Bhad Bhabie Made Bank on OnlyFans — Now What?
“YOU EVER SEE SOMEBODY and you’re like, ‘They look crazy’?” It’s 4:30 p.m., and Bhad Bhabie, a.k.a. Danielle Bregoli, is cross-legged on her massive gray velour couch in her brand-new Los Angeles home, surrounded by a three-foot-tall stuffed Pikachu and plush flower pillows.
“You ever think about why that person look crazy?” she says. “It’s called ‘sonder.’ Say you’re walking down the street, and you pass people, and you can imagine people’s lives. You’re thinking, ‘What does this person want? What trauma has this person went through? Was this person ever married? Do this person got kids?’ When I learned that word, I was thinking, ‘Oh, shit, it makes sense.’”
Bregoli is talking about what she learned after she and her mother went on Dr. Phil in 2016 for a segment titled “I Want to Give Up My Car-Stealing, Knife-Wielding, Twerking 13-Year-Old Daughter Who Tried to Frame Me for a Crime!” As Bregoli boasted about her transgressions, and the audience chuckled over her youthful braggadocio, she grew defensive and yelled, “Catch me outside, how about that?” — only it came out, “Cash me ousside, how bow dah?”
The moment went massively viral, leading her to briefly become one of the most-hated people on the internet. She has since begrudgingly come to terms with her status as a meme, and how could she not? It launched her rap career, brought her millions of Instagram followers, and will drive interest in her new music — if she ever gets around to releasing it. It’s also fueled a much-hyped account on the subscription-based platform OnlyFans, which she started six days after turning 18, a move that, to hear her tell it, allowed her to regain control over her image. (The fact that she made at least $70 million in the process, according to her former manager, didn’t hurt either.)
But most of all, Bregoli says, she is grateful for going on Dr. Phil, because it has given her the gift of sonder.
“[It taught me] to not judge people,” she says. “Because I was nitpicked and judged and all this awful shit. I don’t look at people and say, ‘They look crazy.’ I look at them like, ‘I wonder why they look crazy.’”
BREGOLI IS PROFOUNDLY HUNGOVER. It’s a few days before her 20th birthday, and she’s on her second Postmates order of the day, a turkey-and-provolone-on-rye the size of a softball. She’s taking hits off a vape while draping her diminutive legs over the lap of a man who seems physiologically incapable of looking up from his phone. (When pressed about him, Bregoli’s manager, Dan Roof, smirks and says they are “hanging out.” Suffice to say, I can report that they were watching, and enjoying, Cocaine Bear before my arrival.)
Bregoli lives in her own sprawling mansion in Woodland Hills, California, surrounded by dozens of collectible Bearbrick figurines. Five years ago, she became the youngest female rap artist to debut on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, with “These Heaux.” And on OnlyFans, she charges $23.99 a month for her dimly lit seminudes (for an additional fee, she’ll send private DMs of, say, showertime nip slips).
Typically, creators will go into great detail describing the effort they put in. Not Bregoli. “I get new bathing suits or new lingerie and take some pictures,” she says, shrugging. “I just do whatever I be feeling.” As it happens, this is the attitude that Bregoli applies to virtually everything she does. After Dr. Phil, her viral fame attracted the interest of record execs and managers; even that, she says, was an option that was “presented to me and I was like, ‘Fuck it, let’s see.’” Now, she has the power to do whatever she wants — and what she wants, right now, is to do basically nothing.
“She’s just living the life of a college freshman with no classes,” says Roof. “[She’s] binge drinking, and whatever dumb shit kids are doing. She just has a lot more money.”
Bregoli did not grow up fantasizing about fame; she wanted to go into cosmetology or nursing. She was raised in Florida by Barbara Ann Bregoli, a former accountant from Brooklyn; though they speak often, Bregoli will block her mom when she they fight. “She’s not, like, a little nice woman,” says Bregoli. “That lady is mean as hell.”
It was Barbara’s idea to go on Dr. Phil, after Bregoli started getting into legal trouble. While it’s true that Bregoli’s hijinks were more serious than the average adolescent’s — she would later plead guilty to grand theft and grand theft auto — she also says that there was much the audience did not know, mainly about her tumultuous circumstances at home. She says that contributed directly to how she acted when she was initially coming into fame.
“You know those stereotypes they put on pit bulls? Sweetest dogs ever. You could get all in their face. They’re not gonna do nothing,” she says, referring to the public’s treatment of her after she got famous. “But imagine one of them dogs, and someone’s just fucking with it, beating it up, barely feeding it. And then they put it in front of people. That’s basically what happened to me.”
In becoming famous, she says, she lost autonomy over her image, down to the clothes she wore in public. “My old manager seen me one time, hair in a ponytail, jeans, little hoodie, and was like, ‘Yep, that’s your look right there,’” she says. “That’s not what I wanted.” (That former manager, Adam Kluger, says this was intended in part not to sexualize her — “The way she was dressed before was, in my opinion, too revealing” — and as a branding tactic: “If you think of any popular artist, for the first year, they kept a consistent look all the time. Gaga — blond hair, bangs. Eminem, bleached blond, [white tank top]. Bhad Bhabie: red ponytail, big earrings.”
That lack of control extended to her first singles — frothy bops featuring her signature bratty drawl and guest spots from Lil Yachty, Kodak Black, and Lil Baby — which she didn’t like then, and still make her cringe. “I hate all my early music,” she says. Bregoli “can’t tolerate” performing those songs, and isn’t even sure she’s still interested in making music. She’s recorded new tracks, but finishing them is far from her priority. “I was so robbed of my childhood that I don’t really care to work no more,” she says. “I just want to chill, party, hang out.”
After splitting with Kluger, Bregoli launched her OnlyFans in 2021. She says it was a lark meant to capitalize on her popularity. But speaking to her new manager, it’s clear there was thought behind it. “The truth is, she’s gotten a billion-plus views on YouTube and massive success across social media, and hadn’t really reaped much of a financial reward,” Roof says. “And so now you do something where you say, ‘I’m going to post whatever I want to post, and I get to keep the lion’s share of the money.’ And I think that’s a very empowering thing.”
Bregoli and her team are coy about what she posts on OnlyFans — “[People are like], ‘You get naked? Are you on there having sex?’ Go see,” she says. While there is no explicit sexual content on her main page, it’s easy to see how, after half a decade of being treated as a joke, the idea of getting paid for what’s essentially a cheesecake photo would be attractive. Regardless of whether she’s posting feet pics or post-shower selfies, it’s little work for a high return, and a way to regain her autonomy in the process.
Bregoli has been sporadically recording. In one February 2021 demo, “Baby on Fire,” she drawls, “Baby ain’t a baby no more/Baby done growed up.” She says that’s the message of her new music — but when it will drop is anybody’s guess. She’s got Postmates to order, Cocaine Bear to stream, and overpriced sculptures of Batman-themed bears to buy.
“I’m not gonna give nobody a set time on things,” she says. “I might wake up one day and go into the studio and make a whole album. I might not do that for the next 10 years. I go about things how I feel.… That’s why I stay to myself so much. I’m trying to learn myself.”