With the likes of influencer Tana Mongeau, YouTuber Daisy Keech, Too Hot to Handle cast member turned TikTok provocateur Harry Jowsey, the Clermont Twins, and dozens of other social media stars and models on its roster, the Unruly Agency seems to be the place that could take an influencer’s brand to new heights.
But clients and contractors who worked with Unruly and Behave Agency—Unruly’s spinoff for smaller influencers—are warning others against signing with either of the firms, citing sketchy business practices and a ruthless cash-grab attitude.
“These guys are basically pimps,” attorney Robert Tauler tells The Daily Beast. His client filed suit last week against Unruly Agency and Behave Agency in Los Angeles.
“I really hope this all comes out because it’s honestly disgusting,” adds Jenni Nieman, a popular Instagram influencer who walked away from Unruly/Behave in April after being sketched out by what she felt was an inappropriate questionnaire and hearing others’ horror stories. “I think that any influencer that's with Unruly right now needs to separate from them,” she told The Daily Beast.
An online security professional specializing in content removal, who requested for The Daily Beast to withhold his name because he works with several top Unruly clients to take down their leaked content, says he has seen it all from working in relation to the firm and would advise anyone to stay far away.
He claims the people behind Unruly and Behave “are pretty bloodthirsty and money hungry” and “treat their talent as objects. They most definitely don’t have your best interests in mind.”
Their cautionary tales mirror those of Tauler’s 21-year-old client, a model who is identified in the suit only as Jane Doe. She alleges Unruly/Behave team members posted an illicit video of her to a public section of her OnlyFans page without permission, rerouted her OnlyFans payment information to its own bank accounts, and posted a “private” photo of her to another model’s page, captioning it “Not Safe For Work.”
But the most traumatizing aspect of the young woman’s nearly three-month ordeal came when she tried to leave the agency and was allegedly threatened with financial ruin, according to her lawsuit.
“I don't want any other girl to go through the amount of fear and being so scared,” Jane Doe tells The Daily Beast of her decision to speak out against Unruly and Behave. “I felt like my life was ruined.”
“When you search Unruly Agency the first thing you see is about women empowerment, which is nothing that they are about.”
The Daily Beast reached out to Unruly Agency, Behave Agency for comment multiple times but did not receive a response.
Launched in 2020 by recent college graduates Nicky Gathrite and Tara “Electra” Niknejad, Unruly has been praised in Forbes for “setting the stage for female empowerment.” Billing itself as an “elite influencer marketing and social media marketing” firm, Unruly promises to help market its clients, grow their fanbase, and monetize their content.
Integral to the business plan for Behave and its “parent company” Unruly is OnlyFans. Amid the worldwide pandemic, the subscription-based platform’s popularity has skyrocketed, becoming a legitimate and reliable source of income for several content creators, where top earners can make up to six figures a month.
Leaning hard on monetizing creators’ content through OnlyFans, Unruly and Behave scout out influencers who are already on the platform or encourage those who are not to start posting content there once signed to the agency.
It’s a seemingly sweet deal. In exchange for paying the agency a percentage of their earnings, the creator would be relieved of the burden of keeping up with a hectic posting schedule, benefit from heavy marketing, and watch their fanbase expand. Plus, they’d have the clout of belonging to an agency that boasts some of the top Instagram personalities and secure invites to buzzy Los Angeles parties.
But Unruly’s reputation is a trap, explains influencer Jenni Nieman, who inked her contract in March. “I wanted to work with Unruly because I knew they were working with Tana Mongeau and all these big influencers. I was super pumped. I was like, ‘I’m gonna be with Unruly, this is awesome.’ I was telling everyone.”
The Daily Beast reached out to Mongeau via email for comment but did not receive a response.
The firm’s fame also attracted Jane Doe, who decided to reach out to the company in January, spurred on by a friend who was working with the company and making significant cash. “She was doing really well for herself,” Doe tells The Daily Beast. “A lot of celebrities that I look up to, they’re also in the agency. So, I was like, ‘Wow, that must be a really good agency.”
