It Started With Thirst Traps on TikTok. Now, She's Accused of Running a Cult

This story contains graphic descriptions of self-harm. 

When Chae first saw Angela Vandusen, aka @angelatheegoddess, on her TikTok For You page last year, she was instantly smitten. A 27-year-old based in Michigan, Vandusen was a home health care aide and an aspiring natural oils entrepreneur, but she had amassed many devoted adherents by posting thirst traps on the platform, most of which followed a specific template: she’d turn her steely blue gaze on the camera, usually while biting her lower lip and lip-synching provocative lyrics, or simulating strap-on sex while winking to the camera. She’d built a following of about 50,000 followers based on those videos, as well as videos documenting her dramatic weight loss journey.

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A single stay-at-home mom of two children, Chae, who requested her last name be withheld to protect her privacy, wasn’t looking for a girlfriend at the time. But when Vandusen popped into her TikTok Live late last year, she was giddy with excitement. “She was my biggest TikTok crush at the time,” Chae says. It wasn’t just Vandusen’s looks — the penetrating stare, the chest tats, the razor-sharp cheekbones — that attracted Chae. It was also the fact that Vandusen frequently made videos about her love of BBWs (big beautiful women), coupled with those documenting her own weight loss journey. As a BBW herself, Chae was intrigued. “She understands what a bigger person goes through, the insecurities and stuff like that,” Chae says.

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Chae and Vandusen exchanged numbers, and they began chatting every day, sometimes late into the night while Vandusen was still working her shifts. When Vandusen told Chae she was involved in the kink lifestyle and wanted Chae to be her submissive, Chae says, she didn’t bat an eyelash; though she’d never dabbled in kink before, the prospect intrigued her. Same went for the fact that Angela had a slew of online admirers, who’d go into her Lives every Saturday to lobby for her affection: Chae was also interested in the poly lifestyle, and says she didn’t initially feel jealousy in that regard.

Then, in the winter of 2021, another one of Angela’s subs started calling her “daddy.” Angela apparently liked it, and on one of her Lives, she requested that all of her followers refer to her as “Daddy,” and that they refer to themselves as “Daddy’s Girls.” “It mainly was like a sisterhood,” says Chae. “At least, that’s how it started.”

Now, Vandusen, who did not respond to multiple requests for comment, is alleged to be the leader of the Daddy’s Girls cult, a group of female devotees who identify themselves with a yellow heart in their bio (this was, Chae says, inspired by the fact that she once painted her nails yellow, and Angela liked the color). Many of the members of the so-called “Daddy’s Girls cult,” as TikTokers describe it, are Black women; their bizarre Lives, in which they pray to Vandusen like a god, have attracted the attention of black TikTok. The level of scrutiny around them was heightened last spring after Chae left the group and made several allegations against Angela publicly, such as that she forced her “Girls” to cut themselves and pull out their own hair if they displeased her. And while many of Vandusen’s so-called “girls” state that their relationships with her are consensual, and that they follow her of their own volition, cult experts disagree.

“What definitely is going on here is psychological manipulation,” says Diane Benscoter, a cult expert and former member of the Unification Church, who runs the group “This person is taking advantage of TikTok and social media and it’s a business, almost, where the goal is total control over a specific group of people. It’s definitely got all of the components that one would call a cult.” In their Lives, Angela and other members of the group would also validate claims that the group was a “cult,” albeit in a tongue-in-cheek fashion. “They say it’s a cult,” Angela says in one Live, responding to another user’s comment and grinning. “Want to join?” 

#greenscreenvideo #daddysgirl #SaveIt4TheEndZone #lgbt #bi #gay #women #lesbianastiktok #karen #abuse #awareness

♬ original sound – TikTok’s Favorite Karen

The fact that the vast majority of the Daddy’s Girls are Black women and self-identified BBWs has not been lost on many people following the story. “Here you have what looks like an outlet to participate in a BDSM dynamic and because black people have not had the same access to education and training, often because of being unwelcome in these spaces and the many stigmas attached to our sex and sexuality, there’s this dynamic that it appears safe because it’s led by a woman of color,” says Jetsetting Jasmine, a licensed clinical therapist and master fetish trainer. “These are women who are already marginalized from larger society and also within the community of BDSM, which makes it easier for predators to target and abuse.”

