This is part of a special series, The Future of Fame Is the Fan, which dissects how celebrity became so slippery. It’s also in the latest VICE magazine. Subscribe here.
“If you saw a fight out on the street right out here, wouldn’t you wanna know what happened?” Jennifer Lopez asked former Hot 97 host Angie Martinez in a 2014 interview. The answer was obvious. “People are just nosy,” Lopez said. “And you just gotta know that when you’re in this business.”
The megastar singer and actress has been the subject of our ghoulish prying for years, from her time as the Jennifer half of Bennifer, to her most recent status as the fiancé of former Yankee Alex Rodriguez, who may or may not have been two-timing her with the Bravo reality star Madison LeCroy. Celebrity gossip pages like Deuxmoi and Bravo and Cocktails have dissected every social media post, every Instagram Story, every DMed tip on Lopez, A-Rod, and LeCroy to smithereens. And we’ve savored every ounce of lukewarm to piping-hot tea on the subject, because the gossip is too hard to pass up. Curiosity is baked into our DNA, and when it comes to those whose lives seem unattainable or ensconced in a privilege most will never know, it’s fascinating to see the cracks in the marble.
We know gossip is terrible and damaging; it hurts people; it can cause significant ripple effects in real people’s lives. We can recall the days of Perez Hilton or Princess Diana and understand that the thirst for gossip can be insatiable to the point of nastiness or tragedy. More recently, we learned how a nasty tabloid culture (and a fucked up family) deeply affected Meghan Markle’s mental health. Still, all the world engages, from Instagram pages dedicated to reality stars to the New York Times. This press cycle rages on regardless of place, language, or who reaches stardom in a certain country or culture, even as the method in which the gossip is delivered has evolved over the decades and as our views on celebrity have shifted—and the entire world wants in on the secrets.
UNITED STATES + CANADA
How it works: Since its start in 2006, Bossip set the standard for coverage of Black celebrities in the U.S. and beyond. While their Instagram is a popular destination for those seeking Black celebrity news and gossip, it’s on Twitter where they have really cemented their stronghold. It’s all thanks to brilliant, alliteration-heavy headlines that truly make you rethink your work as a writer or professional funny person; you could never re-create their genius.
Vibe: With headlines like “MAGAchella: Beyoncé Tether Taylor Swift Used the Unseasoning Stone and a Marching Bland to Gentrify Beychella and Got Banished to the Alabaster Abyss” and “Swirlin’ in the Deep Innit? Adele Allegedly Getting Her Mezzo-Soprano Cakes Smashed to Smithereens by Skepta, Twitter Is a Bloody Mess, Bruv,” you know the vibes.
Hateration in the dancery for: Karens, racists, and any cheeks and/or cakes that are not being smashed to smithereens. Honestly, at this point, Bossip owns the word “smithereens.”
What the comments section is like: Everyone is basically losing it all the time responding to the headlines. How can you not when they so often choose delightful chaos such as “The Karen JUMPED Out: Lana Del Rey Calls the Manager on Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj and More… Gets Miracle Whipped to Saltine Smithereens.” Can you blame?
How it works: Dedicated to Black celebrities and the famous who like to dip into Blackness (a.k.a. every Kardashian/Jenner and Iggy Azalea), the Shade Room shares gossip, breaking news, memes, Stories, and TikToks, as well as dramas between A to Z list rappers, actors, singers, athletes, influencers, and every other randomly famous person. They also share uplifting stories of Black people, celebrating their businesses, inventions, love stories, and moments of joy. (I have actually cried at the #ShadeRoomProposals; that shit is sweet as hell.)
Vibe: The page built itself on delivering exactly what its name promises: shade. They must have a staff of 500 gossip elves working round the clock, because they catch every screenshot, Story, petty comment, breakup, and endless back-and-forth between two beefing celebs, keeping the feed flowing like a broken fire hydrant so the thirst for gossip stays well-quenched.
Hateration in the dancery for: The Shade Room, being a shady place and whatnot, has historically been called out for creating a toxic environment specifically aimed at the LGBTQ community and for sharing tasteless posts, including one of Chadwick Boseman photographed looking much thinner months before dying from colon cancer. They do enjoy stirring up the comments section with a shady prompt here and there, through their #TSRGreatDebatez, including whether tinfoil is a proper lid or if women should be making the first move more often (and if that’s “the energy” men want). But it’s at its most questionable when they seemingly provoke hateful speech and misogyny.
What the comments section is like: Where else can you find Michael B. Jordan, stars of Love & Hip-Hop, and someone with the username sandy_asscheecks all sharing their two cents? The comments section is constantly popping off, and depending on the topic at hand can range from hilarious jabs to actual acts of kindness to stuff that makes you question humanity. That’s the internet, baby! But also, I’m pretty sure they could do more to not incite homophobic, transphobic, and misogynistic rhetoric.
