Among the expected crowds of celebrities, editors, and buyers at New York Fashion Week a new face popped up—perfectly beat and ready to sit front row at Jeremy Scott, Christian Siriano, and Brandon Maxwell. That face belongs to, Bretman Rock, internet sensation, beauty influencer, and after reading this, your best friend in your head.
With 13.6 million Instagram followers and 6.5 million subscribers on YouTube, the Filipino beauty influencer has become a bonafide star, landing deals with brands like Morphe and Benefit Cosmetics and most recently, attending his first ever New York Fashion Week. He’s also That Bitch, another fact, confirmed by Lizzo herself. She’s just one of the many celebrities (including Ariana Grande and Gigi Hadid) who follow Bretman on Instagram, where he posts everything from pole-dancing routines to science experiments. He once sprained an ankle jumping from the balcony of his Hawaii home and on another occasion, accidentally burned off all his arm hair, all of which he also shared on his feed.
In an industry saturated with copy-cat content and clout chasing, Bretman has maintained his individuality and is beloved for just being himself. From the set of his latest mystery project Bretman, in signature “da baddest” form, talks to ELLE.com about staying true, navigating NYFW, the importance of family, and why you should never be “too wet for the money.”
How was your first New York Fashion Week?
It was my first fashion week and I didn’t know what to expect. And then I got there, I still wasn’t sure what I was doing, really, but it was so fun. I love fittings. I love showing out. At fashion week, you would think people would play with makeup a lot, but people were just going basic as fuck. So you know, it was time for me to really show out, let these bitches know that I can serve looks starting from the face down.
Did you run into any celebrities?
Yes, but the question is did any celebrities run into me? And yes, it was so fun. I legit felt like a celebrity, just being there.
How did you plan your outfits for New York Fashion Week? Did you collaborate with anyone?
I collaborated with Andrew Gelwicks, he’s an amazing stylist and I just felt like he got my vibe. A lot of the things that he pulled out were really up my alley, just very elevated looks. I’m about to spam my whole feed. I didn’t want to overwhelm everyone with the beauty and the grace of Bretman Rock, so you know, I’m taking it one by one.
How did you get into beauty?
I feel like beauty got into me before I even knew what beauty was. I think I’ve always been fascinated by women, colors, and makeup and the whole art of vanity because I would always watch my grandma get ready for church. And I was five or six at the time, maybe even four. I’ve always just loved admiring my grandma get ready and seeing how a touch of makeup made her so much more confident. She walked differently and carried herself differently with just makeup and perfumes.
People value makeup differently. Some people see makeup as an artistic expression, some people use makeup as a boost of confidence. I just think makeup is so beautiful and that it really is art. That’s why I do makeup. Wow. Honestly, that’s the most thoughtful answer that I’ve ever fucking said my whole entire life. I’ve never sounded so smart.
Anyone who follows you on Instagram knows you’re multi-talented. How did you get into pole-dancing?
Oh my god, yes. I’m a singer, song-writer, actor, actress, athlete. Girl, I’m everything. This is really what happened. When I was buying my house, where my pole area is, that was a dining room and I was like, what bitch? I don’t eat. I’m going to be living by myself, I don’t need a dining room. So I was like, what can I do to the space? And then you know what? I was just like, a fucking pole. I bought the pole that same day. I didn’t even have the house yet. I hadn’t even signed the house mortgage, I just bought the pole because it was the first thing that I wanted there. Then I was like I need to learn. My pole area is right next to my living room, so some days I like to do pole workout videos. I feel like deep down I’m supposed to be a stripper, like that is my true calling. The first time I touched the pole I was like, wow, this is electric. This is what I’m made to do. This is why God made me. Fuck makeup. Fuck fashion. I’m a fucking full blown stripper.
My favorite pole dancing video is when you set it on fire, which brings me to…Bretman the Science Bitch.
Bitch bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch! That’s honestly why I haven’t made a science bitch video in a while because I’m fucking terrified, girl. I’m not even making this shit up. When it accidentally caught on fire what you didn’t see—right next to it and I’m glad it wasn’t on camera—was my paper towels. You know what they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You know what I mean?
Did you just want to do experiments one day?
No, honestly, Bretman the Science Bitch was born when Halo Top sent me ice cream and inside the box was dry ice. I’ve always wanted to play with dry ice because in elementary school we had this scientist come to our school, and she wouldn’t let us touch the dry ice because she said it was dangerous. I was like, bitch bet. So my whole life I’ve made that a goal to play with dry ice. Science has always been one of my favorite and strongest subjects in school.
I also love how big of a part your family plays on your account. There’s your sister Mae and my favorite person, your niece Cleo.
Cleo is the funniest thing I’ve ever met in my whole life. Living in Hawaii, I don’t really have other influencer friends, so I don’t really have other people to do collabs and videos with. The most accessible people would be my family. But when people say I’m funny, I’m like y’all have never met my family. My whole family is funnier than me. I’m the least funny in my family, if I’m being honest with you.
It’s fun sharing my blessings with my sister and my mom and obviously, Cleo too. And she’s so famous. The other day I was on her page and I was like, oh my God, how does this two year old have 1.1 million followers? I think Cleo is getting to the age where she knows when she’s being filmed and she’s starting to understand what it is. But at the same time, I really want to take care of her childhood because there are times when she’s playing and people are like, oh can I get a picture with Cleo? In my head, I’m just like, why the fuck do you need a picture with a two-year-old? Let her be a kid, let her run around and play. I mean, it literally takes a second, but I feel like I’m kind of ripping off her childhood, in a way. And as much as I would love her to be in my videos all the time, I want to take care of her childhood and her innocence as well.
What is it about Hawaii that keeps you there?
This is going to sound so cringey, but honestly I feel it keeps me very grounded. It keeps me original and it keeps me as normal as possible. Because to be honest with you, I see how fame and money changes people, and that honestly scares me. It really legit scares me and I never want to change. Hawaii helps me keep the Bretman Rock magic that people see. For as long as I can and for as much as I can, I’m going to stay in Hawaii.
Is there a side of Bretman Rock that isn’t showcased on the internet?
Right now, I’m in my first ever relationship. I put so much out online, but one thing that I haven’t put out there is my love life and that’s something that I want to keep to myself really. Because my whole family’s online. You can fucking search my asshole and it’ll be online.
Do you have any tips for anyone just starting out on YouTube and Instagram?
Don’t follow any trends. Don’t edit like someone. Don’t talk like anyone else. Your originality is what makes you stand out. [The Internet] is always looking for a fresh face, a new face, and I think that’s what made me, me. No one does do what I do and no one will ever be able to do what Bretman Rock does.
And yeah, never get too wet for the money. I would still be doing what I’m doing with 500 followers or with no money in my account. Do it because you want to make videos and don’t ever do it with the intention of making money out of this or getting any type of fame. If, before you even start, you’re already thinking about money, you’re already setting yourself up for failure. But you can’t fail if you just genuinely love what you’re doing.