Exclusive: Jeffree Star on Living in Casper, Yaks, And Owning Wyoming’s First Electric Hummer
Two years ago, Jeffree Star shocked the world when he decided to leave the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, California for the (much) lesser-known Casper, Wyoming. Of course, those who live in Casper know how great the town actually is, but for a celebrity to trade the bright lights and big city for the (relative) peace and quiet of Casper; it was pretty much unheard of.
Kanye West did the same thing, around the same time; moving from L.A. to a ranch in Cody, Wyoming, but would eventually return to Los Angeles. Some people are cut out for Wyoming; others are not.
Jeffree Star is the former.
He moved to Casper in December of 2020, right in the midst of the pandemic. In fact, it was the pandemic itself that made Star realize he needed a break from the big city.
"It's the best decision I ever made," Star told K2 Radio News in an exclusive interview. "California's only getting more crazy, more busy, more hot. And I think the pandemic really made me open my eyes as to what I wanted in the future."
But before we get to the future, it's important to understand the past.
Star grew up in Orange County, California. The son of a model, it didn't take long for Star to realize how much fun makeup could be.
“My mom had a ton of makeup lying around,” Star told The Orange County Register. “I’d look through it and try stuff on, and I realized that I could totally change my appearance, and that it was fun to look different. Then I could just wipe it all off and be me.”
Throughout his entire career, one that spans music, modeling and, yes, makeup, Star has made it a point to "be me" at all times. At least, on the inside. Outside, he's dabbled in a myriad of different looks and styles throughout the years and his fascination with makeup eventually lent itself into a business venture - Jeffree Star Cosmetics.
"I was always obsessed with makeup, since I was like 12 years old," Star said. "But I was afraid of starting my own company. I was afraid of starting a brand. So when my music career was not going where I wanted it to, I was like, 'Oh my God, am I gonna go work at the matte counter again, or am I gonna finally believe in myself with this new thing?' So I just decided I was going to go full-on. I was not about to be at the makeup counter at the mall anymore. So, you know. Humble beginnings, but I just knew that I was destined for more."
Indeed, he was. Star became a YouTube sensation, becoming one of the world's highest-paid YouTube stars and parlaying that into serving as makeup mogul with Jeffree Star Cosmetics.
Now, in addition to his makeup business, he's also expanded into yak farming, naturally.
"So, I used to do music a long, long time ago, in the MySpace era," Star laughed. "And I toured overseas and one day, we're in Geneva Switzerland and somewhere along the way, we see all these fuzzy, beautiful cows on a mountain. And I was like, 'What are those? Those cows are pretty.' And the bus driver in this crazy German accent was like, 'Those are not cows. They're yaks.' And the way he said it, with such conviction - it was so funny. So when I moved here, I was like 'Are yaks legal in America,' which, of course they are. They were imported in 1902 and they've been here all along. It's a very small niche versus beef cattle, obviously. There's probably only about 30,000 yaks in America. But our plan is to expand, and breed more for meat and pets. Because there's just not enough in America."
So, in addition to a ranch-style home, Star also has a yak farm, featuring more than 100 yaks, called Star Yak Ranch.
"We've done a lot," he said. "We're at 150 yaks and our meat business is blowing up in town. And we just want to stay in Wyoming. We're getting calls from restaurants in California, Florida, New York but we're just staying local right now."
Locally, yaks are currently the belles of the ball. Multiple restaurants in town, such as Tacos Mexico, Firerock, and more are offering yak meat on their menu. Various stores are selling yak meat as well. The yak business, much like Star's makeup business, has taken off, especially in Casper.
But what made Star want to move to Casper in the first place?
"It had to be Wyoming," Star said. "Wyoming was always the top pick. I really wanted to be in a community where I can just be myself, and just have a small town vibe. My best friend left Bozeman, Montana and also joined me in Casper and he said the same thing: 'Casper right now feels like Bozeman 10 years ago.'"
Indeed, Casper has grown exponentially in recent years, expanding its downtown area with community hubs like the David Street Station, and even more bars and restaurants.
It's not a sprawling Metropolis, but it's...comfortable.