On social media, allegations that Daddy’s Girls was a “cult” started floating around early last summer, when a Twitter thread went viral about the group. Content creator Aunt Karen says that it initially was marketed as more of a support group for BBWs, with Vandusen charging $50 via Cashapp for women to attend her Zooms every Saturday night. She says she initially saw Daddy’s Girls members posting after Chae left the group last spring, but she chalked it up to “infighting” until she spoke to former members directly, which led to her posting about the dangers posed by the group. After seeing one of the Lives in which current Daddy’s Girls prayed to Angela, vowing to kill and die for her, her level of concern increased. “My fear is someone is going to kill themselves because of Angela,” Aunt Karen tells Rolling Stone. 

Not everyone in the group joined to start a sexual relationship with Angela. One former member Rolling Stone spoke with, who asked to remain anonymous, says she initially saw the group as a “sisterhood” for BBWs. “We don’t fit the society’s standards of what a body is supposed to look like. It was safe to be around other women – we all looked the same, had the same problems, had the same struggles,” she says. “A lot of girls joined based off the same aspect that we could talk about things and we could all relate to each other.” She describes Angela’s weekly Lives as a “vibe” — “everyone came in to wind down, drink. There was something about her that drew you in.” 

Another former member, who asked to be identified by her first name Jasmine, was drawn to the group after she saw Angela’s TikTok Live on her For You page. Jasmine, who like Chae is a single mother, was not looking for a relationship, but was instantly attracted to Angela, especially after she specifically called her out and told her she was beautiful on her Instagram Live. “We got so much attention from her,” she says. “And it was attention that we don’t normally get on the outside.”

A week after Jasmine officially joined by putting a yellow heart in her TikTok bio, she went live on her TikTok page, prompting other Daddy’s Girls to message her telling her to get off. “I asked, ‘why’? And they said, ‘You have to ask to be on live, or else we’ll get in trouble,’” Jasmine says.

Jasmine also started noticing women sending Angela money during her Lives. While this is not necessarily uncommon with influencers, who often solicit cash and gifts, Jasmine says Angela would make thousands of dollars at a time. Often, such contributions came from Daddy’s Girls who were single mothers and known to be in more dire financial straits. Though Jasmine says she only sent Angela about $300 in total — $100 for a new Ring Light, which Jasmine saw her break on one Live, and an additional $200 total in cash gifts — this made her uncomfortable. “That’s when I realized, ‘she’s leading these girls on and making them fall in love with her,’” she says. 

The weekly Lives and Zooms would also get increasingly more sexual. Nuri, another former Daddy’s Girl who was in the group from January to March 2021, says that the last Zoom she participated in devolved into a group masturbation session. “Angela would sit there and just look,” she says. “Most of the time I was staring at her look at them, with no expression on her face. You couldn’t see if she enjoyed it or hated it. She just sat there, lifeless.” Another time, she says, she saw Angela consensually choke one of her main girls on a Live, and at one point she was worried it may go too far. “We were all begging her to stop,” she says. 

In response to these allegations, a former member of Daddy’s Girls, who requested not to be identified by name, confirmed that Angela choked the other member on a Live, but says that the woman had specifically asked Angela to choke her. She also denies that any of the women in the Live asked Angela to stop choking the other member. “The other women were getting turned on by it. All of the girls,” she says. “All the ones that talked to you were turned on by it. They want to be a victim so bad they’re willing to lie about it.” She describes Daddy’s Girls as a “big-ass fan club” and nothing more, and denies that any of the other women had any meaningful contact with Angela. “They’re just coming forward because they want clout,” she says.

