Interview with Tiktok star, Gentleman Gasmask on aesthetics and how to grow an audience as an artist
Updated: Dec 10, 2021
It's an impossible feat to be present on the internet and not be at least somewhat aware of Tiktok. The social media giant has taken over the world in the short time it has been active, spawning countless controversies, and launching hundreds of ordinary people to internet stardom seemingly overnight. This week I had the privilege of interviewing one of Tiktok's up-and-comers. Gentleman Gasmask, whose real name is Sergio, is an Italian content creator and student from Palermo, Sicily whose videos center around his surreal aesthetic, sense of humor, and editing style. Just recently, Sergio surpassed 100,000 followers on his Tiktok account, @gentleman.gasmask. This week he took time out of his schedule to appear on Cinemasters to discuss his unique visuals and what it's like to be someone with such a large platform on one of the world's most prominant websites.
Rua: Okay, so we are here with Sergio, and I'm just going to ask you a few questions.
Rua: First of all, what do you think attracts people to your page?
Sergio: Surely it's my house. I know it must be quite incredible to see a 19th century...mansion. So, it's surely one of those things that sets me apart. Then maybe my character is quite interesting because you know, those old fashioned clothes, the gas mask, it's just so... almost dreamlike.
Rua: Yes, absolutely, it's not something you see everyday. Now what advice would you give to somebody trying to build an audience off of something creative.
Sergio: You have to create an interesting character or an interesting product, like something weird but in a good way.
Rua: Do you believe the following you've accumulated on Tiktok could've happened on any other platform?
Sergio: So, I initially tried to grow a platform on Instagram in past years and I only ended up getting around 1,000 followers, maybe a bit more. Basically, it didn't work out very well. Tiktok is better because of the algorithm, it's perfect for building an audience in a short amount of time.
Rua: Yeah, I personally know a lot of people who have like 60,000 followers on Tiktok but end up only getting like 100 views per video because of how the algorithm works. Have you ever experienced anything like that where your views don't match your follower count?
Sergio: Yeah, it's weird. Like, right now I have about 100,000 followers but I only end up getting around 6,000 or 7,000 views per video.
Rua: What influences your style/aesthetic? Any media in particular?
Sergio: I like those old movies from the 1940's, 50's. I like figures like Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire.
Rua: I can absolutely see that. Are there any specific movies that have influenced your content or aesthetic?
Sergio: Oh, Alfred Hitchock for sure, maybe a bit of Kubrick...I love him.
Rua: He's my all-time favorite! Other than that, how did you come up with your character that has gained you such a following on Tiktok?
Sergio: The gas mask, for sure. My grandmother had a huge collection of antiques and military stuff from World War I and World War II, and she found this gas mask and she gave it to me. On that particular day I was wearing a suit, I wore the gas mask with the suit and just absolutely loved the result. So I built a character around those two things.
Rua: So I would say you're pretty into surrealism. Are you familiar with David Lynch?
Sergio: David Lynch? Oh yes, I like him, I like him.
Rua: You seem like someone who would love his daily weather report on Instagram. Anyway, do you find that your interest in the 20th century has grown at all after the growth of your platform or have you always been someone intrigued by that era?
Sergio: No, I've always loved the past, especially the 1800's and 1900's, especially the first quarter of the 20th century.
Rua: I also see that you read quite a bit of philosophy, is there any literature you could recommend to our readers on Cinemasters?
Sergio: Yes, definitely "A Reading Guide to Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy" by Emanuela Scribano.
Rua: Do you believe there is anything unique about your content beyond the character and house? Is there anything special you do with lighting or editing or anything like that?
Sergio: Nothing like that is particularly unique. I'm not sure what to call the kind of editing style I utilize but I definitely have a distinct style of framing in my videos I rarely use dynamic camera angles or that kind of cinematography.
Rua: Ok, I noticed you have a second, smaller account on your Tiktok where you speak exclusively Italian. I was wondering what it's like to have a significant language barrier with a platform as large as yours. How much of a challenge do you find that from day to day?
Sergio: It's not very challenging actually because I don't do a lot of active speaking, like I don't ever do live broadcasts on Tiktok or Instagram. I do very basic things, content-wise so for the most part it's not very difficult.
Rua: In terms of the mask, are you someone who intends to stay anonymous? Is anonymity something you value when it comes to having an account with 100,000 followers?
Sergio: I actually posted quite a lot of videos of me without the mask but when I started to post videos of my gas mask character, I started to get better results in terms of views, so I decided to use it more. Also, yes I do enjoy anonymity because I don't want people to interfere with my life like stalkers or anything weird like that.
Rua: I totally get that, do you think the anonymity also contributes to the immersion of your character and the believability of your content?
Sergio: Yeah, yeah, people often ask me things about my family or my job. There are rumors that I am apart of Italian royalty, also I had a bunch of comments of people saying I was in the mafia or Italian politics. It's all just speculation though.
Rua: Yeah I bet, have you seen those famous mafia movies like Goodfellas or The Godfather?
Sergio: Yes, I love them!
Rua: Lastly, do you have any final things to say to your audience?
Sergio: hmmm....try to be creative and romanticize your life and so on I guess, be weird but in a good way!
That concludes this week's interview, many thanks to Sergio for taking the time to talk to us here at Cinemasters. If you're interested in his content, you can find him on Tiktok @gentlemen.gasmask. Once again, thank you for reading, Cinemasters.net