She applied through its website, filling out a few simple questions that asked about her follower count and how many comments she received on her latest selfie. Jane Doe says she wasn’t sure if she would hear back soon, if at all, because her friend claimed the agency received hundreds of applications.
But it didn’t take long before she received a reply from a man named Tony, who described himself as the Head of Talent of Unruly/Behave. According to the suit, Tony never disclosed his last name to Jane Doe. Nieman also says Tony never gave her a last name.
Doe and Tony chatted about what services Unruly provides and what the contract would entail. But according to the suit, Doe hesitated upon hearing Unruly wanted a 25 percent cut of her gross commission from OnlyFans—especially since the platform already takes the first 20 percent of earnings. Plus, Jane Doe already had a decent OnlyFans following, grown off the back of her sizable Instagram account—which helps direct traffic to the site.
“I could tell they were very eager to bring me on, especially after seeing how much I was earning,” she recalls to The Daily Beast. “I wouldn’t say I’m a celebrity level of earnings, but I’m definitely pretty high up.”
Eventually, Doe says she decided to take a chance and agreed to sign a contract with Unruly on Jan. 12. But upon seeing the contract, Doe, who is not a native English speaker, says she had trouble understanding aspects of the contract.
Tauler, who represents Doe, agreed it was unusually hard to make sense of the document. “For what it’s worth, as someone who’s trained to read [contracts], it was difficult for me to read,” he says. “It was contradictory, it didn’t make sense, and had all sorts of very peculiar and unlawful provisions, including that she can’t sue them for anything, ever. Something I’ve never seen.”
Still, Doe says all her concerns were smoothed over by the team. “They were saying everything I wanted to hear,” she explains to The Daily Beast, adding that Tony seemed to wave away any potential problem.
“Nothing is set in stone, it’s just a contract,” Jane Doe recalls Tony telling her. “He said, ‘They’re not unreasonable people.’ He told me, ‘Communication is the key to our relationship,’ as long as I communicate with them, everything will be great.”
At the start of their relationship, “I was really hopeful,” she says. “But that’s where the nightmare started.”
After she signed her contract, Unruly and Behave took over Doe’s social media accounts in late January, the court document states. (The suit addresses both the companies as one entity, saying both “operate as a single unit, with the same agents, contact people, events, and social media channels.”)
Doe uploaded her content, including photos and videos, on a Google Drive account, which was shared with members of the firm’s team. They oversaw the posting of content to her OnlyFans account and were tasked with responding to the “hundreds of daily messages from her fans,” according to the lawsuit.
The first sign of trouble came shortly after the contract was signed, when “unbeknownst to Doe, and without her knowledge or consent,” Unruly/Behave changed her banking information on OnlyFans, the suit alleges. “I had no idea that they were going to [do that],” the model tells The Daily Beast.
Now, instead of Doe’s bank account being linked to her OnlyFans profile, money would be directly sent to the company’s bank, according to the complaint.
“Defendants used their access to her OnlyFans account to modify her payment settings so that all money Ms. Doe earned on the platform was directly routed to Defendants’ bank accounts, instead of continuing to be routed to Ms. Doe’s bank account... they exercised complete and arbitrary control over how much they kept for themselves, as well as when and whether Ms. Doe was paid,” the lawsuit claims.
In the suit, Doe alleges she tried to obtain statements of how much money Unruly/Behave were taking from her OnlyFans account so she could do her own accounting, but it was like pulling teeth. “It was really confusing,” she said during our nearly hour-long interview. “I tried to do the math on my own… I had no idea if I was getting paid the right amount.”
“It was really hard to get a hold of the accounting person, they weren’t emailing me back, [responding] a couple days after, and the initial email they sent me wasn’t even working.”
Plus, Doe wasn’t happy with how Unruly/Behave team members were running her account. They were constantly posting content, lowering her prices, and bilking fans for cash when they messaged her, she alleged to The Daily Beast.
