Scrolling through TikTok is like sifting through bulging racks of second hand clothes at a thrift store; every item (or video) has a story behind it. Perhaps the story is long, full of careful craftsmanship and painstakingly passed down knowledge. Maybe there’s not much to it at all, just someone’s passing whim. The story behind Marcus Pork Sr.’s TikToks remains a bit of a mystery, even after I spoke with the enigmatic fashion designer. And that’s part of what makes him so fascinating. Think Tommy Wiseau, but much sweeter and with a better sense of style.
Pork’s videos tend to be short, focusing mainly on his desire to become a famous fashion designer and feeling a bit like a forgotten sketch from I Think You Should Leave. One TikTok from January shows his face plastered on a CGI cityscape and a passing blimp.
“One day, all of the cities will look like this. The world will know my face. Marcus Pork. #FamousMarcus,” he intones.
The TikTok world, at the very least, knows his face. When I searched “Marcus Pork” under TikTok users, at least 60 others had opted to use his photo as their avatar (and that’s not counting the altered images of Pork). The hashtag #famousmarcus has racked up an impressive 32.8 million views on TikTok, and #marcuspork has 6.5 million.
He’s not letting any of this go to his head, though.
“Becoming TikTok famous, it made me very popular, it made me very recognizable. People started recognizing me. But I’m still the same nice person, and I’m not a diva at all,” Pork tells me over a Zoom call. He says he’s even been stopped on the street and asked to pose for pictures.
TikTok has truly been Pork’s jumping off point. While his t-shirts are admittedly head-turning (more on them later), it was his singular social media presence that originally drew me in.
When I ask why he joined TikTok in the first place, he replies, “I liked it, I wanted to be famous, and I think that was the beginning of everything else.”
One of Pork’s benchmarks for fame is having his own Wikipedia page. While he doesn’t have one yet, he’s mocked up what he’d like the page to look like and made it into one of his t-shirt designs. According to the prototype, Pork is 32 years old, a statement some TikTok users have disputed. When I mention these skeptics, he answers simply: “Yes, I am 32. Otherwise I wouldn’t say I’m 32.”
Pork tells me that he grew up in Hollywood, California, and has always loved clothes. He used to work in the wedding planning business, but left because he wasn’t in love with it, which he discusses in his documentary for the Taco Bell Film Festival (which is apparently not actually affiliated with Taco Bell). There is a Marcus Pork Jr., and in one of his TikToks he mentions having a daughter named Sascha (“I cannot yet tell you about others,” he says inscrutably). However, Pork prefers to keep the conversation focused on his clothing.
Only a handful of designs are available on his website, but they’re more than memorable. His wares include hats with “Hello, my name is Marcus Pork Sr.” embroidered on them, along with the Wikipedia t-shirt, a “Relatable Coffee” shirt (a cartoon Pork holds up a cup of coffee next to the slogan “Don’t wake me up until I’m having the coffee”), and, my personal favorite, “Free Bleed Friday” hoodies. He’s also added sweatpants emblazoned with either “Hello, my name is Marcus Pork Sr.” or “Free Bleed Friday.”
“I became a feminist a long time ago. That’s because I’ve always loved women, you know, and I wanted to be on their side,” Pork explains when I ask about the Free Bleed Friday designs. It’s a message he reiterates in his TikToks, declaring, “Free bleed is brave,” and, “Be feminist. Love the blood.”
As for his fashion heroes, he lists Gucci, Nordstrom, and Jeremy Renner as inspirations.
“I like the way he dresses,” Pork says of Renner. And no wonder—he is a self-professed fan of leather jackets, a fashion staple for the Hawkeye actor.
You don’t have to be a movie star to wear Pork’s clothes, though. In fact, he’s very proud of his inclusivity (“My designs are for everyone, even white people,” he says in one TikTok).
“My clothes are very fashionable. Everybody can wear them. Children can wear them, grown up people can wear them. It’s something that’s for everyone,” he tells me as our conversation comes to a close.
As I end the call, I can’t help but think the world would be better off if more people were like Pork.
Clare Martin is a cemetery enthusiast and Paste’s assistant comedy editor. Go harass her on Twitter @theclaremartin.