“I’m in a villa. I can’t kiss. I can’t masturbate. I can’t do anything,” Peter Vigilante laments to Refinery29 over video chat from his family home in Staten Island (which just so happens to be about a 10-minute drive from me and my family home in Staten Island). “And now I have a beautiful topless woman sitting next to me? So you might think I’m excited — and I am at first — but then I’m like, ‘I can’t do anything about this!’”
Such is the plight of a Too Hot to Handle cast member. Last November, Vigilante flew to Turks and Caicos under the assumption he was about to film Parties in Paradise, a debaucherous new “dating” (read: casual sex) show. The 21-year-old is a TikTok star who had “about a million followers” when he was DM’ed over Instagram about an opportunity to join a real-life television show.
“I’m a TikToker. So of course I’m not gonna say no!” Vigilante laughs. As someone best known for fitness trends, pouring wine down his sculpted chest, and taking a spin on his in-house stripper pole, Vigilante was, in fact, the perfect candidate for Parties in Paradise. Then he found out Parties in Paradise didn’t actually exist. Vigilante and the handful of fellow gorgeous singles around him were in the Caribbean to learn about feelings through the tutelage of Netflix’s life coaching-as-sexy game show Too Hot to Handle.
“We go there thinking, ‘We’re gonna have a sex crazy summer.’ And then wait… You’re having the exact opposite,” he says.
In Too Hot to Handle’s season 2’s first batch of episodes — which premiered on June 23 — Vigilante has a tough time adjusting to the harsh rule of Lana, the series’ omniscient sex-negative AI and host. He dares castmates Melinda Berry and Carly Lawrence into rule-breaking kisses and hops into bed with Berry the second she experiences relationship turbulence with Marvin Anthony. It’s actions like these that leave Vigilante in the crosshairs of possible elimination. But, no matter what happens, he’ll at least have his stripper pole back home.
Refinery29: How did you end up with your TikTok aesthetic, which is very prevalent on the show?
Peter Vigilante: “I feel like TikTok is a weird app because it’s very easy to fall off. You could gain 500,000 followers and then the next day you’re nobody. When I first started, I was just doing these weird little trends. They were doing pretty well. But then you start realizing, ‘Oh, I need a niche.’
“At first it was fitness, which I still do. But it’s like, ‘Ah, only so many people come back, now what do I do?’ Then, I buy a stripper pole. People love seeing me strip. ‘Oh! Let’s get into thirst trapping.’ I was always doing a little bit of the thirst trap. Then one day, my mom’s drinking wine. And I was like, ‘What if I chug the wine? People would love to see me steal my mom’s wine.’ And I chugged it and the wine dribbled down my chest. I didn’t even mean for it to be a thirst trap. And then every comment: ‘The wine down the chest. The wine down the chest.’ I was like, ‘Oh! Here’s my thing.’ So then I just turned into Wine Guy.”
How many pairs of pants and underwear have you ruined being Wine Guy?
“I’m destroying a lot of pieces of clothing. But a lot of times, I wash the clothing — I check it out after and it’s okay. Still, some stuff is ruined forever. I think my mom wore a white fur coat in one video or something. We just destroyed it. That one I felt bad about. After that one I took a little break.”
As a Staten Island son, I’m shocked you’re alive.
On the topic of clothing, or, in this case, the lack thereof: Melinda taking her top off before bed in the third episode: Fabulous. Iconic. I almost passed out in my living room.
“You almost passed out? I was like, ‘Is anybody else seeing this? What’s going on?’”
What was that like for you?
“Ugh. ‘I’m horny?’ I don’t know! It’s a lot of different emotions going on at that moment.”
Did the rest of the cast understand that you were arguably the most well-known person on the beach?
“I downplayed myself. I had a very good following [while] on the show. But I don’t put myself out there like, ‘I have 2 million followers on TikTok!’ I hate people who walk around with a chip on their shoulder. So that’s why I didn’t give it away until people got home and went to my page and were like, ‘Oh, you’re getting millions of views? What?’
This first half of the season ends on a cliffhanger, ahead of an elimination. Not to spoil what happens — but were you worried at the time you could be on the chopping block?
“Yes. I have to say I thought it might have been possible that maybe Peter’s going home. I was thinking, ‘I did do that. I did do that. I did that.’
“Also, I wasn’t hopeful, because I was like, ‘If any one of these people go home, and I stay here, I’m going to be devastated for them.’ Then, at the same time, I was like, ‘Wait. Screw these people. I don’t want to go home either!’”
Before I let you go, as a fellow Staten Islander, I have to ask: Do you eat pizza? The only time I’ve seen you with it, you’re tossing it in your mom’s face as a prank on TikTok.
“Oh no, you saw! I forgot about that video. Of course I eat pizza. I’m a New Yorker. I wouldn’t be a New Yorker if I didn’t eat pizza.”
Okay, then what’s your favorite pizza place on the Island?
This interview has been edited and condensed.