Nov 26, 2015 2:16PM

Cory Kennedy On Life After MySpace

From top eights to Cobrasnake.

If you cast your mind back to 2007, you'll remember a time when customising your MySpace top eight, coding your MySpace profile and selecting your MySpace song was literally all that mattered. During the height of emo, you also learned how to write <3 (&hearts;), always thanked people for the add and probably definitely idolised Cory Kennedy.

Flash forward to now and Facebook is actually a thing, and the glamourous time of alt fashion and Cobrasnake parties has come and gone. In fact, MySpace has even deleted all your old highly curated profiles. RIP 'About me' blurb. This leaves us with one burning question, what happened to Cory Kennedy?

It turns out, Cory is pretty hard to pin down these days — and likes to take total control over the way she's shot, styled, interviewed, everything — but once you catch her, she doesn't hold back. We sent young guy (who's also ~always online~) Alex Kazemi to talk to Cory about genuine style, partying young and what's become of the internet.

Alex Kazemi: I know a lot of 21-year-olds who were 13 in 2007 who are very celebratory of that time in pop culture — they fetishise the way women would self-destruct in front of the camera lens. There are blogs and nostalgic Twitter accounts that pay homage to 2007-2009 in pop culture. Does that weird you out?
Cory Kennedy: It doesn't weird me out at all. It was the era that the internet and social media started to become an outlet for young people to write and express themselves in the media or public eye. You could see people's flaws and errors, from personal breakdowns to beautiful discoveries — it was intrusive, up close and personal. Nowadays, everything and everyone is so perfected and controlled — their photos and videos lack any sincere reality.

Do you think the internet fame you experienced as a teen on MySpace is less chaotic than the kids who have Tumblr/ Instagram/ Facebook/ Twitter in their pockets buzzing at them every second of the day?
I don't think my life was less chaotic at all. My life was nothing but chaos. Getting more friends on MySpace was gratifying for everyone — who doesn't like to be liked? It's human nature to want to be accepted and liked, regardless of what people say. You can still be introverted or a loner, or whatever people title themselves to rebel against that urge. Back to MySpace — in the beginning it was pure fun. I remember how important the top eight became when you were able to control it. Thinking about it now, I'm chuckling to myself because it seems so silly, but if you compare it to how people react when they find out certain people have unfollowed them on Instagram, it's pretty much the same thing. Later, MySpace was proof of relevance and popularity when people wanted be to model for campaigns or stuff along those lines. Despite all the haters, I never, ever deleted mean comments and haven't on any social media platform to this day. I had nothing to hide then and I have nothing to hide now.

Did the cyber bullying you experienced online do damage in forming your identity as an adolescent?
Well, I've literally read every nasty, cruel, hurtful comment that someone could possible say about a human being. But I stopped reading those years ago. I didn't need anyone to tell me to stop reading that bullshit (excuse my French) — I already knew it wasn't true. Well, maybe some of it was, but I certainly stopped paying attention to it. I still have older friends who read those comments about themselves, but I try to tell them it's bogus and pointless.

Do you think there's a difference of internet fame in the MySpace era versus internet fame in the Tumblr era?
Definitely, internet fame was more playful then — it was quite organic, and unforced for the most part. Now there's no way to keep track of the tens of thousands of people who are "internet famous" — people hire agents and managers to achieve it, so it's really artificial. There's almost no way to know who's the real deal.

I remember a 16-year-old Lorde said this to The Guardian: "Everyone at high school strives for this kind of aesthetic correctness. I do it as well, you know. I curate my life in a way." Did you feel the need to conform to a certain aesthetic as a teen or is that an alien concept to you?
I could really rant for hours about personal style then and now, and how disappointing everything has become. As a teen, I didn't want to achieve anyone else's look. I was me and I dressed the way I wanted. Personal style stuck out then. People still miss that. I miss that. I understand the whole aesthetic of ones life posted on Instagram, but it's not real! People don't live in the world they portray on Instagram. It's impossible. Yes, a lot of it is pleasing to look at but to actually believe that's someone's lifestyle is a joke. I definitely curate my life around the things I'm passionate about — fashion, photography, music, writing, film. You're not going to get what you want out of life if you don't navigate it, or in Lorde's words, to curate. But being hyper aware of the way things look is a waste of time in my opinion.

