Watch Out VidCon Tana Mongeau Isn't Letting Anyone Stand In Her Way
Tana Mongeau is a YouTuber, best known for her story time videos. She has also released several popular songs and has appeared in a successful YouTube Red series, Escape The Night. Mongeau is also a controversial figure who frequently uses offensive language in her videos, has had several feuds with other YouTubers, and dozens of her videos have been demonetized because of inappropriate content.
But she’s much more than just another YouTuber out to shock you. After several bad experiences at the biggest YouTube conference in the world, VidCon, she decided to make her story public and soon found that she was receiving overwhelming support from both her fans and fellow creators.
Several fans suggested that she host her own event and they started the hashtag #TanaCon on Twitter, which soon started trending.
What started off as a joke soon became a reality when a promoter, Good Times Live, approached her about actually doing it.
TanaCon, would be a more inclusive event and feature both controversial and up and coming YouTubers, who were shunned by VidCon.
Her fellow creators loved the idea and soon friends, like Bella Thorne and Shane Dawson, were asking her how they could be a part of the event. The guest list now includes some of the biggest names in the business, including: Casey Neistat, Miranda Sings, Ricky Dillon, The Gabbie Show, Emma Chamberlin, and more.
All of this took Tana Mongeau less than 40 days to organize.
Not bad for a girl who couldn't even get into VidCon.
Tom Ward: The reason that I wanted to sit down with you is TanaCon. What was shocking to me was that you put this together. No disrespect to you, but you were the last person I’d expect to arrange a conference to rival VidCon.
Tana Mongeau: Laughs. I could not agree more. There’s VidCon, there’s BeautyCon, there’s Playlist Live but those are all company-based things. There’s yet to be an influencer doing a big American convention.
Ward: Why not?
Mongeau: I don’t know but I don’t know why it’s me. It shouldn’t be me. It should be Shane Dawson or some family friendly YouTuber, like The ACE Family, or Jake Paul. I could not tell you why it’s me, but I’m so lucky to be in this position and using my platform for changing the industry.
Ward: I think it’s cool because it’s the opposite of VidCon. You’ve got DJs. You’ve got more controversial creators who wouldn’t go to VidCon.
Mongeau: One hundred percent. And there are people who’ve had horrible experiences at VidCon that want to support for that reason. I like to think of it as something younger. It’s definitely more controversial and crazy. I mean it’s me; what do you expect? Laughs. I think one thing that VidCon was doing wrong was really only focusing on the OG, older, creators and not including that new younger creator. I think my main mantra of TanaCon is just being inclusive. It’s for everyone. It’s young and it’s fun . I’m excited!
Ward: Talk about the story which led you here. You were at VidCon three years ago and there was an incident.
Mongeau: Long story short, they told me that I could come to VidCon, and be welcome, and I showed up and immediately fans started swarming me.
Ward: But creators aren’t allowed to walk the floor because they’ll get mobbed. So, how come you weren’t sequestered with the other high profile people?
Mongeau: Because they ended up taking the featured creator badge away from me, once I got there, which is really messed up. They entice me to go there, and then I finally show up, and they’re like, “We ran out. I’m so sorry.”
Ward: But that’s not safe for you either.
Mongeau: Not only that, but they pulled me aside and told me, “Listen you’re a safety hazard. You can’t do this.” They took me off the property and told me that they’d charge me for trespassing if I did it again. So then I ended up leaving and they told me that next year would be different and as long as I kept growing; they’d make me a featured creator. So now VidCon is coming up for the second year, and this is where it got horrible. I ended up being on a YouTube Red show, called Escape The Night, with Joey Graffeca. And Escape The Night ended up working with VidCon to be the main face of VidCon that year.
Ward: Yeah, when you walked in VidCon last year there were giant posters of Escape The Night everywhere.
Mongeau: Yeah, the building was covered in everyone’s faces, all ten cast members of Escape The Night, including mine.
Ward: You were on the poster too?
Mongeau: Yes. My face was bigger than it probably ever will be, across the building. And they ended up featuring every creator but me. So, I was so upset.
Ward: So, was it the same deal? You get there, you don’t get your creator badge, and you were mobbed by fans?
Mongeau: Yes. They pulled me aside and told me that I was a safety hazard. Then they said, “It’s two years in a row; how can you do this? You’re a walking hazard. Get out.” I replied, “But my face is everywhere.” And they said, “Get out now, but come back for the Escape The Night panel later.” And when I came back they made me walk through the mob to get to the panel. But then they pulled me aside and said, “How dare you do this.” And I told them, “There’s no other way to get to the stage. You won’t give me this dumb badge to let me go behind the scenes.” So after the second day, I was walking to another panel that I had to do. and I got mobbed, and they took me in the back.
Ward: You showed up the next day? You were a trooper.
Mongeau: I had to. I had obligations. And I love meeting my fans. It’s my favorite thing to do: meeting the people who support me and make everything possible. So, I didn’t want to let my fans down. So, they pulled me aside, and there’s police. It’s serious. And I’m balling my eyes out. And I’m like, “Why are you doing this to me? Why am I not good enough?” And they said, “We can’t tell you.” And after a while, they made me a little fake creator badge and told me that I’m OK. And then this year they told me they didn’t want me. It was one of the worst experiences of my life. It was horrible.
