I have to remind myself at several points throughout my interview with the Coyle Twins that no, I did not just ingest a bunch of drugs.
Luca and Cooper Coyle first came to prominence on the now-defunct social network Vine, then parlayed their success over to a YouTube channel in 2016, where they released a heavy flow of videos including "ARRESTED & FIRED FROM OUR FIRST JOB?! | Storytime" and "WE WERE ALMOST KIDNAPPED | Storytime." Their biggest viral moment came in May of 2018 when they released the video "Twins come out to mom & you won't believe her reaction." (Her reaction, which I had no trouble believing based off the fact that this surely could not have come as a shock to her: "Okay… so what?")
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Once out of the closet, and no longer tethered to presenting a masculinized version of themselves, the pair began to experimenting with drag, and over time, introduced the world to the drag duo Sugar & Spice. 86 million likes later, the pair are among the most popular LGBTQ+ content creators on TikTok, where they share videos of themselves living their best, most chaotic lives.
Below, I try to get a word in edgewise in conversation with the enthusiastic, magnetic, never-boring pair about their public coming out, their drag pursuits, Miley Cyrus and how embracing their femininity helped teach them to love themselves.
When this interview is published, it will be three years since your viral coming out video to your mother. I'm wondering, with three years of hindsight, how you look back on that moment now?
Cooper: Oh, God!
Luca: Honestly, I kind of forget about it now. It seems like a lifetime ago, it's crazy. The thought never really comes to my mind. Now, the thought of coming out as gay just seems so minut to being a crazy, life-sized doll/drag queen stuck in the middle of suburbia.
Cooper: It seems a little like "Oh, sweetie, you've got a long road ahead of you if you think that a hurdle, so buckle up, baby!'"
When you say you guys are stuck in suburbia, where are you?
Cooper: We are in the South Shore of Long Island.
Luca [In an exaggerated Long Island accent]: Long Island, New York! [Back to normal speaking voice] If you haven't been able to tell with the accents. Hopefully we aren't giving you like, Long Island, New York. I mean, our parents have it worse, like our dad's from Staten Island and [back to exaggerated Long Island accent] they talk like this [back normal speaking voice now] his name's Cooper, and our dad will be like…
Cooper: He knows my name, you don't have to say it, but okay.
Luca: No, I know! But our dad will be like [in exaggerated Staten Island accent] "Coop-ah, get off the comput-ah!" Like, when we were growing up they'd say "Coop-ah."
So, do you both have aspirations of moving to New York City or Los Angeles one day? Or do you guys want to stay where you are?
Luca: Oh, no, no, no, no. We are trying to get to LA as soon as possible. The plan was to go last year, then the pandemic happened.
Cooper: It's very the Christina Aguilera meme where they're asking her about when the album is gonna drop and she's like, "It's a creative process, it takes time…"
Luca: "...we're not gonna rush it." But eventually, yes
So is there a gay scene in South Shore? What is the scene like in terms of the homosexual persuasion?
Luca: [Playfully] Oh, the homosexual persuasion.
Cooper: I think we took up the majority. I think our town was like, "Okay, this is enough. Just the two flaming fags on the street." Like yeah, that's going to be enough.
Luca: I mean there really isn't much. There's definitely not a bar scene or a gay scene at all. I think they've all just fled to New York City by now probably.
Cooper: No, no, no. My mom actually told me the other day, there is like a gay pride parade in our town in June. She was like, "You guys should come with me!"
You guys should Grand Marshal it!
Luca: [Laughing] Oh, no.
I'm curious when each of you had the realization that you were gay and how you communicated that to one another? Did you know each other were gay?
Cooper: Our bond was so strong. As you can imagine, growing up as a queer kid you feel like you can't really relate to anyone else, you're still waiting to find your tribe, you feel out of place. But luckily for us, we were able to validate each other. Even though we still had to go through the same struggles as everyone else, like finding ourselves and all that bullshit, our self esteem was pretty strong because I was like, "Oh, he's just like me." So I didn't feel that out of place.