When you became an "it girl", was it something you aspired to be or do you think it was something people made you as?
I was aspiring to find my passion in life. Why I'm here on this earth. What makes me most happy. That's what it was. I didn't know what an it girl was. I thought it was a new term they made up for me or rather brought back. The term is pretty embarrassing to me now. But to mainstream folk, that's how they're able understand what's "cool". As for the girls who try to become it girls, they automatically aren't. You shouldn't try to be something that someone categorises as basically a cool new thing. That's just wanting fame, with what they think is a cool title. It's gross. They pay PR to call them that in the media. You could drown in the lists of so-called it girls around the internet.

Do you ever feel like you were too young to be on MySpace or Facebook? Looking back, do you think you were too vulnerable and unable to protect yourself?
I don't think I was too young. I'm very, very mature. I don't think at any age you're ready to protect yourself from all the negativity. But I do wish someone stepped in and told me NO. Like, "No, stop drinking" — and actually mean it. Adults were so afraid to be real with me… Why, so I'd like you? No, I'm underage at a club, don't give me bottle service. So in that sense, I was too young.

I see some girls and I'm very afraid for them. No one is telling them "No". They're too young. Everyone needs a parent or loved one to protect them, no matter how much money they're making. I get very emotional about this subject, because of the clarity I have now, and all the things that could have been stopped or avoided if someone had been there to help me control parts of my life. I'm still processing everything myself. So I hope some of those girls I'm afraid for have that backup team ready for when they need it because, unfortunately, they all will.

For most people, being on The Cobrasnake seemed like the coolest, most glamorous thing. Was the reality of those parties not as fun as the photos?
Yes and no. Some of those parties were what people only dream of — the people I hung out with and the places I would party in. People would say I was the luckiest girl in the world. Most of the time I was wasted. I don't remember most of what happened. That's not very glamorous to me now. I find it sad. And most of the celebrities that people still obsess about — those people are all mad out of it as well. That life is quite dark. Most of those people are so unhappy, myself being one of them. I never did drugs other than alcohol and Benzos, that I was prescribed for my anxiety, but the amount of hard drugs in that scene was disgusting. So much cocaine. I can't deny that I had some of the craziest, weirdest, best times of my life. There was a lot of fun that did happen. I was lucky in that way. I think.

When you would go out, in the back of your mind were you nervous of how you'd be photographed? Or did you really just not care?
I really didn't care. And then we'd go out and I really didn't care. Seeing some of those photos pop up now, I wish Mark hadn't put them up. Some of those photos are not okay at all. But there's nothing I can do about it now.

Did the early fame you experienced as a teenager help your career?
Yeah, it did. My so-called slash career. I like to call myself a Renaissance woman but people still like to hear titles. One of the reasons I don't like going out are the questions: "So, what do you do?" I'm just like, "I'm Cory." It's hard to answer that question and it bothers me, mostly because I don't know what I am. Do I have to be anything specific? I usually just say I'm a writer or something like that to avoid confusion.

What does taking photographs have that modelling doesn't?
I love both truly. Taking photos came first for me. I have such an eye and so much creativity for it. No touching up, no editing, all raw. I definitely believe it helps with modeling — knowing what's visually pleasing from behind the camera and what a good photo should have in it, like space consumption, colour, the pose, the expression, the outfit, the situation... It all depends on the story. I find modelling an art. Anyone can have a pretty face and no personality, but it shows through in photos. I'm not a supermodel but I know modelling very well, and when someone can or can't do that job.

