Eric Sedeño takes the cringe out of Selecting Pleasure

There’s a fable that crows and magpies love to gather small, shiny silver objects, just like the rings that adorn Eric Sedeño’s fingers. However as we walked into the Lili and Cata nail salon in Brooklyn(Opens in a brand new tab), the corvids will need to have been busy elsewhere. 

Sedeño, too, is a collector of glistening issues, rings and motivational phrases alike. The 26-year-old TikTok celeb instructed me, as he stripped a Hannah Jewett piece off his finger in anticipation of the manicure, that he had wished to get extra piercings, holes to hold much more jewellery from his ears. He has his earlobe pierced and as soon as had a cartilage piercing — a notoriously powerful piercing to heal. He took it out as a result of, he mentioned, “I select pleasure.”

Selecting pleasure is a time period I often reserve for irony. It’s a farmhouse signal at a craft retailer, hung alongside “collect” and “dwell chuckle love”; it’s what suburbanites say when they need just a little drink with lunch; it’s what fills the Pinterest boards of center class American mothers. “Selecting pleasure” is sort of at all times a vaguely non secular mantra for the self-help crowd. And whereas Sedeño makes use of it the identical approach he makes use of slay — with irony, but in addition a major glimmer of sincerity — this phrase occurs to be the remarkably real and non-cringey approach that Sedeño has carved out his house on-line. He’s chosen pleasure at each second.

I selected pink; Eric selected one silver dot.
Credit score: Molly Flores


Manicurist doing Eric's Nails

“Can I simply have one silver dot?”
Credit score: Molly Flores


CJ's nails

Basic pink.
Credit score: Molly Flores

Sedeño grew up as a queer Mexican American in a suburb of Dallas, Texas that he mentioned simply “wasn’t very attention-grabbing.” He performed soccer and soccer. He tells me he was a “full-bodied” center schooler.

“It was actually secure,” he mentioned, as a manicurist massages his fingers. Sedeño thinks his finger nails are too massive so as a substitute of a full protection polish, he requested the artist to place a easy dot within the heart of every nail. “I used to be surrounded by folks of various cultures, which was very nice. All my buddies have been so totally different from me my complete life, and so I feel that was fortunate in that sense. However I grew up in a bubble.”

Sedeño discovered methods to take imaginary excursions outdoors of this bubble. He cherished watching That’s So Raven and says, like Raven’s character within the present, he envisioned going to highschool and taking part in costume up and sporting wigs. However wigs weren’t a commonplace accent in his Plano, Texas highschool, and neither, on the time, had been different queer children. He mentioned he “at all times knew” he was homosexual. 

“For lots of my life I used to be very quiet, making an attempt to cover items of myself,” he mentioned. In highschool, he obtained “crushes” on women and girls he admired. Throughout his freshman 12 months in school he got here out at bisexual and, a couple of years later, as homosexual.

The primary particular person he instructed that he kissed a boy was his best good friend — an individual he met in highschool who he nonetheless considers his best good friend; he describes her as “me as a lady.” She will not be very on-line and, Sedeño confesses, that’s a pattern in his friendships: Most of them aren’t on-line and even his real-life buddies who’re on-line don’t ask him to collaborate. None of his childhood buddies have ever tried to reconnect in any sort of gross, clout-chasing approach, which could be a mirrored image of Sedeño himself — he by no means tries to mine his buddies for content material and, in return, they respect him as an individual first and a content material creator second.

Sedeño’s dream to be his true self, come out of his shell, and put on wigs like Raven Simone didn’t occur in highschool. However he felt extra free to specific himself on-line. One in every of his greatest-performing movies, posted in October 2022 with 2.3 million views, is of him in a protracted black wig reimagining scenes from Twilight as Jacob. The video is captioned, “Jacob Black if he slayed.”

“Eric is somebody who is precisely who he’s on-line,” Tefi Pessoa, one other creator who is aware of Sedeño by way of TikTok, instructed me, including that he’s somebody heat, who smiles at you and goes in for a hug as quickly as you stroll into the door. Pessoa is considered one of Sedeño’s all-time favourite creators on the app. “I’m not shocked so many individuals have gravitated in the direction of him as a result of he actually is the sort of good friend you pray for as a child. And he kills it in a wig, bitch.”

Sedeño, an artwork director, graphic designer, and illustrator on prime of his TikTok work, left Texas to dwell away from dwelling for the primary time for an internship in promoting in 2018 in New York Metropolis. He downloaded TikTok in 2019 for an promoting marketing campaign and, at first, he mentioned he “didn’t get it.” As he stored scrolling, the app grew on him. On a whim, he began posting to his 20 or so buddies who adopted him there. It was March 2020, the start of keep at dwelling measures for the covid-19 pandemic, he had simply been dumped, he had simply chopped off all of his hair, and he had simply moved into a brand new house. 

The oldest video on his web page shows a peak pandemic expertise. It’s March 17, 2020, and he’s recording himself hanging some poses in a Zoom class. “Attempting to behave shy and harmless so my crush notices me throughout my digital class,” he wrote within the caption. 

“I simply had a lot alone time and I’m a really social creature,” Sedeño mentioned of these early movies. “It was my approach of being social on my own whereas I needed to be at dwelling working. It by no means felt awkward.”  Ultimately, the views on his movies began stacking up. His first viral video confirmed him shaking his ass and garnered about 17,000 views. The second, a video of him asking his viewers if he regarded intimidating, reached greater than 500,000 views. 

He begins to develop a repertoire: he follows a pattern, or he shakes his ass to no matter sound is standard on the app that day, or he tells tales on to the digital camera. Sedeño’s pleasure comes by way of even in his earliest movies. 