Ward: When did you decide that you were going to do your own thing this year?
Mongeau: Even after all of that, I was still very afraid of standing up to them. They’re one of the biggest corporations in our industry. It’s so much easier to just bite the bullet and try to go back next year.
Ward: You’re almost like an abused woman who says, “He’s going to change next time.”
Mongeau: Exactly! That’s exactly how they made it for me. Literally, the first year they screwed up so horribly, but told me that next year was going to be better. Next year was ten times worse. I told myself, “Don’t worry the third year is going to be so much better.” They said to me, “You’re going to be a featured creator. We’ve got you. We’ve put you through hell.” Then, like three months before VidCon, after I’ve promoted it; they tell me that they don’t want me there. They said that I’m too much of a safety hazard. And that’s not what they want.
Ward: So when did the planning process start for TanaCon?
Mongeau: When I found out that VidCon didn’t want me back for the third year, I debated making that video (her YouTube video where she shared her bad experiences at VidCon) so many times.
Ward: Did you film it and just not post it?
Mongeau: So many times. I’d chicken out because everyone was telling me, “Don’t do it. You can’t go at the biggest name in our industry. You’re the little dog in comparison to them.” But then I thought, “I’m not going back anyway, so what do I have to lose?” So I sat down and filmed the video. I wanted my fans and followers to learn from my experiences. I wanted to laugh through the pain. I’ve always been that kind of person, so I uploaded it.
Ward: So you did that first, before you even thought about TanaCon?
Mongeau: Yeah, I just wanted to tell my story. I wanted to tell what was wrong in the industry, instead of this façade that everything is fine. So, I made a little joke that I’d have a meet and greet in a parking lot across from VidCon, for my fans. And people just started tweeting #TanaCon and kept telling me to have a convention. And I was laughing about it, but I didn’t think it was possible. But then a friend of mine, Michael from Good Times Live, reached out to me and said, “You’re crazy if you don’t do this. Let’s do this. Let’s make it happen.”
Ward: And that was this year?
Mongeau: That was 40 days ago. Maybe 30.
Ward: You didn’t have any lineup, anything rented, nothing?
Mongeau: Absolutely nothing.
Ward: That’s pretty incredible.
Mongeau: I’m a pretty last minute person, but this was extreme. And then, all these traditional influencers started posting their bad experiences at VidCon. All these people were making video responses to my video. I had chills. I was like, “If these creators are so supportive, and this company wants to help me, then why not take a stab at it.”
Ward: Have the last 30 days been crazy setting all of this up, having meetings, etc.?
Mongeau: I have never worked so hard at something. There is no sleep. It’s down to the color of the cups at the party for the creators on the second night. Who gets what hotel room, what flights? It’s every little thing. I want pink glitter on the floor. I want small glitter. It’s mind-blowing that I have to pay attention to every little detail. But it’s my name. It’s TanaCon. And if anything bad happens, bad security or whatever, it’s on me. So, I’ve been putting my heart and soul into making this the best that I can.
Ward: Talk a little bit more about it. Who’s going to be there, how much are tickets?
Mongeau: All right, shameless self-promo, let’s go! Laughs. The ones we have publicly confirmed now, and there are a ton more, are: me, Bella Thorne, Shane Dawson, Casey Neistat, which is huge. He’s huge. He’s the face of traditional media and he’s coming to TanaCon?
Ward: And he’s promoting it too. I just saw him on Twitter talking about it yesterday.
Mongeau: Yeah, for him to believe in me is incredible! A lot of David Dobrick’s crew are doing it too. Emma Chamberlin is blowing up now, and I’m so grateful to have her too. The Gabby Show is huge. Ricky Dillon, an OG creator, is big! He was probably at the first VidCon.
Ward: Are all these people doing VidCon too? Do you have to be in one camp or another?
Mongeau: No. That’s how I thought it would be in the beginning. But no. All these creators, who were doing VidCon, were reaching out to me to do it. It’s crazy.
Ward: And you’re making free tickets available, which is cool. VidCon doesn’t do that.
Mongeau: God no! Honestly, it’s insane for me to give away free tickets. I don’t think profit margins are great when you’re giving away free tickets! Laughs. But I wanted to give that option because I remember being younger, and wanting to go to all of these conventions, and not being able to afford it. And I don’t always think that the experience of meeting your favorite creators should be something that costs hundreds of dollars. We all sit down in front of a camera to talk to these people because we want an audience. Why do you need to be paid thousands of dollars to take a picture with someone or hug them? People love this. Let’s try to offer some free tickets. And we also have paid options too.
Ward: You have different levels.
Mongeau: Exactly. We have" Featured Creator" tickets and "Featured F------- Creator" tickets.
Ward: Laughs. Is that what it’s really called?
Mongeau: Yes, the "Featured Creator" tickets are free because everyone is a featured creator.
Ward: That’s nice! Everyone’s a featured creator.
Mongeau: Yes, I wanted that inclusive feeling. I want the fans to know that just because we have a microphone; we’re no different from you. I remember being in their shoes. That was kind of my mindset while planning all of this.
Note: TanaCon was a complete shitshow and 15,000 people showed up, without tickets, and security cancelled the event on the first day. There will be a follow up interview to discuss what went wrong.