Chae says that for her, the trouble began when Angela started instructing her to post videos on her TikTok, saying she couldn’t post videos if they weren’t about her (a quick glance at many of the confirmed Daddy’s Girls members’ pages indicates that they rarely, if ever, post content that is not about their allegiance to Angela). She says she would be instructed to attend and comment on all of Angela’s Lives as well as all of her videos to boost engagement, an account that was confirmed by other former members. She says she would also be required to stay on the phone with Angela at all times during her shift at night, which lasted from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m.

At that point, Chae says, she hadn’t met Angela in person, nor had she signed a contract agreeing to the terms of being in a BDSM relationship. “I’d seen 50 Shades of Gray before, so I didn’t honestly do 100 percent research because I was under the impression that signing a contract only had something to do with the sexual part of it,” she says. But this in itself should have been a red flag, says Nova Sky, a former pro domme. “Without a contract there isn’t really a clear definition of the d/s roles anyone is supposed to be fulfilling,” she says.

It is not uncommon, however, particularly when it comes to online domination, for dominants to forego contracts, says longtime pro domme Goddess Alexandra Snow. “Online domination is flooded because people are trying to make a quick buck out of it and there’s no ethics involved,” she says. “So why would they make the effort to take care of the submissive?”

Angela could be highly possessive and extremely volatile if any of the Daddy’s Girls failed to live up to her requirements, Chae says. In one string of texts provided to Rolling Stone, Angela berated Chae for failing to pick up the phone when Angela called in the morning after getting off work: “When you wake up just FaceTime me. You will be punished for this bullshit. Stupid fucking bitch….you don’t do jack fucking shit, just lazy for no fucking reason,” the texts read. In March, Chae alleges, Vandusen started instructing the members of Daddy’s Girls to cut themselves after committing minor transgressions, or shows of what Vandusen deemed “disrespect.” One night, Chae says, after she failed to show Vandusen proper respect in her Live, Vandusen requested she get a razor and cut an “A” into her leg. Another time, Chae says, she and other members, who were on a group FaceTime, were instructed to cut themselves three times, but Chae was told to cut herself seven times because she was shaking and crying, which apparently angered Vandusen. “We’d have to put our phone towards our legs. I was putting it on my ring light,” she says. “She’d ask me to pull my ring light down to see the scars on our legs. She’d tell us where to make the cuts, which area, and where to put it on my leg.”

Screengrabs of text messages and Instagram DMs sent by Angela provided to Rolling Stone confirm that some of the women were asked to cut. “Hell no y’all cutting. Both of y’all,” Angela says in one of the texts when Chae asks her to go to sleep, referencing her and another Daddy’s Girl. Later in the thread, she asks Chae to choose between cutting or “pull a whole dread out. Or do both.” In a screen recording of an Instagram Live hosted by another Daddy’s Girls member, which was also provided to Rolling Stone, the former member says, “Daddy said with the 700 cuts they better be neat,” as another Daddy’s Girl looks on and nods. “And after you cut, you need to pray for forgiveness.”

In response to these allegations, the former member, who requested she not be identified by name, denies that Angela ever directly instructed her Girls to cut, and claims that Chae and another member of the group specifically requested they be allowed to self-mutilate because it “turns [them] on.” “I’m not gonna judge her if that’s what she likes to do,” she says. She also provided text messages showing Chae asking Angela to be allowed to “cut [her] face” and carving the letter A into her leg to prove her loyalty. On at least one occasion, according to the screengrabs, Angela told Chae “naw don’t cut nothing” in response to Chae begging for Angela’s attention. Angela reposted one photo of Chae cutting the “A” into her leg on her Instagram Stories after Chae came out against the group. “Not you carving the letter A mama you need a Xanax,” Angela wrote in the caption to her Stories.

