A Chat With the Twitter Mystery Known As @PTCruiserUSA
The so-called "Top Car on Twitter" speaks.
There's nothing that makes a whole lot of sense about @PTCruiserUSA. Even by Twitter standards.
In defiance of sense and easy answers, this anonymous account has somehow garnered nearly 20,000 followers. It's hard to explain what the account is, and even harder to explain its appeal. Its user description says the account is "cruisin to the finish line while live tweeting vh1 soul all day every day," which is actually pretty much accurate. The person behind the account watches VH1 Soul and tweets the names of videos that come on. If she thinks the performer is attractive, she follows the initial tweet with one reading "[name of artist] is hot" and then one reading "[name of artist] fuck me." (She seems to be especially enamored with Miguel.)
There are other recurring motifs. Very often, @PTCruiserUSA goes bonkers with a bunch of tweets about funny numbers, such as 420 and 69. Sometimes, she tweets about a coworker, codenamed "Heroin Chic," and his band. She also tweets "I'm gay" a lot and refers to a friend named Nikki being gay, without any explanation. She has a website—topcarontwitter.com—where she blogs at length about hip-hop and R&B artists. There are virtually no tweets about Chrysler's PT Cruiser automobile—or any automobiles, for that matter.
Although she's weird and she's on Twitter, @PTCruiserUSA's definitely not part of that elusive genre known as "Weird Twitter." Her tweets aren't ever self-contained jokes, she doesn't riff on Weird Twitter memes, and she doesn't interact with Weird Twitter users. She's her own brand of strange.
And now, for the first time, she's revealing the method behind the madness. Although she asked to remain anonymous, she granted me an interview over the course of more than a dozen emails. She claims to be 22 and that she lives "in southern New York 45 minutes near Manhattan but 20 minutes away from the Newtown shooting." Sure, why not.
(Note: I cleaned up some of the punctuation and capitalization per Motherboard style, but didn't have to do much. Her emails were very well-written.)
MOTHERBOARD: When and why did you start this account?
PTCruiserUSA: My old account name was my login for my school's computer (last name, first initial; like JonesD), and I didn't want to use that anymore. In 2009, someone said something to me about PT Cruisers and I said, "that ugly car," and ever since then I kept seeing them everywhere. It was like I was being haunted by Chrysler. This went on for a year and a half. I think I'd recently tweeted about PT Cruisers when I decided to change my account name in January 2011.
I changed my name to ThePTCruiser, but I got suspended at 14,000 tweets on May 19th, 2011 due to an "inappropriate tweet" I had tweeted that Keith Olbermann saw and made all his followers/'supporters' report me. I had made PTCruiserUSA as a back up account in April because I felt something coming. [Note: she didn't want to say what this tweet was, "bc i dont want to cause more problems."]
Were your running motifs—VH1 Soul videos, "I'm gay," etc.—there from the beginning, or did they develop over time?
I started watching VH1 Soul before I started using twitter constantly. I always tweeted what was on and everything. I wish I had an archive of my suspended account so I could reread everything about Miguel.
It used to just be ___ is hot and then I think in October when Miguel's video for "Do You..." came out I said "MIGUEL FUCK ME" and everyone liked the tweet so I just kept doing it. 70 percent of the time when I tweet "_____ fuck me" I get a retweet or a favorite, so someone is liking it. Sometimes I'll say "Guy Fieri fuck me" or "Rob Thomas fuck me" or "Michael Bublé fuck me" but this isn't serious.
I started saying "I'm gay" because Nikki (@dub_step_dad is usually her name, but she changes it sometimes. Right now she is @wine_nymph) started saying it in Tinychat. She would just say it when there was nothing to say, or if there was a long pause of nobody talking. I'm pretty sure she used to tweet it too. I just started following suit. When I say "I'm gay" I'm basically saying "I'm happy" meaning I'm in a good mood. The same follows for "heroin chic." Nikki was referring to a guy on her school campus as "heroin chic" and would tweet about him. I liked the idea of that name a lot to the point where I said the next guy my boss hires I'm going to call him "heroin chic." Two months later came Heroin Chic (@da_deaner).
You don't actually watch VH1 Soul all day, do you?
