So I turn, I’ve had like three drinks, so I’m like, I got this. I thought I was being cool at this moment. So I do turn to the two of them and I say, “You guys go, I’ll be back in a minute.” And I turn to the person at the door and I’m like, “If I’m back in a half an hour, will you let me cut the line again?” And they were like, “Sure.” Tell me I did not hail a cab to the H&M in Times Square. Tell me I didn’t do that.
T: I’ve had one of my worst mental breakdowns in that H&M.
J: I don’t think you’re alone in that because I sprinted through it, found a pair of skinny khakis.
T: I’m done. Check, please.
J: I changed in the back of the cab that I took back. So I took a cab from Chelsea to the Times Square H&M, bought skinny khakis, and took another cab back. I’m $120 in the hole. I show up. I walk up to the door of this club, skinny khakis on my fuckin shorts in my armpit. And I’m like, “I’m here.” And they’re like, “OK, go in, you f*cking freak.” I go inside. This club is absolutely slammed. You cannot get a drink for your life. I count no less than nine men in shorts who have been let in. And then I’m like, “When’s Tyga performing?” It’s not so much a Tyga performance as it is actually just Scott and Tyga filming “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” in the VIP.
T: I’m dead now.
J: So it’s actually just a lot of people watching Scott and Tyga sit on a couch with spotlights on them, milling about. And people trying to get into VIP, so they end up on “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” And I was like, so I do have to leave. You can’t even get a drink here. I spent $150 that night.
T: That’s a lesson for me every time I’ve gone out, from the age of 15 to 31, so this is 16 years of being in the mud.
J: You’re seasoned.
T: Veteran, I should have a plaque, like YouTube plaques. I should have stayed the f*ck home. I can count on my hand the nights where I was like, “That was a good f*cking night.” We call it a top night. That was a top night, ladies, when the Uber’s dropping us off. Maybe five times in my years.
J: The lesson you learned is that you are not one for the nightlife. As much as it loves you, maybe you don’t love it.
T: Honestly, it’s very draining to be this person that I put myself in. Nobody gave me this title. I put myself in this title.
J: But it’s who you are. Don’t blame yourself for being who you are. It’s just like who you are.
T: Especially the men in shorts, I want to take care of them. And I want to be like, “You belong here. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. Come with me. I’m going to give you a little shot.” We’re going to have a good time and you can tell me all about her and why you’re here with three other men.
J: Are you the oldest of your siblings?
T: Of course I am.
J: I see you. We had to keep it all down. We had to keep everyone running. We had to make sure everything was functioning.
T: I also was a chain smoker. There are many people in Miami and the majority of New York that know me as a smoker.
J: How long ago did you quit?
T: Well, time is manmade. It depends. I’ll have a cigarette with a glass of wine now. But when’s the last time I had a glass? I’m not smoking the way I used to. I was just ripping them like Helena Bonham Carter in “Fight Club.”
J: You’re taking care of everyone else, so I’ve earned my punishment. I’ve earned these cigarettes because they did a good job today.
T: Also, you could smoke in Miami nightclubs until very recently. I was at Liv talking to my favorite bartender and I’m smoking and a bouncer comes up and takes out my hand and puts it under a shoe. And I said, “Excuse me.” He said, “You can’t smoke in here anymore.” Nightlife is dead. Nightlife is f*cking dead.
J: You’re the Carrie Bradshaw of Miami, it sounds like.
T: Or the Mike Waxowskit. Nightlife is dead. This is my distress. This is my gym. I take care of everybody. I get absolutely obliterated and I smoke my little pink Camel No. 9. That was my sh*t. I don’t want to smoke English tea. I wanted to hit. So that was my sh*t. When I got to New York, I took a year break from partying and then I got right back in that f*cking gutter. But in Miami, there are no pubs or bars that you go and hang out at. It’s clubs. For Cindy Lou’s 16th birthday, we’re at Mokai, Set, Prime, Liv; we’re talking all of it. So that’s what you were doing. I’m telling you, I look at pictures of myself and I look like the way you’d imagine a stuffed animal to look when it’s hot in lava.
J: Just melting?
T: I’m talking basset hound realness couture, for sure. I’ve been drinking a gallon of water a day since I was 15, and even that couldn’t help a b*tch out.
J: You were really putting the pedal to the metal, like road hard, put away wet.
T: And I’ve really only dated people who are like “Pamela & Tommy.” Those are really the only people I’ve ever f*cking dated that are like, push it to the limit.
J: Are you doing the proper emotional work to prepare for when “Pam & Tommy” drops?
T: I’ve started on the series already.
J: They look so good in the photos.
T: And the way that they are so toxic. I think when you’re young, you want to. Then when you’re older, I’ve told people, I want my career to be so stimulating and so fulfilling and so passionate and so chaotic. I have so many opportunities and so much that I want to do, and I want my home life to be the most mundane. I’m talking “Wizard of Oz,” black and white.