In 2013, you spoke openly about your problem with heroin chic, and these kids in NYC posting pics of their syringes and Xanax bottles beside Hello Kitty keychains, acting like it's glamorous. Do you think this comes from the inability to create? As someone who has dealt with addiction, does this frustrate you?
I absolutely believe it comes from the inability to create or being creative. It's also about being hyper self-conscious and not being able to fit in, so they pretend they don't need to be liked or need attention because they don't care about anything. They try to prove they don't care by using drugs or pretending to. I definitely believe they are mentally ill to think that doing this will make them look "cool" or whatever word they want to be identified with. Pretending to be an addict for attention disgusts me. These people imitating drug use clearly don't understand that being an addict is a disease. And not one individual who suffers from addiction would ever wish it upon their worst enemy. There is no cure to addiction. Fortunately, there are ways to cope with the disease. I don't know how long this fad of fabricating personal addiction will last but anyone who has close family members or friends [who suffer from addiction] knows that it's not something to glamorise, because it's the ugliest thing imaginable.

You went to a boarding school at the height of your depression. Do you feel the overstimulation of being a micro-celebrity on the internet and in cult magazines played a role in how you were feeling?
Well, I actually told my mom I needed to be hospitalised for depression for a month at UCLA when I was 14. Several years later came the boarding school that I was against but my mom felt was appropriate. Being in all those magazines and featured on all those covers was helpful for my depression — in other words, it meant I was working, and when I'm working I'm at my happiest. Being around tons of creative and talented people who understood me was fantastic, not to mention the most amazing clothes I was able to play with and wear. So taking me away from that environment I thrived in was only hurting me. To this day, that was one of the worst times in my life. I was forced into it and put in extremely close quarters with people who didn't understand me at all. Their views on what a successful person was really just killed my soul and I felt completely out of control and unworthy of my opinions.

Do you have a spiritual regimen to keep you centred?
I don't really have a spiritual regimen; I'm still trying to find that niche in my life to be honest. I've struggles with extremely debilitating mental and emotional issues since I was in about fourth grade — clinical depression, anxiety, ADD, insomnia, and later on alcoholism. Leaving the house is a constant struggle, but I have always felt calm and anxiety-free in nature. I was having this conversation with my close friend Sean Lennon, on religion and higher powers, and what mine were. I mentioned these feelings to him and he told me about Pantheism. Pantheism is the belief that the Universe or nature (as the totality of everything) is identical with divinity, or that everything composes an all-encompassing immanent god. Which some believe is actually the polar opposite of atheism. This was major for me — turns out I wasn't crazy with my nature-bonding thoughts! For many people of my generation, religion is scary and only causes fighting, wars and judgment. I mean, we've been living through essentially World War III. Why would religion be something anyone would find appealing at this point?

Did you ever have a scene or emo phase?
I was never physically emo, but I've always sort of been emotionally emo — being obsessed with music, fashion, art and photography, and wanting to be alone because no one really understood me growing up. Even my family, but not in a harsh or hurtful way. It's funny because when I'm at my Mom's house, I look through the photo albums, and I still pretty much dress the same way [since I was young]. I never really followed trends, or had phases. I was always me. I tease my twin sister a lot because she literally went through a dozen phases growing up.  

Do you have any self-imposed rules for how you act online, a sort of etiquette?
I always made sure honesty was number one. Still is. Another personal rule for me is never to cuss. Sounds odd but I just feel there's no need. Yes, I cuss in real life. It's hard not to. Also never post anything that doesn't have some kind of point. No one wants to read a bunch of BS.

What can we see in the future from Cory Kennedy?
Well, as I always say, you can see me being me. I have several collaborations with designers coming out, a film, I'm working on a photography book, and continuing to write on my blog and take one day at a time.

Photography: Chandler Kennedy 
Fashion: Cory Kennedy
Make-up: Rie 
Hair: Evanie Frausto 
Interview: Alex Kazemi

MySpace Images: Cory Kennedy