Luca: We had each other. I'm like, "Well if I'm weird and different from all the other boys, I can't be that weird because I have someone that looks just like me that is also 'weird' and different from the other boys," so there was some comfort and camaraderie there.
Cooper: Just like how I always knew I was gay, I just knew he was, too. It was like this thing we didn't address.
Luca: I guess that is that twin telepathy after all. Then in collage a friend brought us to a gay club on our second night out in the city when we went to FIT and all of the sudden we were living for it. First of all, I don't even know how we got in because I was wearing Birkenstocks and shorts, I literally looked twelve years old. I don't know how that happened.
Cooper: With the fake IDs…
Luca: Oh right. But we got in, and I saw boys kissing boys, he saw boys kissing boys, and we were living for it.
Cooper: We weren't running for the hills, we were running for the dick, and yeah.
That's poetic. Do you two ever get sick of each other?
Both: Oh, yeah!
Luca: Our favorite videos are ones where we're fighting.
Cooper: Our bloopers.
Luca: Because those are our real, candid moments. We only fight over artistic things, but our way of fighting is so weird. We could be like screaming at each other, and two minutes later we're like best friends.
Cooper: We will go off and read each other down, but it's chaotic because two minutes later we're like, "Okay, let's go to Panera and get mac n' cheese.
When did each of you first start getting interested in drag?
Luca: This question is like opening Pandora's box…
Cooper: Asking a drag queen their drag name, or when they got started, it's like five hours later, I just needed a simple answer and you gave me the whole novel. Also, every other drag queen is like, "I played with dolls growing up, now I'm a life-sized doll." Like, oh, bitch, give it a break.
Luca: Give it up, sis. Like, we get it, we get it.
Cooper: The thing about us that really bonded us together when we were younger, and even now, were our dolls. We were really invested because…
Luca: It was our escape.
Cooper: I had no interest in what the world and reality provided to me. I was into the glamour…
Luca: That's why we love Housewives and reality TV. We started watching that really young. I think in like sixth grade I was like transfixed and fascinated by Nene and Kim, like the first episode of Atlanta, and ever since then we've been hooked. But before that, we were watching America's Next Top Model, starting in like third grade. I was obsessed with the glamour and the photography and then we started taking pictures of our dolls. Then in middle school we would turn them into models and started doing their hair and make-up. So we look back and are like, 'Wait, we were literally doing drag back then." It's no different than what we're doing now, it's just on ourselves.
Okay wait, but to go back to Housewives real quick, I know you mentioned Nene and Kim, formative for me as well, but is there a singular housewife that you really look at and you feel like has the characteristics of a drag queen?
Cooper: We love the people that everyone hates…
Luca: Yeah, we love the villains. Like the Kenya Moores, the Danielle Staubs, even Kelly Dodd. We love the crazy ones that bring drama, controversial in that sense.
Cooper: I like watching unhinged people on TV. I feel like, we always are like Jill Zarin: "We're not gonna lie, we miss the gossip."
You both are huge Miley Cyrus fans. What is it you love most about her?
Luca: Literally, I ask myself that question sometimes, like, why do I love her so much? Like what is going on up in here, like why? And I feel like the answer is because I really liked her growing up, like Hannah Montana, Disney channel, all that stuff. But right when the Bangerz era started was when I really fell in love with her. I kind of saw her as an underdog in terms of the media because I could see her true talent…
Cooper: She was overlooked.
Luca: They didn't realize how much of a good singer she was, how much of a writer or an artist she was. They would slut shame her and say all of these horrible things about her, so I kind of saw myself in her in a weird way, or just felt oddly connected to her, and ever since then I always root for her. I'll be out and about and I'll respond to her name faster than when I hear someone say my name. Like Miley and Tyra Banks, if you say a bad thing about them, even though, obviously, everyone is not perfect, everyone has had their fair share of shit they've done, but I will always ride for them.