J: You want to go home to the “Wonder Years,” or like TV Land.
T: I want to go home and I want to be like, “Oh, well, let me rewatch this one episode of ‘Grey’s.’” Or, I love this episode of Olivia Pope, you know, “Scandal.” No thinking, sleepy time, calming. But I want my career to be so insane and I think I’m on my way. I literally haven’t slept in a month.
J: You’re absolutely hauling ass.
T: Do you think I look like a busy person? Because to me, I feel like I’m not doing enough?
J: That’s insane. But I also feel the same way. I constantly feel like I’m a lazy piece of sh*t that’s not doing anything.
T: Jake, I think that you are probably one of the most creative people I’ve ever met.
J: That is very kind of you to say and thank you, but I think that’s just innate to what we do.
T: And I know Gloria Estefan. I’m saying that and I know Gloria Estefan.
J: Watch there be a headline that’s like, “Jake Cornell says he’s more creative than Gloria Estefan.”
T: I hope you f*cking run with it. I hope you put it on that f*cking tee. Gloria Estefan, I’m coming for your spot.
J: I’m like, get on your feet and run. I’m coming.
T: In my Jetta. I feel like everybody in Miami had to do a book report about Gloria Estefan at some point.
J: That’s so funny. Same for Vermont, but it was Paul Newman.
T: But I think that for you, the way that you communicate is like I’m watching a television show.
J: Thank you. I get what you’re saying about how you can feel busy but it’s not enough, because you’re so aware of everything, like your break times and your downtimes. And also, when you’re doing creative work, you have to set aside time where you might do something and sometimes you don’t get it done. Do you know what I mean? You have to set aside a time where you might write something or you might get a video together. But also, there’s a chance at the end of that time, nothing came together. And that still has to be OK.
T: Yeah, I have a team of people that work for me and I have an assistant. Sometimes I look at my assistant and I’m like, “Do you feel busy?” She’s like, “Yeah, I’m really f*cking busy.”
J: You have a team of people working for you, that’s become where you’re at. Have you taken a second to look at that and be like, “Oh sh*t, like this happened.”
T: I feel like they all hate me. It’s crazy for my manager to be like, “You are my top-performing talent.” That’s crazy. And then I’m like, “Do you have other talents? She’s like, “Yes, I have a f*cking roster.” But that’s crazy to me. I know people that have a bigger following than I do. And they are so stubborn and refuse to get representation. I don’t understand it, because I feel like they feel like that’s selling out. Many people think that. I’m like, “Why don’t you do it?” And they’re like, “That’s selling out, I don’t want to be too Hollywood.” I’m sorry, that is not being Hollywood. Do you know how many times a brand has told me we don’t have a budget and then my manager comes back and be like, “We’re going to do it for double digits.” They found a budget.
J: Of course, that’s why you have them, that’s their job.
T: You don’t wanna be a bad guy. So you need somebody to be a bad guy. My manager says that she gets about 500 emails a day inquiring about working with me, and that’s crazy to me. That’s insane, right? And not one of them is Robert Kardashian asking me out. I love him. I would shame my ancestors to be with him. I love him. He’s my No. 1.
J: The emotion, he’s your No. 1. Rob Kardashian’s your No. 1. You’re willing to have your partner’s ex, be a “Cheetah Girl,” and you have to carry that with you.
T: That’s my man and I’m gonna stick by him.
J: What about him?
T: I love that he’s silly. I think silliness is the hottest thing in the entire world. I’m not talking about an immature man. I like maturity.
J: You want goofy.
T: You know when you’re taking care of somebody, but they don’t need you to take care of them. It’s the joy of it. Somebody who has their sh*t together but has silly moments with you and can be goofy and dorky with you, I live for it.
J: Kris needs to hear this, because you need a show with Rob.
T: Can you imagine?
J: Yes, I’m imagining right now.
T: So this is the thing. When people ask you, “What do you want to do?” Everybody that I know on TikTok, by the way, is like, “I can’t wait to never do TikTok ever again.” So my friends are like, “Tefi you ever think about leaving TikTok?” Oh, you mean when 16-year-olds DM on Instagram threatening me if I don’t continue a f*cking series about Miley Cyrus? Tefi, where the f*ck are you? I’m literally peeing. Can I drink some water, please? What do you say?
J: I think it’s a little bit different. I’m an actor and a writer, so it’s like film and TV. And writing my own shows to be on, doing my own stuff on stage. That’s it. That’s where I want to be. I’ll probably always be throwing funny videos and characters up online, when the idea hits. I’m thankful to now be in a place where that doesn’t feel like it’s everything. During the pandemic, that’s all I had, this TikTok and this Instagram. That was really scary because it felt like the algorithm on my career and the algorithm owned my entire success. I do feel like I have moved past that, which I’m so f*cking thankful for. You literally had to learn to suck dick again for the algorithm.
T: And nobody sucked my thumb. Nobody showed me.
