George Santos, Republican ex-congressman, certified grifter and unlikely gay icon, is now on Cameo.
Santos’ stint in Congress — checkered with a slew of criminal fraud charges, a House ethics committee probe and allegations of misspending campaign funds on expenses like Botox and OnlyFans subscriptions — ended last week when fellow representatives voted to expel him from the House in a 311-114 vote.
The former New York representative is now pivoting to Cameo as a self-proclaimed “Former congressional Icon,” charging $200 per personalized video. The range of possible content includes advice, gossip, pep talks, roasts and answering questions. At the time of writing, Santos already sold 100 videos on Cameo, and temporarily suspended future sales.
If $200 is too steep for a 30 to 60 second video, you can also message Santos directly for just $9.99 – though Cameo notes that “you are not guaranteed a response” even if you pay the fee.
When Santos initially debuted the Cameo account on Monday morning, the cost of a single video was $75, as Wired first reported. He has made over a dozen public Cameos since launching his account, including one addressed to Nebraska State Senator Megan Hunt, in which he encouraged her to stand by her convictions as she faces “tough heat in the press.”
“So this is about you, Megan,” Santos said. “Be yourself unapologetically. Just make sure that you don’t buy into the hate and stand your ground and don’t let them force you out.”
Hunt, who left the Democratic party earlier this year and is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, has been a staunch advocate against banning gender affirming care, and has been harassed by conservative groups over her support of her trans son. Her political stances are diametrically opposed to those of Santos’, who has endorsed legislation that would restrict LGBTQ+ rights despite being gay himself.
On X (formerly Twitter), Hunt clarified that the Cameo was a gift from a friend, and advised against actually buying the videos from Santos.
“To be clear, George Santos is a transphobic fool who has defrauded and harmed people, who says what he has to say to get attention and probably doesn’t hold any personal moral convictions, and also I agree with the advice in this video,” Hunt posted.
Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) claimed that he commissioned a Cameo from Santos, addressed to his “ethically-challenged colleague” Sen. Bob Menendez (R-NJ).
Despite his serial lying and record of anti-LGBTQ+ stances, Santos has become a pop culture icon because he’s entertaining. His flagrant disregard for political etiquette and flamboyant public persona are ideal meme fodder; when he was expelled from Congress, the phrase “DIVA DOWN” trended on X.
Whether or not his fans would actually want him to hold any legislative power is debatable. His Cameo launch is his latest scheme to get the public’s attention in an apparent pivot to being an influencer. Now that his congressional career is over, Santos is milking his internet popularity by deriding other New York representatives as “clowns” and “pompous assholes” on X. He also teased a collaboration with comedian Ziwe, who floated a pay-per-view appearance on her satirical interview series.
Will he leverage his memeability to further his political career? Unclear. But getting expelled from Congress isn’t enough to get rid of him – the online fascination with Santos only bolsters his attempt at a redemption arc.
It helps that pop culture has a soft spot for scam narratives. Convicted grifters like Anna “Delvey” Sorokin and Elizabeth Holmes have rebranded themselves as girlboss folk heroes who flew too close to the sun. Fictionalized retellings of their stories on Netflix and Hulu portray the women as sympathetically ambitious, instead of criminals who defrauded investors with lofty promises.
Following in the footsteps of those who grifted before him, Santos is also making moves to memorialize himself as congressional diva, rather than a corrupt politician facing charges of identity theft and credit card fraud. HBO already optioned the rights to the book “The Fabulist: The Lying, Hustling, Grifting, Stealing, and Very American Legend of George Santos,” which published last week.
Cultural relevance is priceless, and online platforms like Cameo offer even the most egregious public figures a soft landing in their fall from grace. Santos is the sixth ever representative to be expelled from the House, and the first to be ousted without supporting the Confederacy or being convicted of a federal crime. Before the creator economy was a viable industry, a redemption arc like this would have been unthinkable. But with sassy Cameo videos and strategic appearances on viral talk shows, Santos will stay in the spotlight a little longer.