Bretman Rock, Digital Superstar, Is Now An Author

Bretman Rock, Digital Superstar, Is Now An Author

Emman Montalvan

From Cagayan to Hawaii, You’re That Bitch gives the world an unfiltered look into the life and misadventures of Bretman Rock

On a rainy January morning in Hawaii, Bretman Rock woke up to a vivid rainbow stretched over the expanse of his front yard. Against the grassy backdrop of Honolulu, the moment looked pulled straight out of a children’s picture book, or perhaps plucked right out of a person’s dreams. This is reflective of an ongoing pattern in the digital star’s life lately: from waking up to breathtaking sights to seeing himself be impersonated on an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, things are going Bretman Rock’s way.

Case in point: this month, he’ll be releasing his first book, a memoir aptly entitled You’re That Bitch.

When Bretman was first offered a book deal at 18 years old, he was the first to tell himself that he didn’t have anything to write about. Around the time, he had just unlocked viral status, finding a delicate equilibrium between a normal high school life and his newfound fame. What else was there for a Filipino-American makeup guru to share with the world? 

“If we’re gonna own the internet, we have to show the world how to use the internet correctly.”

Back then, Bretman’s guess was as good as anyone’s. But six years later, he has evolved to his best self—both before the camera and behind it. He’s confronted his past, embraced his culture, and unlocked new definitions of success. And now, he’s ready to lay it all out in the open.

“I feel like the world is gonna see me naked,” Bretman tells Vogue Philippines in an exclusive interview. “I’m just trying to center myself, and trying to think, ‘Okay, this is something you wanted to feel, and you have to commit to it.’ So it’s very much just getting myself ready for the hate.”

Despite his reservations, You’re That Bitch makes it seem impossible to dislike Bretman Rock. Each chapter reveals a new side to the social media star, cracking open a chamber of memories and allowing readers an unadulterated look inside. It’s equal parts memoir and self-help novel conveyed in the most entertaining, expletive-laced manner possible.

Some quick highlights: Bretman openly shares how he discovered he was hexed by a gaslighting ex, confesses thirsting his way into his high school soccer team, and dives into the hilariously chaotic minutiae of losing his V-card in Disneyland of all places. If there’s anything that Bretman Rock can do, it’s make people laugh, and there’s plenty of laughter to be had between the pages of his book.

But it’s not all hook-up hiccups and innuendos. Above all, Bretman Rock’s memoir is a love letter—not to lost lovers nor high school crushes, but to himself, his family, and his culture. 

Bretman prefaces the memoir by sharing a surreal memory he constantly circles back to: the first time his grandmother applied a flush of color to his cheeks. Throughout his book, Bretman similarly gives flowers to the women and queer folks who made the supernova that is Bretman Rock possible: his mother, his sister, his cousin Keiffer, and Filipino drag queen, Manila Luzon.

He adds: “Patrick Starr really impacted me a lot when I first started in the beauty industry,” referring to the Filipino-American makeup sensation and founder of ONE/SIZE Beauty. “I was 16 and [Patrick] had been in the beauty industry for a while. So in a way, I felt like he was giving me a safety blanket and made me feel like I wasn’t the only Filipino in makeup who was queer.”

As he recounts his core memories and a few hundred tangents along the way, Bretman also unpacks and explores facets of Filipino culture. Taking a page from his grandmother’s playbook, he has been on a mission to decolonize his spiritual practices. “With all the Gen Zs now, [spirituality] starts with horoscopes and finding out your big three. Next thing you know, you’re on WitchTok and you’re doing tarot reading,” he says. “I very much respect it if that’s what you practice, but I think as a native child looking in, I’m like, ‘Oh my god, I grew up doing this. It’s not a trend.’”

Emman Montalvan

Instead of smudging his home with sage, Bretman has been using bayabas (guava) leaves to clear negative energy. He still collects crystals and proclaims himself a textbook Leo, but there is now a delicate balance that guides his rituals. He greets the sun good morning just like his ancestors did. He revels in nature’s gifts, just like that rainbow that hovered over his home that one morning.

There is an unmistakable affection in the way Bretman describes the Philippines and our culture, from our obsession with Christmas carols to the way we’ll take any occasion as an excuse to host a party. But despite wearing his Filipino heritage proudly, he is careful not to romanticize the rough edges worth reckoning with. 

One of the most memorable chapters is one where Bretman encourages Filipinos to “celebrate our culture, but also question it.”  He touches on colorism and the glorification of whiteness at length in his memoir (“Read the book, period!”), but another aspect of the Filipino mindset that he  seeks to challenge is online etiquette.

“If you Google the capital of the internet, it’s obviously the Philippines. With that being said, I feel like it’s because there are so many Filipinos on the internet, and there are a lot of us that kind of misuse it in a way.” Bretman points out the wave of negativity that was propelled at the country’s most recent Miss Universe bid, Celeste Cortesi, as an example. “If we’re gonna own the internet, we have to show the world how to use the internet correctly.”

When asked about his goals for 2023, Bretman is certain that he’s ready for even bigger and better triumphs. “I think I found my home in entertainment and now that I get to release a book, what’s next?” He pauses for a moment, then gentle laughter spills from his lips. “Maybe it’s time for a bigger screen.”

Until then, there are plenty of pages in the story of Bretman Rock for the world to revel in.

You’re That Bitch by Bretman Rock hits the shelves on February 14th.

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