J: But you get it.
T: The people around us that were getting banned. I would drop to my knees in prayer. It’s all I had to really show. Because there are people that use TikTok as a diary. There are people that use TikTok as fun times. But the majority of people that want to do something, use it as a type of portfolio, so like a resumé.
J: Yeah, that’s where I’m at. That’s how I’ve always viewed it as, this is a platform on which I’m putting my comedy and the stuff I make. But I don’t want you knowing my personal life. That’s not what’s up. I’m not for sale here. What I make is for sale, and that’s the difference. It is scary to see. I think I’ve seen some people, and I’m sure you’ve had this as well, they just haven’t thought about that. And they’re really posting whatever. Once you cross that line, it’s crossed.
T: But then once you cross that line, people think they have a right to it. So my rule is, if it’s happening, I won’t talk about it. If it happens, I’ll talk about it. Because that means I’ve moved on. But if it’s happening, I won’t talk about it.
J: Because you’re not ready.
T: Or I haven’t even processed it myself. I’m going to let Suzy Lou in Florida tell me what she thinks? No. I think I’m so tired because when people ask me, “What do you want to do?” I want to do everything — besides music. I want to host TRL and I want to write a book and I want to have seminars and I want to do charity work. I want to do it all. But that’s the thing. If you did want to be in music, if you did want to be a pop star, there are certain opportunities that would come your way. And you’d be like, “That doesn’t align.” But for me, I think it might align. I can’t say no.
J: Now you just have to follow your gut. I am going to ask you what you want to do. But in a different context to wrap up. After you learned all this about yourself, you’ve kind of gone through all of this exploration with nightlife, with going out with sobriety and stuff, just paint a picture for me of your perfect night out right now.
T: Oh, my God, my perfect night out. I’ve had many recently. My perfect night out is going to a restaurant. I have a group of eight best friends, but I don’t call them best friends. I call them non-negotiables. So I have eight non-negotiables, and I take them out to dinner and we all share good news. And these are eight people in my life that are never jealous, they are very excited for me.
J: In your bones, I say the people in my bones.
T: Exactly, your marrow. So we go around the table and we always do this thing where we say, what is the best part of your day? And then we used to do the worst part of your day. But we’re like, let’s not even give that little bi*ch a little bit of attention. We go through it and I get a f*cking steak and we have a little bit of wine. And then afterwards, we all look at each other like, “F*ck it, let’s go to the f*cking bar.” And we all go and we tell ourselves, we’re going to have a night. All of us have one cocktail. We’re like, “We’re f*cking exhausted.” We go back to Molly’s house — one of my best friends — and we watch a movie and we all fall asleep. And then I call my Uber and it’s 1 a.m. and I go to sleep. And I paid the bill because I can, which is the best feeling ever. And you go to sleep and you’re in your bed and you’re like, “I have good people.” I could have that same night with the Olsen twins and would be like, “This sh*t f*ucking sucks.” It’s your people, you gotta invest in your tribe.
J: That’s such a beautiful use of what you’ve achieved. That you can have that moment, have that cocktail, have that meal, and go to bed while you can still f*cking remember it? And take a moment when you’re on your pillow to kind of bask in it for a second before you go to sleep.
T: I guess at this age, too, I’m just like, I’m so f*cking bloated and I have rosacea. I have one glass of fuckin wine and I look like a red panda.
J: If they told the girl about rosacea freshman year of college, sobriety would be nationwide.
T: Forget it, Tuscany would be broke.
J: Do you remember junior year when the rosacea started to show up? Early 20s, rosacea started to peep out and you were like, “What’s happening?”
T: Oh, absolutely. I looked like I just ran a marathon and I lost and I was being chased by a man with an ax. The black teeth photos, no, no, no. But I will say also, at the end of the perfect night out, I open my DMs and there’s that mean b*tch from high school, and she’s asking me to repost something for her business. And I just close it and I go to sleep. Why are you making straw hats? You’re a nurse. It doesn’t get better than that.
J: Well Tefi, I adore you, truly. Thank you so much for being here. I hope you have another one of those perfect nights out very soon. And let’s also have a perfect night out together very soon.
T: If live, laugh, love wasn’t so cringe and made me want to die, whatever the cool version of that, you are to me.
J: Oh, thank you.
T: I’ll see you later. I’ll text you.
J: We’ll send some voice notes.
Thank you so much for listening to “Going Out With Jake Cornell.” If you could please go and rate and review us on whatever you’re listening to this on, that would be really gorgeous for me in a huge way, so thank you.
And now, for some credits. “Going Out With Jake Cornell” is recorded in New York City and is produced by Keith Beavers and Katie Brown. The music you’re hearing is by Darbi Cicci. The cover art you’re probably looking at was photographed by M. Cooper and designed by Danielle Grinberg. And a special shout-out to VinePair co-founders Adam Teeter and Josh Malin for making all of this possible.