"We didn't want to go to Jackson Hole," Star revealed. "It's very pretentions, with big houses but, like LA, no acres. I wanted to be on a real ranch. And it's just the community. I found Casper and I loved the vibe, loved the food, loved how nice everyone was. Everyone was so helpful. Everyone was asking 'How are you?' instead of 'Who are you? What can I get out of you?' Everyone was really positive. Are there a few people that don't get me? Yeah, but that's everywhere. But no one really bothers me. I'm not going anywhere. I've been through two winters and she's still here."
It was Star's very first winter that indoctrinated him via a car wreck in which he flipped his vehicle and ended up in the hospital, just a couple months after moving to town.
"It was just really crazy black ice," he revealed. "People make jokes about my fast cars and speeding, but I was actually going very slow. The black ice just got me that day; I don't know how. And I think where I was positioned, it propelled me down a snow bank. I think if it was a flat road, it wouldn't have flipped. So I got a free rollercoaster ride. Thanks Natrona County! But I healed really great. It's a funny joke now. You know, it's either laugh or cry. But it was eye opening and I was ready to get back to work the next day."
The good news is, the wreck of his previous car meant he was in the market for a new one and he opted to purchase Wyoming's first all electric Hummer.
Before the hummer, Star owned the Tesla X.
"I thought it was so badass," he said. "The DeLorean doors, the whole thing. The concept of no engine was so bizarre to the world, so when I was in it for the first time, and it's on autopilot and the car is just driving itself...it was a trip. But you adapt. I loved it. It was cool."
Star said that eventually, however, he grew bored of it and sold it. He wasn't confident that he'd get an electric vehicle again, and he knew that, living in Wyoming, he was going to need something to withstand the rough terrain. That's when he decided on the electric hummer.
"There are a lot of electric vehicles coming out and nothing caught my eye," he shared. "I always loved the H1. Hummers are very Wyoming. So when I saw this, I was like 'Oh my God, it's huge!' It's full electric. I love that GMC bought it; they're trying to revive the brand. And it's insane. It's got a thousand horsepower. The car is almost 10,000 pounds. It's got autopilot. It has 18 cameras. It's silent. It's a convertible."
It is, without hyperbole, one of the coolest cars that has ever been invented.
And it's better for the environment. What more could one ask for?
Another reason he wanted an electric vehicle, Star said, was to avoid startling his pets...or forcing them to breathe in noxious fumes.
"The yaks love this thing because unlike a Polaris General, it's silent," Star said. "So even though it's bulky, the yaks are more keen to be chill. And they're not huffing on fumes. No emissions over here! (As I get on my private jet and Rolls Royce)."
Private jet and Rolls Royce aside, Star has ingratiated himself to Casper and its residents somewhat flawlessly. On any given night, he can be seen drinking a Shirley Temple and Red Bull (he doesn't drink alcohol) at The Gaslight Social, or eating dinner at Firerock. He's not one of those celebrities who likes to live above people. He mixes and mingles and occasionally gets into arguments on Facebook with strangers, just like the rest of us.
More importantly, he has the means and the desire to actually give back to the community, which is exactly what he's doing with Star Yak Ranch and a number of other ventures, some of which will be revealed very, very soon...
When asked what he's most proud of, Star took a moment to really consider the question.
"Oh, I like that question," he said. "I think my makeup brand is what I'm most proud of thus far, because I really got to have one hundred percent control over it. I get to do me, have fun, and take it to the limit with makeup. And I really changed the beauty world and the industry when I popped in. And it's just so cool because when the pandemic started, people stopped buying makeup. And a lot of brands don't want to talk about it. A lot of brands shut down. So it's humbling to still be here. And I think it's because of my creative ideas and my packaging and the formulas. People know what they're getting when they buy from me; they know it's gonna be good. And I'm so proud of the fact that people trust my opinion and what I'm going to create. So this next chapter, give me a few more years. But I like to jumpstart, quick.
Star continued, stating that "there's dreamers and doers, and you can do both. So do it."
That's exactly what he has done, and it's what he will continue to do.
And he'll do it, right here in Casper.
"I've really embraced this town," Star said. "I love being here and we're excited to grow our yak business. I think Casper's gonna be the hotspot of yaks for America, and Wyoming in general. And I think the next phase is a retail spot. We've been doing these popups at our warehouse, and I'd love to move it. I'd love to close it down and open up a real store with makeup and meat. The dichotomy of beauty and food."
"Can you imagine?" he asked with a sly smile...
Video of our adventure with Jeffree Star, including a ride in his electric hummer, can be seen below.
Photos can be seen below as well.