40oz VAN: Interview With The New Digital Pornographer
If you’re a fan of the female form and you frequent the NSFW side of Tumblr, chances are you’ve been to 40ozvannyc.tumblr.com [NSFW]. Named for its founder and curator, Joel “40oz VAN” Fuller, the site features user-submitted pics of voluptuous women in the nude or pretty close to it. All the women pictured on the Tumblr reflect his personal taste in the fairer sex: thick, Latina, with an exhibitionist streak.
Like other Internet impresarios before him, the 24-year-old 40oz VAN has turned his passion into a profession and his name into profitable brand. GIANT recently spoke to VAN about his new-found celebrity and business endeavors.
How do you describe what you do? I’m the guy who has the plug at the music label or clothing brand that helps connect the dots between corporate and the streets.
Did you have a 9 to 5 before all of this? What’d you do? Why’d you quit? I worked stock at Banana Republic [womens] when I was 19 for about five months, I hated it. I promised myself I would never work retail again so I reevaluated my goals, got my mind right, and stepped my hustle up.
How did your Tumblr start? What inspired you to do it? It started off as just for fun. At the time everyone was either faking the funk as fake professional photographers on Flickr or re-blogging pictures of high end clothing on Tumblr, I chose Tumblr [as a platform]. I gave it my twist though— like every normal guy, my phone is filled with nude pictures received from beautiful women. I gathered the best ones and started dropping them daily. The feedback was filled with love and amazement. I added a contribution email beneath my headline for submissions and before I knew I hit close to 7 million page views in a year from 210 countries worldwide.
What made you such a connoisseur of Latin women? I guess you can say I’m a product of my environment. I’m from the Bronx originally (residing in New Rochelle now) so voluptuous, caramel complexion, Hispanic women Is what I grew up on.
Where do you get most of your submissions? From the women who’re featured? From their ex-boyfriends? Their “managers?” Your homeboys? I receive them from all angles. ‘Til this day I still lay down the ground work personally via text, those are the best ones, the amazingly sexy shy girls who just need that boost of confidence to send out a nude picture.
How does your girl feel about all these other women sending you naked pics? I hear it all day from her, but I’m like Omar Epps, I’m “In Too Deep.” You can’t change a players game in the ninth inning, you feel me?
It seems that you’re a big fan of late ’90s and early ’00s street rap, who’re some of your favorites? I always looked up to Jadakiss as that older brother I never had. As a teen I absorbed all the science he would drop in his tracks and fill in whatever I was lacking. You can add Dipset, The Lox, CNN [Capone-N-Noreaga], Cormega, Big Pun, Mobb Deep onto that list of my influences.
You’re also closely tied to some of the best new artists of this generation, who are your personal favorites? I’m riding with the home team, so out of the new guys I’m placing Action Bronson & A$AP Rocky on pedestals as present and future greats. Peace to Flatbush Zombies, Smoke Dza, Bodega Bams, Joey Bada$$, Al-Doe, Curt@in$, & the rest of the homies representing NYC.
How much traffic has the site gotten so far? What’re some of your milestones? Hitting that first million views blew my mind. I just hit 7 million from countries I’ve never even heard of. I’m mentally hungry, so 7 million isn’t enough for me, I want to double up, then double up again.
There are a lot of Tumblrs dedicated to beautiful women in various stages of undress, why do you think that yours is so successful? I keep it organic and realistic. The girls being posted are actual girls that anyone can bag. A lot of these Tumblrs showcase professional shoots with watered down up-and-coming models— I’m not even about that life. My choice of music also helps, from classic DJ Clue freestyles to mainstream MMG tracks, there’s always something being posted on there for everyone.
Tell me about the 40oz Bounce gatherings, how did they start and what were you trying to achieve? It was actually my girlfriend’s idea. She wanted to throw a BBQ so I ran through my contacts, sent out some texts, picked up 40s for everyone, and made a smooth 30-40 people’s BBQ happen Uptown [Manhattan] in Riverside Park. From there the numbers just doubled from word of mouth and social networks. By the fourth one I had 5,000 people in a park and the NYPD sending helicopters to shut me down.
Will we ever see the return of the 40oz Bounce in NYC? Hopefully. I like to do things the right way, so I’ve been holding out on just promoting another outdoor event that’s going to get shut down. Once I find a decent venue, get the right sponsors involved, and have the reassurance that the NYPD won’t be knocking on my door, I’m going to slam NYC once again.
How have you parlayed the success of the Tumblr into other business endeavors? It’s a promotional tool. People lie, but numbers don’t, so a lot of these big companies have done their homework on me and want what I have, traffic. There’s too many ways to break digital bread, so I help with whatever I can help, for a cost.
Talk about your Balmain-inspired snapbacks. Why Balmain? Why hats? Why NY? I like to stay hip to the game so Balmain was only right. That’s all my partner Diego wears so I thought to myself, how can I make something so expensive and exclusive affordable to everyone while incorporating NY and keeping the exclusivity? Very limited, only available for 12 hours, “NY” snapbacks inspired by the font used on their tags.
Name some of the notable people who’ve been spotted in your snapback. Victor Cruz, Virgil Abloh, DJ Khaled, Theophilus London, Vashtie, Dee & Ricky, Travis McCoy, the list goes on.
How much have you made from selling these hats so far? I’m clocking in roughly $12,000 each drop. I’ve done two drops, so after production & shipping costs, you can say I’m chilling with $20,000 in snapback profits.
Are there plans for more apparel or accessories? I’m dropping a very limited red colorway Balmain inspired “NY” snapback in mid-August to commemorate 9-11.
How can people cop your wares? Anything I drop is only available online via http://40ozNY.com
You’ve become somewhat of street socialite in NYC, how did this happen? Did you ever imagine that this is what your life would be like? You have to lay down the ground work. Showing face, shaking hands, and making sure your presence is felt is just as important as being digital. I became familiar with who I had to become familiar with, left a positive impression, and before I knew it the invites & promo products came pouring in.
Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge before we conclude? One love to Crystal, Maxwell, Diego, and Hoffa— that’s my crew. They keep me level headed.
Can you leave the people with some of your signature words of wisdom? Work the work, don’t let the work work you. Know your worth. Only build with those worth their weight in gold. And think bigger than your city.