What's It Like to Be an Internet-Famous Stoner?
Stephen Payne is a 45-year-old guy from Canada who's become so famous for doing bong rips and dabs that he's sponsored by a weed company and has more than 90,000 YouTube subscribers.
Stephen Payne is a 45-year-old guy from Vancouver, British Columbia, who's been taking bong rips on the internet since 1997. In that time he's built something of a brand around his own version of suburban stonerism with a blog, a live show, and 92,268 subscribers to his YouTube channel, Marijuana Man. See the trailer below if you want more on that.
Nearly all his videos, as you might have guessed, feature Steve getting fried on a variety of bongs supplied by his sponsors. And most of the 569 videos are shot in what looks like his parents' basement, wearing mostly pajamas, which for me is the issue. Sure weed is cool and I'm all for legalization, etc., but how do you reconcile that kind of Big Lebowski lifestyle with the responsibilities of actually living? Surely the guy has more going on when he's off-camera. So completely aware of how old and bitchy I am, I gave Steve a call.
VICE: Hey Steve, am I getting misled by your videos? Is weed all you do?
Stephen Payne: Weed is seriously all I do. I have a store that sells weed, but it's not always a sustainable lifestyle. It's against the law to sell here, but no one seems to care. They did me five years ago though. Meanwhile I'm still open, selling to the people.
And you're sponsored to smoke?
Yeah, Sublimator is my sponsor. They provide me with all that I need to smoke. I purchased my first one and was just promoting them on my own, then they contacted me. Now they give me their latest stuff so I can show it off before it hits the market.
Did you make up your nickname, Marijuana Man?
No, I was on Yahoo back in the 90s before YouTube time, and my fans used to call me the MJ man, and then Mary Jane man. By the time I came to use YouTube, Marijuana Man was the name the people mostly referred to me as.
How stoned are you right now?
I'm not all that high at the moment since my last dab was on the boat. I try to always be going in or coming out of a smoke, so I'm always in this lucid state. It's all a good time.
Your last dab was on a boat?
Yeah this morning we took the boat out into the ocean and smoked up. We just do dabs out on the boat and hang out in the water between all the tankers. But when I'm stoned I'll do pretty much everything and anything you'd normally do, I'll just be high when I do it. I usually try to function as normally as I can.
Can you describe what role weed plays in your life?
Its plays a pretty big role I guess. It's my job and my hobby and something I never grew out of. I'm 45 and have been smoking now for 23 years, I don't want to say I'm an addict, but I definitely smoke like one. I'll smoke between ten and 15 dabs every day.
If I said "weed is an adolescent hobby" what would you say?
I don't see a problem having weed as a hobby. I also think the only ones who go crazy are the ones who were always going to go crazy. You usually go crazy when you become an adult, and I don't think that's because of weed.
What does your family think of your job?
My mother couldn't care less. She isn't that big on marijuana, neither is my father. They live 2,000 miles away, but we're still close.
And your partner?
I've got a girlfriend and she smokes too, she likes the habit. I've also got a wife but I don't talk to her. We got married ten years ago, and it only lasted six weeks. Kind of Vegas-style. I don't like her that much.
Do you have any children?
I got two boys. One is six and the other is three. When they are older I don't care if they smoke. They're pretty restricted at the moment, and they don't watch TV or play video games. When they get older they can do what they want. Their mother keeps things pretty strict and has them trained well, but as far as weed goes they can smoke it.
Tell me what it's like to be internet famous.
I don't feel famous at all. I guess I'm recognized within the smoking community though. It's all good times after that.
Do you like your fans?
Yeah my fans are pretty chill. They're pretty entertaining really. They keep sending me videos of themselves pulling bongs and dabs, and they leave some pretty funny comments. Half of them could actually out-smoke me. That's all I feel the internet is good for, that and porn. Porn and snuff movies and everything that's dark is what the internet is about.
Yeah, I saw this video of you smoking in the bath. What the fuck was that?
The fans love that stuff, anything that people don't get to see or is a little unique does well. I try not to look back on anything I've posted.
Do you think you'll ever stop smoking?
I stopped for eight months when I was working at a grow-off, but now I've got corporate sponsors supplying me with weed, so I don't have to worry about any dry spells.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Still smoking lots of weed hopefully.