Luke Eilers is a 22-year-old life coach from Southern California who answers viewers’ questions—about porn, about social anxiety, about procrastination—on his YouTube channel, which has over 23k subscribers. Before becoming a solo act, Luke was a founding member of the million-subscriber prank channel whatever. In this interview we discuss self-development, reading about how to pick up women on the internet, porn, a controversial prank video, and dropping out of college.
Luke Stoddard Nathan: In the first video on your channel, you mention that, during your time with whatever, you received a lot of requests from guys regarding how to pick up girls and how to become more confident. Can you briefly describe how you ended up as a life coach (for lack of a better term) on YouTube? Have you been interested in personal development for a long time, or was your curiosity concerning questions of how to live only sparked recently by people on the internet asking you for advice?
Luke Eilers: I’m a thinker. I have a very ADD brain. Around 16 I started getting into self-development stuff online. I’d get lost on the internet absorbing information about how to improve my life, the gym, advice about girls, etc. I got hooked on Steve Pavlina, who is the biggest personal development blogger online. I also spent a decent amount of time reading dating/pickup material, which I’m a little embarrassed to say. And I have been very good at taking action on the material I read—starting businesses, picking up girls, hitting the gym etc. The self-development community has a lot of mental masturbation, lots of terrible content and ideas—some that may even hurt you. But the fun part is going through those experiences and learning from them. After receiving those inquiries during my time with whatever, I realized my true passion was being an idea guy/thinker, and that I had tons of ideas and perspectives that I could share to really help people. I love talking about stuff like this—improving your life, fun perspectives, girls—so I decided to dive in and start making “life coaching” videos.
LSN: It’s funny that, as someone who makes public videos about premature ejaculation and masturbation, you’re embarrassed to admit that you’ve studied how to pick up women. Who in his/her twenties hasn’t—at the very least—had conversations with friends about how to seduce another person or how to become more attractive? Why are you embarrassed to admit to reading “dating” material? And do you sense that many of your viewers are ashamed to admit that they can’t find a girlfriend, perhaps because they feel like, as men, this is something they should “know how to do”?
LE: It’s not a big deal at all. It’s fun to talk and think about this type of stuff. But if you’re spending TONS of time researching how to pick up girls—then that’s when it could be a bit embarrassing to admit to. I think guys carry more shame with watching porn.
LSN: Do you think that someone can have a “healthy relationship” with porn?
LE: Where do all our relationships exist? In our mind. So I think it’s a completely subjective thing. When people start asking questions like, “Is porn healthy for me to watch?”, “How do I feel jacking off looking at my computer screen watching girls who are paid to have sex for my pleasure?”, “Could this have some unhealthy effects on how I view sexuality and girls?”, “Would the best version of myself watch porn?”, etc., they can start figuring out where their own relationship stands with porn.
LSN: In one of the most popular videos on your channel, you suggest that guys try out “NoFap,” or not masturbating, to increase energy and emotional acuity. The topic has a subreddit with nearly 100k subscribers. There’s an amusing video on your channel, where, at the scene of the crime (your bed), you admit to fapping, failing to complete your fapstinence goal of one year. What advice might you give to an aspiring no fapper?
LE: My advice would be to really research No Fap. Know the reasons why you are attempting it. Second of all, tell some friends or a friend what you are attempting. Having accountability and sharing support is vital to succeeding in any goal, especially something like No Fap, which takes tremendous discipline and is also kind of a private thing. I credit the fact that I broadcasted that I was attempting No Fap publicly to tens of thousands of people as the reason I succeeded in the original 90 days. It’s also just a great exercise in having no shame about your life and not giving a fuck about what most people consider a private matter. Masturbation and porn are barely talked about in our society. Telling some friends leads to lots of silly and inside jokes as well.
LSN: Your roommate, friend, and former collaborator at whatever, Freddy Fairhair, was criticized by several sites for his video Naked Guy Picking Up Girls, which you helped to produce. Here’s what the writer at Jezebel, Callie Beusman, had to say:
It’s likely that the women laughed at his antics because they were too uncomfortable to react in any other way — not because they thought he was funny or interesting or charming. It certainly seems that way from their body language: most of the women in this clip are furiously avoiding eye contact, which makes sense. If a man were to approach me, remove his pants, and then demand my phone number, I’d probably think he was insane and try to diffuse the situation without angering him.
What do you think of that critique? When you were starring in your own prank videos, did you weigh the pressure to make shocking and entertaining content with the responsibility to not make people who are not in on the joke too uncomfortable?
LE: If the writer of that critique was actually there with us during the filming, I’m sure she’d have a completely different perspective. I think Fred is one of the only guys who could pull off talking to girls naked and by the end of the prank leave the girl feeling very good. Fred has a very gentle and kind spirit to him. Rather than the “ballsy” approach, Fred would approach very gently and openly. After every interaction, after we revealed that it was a prank, we’d stay and chat with the girl/s for 5-10 minutes just making small talk and having a good time. Most of the girls said the prank “made their month,” and I can guarantee you all of them went home that day to their friends and said “GUESS WHAT HAPPENED TODAY?” and shared laughs with their friends. One girl was almost crying from laughing so hard at what happened. Fred didn’t approach the girls to boost his ego or to prove how ballsy he was, but approached the girls genuinely trying to form a connection, albeit a ridiculous and silly connection.
Yes, our goal is to make the world a better place through laughs and good times. And also to inspire people to be crazy and not care about social judgement. We put a lot of thought into how our pranks will impact people to make sure it’s in a positive and uplifting way.
LSN: In recent years the idea that college may no longer be important for professional success has gained popularity with the internet intelligentsia (some examples: this, this, and this). What led to your decision to drop out of college? What does your education look like these days? Do you have mentors? Are you financially independent, or have you worked out a deal with your parents to help tide you over until your ventures become more profitable?
LE: There is no “right” answer about college. Follow your inspiration/heart. I’ve never liked school. I went for social reasons and because everyone else was doing it. When I first went to college I felt this HUGE desire to do something amazing with my life. I was really inspired by The Buried Life. I am very ADD and in my head, and classes really bore me. I can’t sit and listen to a professor lecture for two hours. I’m TERRIBLE at studying stuff I’m not interested in—but I’m a BOSS at studying things I am interested in. I completely obsess over things I’m interested in.
I also couldn’t stand the idea of being like most people, getting a normal degree, and going through the factory. I need high stimulation, individuality, freedom, creativity, and college wasn’t doing it for me. I HATE looking up to people/letting someone have authority over me (unless I genuinely look up to someone and like his/her mission). Having a school and teachers telling me what to do, what my schedule was, when tests were, what to read, etc.—these things were not for me.
I educate myself a ton through the internet. It’s incredible what’s on YouTube and all over the web. I seek out and talk to people I respect. On my channel, for example, I’ve talked to Elliott Hulse and Steve Pavlina. I strive to find mentors who I can learn from and hang out with. I learn best by hanging out with people I respect and observing how they live life. Lately I’ve been hanging out with 31-year-old dating coach Shogo Garcia a lot and learning a TON about life from him.
I had money saved up several months ago, so I have been financially independent for about the last six months. However, I’m not quite making enough money to support myself now, so my parents are helping me out a bit as long as they see me being productive and providing a good message to people. My parents like what I do, and they see how I have a very unique opportunity to find huge success by beating my own path through life, so they very much support me.