Wisconsin resident Mercury Stardust started posting videos on TikTok to promote her weekly burlesque show, but it wasn’t until she started sharing home improvement and maintenance tips that her account really took off.
It all started in April, when Stardust created a video in response to another TikTok user who didn’t know how to use a ratchet strapwhich is used to stow and transport goods.
“It took me from 100 subscribers to 25,000 subscribers in less than 24 hours,” Stardust told NBC affiliate WTMJ of Milwaukee.
Stardust, a transgender woman, has since been dubbed the “Trans Handy Ma’am” and watched her TikTok account skyrocket to 1.5 million followers.
While Stardust, 34, has more than a decade of experience as a maintenance technician, she never thought those skills — not her years of slapstick work — would have been what propelled her to fame. TikTok celebrity.
“I played all over the country. I’ve been to 126 different cities. I’ve played in 22 different states – and what I’m known for is telling people the difference between what a cup piston is and what a regular beehive piston is,” he said. she told WTMJ with a laugh.
She estimated that 90% of her subscribers are women, and she said she hopes her tutorials can help women and gay people learn about home renovations and maintenance, especially s ‘they are not comfortable having strangers in their home to work on these projects.
“People weren’t taught these things or they were told it wasn’t their knowledge to know — controlling knowledge in a way,” Stardust told WTMJ. “They’re taught early on that they’re supposed to do a different set of things, like their cooking tools. That’s what we program for young women.
Stardust said she learned maintenance techniques as a child living on a farm in northern Wisconsin. Her father, she says, wanted to give her the skills and tools to become her ideal vision of a man. While Stardust presented as a boy growing up, she said she didn’t naturally gravitate towards many stereotypically masculine things.
“I like hot pink stuff, I like fluffy stuff, I like dresses and stuff,” she told WTMJ. “I had to keep a lot of things secret. I learned early on that this was no way to survive in northern Wisconsin. You had to hide that part of yourself if you were perceived as a boy.
Stardust, who began her transition three years ago, said that while her videos don’t revolve around being a transgender woman, she thinks it’s important to keep her trans identity front and center.
“If you learn from someone who is trans and they teach things all the time that you never knew in your life, you can have a better understanding and ideology towards trans people now,” said- she told WTMJ. “And maybe we can come together and understand, even though we are different, that the world can be better if we are more loving and understanding. We don’t understand that if you don’t put your identity first.