“They were sending out pay per views every day, sometimes multiple times a day,” Doe claimed to The Daily Beast. “There was nothing exclusive about it anymore. That’s not what I wanted my OnlyFans to be about. I actually care about the people I chat to; I actually talk to them about their day and their life. But every time they tried to chat with my audience, it [was] either sexting or unsophisticated. They didn’t care about their day. It was just like, ‘Do you want to buy something?’”
“They were being cash grabbers. They could care less about my account; they could care less about my audience. They just wanted money.”
Another point of contention was that despite believing she was signing with Unruly, Doe was ultimately put under Behave’s brand, which manages influencers with slightly smaller followings than its top talent at Unruly—who usually have more than one million followers.
Nieman said she was similarly duped by the bait-and-switch of thinking she was joining Unruly but was then put under Behave’s lower-tier brand, despite having 480,000 followers on Instagram.
“I was confused because [Tony] literally, verbatim, told me that I would be with Unruly and then they posted me on Behave,” Nieman recalls. “I don’t think anything in the contract said that I was going to be on Behave. They kind of blindsided me.”
But the final straw for Doe came on Feb. 2 when an Unruly/Behave team member posted an illicit video of Doe on her OnlyFans “main page,” which is free and visible to anyone who clicks on her OnlyFans account despite Doe making clear that she never wanted any type of nude content there, according to the suit.
The two-minute video showed the model “disrobing, exposing her bare breasts and showing [Jane] Doe fully nude from behind,” the suit alleges. “[Her] face is visible throughout the video.”
Doe was in disbelief when her fans started messaging her Instagram account asking if she made a mistake by posting the video on the main page, according to the suit.
“I was literally petrified,” she tells The Daily Beast. “A video that was only supposed to be for people who have sent me their ID and paid the joining fee to ever get access to. And there it is, on the main feed for everyone to see.”
Soon enough, the video was leaked to different platforms, including on Reddit forums, according to the suit. When Jane Doe frantically reached out to Unruly/Behave for an explanation, she alleges to The Daily Beast that she received a lackluster apology.
“They didn’t get back to me,” she says during the interview. “I sent them a lot of texts and they didn’t get back to me until later. All I got was like, ‘I’m sorry, it won’t happen again.’ That’s so unprofessional, they have a team of people working for me. How would they mess that up?”
Doe claims in the suit that she was told by Unruly/Behave to contact an outside party to have the video taken down from the other sites, meaning she would have to pay for the removal out of her own pocket. “The Illicit Video has, and still is, widespread on the Internet,” the suit states.
This isn’t uncommon for Unruly/Behave creators, according to the content removal specialist. He regularly works with some of the firm’s top influencers, who likewise pay him out of pocket to remove content that gets leaked from their OnlyFans to other sites—which could range in cost from $1,000 to $5,000.
He believes that for the sizable cut Unruly/Behave takes from its creators, it’s unfair the firms are doing the bare minimum to safeguard their clients’ content. “They don’t get their fair share of service at all, they don’t protect them,” he says.
“Anyone who ever asks me, ‘Do you know any management companies I should work with or to stay away from?’ Unruly is definitely on the negative lists, for sure,” he adds.
Doe said she’d had enough barely three months into her contract. “They already messed up so much,” she says to The Daily Beast. “That’s just bizarre to me, how can you make so many mistakes in such a little amount of time? I can’t imagine being with [Unruly/Behave] for a whole entire year.”
Around this time, Nieman was also getting cold feet about working with Unruly/Behave. Already annoyed about being under Behave instead of Unruly, Nieman said she was put off by a “weird” questionnaire they made her fill out. She says it ranged from innocuous information about her bra size and height, to more intrusive questions about her dating and sex life.
Doe confirmed to The Daily Beast that Behave had her fill out a questionnaire but said she personally didn’t find the questions that inappropriate. Still, she conceded if someone wasn’t used to creating explicit content, they could find it uncomfortable.
