WILLIAM SLEDD isn't your average YouTube star. His posts are funny, but he's not an aspiring comedian. He's not a stripper, although he has put up video of himself dancing in American Apparel underwear. And he's not an editing nerd, re-cutting scary movies into slapstick comedies. He's a gay 23-year-old manager at the Gap in Paducah, Ky., and he is YouTube's resident fashion advisor.
His video blog, "Ask a Gay Man: Fashion Edition," has become the fourth-most subscribed-to blog on YouTube.
"I mean, pretty much ever since I was growing up I was interested in fashion," Sledd said by telephone from his home. "And it's not like designer couture that I'm obsessed with. It's more about people dressing correctly. It just really bothers me when people look like crap."
He invites viewers to e-mail him fashion questions like "What colors can I wear with black if I have fair skin?" and "How do I tell my friend to stop wearing overalls?"
Sledd has a baby face and a stylish sideswept haircut (he once filmed himself getting highlights). His style leans toward preppy, and he's not afraid to rock a pink dress shirt or polo shirt on occasion. In his almost weekly posts he instructs his 45,000 subscribers and millions of viewers on the perils of high-waisted mom jeans and carpenter pants for men who aren't carpenters and the glory of Chanel black nail polish and V-neck sweaters for guys. He loathes Crocs (those clunky plastic clogs that come in neon colors) and loved houndstooth for last fall. He's anti-leggings (unless you somehow have the fashion smarts to pull them off) and pro-man bag.
Sledd started video blogging six months ago after watching a lonelygirl15 video.
"I saw hers and I was like, 'I could so do that,' " he said. It also helped that he had recently purchased an iMac with a video camera built in. "That iMac changed my life."
Since September, Sledd has posted 34 videos to YouTube, gradually picking up subscribers. He became an official YouTube celebrity in November when the site featured his eighth video on its homepage. That installment, "Ask a Gay Man: Denim Edition," has been watched more than 2 million times and quickly pushed Sledd's subscribers into the tens of thousands.
Like the "Queer Eye" guys or Jay Manuel from "America's Next Top Model," Sledd's persona is playfully catty and a little bossy. And like all great YouTubers, his videos seem off the cuff, but they actually require thought and work. The "Denim Edition" video is just 4 1/2 minutes long, but it took Sledd four hours to shoot and edit it.
"I try to spend a lot of time editing," he said. "Now with all the subscribers it's a lot of pressure, but I try to make good videos. I look at it as something for the greater good."
Now Sledd is preparing to move from Internet superstardom to the real thing. He's already met with people from the recently "Queer Eye"-less Bravo a few times and has more meetings planned.
"It was totally nuts," he said. "Now I'm sitting in meetings with the vice president of Bravo while everybody talks about me in third person. They have a lot of great ideas, but everything is still in development, and it's hard to know what the final product will be."
Sledd doesn't have an agent but has signed a contract with NBC.
"There is a ton of interest for him," a spokesperson for the company said. "We receive a lot of publicity calls, and a lot of people want to talk to him. He's really sparked a lot of interest nationally."
In the meantime, "Ask a Gay Man: Fashion Edition" was recently nominated for best series in the first YouTube awards. It lost to the comedy series "Ask a Ninja," but before the results were in Sledd made a video critiquing his fellow nominees' style.
"Simple question: What's up with all the black?" asked Sledd, while reviewing "Ask A Ninja's" wardrobe. "It's so drab. If I was a ninja.... " The clip jump-cut to Sledd with a pink sheet over his head.
"I don't think there are enough pink ninjas in the world," he said.