“I really feel like I began TikTok as a result of I cherished myself and I cherished what I used to be doing and I used to be like, ‘Let me present different folks,’” Sedeño mentioned.

As pandemic restrictions lifted, different folks began often popping into his movies, however that was nonetheless fairly uncommon. A few of his movies use the #foryoupage tag – usually deployed by creators to assist their movies go viral – and others don’t. Sedeño is sensible. He is aware of that his movies have the potential to get views, and in addition preserves a sense that his content material is a glimpse into one thing candid, as if his pleasure is so radiant that it merely should be captured and shared. Nothing reads as rehearsed or practiced. He appears to be having a foolish, goofy, barely unhinged time.

From the beginning,  Sedeño appeared to naturally know a central truth about being on-line that others take years to study. “Step one to doing something nicely is to get pleasure from your self and be your self doing that factor,” Sedeño mentioned. “I began TikTok as a result of I cherished myself and I cherished what I used to be doing and I had wished to indicate different folks.”

Eric and CJ talking in nail salon chairs

Credit score: Molly Flores

Now, Sedeño, aka @RicoTaquito(Opens in a brand new tab), has over 1 million social media followers and over 81 million likes. He’s partnered with Denny’s, Spotify, Google, eBay, Adidas, Warby Parker, Hulu, Supergoop, Calvin Klein, Garnier Fructis, to call a couple of He has been featured in Vogue(Opens in a brand new tab), Teen Vogue(Opens in a brand new tab), and PAPER(Opens in a brand new tab). Sedeño makes comedic movies, DIY tutorials, and he lately launched Groove Provides(Opens in a brand new tab), a candle firm partnered with whose proceeds go to donating meals to households and youngsters in want — to date, they’ve donated greater than 15,000 meals. 

Sedeño’s house on-line is a predominately type one, however with any virality comes the unlucky actuality of trolls — and the necessity to set boundaries with parasocial relationships.

“The web may be laborious. It may be a merciless place,” Sedeño mentioned. “I’ve had moments the place I’m like, ‘Oh my God, persons are so imply.’” 

He mentioned he appears like some folks don’t wish to hear about his issues, and he doesn’t essentially wish to share all of them, both. Being a creator like Sedeño entails discovering a steadiness between sharing components of your life that your viewers needs to know and that makes them really feel linked to you, all whereas sustaining boundaries and privateness. Getting the steadiness fallacious in both path may end up in alarming penalties.

“I’m OK with not sharing all the pieces with the entire world,” Sedeño mentioned. “I skew in the direction of, like, if I’m not having the best day, I’m not gonna faux it. If I’m not in a humorous temper, I’m not gonna pressure myself to take a seat down and make content material.”

Sedeño, like all of us, generally feels the urge to put up his approach by way of an upsetting or tough second. He has, previously, taken these movies down a couple of hours later. 

However, often, he’s in a humorous temper. He says he tries to start out day by day with a smile, and other people on-line are largely type to him. “For me, who you see on-line is who you get in particular person. And so it’s very authentically simply me being myself,” one thing the web appears to answer. That additionally means, although, that trolls can reduce deep. “When folks don’t like me, it used to harm me loads as a result of it truly is me,” he mentioned. 

Eric's finished Manicure and nails

Refined however slay.
Credit score: Molly Flores

He has no plans to cease making movies any time quickly, however he additionally needs to spend extra time specializing in different artistic pursuits. He’s a superb artist and designer, and lately made a zine that he hopes to start out promoting. He needs to make an interactive web site and — for what it’s value — it’s trying fairly good proper now(Opens in a brand new tab). He needs to start out a podcast this 12 months. These are all issues he has had wished to do for some time, he tells me, however his phrase for 2023 is “consistency.” He’ll get it carried out, he guarantees.

Like every creator, Sedeño is on the lookout for methods to monetize his following by tapping into the enjoyment his followers flip to him to see and really feel. The cynical a part of me needs to see this because the TikTok model of a “select pleasure” farmhouse signal. However sitting throughout from him, it’s tough to really feel cynical. I’m reminded of the early days of the pandemic, when he first joined TikTok. On daily basis we had been surrounded by uncertainty and concern. Discovering any pleasure at the moment was an act of resilience and resistance. When Sedeño first began making his movies, he selected pleasure on TikTok. He by no means stopped. 

I’m taken by his perseverance and consistency, by his devotion to pleasure. His steadfast dedication to pleasure on social media — a place fairly actually designed to make customers sad(Opens in a brand new tab) — jogs my memory of meteorologists on the information throughout a hurricane, standing in the midst of the storm and giving the report regardless of the circumstances that demand they cease. He’s not impervious to the results of his environment, however he isn’t budging. 

Eric and Pizza

Paulie Gees is a slay!!
Credit score: Molly Flores

After we obtained our nails carried out, we walked over to get a slice of pizza at Paulie Gee’s in Greenpoint. As we sat down, he instructed me about his first job as an assistant supervisor at a pizza place when he was 17 years outdated. He talked about working at TopGolf, Biggest Purchase, and a Christian furnishings firm. He known as himself a “persona rent” at every of those jobs, and his persona appears to nonetheless be carrying him by way of his gig on TikTok, too.

However not like TopGolf or a pizza place, he has a whole lot of hundreds of eyes on him now. He mentioned he’s “actually making an attempt to get again to that delusion of loving myself no matter something fallacious with me.” Sedeño needs to “have enjoyable and be silly.” In my splendid world, that’s all of the web can be.