YES, I watch VH1 Soul ALL DAY. I go to work pretty early, so I wake up at 2:45 AM and by the time I get home I'm really tired, so I go in my room and lay down to rest. I wouldn't consider that "all day" but I don't change the channel on my TV ever (I have it put away somewhere, I manually turn my TV on and off every time).
I hate "reality" TV shows and I can't stand any cartoons, so I watch VH1 Soul because it has a lot of artists I like and I like hearing a lot of those songs play. When are music videos ever aired on TV anymore, either? The only commercial breaks run for max five minutes and they're all infomercials.
To me, having VH1 Soul on my TV all day is the same as listening to music on my computer. There are people at home and work that always have their music turned on as they sit at their desk on the computer. This is no different, except the video aspect. I don't do it at my job but a few years ago I would make playlists every day and play whichever videos aired on VH1 Soul the following day/whatever videos are in the current rotation on my iPod over the sound system in the morning.
Wait, so what the hell job do you have that allows you to watch VH1 Soul so much?
I "reset" shelving planograms (the stickers where items are placed on shelves in stores). They're like maps. I also unpack freight at 5 in the morning until late morning or early afternoon.
Do you get hate from other people on Twitter? Do people call you homophobic for your tweets about being gay or other people being gay?
I always get the "PT Cruisers are ugly" tweets, usually they're from teens. A year ago I got in a "fight" with an Amy Winehouse fan for tweeting she was 11 months sober [Note: this tweet came 11 months after Winehouse had died, natch]. People call me out for being homophobic, but I don't see how I'm homophobic if I'm constantly tweeting "I'm gay" but people say I am for saying "faggot" but I'm not being serious when I'm saying it. People getting mad over microblogging posts on the internet! I like all types of people. Except mean people.
When did you start topcarontwitter.com, and what's the idea behind it?
I always wanted to have a website, so back in December 2012 I looked up hosting sites and made my own. My blog was supposed to be about anything really, but I wanted to start it off on the first day I made the website so I wrote about my favorite topic, no other than Alicia Keys!!!! I'm pretty sure I wrote that blog post because her video had just played on VH1 Soul. I don't know if I'll ever write about something other than anything related to music on the main blog, but who knows what my mind will think up.
Do you remember the first time you watched VH1 Soul?
The first time I watched VH1 Soul was in 2008 I think, and then I watched it in 2009, and then I watched it nonstop starting in October 2010.
What's your favorite VH1 Soul video?
My favorite video on VH1 Soul is "Rhythm Of The Night" by DeBarge.
During the BET Awards, you made a big deal about changing the channel from VH1 Soul to BET. What was that experience like?
Annoying, because of all the dumb commercials and I immediately went into Twitter jail after I did it [Note: "Twitter jail" is a euphemism for the automatic temporary suspension a user gets for tweeting too much over the course of one hour], so I watched Miguel's performance and then I muted the TV cuz I can't stand commercials and then I watched Ciara's "Body Party" performance and then I went back to VH1 Soul.
What's with the numbers obsession?
I don't know why, but every time I look at the clock it's exactly X time or it's a few minutes before X time so I just wait and I tweet it.
702 is an R&B group. Two years ago I worked with my friend and I couldn't find my keys so I said "where my keys at" and it reminded her of the 702 song "Where My Girls At." We would also clock out to go home at 7:02 PM sometimes and I would make her cds with 702 songs on it. Same thing with 112 (remember "Peaches & Cream"?). 420 is self-explainable for Twitter. 911 because every time I look at the clock it says 911, same thing with 11:11. There are days I don't tweet any of these and I don't care unless it was like, April 20th at 4:20pm.
When did you blow up? Like, when did you start to get all these followers?
In the summer of 2011 to winter 2011. I was only PT Cruiser for about 4 months before I got suspended and I got about 300 followers right away within the first four days after I got suspended.
You've developed quite a following. Who are you most honored to be followed by?
Chrysler because they probably put up with so much of people thinking I work for them.
Do you consider yourself to be part of "Weird Twitter"?
I don't, because I'm using Twitter the way it was intended to be used; I tweet about what I'm doing, what's happening, what I'm thinking. I'm not here for "joke tweets" and I hate toilet humor.
My favorite people I follow are people that tweet what's on their mind and what's happening in their lives. If "Weird Twitter" wasn't a thing, I would still be PTCruiserUSA because I always never use my real name for anything. I like being more of a mystery this way.