In “Hey, You Around?” VICE typically interviews dealers about not just what they’re selling, but how they’re doing. But in this particular edition, we’re getting a little meta and interviewing the anonymous proprietor of the popular Instagram account @shottatexts.
For the unfamiliar, Shotta Texts showcases idiosyncratic, melodramatic, and hilarious text exchanges between drug dealers and clients—daily snapshots that offer a flavor of the people who buy and sell through the underground market.
Hey, you around?
24/7... what you need?
For people living outside the UK, can you explain what “shotta” means and why it made sense for your Instagram handle?
The word “shotta” in England is the universal term for a drug dealer. It’s been about for years and years. It originally came over with the Yardies in London, but it’s been part of the culture since the ‘80s. The Instagram handle makes it clear what the page is about.
What was the inspiration behind Shotta Texts? What made you want to start posting these interactions with dealers on social media?
The inspiration came from a mix of real life and seeing similar social media pages. Friends used to send me texts, photos, and videos of funny things related to "the business," so I decided to start blogging them on social media. The page has been going for a couple of years now.
Have you ever worked in the business yourself?
Let’s just say I’m quite familiar with it.
What’s the process behind the account like?
The content is purely submission-based. People send in their texts and I post the ones that I think are funny and are going to gain a reaction from my followers. A simple text won’t really get a reaction; they hit when the dealer shows off a bit of personality. The humor of the page is literally showing how dealers can be just like us and not big scary people. I think you would have to have purchased drugs previously to fully get the humor behind the page.
How has the account evolved since you first created it? For example, I’m noticing more and more iPhone screenshots, compared to SMS texts sent from a burner.
Well, a lot of dealers are using iPhones to conduct business these days. They are making use of social media to gain more clients and show off their product. By using emojis to describe their products in iMessage exchanges, it shows how they can now advertise their drugs like a dessert menu.
Do followers ever think you’re a dealer or ask you for dealers’ contact numbers?
Yeah, this happens way too often. I would love to help, trust me. I understand what it’s like when you’re in a different city and need something, but I can’t put anyone at risk. I never reply to those messages.
Have cops ever messaged you about your account or tried to get more information about you?
Not that I’m aware of, but I’m sure they have seen the page.
Were you ever worried about narc’ing on anyone with these posts?
Never. I always make sure to blur incriminating evidence such as telephone numbers, names, addresses etc. I have had people tell me their shottas have seen the post and weren’t happy, but oh well…
The posts often show that drug dealers are more like public service workers than many would readily admit. Do you think some might appreciate that?
It’s true they are almost like retail workers who are providing a service... but honestly? I don’t really think they care. At the end of the day it’s a job to them. I definitely think the account puts them in a better light because it shows they have personalities and that they make mistakes like the average person. It shows they can make a joke, too. Drug dealers are stereotypically big, scary people, but you wouldn’t believe that looking through these posts.
I think it’s also about the customer with these texts. You can see most have a good relationship with the dealer, almost a friendship, and to me that’s so much better because if you have that kind of relationship, you’re more likely to feel safe and know what it is you’re taking. It’s better than picking up off of a random person you’ve never met.
What posts perform the best on your page—is there a certain type of humor or vibe that rack up the most likes?
The shottas who describe their products like an English exam usually do quite well, as do the shottas who try and flirt with the customer. That always goes down well...
Do you have any recent top favorite posts from the account? What makes them stand out to you?
There are so many. I think recently it was the shotta showing off his Rolex to the customer. It was just a hilarious exchange of texts. Certain posts always stand out a little more due to the engagement they receive. Some of the comments on the posts make them even more funny.
What do you think is the most common mistake people make when messaging a dealer for the first time?
Sounding like an undercover. Don’t just jump in asking for product.... introduce yourself, break the ice. Just be calm.
How many submissions do you get on a busy week or day? Do you think you’ll ever run out of fresh material?
I usually receive 10 to 15 submissions on a daily basis, and I try to post as often as I can. Quality over quantity, though. I don’t think I’ll ever run out of material, as long as drugs are around.
Your account also notes that there’s a podcast coming. Can you tell us more about it? When’s it dropping and what’s the focus.
The podcast is coming soon. Not an official release date yet though. It’s going to be, let’s say, drug-related. It’s in the works at the moment we’ve got plenty of ideas with this. It’s been requested quite a lot so I’m trying to get it out pretty soon.
Do you have a personal worst experience with a dealer?
I’ve been very lucky with my experiences, but I’ve had the same as everyone else, when that 20 minutes turns into two hours. I think everyone can relate to that one.