Busy with her day job, Nieman began dragging her feet on uploading her content to the shared Google Drive that Unruly/Behave team members used to post content to her OnlyFans. She says they grew impatient and started repeatedly messaging her, asking her to upload the videos and photos ASAP.
“They would not stop texting my phone,” Nieman says. “I was like telling them, ‘I understand but I’m really busy with my job and it’s a serious job so I’ll upload the content when I have time.”
It reached a boiling point when the influencer who had initially reached out to Nieman to set up the meeting with Unruly also began asking her to upload the content, despite not being involved. “Behave is asking for more content from you,” the message, which was reviewed by The Daily Beast, read.
“She was literally this random chick, so that pissed me off,” Nieman says. “I don’t know why she’s in my business, telling me to upload content, when it’s none of her business.”
Getting cold feet with the unprofessionalism of the whole experience, Nieman says she began hearing negative stories about the company.
Nieman decided she was over it and called up Tony. “For whatever reason, I told him straight up, ‘I've heard a lot of bad things about you guys ever since I got on the team.” She told him she no longer felt comfortable working for them.
Surprisingly, Nieman says, Tony let her go without too much fuss, even leaving the door open if she wanted to come back. “Honestly, I’m really thankful right now that I didn't upload anything to that Google Drive because I just got a really weird feeling about working with them,” she says.
But Doe told The Daily Beast that she had a different experience. When she called up Tony around March 18 to voice her dissatisfaction and to let him know that she wanted out of their contract—something he previously said was doable if she wasn’t happy—it went downhill fast, according to the suit.
“Immediately he went from that nice Tony, who was willing to answer any question I had, to ‘This contract is going to last for a year and depending on how much you make, you won't be able to get out of it,’” Doe said in our interview.
In the days after Doe said she wanted to terminate the contract, Unruly/Behave “threatened financial ruin and even legal action” against her, according to the lawsuit.
If she wanted out easily, Doe would need to fork over an extraordinary amount of cash, the lawsuit claims.
“The demand was based on what they projected she would make in the 10 months remaining in her contract, plus legal fees,” Tauler says. “It was many multiples of what she made in a month. No one has this type of money sitting around. They know how much she made. So I thought it was particularly cruel.”
The amount sent Doe into panic mode. “I was crying for the first three days after I got that letter from them,” she recalled to The Daily Beast. “I didn’t know what my options were. I’m 21 years old. The amount of money they demanded from me, I was never gonna be able to pay that.”
“Honestly, every single day I wake up really anxious,” she continued. “The frequency of me going to my therapist has increased. I actually dropped out [of college] two days ago because I can’t do school and deal with this at the same time. I’m really scared. I don’t know how this is going to turn out.”
“How do you go against such a huge company and when you search their name, it’s all positive press and some of the biggest people in the industry are signed with them?”
But despite her fear, Doe says she couldn’t fathom continuing to work with Unruly/Behave for the rest of the year, so she reached out to Tauler for help.
After hearing Doe’s story, Tauler says he was shocked—from the amount of money Unruly/Behave wanted, down to the contract the company made her sign, which Tauler described as “absurd.”
“There’s a provision where they’re allowed to take a life insurance [policy] out on her,” he says. “I've never seen it in my life. All these pieces add up to something very devilish.”
Both Doe and Tauler hope that other young women who are considering signing with Unruly/Behave will reconsider after hearing about the “nightmare” Doe has endured.
“There is a great allure for young women to join an agency with some notoriety,” Tauler says. “To say it as bluntly as possible, this is dangerous—not even proceed with caution. This is a dangerous situation that you may end up in that can really hurt you.”
“It’s utterly shocking,” Tauler adds. “I’ve heard of Unruly and Behave. How has no one ever come forward? It’s because they’re scared. So, I give all the credit to Jane Doe for coming forward and being willing to be the first of what I believe will be many people who have had very similar things happen to them.”