The more aggressively the Ostrengas went after Stickydrama, the more personal Stone's quest to demonize Kiki and her family became: "We really are going to destroy your reputation," Stickydrama promised in one post. But while Stone rallied the mob, he was also trying to lure Kiki to his newest venture. He called it "Stickyhouse" — really his own L.A. condo — where he invited teens to live so he could film and blog the resulting drama, the more depraved the better. He had at least one steady resident, the bleached-blond Amor Hilton, who vamped about for Stone's online audience. But mostly Stickyhouse became a revolving guest list of boys, for whom Stone posted a casting call of sorts: "I'm over titties, I prefer cocks and assholes. TEENAGE cocks and assholes." The kids stayed rent-free, although Stone, who is gay, was straightforward about the terms, as when he posted, "I'm buttfucking a legit str8 boy tonight, or he's homeless, lol." He posted twitpics of his supposed conquests, like one of himself lying beside a sleeping teen of indeterminate age: "I have seen paradise and [name] gets to stay here another month."
Last year, Stone claimed Stickydrama pulled in a million page views per month. Still, bringing Kiki to Stickyhouse would be a major score — not only would she be his most famous guest, but Sticky fans were already speculating about what insanity would ensue if divas Amor and Kiki were living under one roof. So Stone prodded Kiki with invitations — like a sympathetic e-mail telling her what a terrible mother she had, and that to escape her clutches she ought to come live with him. And he kept public interest in her high, like offering an ex-flame of Kiki's $1,000 to take a dump on her photo.
"I don't understand what his obsession is," Kiki says, "but he has this sick, twisted love-hate relationship with me." Hardly a day would go by without Kiki's name being mentioned on one of Stone's forums. Ultimately, no law-enforcement agency ever came to the rescue. Instead, what brought Stickydrama down was Stone himself, who pushed the moral boundaries too far.
Last summer, Stickydrama speculated that an 11-year-old who posted videos under the handle "Jessi Slaughter" was dating a twentysomething emo singer. The merciless cyberbullying that followed was so overwhelming that police placed Jessi into protective custody, making headlines because of her youth. The gossip blog Gawker revealed Stone (by then, age 31) as the site's mastermind, and he shut down operations fast. He hastily tried auctioning off Stickydrama for $25,000 and deleted a year's worth of tweets. Despite the efforts of the Ostrengas and at least two other Stickydrama targets, no criminal charges have been brought against him.
The reality is, there are few repercussions for online harassment. The Communications Decency Act protects Internet publishers from being sued for content — allowing people to post virtually anything without fear of consequences. Finding some kind of balance between free speech and privacy online will almost certainly become one of the major legal battles of the century. For now, however, content providers like Stone are nearly untouchable.
In fact, after wreaking so much havoc, it appears that Chris Stone has simply moved on. He is now a first-year student at an L.A. law school. But Stone is evidently not finished with Kiki. This past February, after months of silence, Stone lashed out with a pair of tweets that devastated the Ostrengas: first posting a twitpic of Danny Cespedes' death certificate, and then the first page of Kiki's sexual-assault police report. Stone's interest in continuing to torture the Ostrengas remains unclear, but Kiki recalls with dread the ominous last tweet she says Stone fired at her over the summer: "If I can't have you, I will destroy you."
'Oh, my god, I just checked my e-mail and there's that creepy pedophile!" Kiki screams, holding up her iPhone in its Hello Kitty case. She's gotten another note from a man who for three years has been sending her messages like "I'm gonna pinch your butt and slap your ass." Kiki looks amused. "What a creep!" From across the table at the Florida cafe, her parents regard her with a mixture of anxiety and weariness. Their life is in tatters. The Coral Springs house never sold and is now in foreclosure. The Ostrengas have filed for bankruptcy — a chain of financial events they say never would have happened if they hadn't had to hastily abandon their home. Danny Cespedes' mother is suing them for causing her son's death, claiming that the Ostrengas exercised "undue influence" over Danny's mind, which led to his fatal leap. And after three years of living at Grandma's — where everyone is paranoid about leaving the house or letting outsiders get too close — the Ostrengas are chafing against each other. "Sometimes instead of fighting the bad guys, you end up fighting amongst yourselves," Cathy says.
Kiki's parents acknowledge that they wish they had made different decisions along the way. "I messed up as a parent. I did so much wrong," Cathy confesses through tears. Kiki wishes she could do so much over too. But there's one thing she refuses to change. Kiki remains a determined Internet denizen. She boasts a Twitter, a Tumblr, a Buzznet, a YouTube channel, two websites — one of which sells her jewelry and apparel — and an AIM screen name, which she gives out freely. And, of course, there's her Stickam, where she continues to stream videos, now dressed more modestly. "When I was younger, I was so naive," she says. "I didn't know people were doing things to themselves while they were watching me."
She can't go offline. One reason is practical: Kiki has a business to run. But the other reason is more existential: If she were to go offline, her link to the world would disappear. This is a girl with 12,000 Twitter followers whose actual life is empty of real relationships. She's trapped in suburban isolation; outside the bubble of her family, her most meaningful interactions are electronic. In real life, she's lost.
"How do you even meet people?" Kiki asks. "Like, how do you connect with people? In person, it's just so weird, no one talks to me." Even online, surrounded by hundreds of fans, Kiki feels alone. "I feel like a butterfly in a jar," she says. "They'll watch me. And they'll take from me. But no one ever connects."
For all of Kiki's digital exposure, she feels like no one knows the real Kiki: the one who's taking courses at a community college and working at a retail store for extra cash; the one who spends her nights with her family hunched around Grandma's dining-room table, gluing Swarovski crystals onto jewelry to fill orders for her struggling company; the one who has unhealthy online relationships with the older men she finds herself drawn to. Her online life has become an endless, soul-sucking performance. And yet, seeing no other option, she continues marching onward, a child of the digital age, programmed to look only toward the future, still optimistic, somehow, about what she'll find there.
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