Cooper: I think why we connected with Miley so much when Bangerz came out, because in ninth grade that's like the peak of social inclusion and you're trying to fit in. So to see someone be so unapologetically themselves, I was like, "Oh my god, that's the confidence and aspiration that I needed." Like "Do My Thang," she was just fearless.
Luca: People wanted her to be something that she wasn't. "We want the long hair," and she was like, "I'm me and you're going to deal with it." I feel like that's us. Originally when we did YouTube and we were switching over to drag, we got so much hate. "Go back to the old you," "We don't like this." And I look back and there's kind of a correlation. We stuck to our ground like her. I would always be like, "Well Miley would do what she wants to do and not what other people wanted her to do," so I kind of developed that mantra.
Cooper: And I think there is an important message behind when someone thinks you're one thing, you can turn around and be like, "Woah, woah, woah, I'm actually this thing," you know? So I love that.
Biggest celebrity crush?
Cooper: Actually, it's weird because growing up I was never into the guys or anything, I was just into the girls. I think I pushed my gayness off so much that I was stanning Hilary Duff and Lindsay Lohan.
Luca: Yeah, those were our icons. Those were my crushes, like, Hilary and Lindsay.
Cooper: But I will say, we were watching The Assassination of Gianni Versace…
Luca: Oh, this! We never have crushes on the same people and we were both living for…
Cooper: We were introduced to Cody Fern and we were obsessed.
Luca: We were watching it and looking up, "Is he gay?" Oh, yes he is. And we were doing our research like, "Oh, he has a boyfriend... great. "
Cooper: And you get on the thing and find the boyfriend and you're like, "Oh, shit."
Luca: But yeah, he's definitely our shared celebrity crush. That's the one person we will fight to the death over.
And speaking of crushes, what goes down in your DMs?
Cooper: The DMs are dryer than the Sahara Desert. It's literally just 13-year-old girls from TikTok being like, "Hi what make-up brushes did you use in this video?"
Luca: I feel like maybe back when we were doing YouTube and not doing drag the DMs were more popping, but now I feel like if someone comes across our page…
Cooper: We scare them off.
Luca: They don't really understand what's happening. "Are they people? Or are they just animated, wanna-be cartoon dolls?"
Cooper: That is the nice thing, when it comes to dating and all of that, with drag and I guess the way we present ourselves online...
Luca: It's going to cancel out the stupid masc-for-masc gays that are going to judge you anyways. Because a lot of times you see the really butch guys, all muscle-y and you might think, "Oh, they might be judgemental, maybe they don't like the more feminine gays or whatever." But a lot of times the ones that I meet that present as more stereotypically masculine, they're like more feminine than me in real life."
What is your message for our community this Pride?
Cooper: I think the main message is just we don't have to be the token anything. For us on TikTok, when we started we didn't realize that these young kids didn't know what drag was or a drag queen. They only knew James Charles. I figured everyone knows RuPaul and Drag Race but….
Luca: They literally don't know what it is.
Cooper: Literally, like, nine, 12, 17-year-olds. They see us and they're like, "Oh my god, James Charles!" And it's funny, that's kind of when we saw the opportunity, that this is our chance to actually educate people and be that representation, but also kind-of normalize it for them. So when they're in school, and they're like…
Luca: Someone doesn't know the difference between a trans person and a drag queen, they can be like, "Oh, well I know those two crazy twins on TikTok that dress in those outfits, they're just drag queens, and they have fun…"
Cooper: And they can explain the difference between a drag queen and a trans person, and educate them about how trans people can also be drag queens. It's all about familiarity for us, like we can be that for people, but also have the conversation continued. LGBTQ+ people defined by just being trans or just being gay, or lesbian, or a drag queen. They're so much more, their entire existence doesn't just have to be that.
"Wear Me Out" is a column by pop culture fiend Evan Ross Katz that takes a look at the week in celebrity dressing. From award shows and movie premieres to grocery store runs, he'll keep you up to date on what your favorite celebs have recently worn to the biggest and most inconsequential events.
Photography: The Coyle Twins