Madzilla is here to pick up her money. Wearing a Rastafarian backpack, a fake gold watch and a gray tank top, she strolls into Crooks & Castles, a streetwear store on that trendy stretch of Fairfax. The clerks recognize her right away.
They may have seen the 25-year-old, Long Beach – based model in Major Lazer's “Jet Blue Jet” video, wearing only black underwear, weed smoke wafting from her lips, which are parted in a porny pout. They may have seen her in Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa's “French Inhale” video. Or perhaps they just follow her on Instagram, along with nearly 350,000 others, where she posts shots of herself getting high in bikinis, partying in Vegas and showing off her prodigious tattoos.
But being famous on the Internet still requires hustle in real life. Which is why, back in November, Madzilla went door to door on Fairfax to convince salesclerks to sell her $20 calendars, whose covers feature her in braids, chains and a velour leisure suit, holding a blunt in one hand and a 40 in the other.
Now she's back to collect the proceeds. This is the third store she's hit up this afternoon, so she already has a few hundred dollars in her pocket. Crooks & Castles marketing director Gerald De La Cruz emerges from the back of the store.
“You wanna smoke?” he asks her. “We hitting it off the bong.”
Of course she does. Never mind that she just smoked a bowl moments ago, right outside the store. The two head upstairs to get high and do business – which, for Madzilla, is practically the same thing.
So it goes for Madelyn “Madzilla” Lance, who boasts the sui generis occupation of tattooed hip-hop stoner model. Something of this generation's Cheech & Chong – only a whole lot curvier – she could hardly be a more of-the-moment phenomenon: a skateboarding pothead's fantasy chick, the kind of girl you want to have on your arm at the Schoolboy Q record-release party. With dimple piercings, plugs in her ears and ink covering the upper half of her body, she counts A$AP Rocky and Iggy Azalea as fashion icons, and rolls in the vein of female celebrities like Rihanna and Miley Cyrus, who smoke just as much weed as the boys.
“Her look is crazy. Madzilla has that cutting-edge, next-level, 2016 type of vibe,” says Grizz Lee, who directed her in the Major Lazer video and also has worked with Nicki Minaj, Kid Ink and Riff Raff. “There's something sexy about a girl who knows how to smoke a blunt, how to roll a blunt, and how to smoke 10 blunts back to back and still be able to function properly.”
Of course, it's one thing to be able to get high; how does one get famous for it?
Madzilla's has actually been a tough and complicated road. As a kid, she thought she'd be poor forever. Her father was an alcoholic who died when she was 10; her mother did meth and heroin. The family moved frequently, from Oregon to California to Nevada to Colorado, crashing sometimes with extended family such as her Native American aunts. (Her heritage is a mix of Native American, Irish, Italian and French.)
By the time she was 13, she and her mother had settled in a trailer park full of crackheads in the isolated town of Bullhead City, Arizona. The two fought constantly in the small space, which reeked of cigarettes and was littered with needles. But her mom didn't care much about what Madelyn did, so she partied hard, and got her nipples pierced, her ears stretched and her first tattoo – a pair of cherries shaped like skulls. She first tried pot at 14, from a friend's gravity bong, but she got too high and threw up, so she avoided drugs for years.
At 14 she decided to move out. Madzilla says her mother was glad to be rid of the responsibility of caring for her, and drove her to live with some friends in California, near Temecula. Unfortunately, said friends were deep into drugs; at one point a SWAT team raided the place. For the next few years, she was alternately homeless, crashing with friends and living in group homes.
Along the way, she started smoking weed and adding to her collection of tattoos: an anchor and sparrows on her chest; Medusa and a dagger on her back; “Live Free” across her knuckles; a rose on her hand; a full sleeve on her left arm. The one that elicited the strongest reactions, however, was the letter “B” on the side of her face, in tribute to her half-brother, Brian, who has been in and out of prison her entire life.
At 20, she made peace with her mother, who not long thereafter overdosed on methadone and died in her sleep.
Madzilla was devastated. She started stripping. Other jobs included a Mexican restaurant, a tanning salon and a Dolce & Gabbana store. She sold knives door to door. She broke into modeling, but at 5 foot 6, with piercings and tats galore, it wasn't easy to score high-fashion gigs.
“Everything that I've done has been on my own, like, every single step,” she says. “There's so many times I wish I had someone I could just call.”
But things started to come together for her about a year and a half ago, when she discovered Instagram. Her sexy-stoner brand has enchanted a legion of fans and companies looking for access to her hip demographic. Now, with her face on T-shirts and skateboards, she doesn't have to pay for clothes, jewelry or weed. Legendary L.A. photographer Van Styles became a fan and shot several of her most iconic photographs. She earns between $500 and $1,500 a night for club appearances; in February, Dallas' Club Plush flew her out to host a party featuring women with tattoos.
“When I went around the Dallas-Fort Worth area to promote this event and mentioned her name to ladies with ink, nine times out of 10 they already knew who she was,” Plush marketing director Matt Jones says, adding that Madzilla's powerful social media reach made the investment well worth it.
Indeed, with followers tracking her every selfie, she promotes metabolic tea, sunglasses and, of course, vape pens.
With marijuana legalization quickly spreading, the timing for her ascent couldn't be better. “I've always stood by weed, because I know how harmless it is,” she says. “People are more open now. They're not like, 'Oh, you must be crazy, you're on drugs.' They see I'm still a normal person.”
But she hasn't quite made it yet; she still strips (she'd prefer not to say where) and has dreams of breaking into high fashion and putting out a hip-hop – meets-dubstep album. Yes, she raps.
At the end of the day, however, she's an easygoing stoner with a dog named Doobie. Her signature sexy exhale? That was developed after considerable time in front of the mirror hitting the vape pen.
“Get a big mouthful of smoke and, like, fill your lungs up, but don't, like, force it out,” she advises aspiring video vixens. “Just push it out with your tongue, and it just floats out. And tilt your head back, so it doesn't burn your eyes.”
Her manager, Shaggy Brown, says he has worked with everyone from Rick Ross to Drake, and is ready to take Madzilla to the next level. Today, back at Crooks & Castles, he's wearing a T-shirt with a silk-screened photograph of enormous breasts pressed against glass.
Brown, Madzilla and the store's De La Cruz turn the smoke sesh into an opportunity to discuss future collaborations; afterward De La Cruz puts his arm around Madzilla so they can take a few photos together. She's quite high by now, and struggles to keep her eyes wide open for the shots.
An hour later, after satisfying her munchies at Pita Bar & Grill, she realizes she forgot to collect the cash for the calendars. That's the thing about being a pothead entrepreneur. Sometimes you forget stuff.