How it works This page, also dedicated to the goings-on among Black celebrities, has both a regular Instagram page and a “dark room.” The Dark Room is subscription-based and has three tiers of gossip. Ostensibly, this is where the real dirt is unearthed, but you can probably find the same free of charge on other sites, like the infamous gossip and lifestyle forum Lipstick Alley.
Vibe Sometimes the page can feel unnecessary, but the second they posted the photo and video outing the Real Housewives of Potomac husband Michael Darby, in his underwear, IN A HOTEL, with a woman who is most certainly not his wife, it made a strong case for itself. This page regularly chooses violence. However, there’s a lot of gossip about Gossip of the City, some calling those behind it liars and scammers. Much to consider.
Hateration in the dancery for The “Gorilla Glue girl” Tessica Brown, who hit the site with a cease and desist order after GOTC claimed she faked the whole thing. The site also claimed the cease and desist is fake, but Brown and her legal team assured TMZ it’s very real.
What the comments section is like Mostly messy and sort of aggro, but sometimes points are made. In one recent post, the page creator (I assume) invited everyone who doesn’t “like the content” to unfollow “because we will not be posting crazy tea on here. That will be on Patreon” and called anyone asking for more exclusive content “selfish.” Seems intense.
How it works: When it comes to the stars of the Bravo cinematic universe—and a selection of A-listers or Bravo-adjacent celebrities and reality stars—this page delivers every nook and cranny of beef from the lives of Bravolebrities. There are memes galore on the main feed, but Stories is where they go in on the real gossip, collecting fan DMs or sourcing from the likes of Deuxmoi and other gossip pages. For reality TV fans, it’s a must. To paraphrase Bethenny Frankel, this page isn’t afraid to mention it all.
Hateration in the dancery for: Madison LeCroy. The Southern Charm star is particularly catching heat from B&C lately following the aforementioned rumors about her and A-Rod. Every move she makes, Bravo and Cocktails has something to say about it, and it’s usually a drag.
Vibe: Kind of mean girlish, but it’s hard to argue with who gets a taste of the Prosecco Princess’s pettiness, including Hilaria Baldwin and her alleged Thpanish fakery. The snark is heavy here.
What the comments section is like: The embodiment of the loudest, shadiest cackles you’ve ever heard in your life. Kind of takes you back to the high school cafeteria.
How it works: The UK truly set the standard for tabloid culture at its most vicious, and rags like heat and Closer are still out there doing the devil’s work of delivering the exploits and outfits of UK celebs like Gemma Collins and various footballer’s wives. But The Shade Borough and other UK celeb pages have come to disrupt that, with the Shade Borough following in the footsteps of its American predecessor, The Shade Room, posting tea, memes, and breaking news with a focus on Black British culture.
Vibe: While it shares much of the same DNA as The Shade Room, The Shade Borough has been evolving itself into more of a media page. There’s still the gossip people enjoy, but it seems to be more entertainment-news oriented.
What the comments section is like: Surprisingly chill, though not completely devoid of petty comments.
How it works: Similar to The Shade Borough, UK Gossip TV shares news, memes, celeb social media posts, funny videos, and beefs, focusing mainly on Black British celebrities and some of their white (or purposely ethnically ambiguous) colleagues in fame-dom. The stars they post are mainly of the rapper/singer, reality star, footballer, influencer/model variety. There’s a shirtless pic of David Guetta on the grid. He looks great, but did people want this?
Vibe: This page seems to lean a bit heavier into chaos, with shadier posts, prompts, and moderate shitposts, including one knocking a mum for not being able to afford to put “carpet in her yard” while buying her kids designer clothes. (I tried googling what carpet in the yard meant in this context and couldn’t figure it out.) Considering how often and for how long UK gossip rags are unrelentingly cruel, this page seems light in comparison, and they seem to engage in fewer anti-LGBTQ posts than other similar pages. It can still feel chilly in this shade, however.
What the comments section is like: They run the gamut from sweet to mean-spirited, but there’s also some hilarious bangers in there. One post is a screenshot of a woman’s tweet in which she admits to being catfished by the love of her life, whom she met on Facebook, and who only used memojis when Facetiming her. Someone called her a “dunce.” I just think it’s funny how the word “dunce” is still in such heavy rotation in the UK.
ASIA + THE PACIFIC ISLANDS
How it works: Korean celeb news is big business, and sites like Koreaboo and Soompi deliver all the types of breaking news and articles that keep ardent K-pop and K-drama fans fed. Dispatch, too, is a hub of news about Korean stars, but also has a somewhat pure tradition that has set the page apart: Every New Year’s Day, a celebrity couple is revealed. This year, the lead stars of the hugely popular K-drama Crash Landing on You announced their romance. According to VICE editors in Asia, Korean celebrities tend to be extremely private about their dating life, so these announcements are a huge deal. But also recall how you felt when you found out Freddie Prinze Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar were dating in real life. Big swoons!
Vibe: Breathless and fan-oriented, in a sweet way. Imagine yourself at your most 13, fawning over Titanic-era Leo or Jennifer Love Hewitt. That’s the vibe. Slumber party.
What the comment section is like: Based on the above, you can venture to guess. Lots of pink heart emojis.
What it’s like: One of the biggest celebrity gossip rags in India, focusing especially on singers, reality TV stars, and, of course, Bollywood actors. The page and website mostly share news stories and standard celebrity gossip (hot couple alerts, breakups, pregnancies, new product lines, etc.).
Vibe: According to VICE editors in India, blind items (in which gossipy stories about celebs are reported without naming names) are huge in the country, and it’s the main vehicle in which gossip is shared while avoiding legal issues. On Pinkvilla, there’s a section devoted to blind items called Guess Who. Bollywood is a major force in the magazine industry, with actors “treated like gods,” per our editor, so anyone speaking out of turn on someone’s personal life can have major consequences for their job or the actor’s well-being. These blinds were heavily criticized last year after one Bollywood actor died by suicide.
How it works: This gossip page run by friends Annie McIntosh and Luis Luna also has an accompanying podcast in which the two add sassy commentary on the lives of famous Mexicans and Americans. The Kardashians and Jenners get heavy airtime on their page and the pod, proof there is no border strong enough to protect any country from that family. Telenovela stars and other big Mexican celebs also get dished on by the duo, but also Skeet Ulrich and Lucy Hale recently were covered, which feels a bit random. They do Stories critiquing red carpet looks with funny Spanish-language internet videos and old Mexican ads, and it’s pretty incredible.
Vibe: The page has mega WhatsApp group-chat energy, where one person drops the celeb news and then everyone gives their opinion on it with some snarky, funny comments. They’re not really breaking any news or unearthing any secrets, but just offering their two cents in a way that feels like chatting with your bestie.
Hateration in the dancery for: This one ugly dress singer Becky G wore to the American Music Awards. What the comment section is like Same vibe as the hosts; observational with a bit of snark or fawning energy.
How it works: Alerta Bogotá is your garden variety newspaper gossip section, focused on celebs in Colombia. The gossip tends to be kind of icky, ran-dom, or mean-spirited. Think Britain’s infamous Daily Mail or the Sun. The Instagram page tends to focus on news, so the gossip is all found on the website. They should get someone on making an IG page.
Vibe: One of their front page items was bikini photos of a 70-year-old woman famous for playing a child and a story on a busty DJ/influencer named Marcela Reyes who posted a video of herself showering. The headline contained a pun mixing the Spanish words for “personality” and “chest.” Noice.
Hateration in the dancery for: They really seem to hate on or routinely objectify women, so I suppose they’re following in the long, storied tradition of the celebrity gossip rag—it’s all stories about famous women, mostly centered on what they’re wearing or not wearing.
How it works: One of my closest friends, who is Ghanaian American, explained that most news in Africa is intrinsically gossipy, and celebrity content tends to be even more so. OMG Voice started out as a small media company attempting to become the BuzzFeed of Africa, and has positioned itself as “The Voice of the African Millennial.” Between their Ghanaian, Kenyan, and Nigerian pages, they post entertainment news, gossip, news stories, and some unsettling prompts mostly focused on sex and LGBTQ issues.
Vibe: The atmosphere is a bit gnarly on these pages, swerving into extremely homophobic and transphobic territory often. And again, there’s a fascination with morality, power, and sex. Prompts are seemingly created to bash on alleged gold diggers, sluts, and queer people. It’s got the vibe of an outwardly nice but very conservative auntie who casually mentions who may or may not burn in hell.
What the comments section is like: They seem to turn off the comments quite often, which makes sense considering the posts.
How it works: Calling themselves “Nigeria’s leading online media,” Legit NG shares news, entertainment, and human interest stories in their posts. There aren’t really any messy prompts posted to gain that sweet, sweet engagement; the page keeps it mostly light, with birthday messages to celebs and prompts like how people like their plantains. This is a nice place.
Vibe: Extremely pure, for the most part. Every other post is a lovely congrats or well wishes to their ultra-famous subjects. One post showing the Nigerian singer-songwriter Oritsefemi reconciled with his wife after she accused him of cheating was captioned, “We love to see love win ❤. Congratulations to the lovely couple.” What the hell is this place? A gossip page… being happy… for celebrities? Wild shit.
What the comments section is like: A morning WhatsApp message from your mom sending you blessings for a good Tuesday.
Follow Alex Zaragoza on Twitter.