In itself, blood play is not unheard of within the kink community, though it is considered on the outer boundaries of BDSM behavior. But Goddess Alexandra Snow says it’s not something to take lightly, and she would only consider instructing a sub to cut themselves if it was specifically requested by the sub and if they had a longstanding relationship built on trust and boundaries. “I‘d want to see a history if they’re mentally sound because if they cut themselves and get sepsis and die, that’s on me,” she says. “You’re asking someone to permanently alter their body without taking responsibility for what that might do with them.” Snow adds that self-mutilation, even if ostensibly done consensually, can “leave a type of mental scar on you, not just a physical one.”

This is, ultimately, what ended up happening to Chae. “I started to hate myself. Because I kept having to do stuff to myself,” she says of being asked to cut and pull her own hair out. “And I used to think to myself, like, is she doing stuff to make me harm myself? So other people don’t want me? I didn’t know what it was.” At one point, she says, she was considering checking herself into a mental hospital, though other Daddy’s Girls talked her out of it, which was also confirmed by text messages provided to Rolling Stone. 

Former members of the group say they were also required to pray to Angela every morning after they woke up and every night before they went to bed, which one of the main girls referenced in one of her Lives, a screen recording of which was also provided to Rolling Stone. “I would take a bullet for you. I’d be stabbed for you. I would die for you, just as I’ve lived for you,” she said in her prayer on Instagram Live, followed by, “I know you are powerful. I know you are strong. And I know you are God.”

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For Chae, the turning point in leaving the group was when she actually met Angela and another group member in person, after Angela bought her a plane ticket to come to Michigan. In her hotel room, she says, she and Angela got into an altercation, at which point Angela slapped her and grabbed her face. The next day, she says, Angela tried to end the relationship after seeing Chae react in fear over being hit. That resulted in a verbal altercation, she says, which culminated in Angela coming toward her, causing her to “freak out,” leap up and start choking her. The next day, Chae went back home, but it took her more than a month to actually leave Daddy’s Girls itself. “I really did love her,” she says.

Chae’s friend and one of Angela’s former followers, as well as Chae’s sister, confirmed that Chae told her of the physical altercation, as well as the self-mutilation instructions, shortly after it occurred. Angela’s former partner, however, denies that Angela was ever physically abusive, and says that Angela told her she only struck Chae after Chae attempted to choke her, which was prompted by her trying to end the relationship. She believes Chae fabricated allegations of abuse because she was obsessed with Angela. “As far as abuse and beating up on the girls goes, that’s bullshit,” she says.

Jasmine says she was unaware that Angela had allegedly instructed women to self-harm, nor was she aware of any allegations of physical abuse, until June, after Chae came forward and Daddy’s Girls started getting attention on Twitter. “That’s when all this stuff boiled over and I was like, I’m done. I can’t do this anymore,” she says.

It has taken a few months for Chae to process what she says happened while she was in Angela’s thrall. But what she has concluded is that Angela specifically targeted her, and other women like her, precisely because she knew they were psychologically vulnerable. “A lot of the bigger women, we have an issue with thinking we’re not going to find anybody because we are bigger,” she says. “So it’s like when you do find somebody that wants you, you tend to try to make that work, because sometimes you may think that you might not find nobody else ever or for a while that genuinely likes you.”

Amid the allegations swirling around the group — which Angela has never directly addressed on her TikTok page, let alone confirmed or denied — and a petition circulating to deplatform her that has racked up more than 21,000 signatures, Angela and her followers are doubling down. “She thinks it’s a joke, but I take it seriously,” says content creator Monee Love, who has posted many videos expressing her alarm about the Daddy’s Girls group. “What she’s doing is harming these girls.”

A recording of an Instagram Live in which Angela appears to flirt with a girl who identifies herself as a few days away from turning 18, with Angela saying “well hit me up on Wednesday [when you turn 18], baby,” has also added fuel to the fire, particularly after Angela said, in yet another TikTok Live recorded last month, “You know who I want? I want that 17-year-old. I want that pussy.” “Her platform should go,” says Jasmine.

In response to a request for comment, TikTok told Rolling Stone that it had removed Angela’s account on Wednesday night due to multiple community violations. But before she was deactivated, Angela continued to post through the tumult, mocking the allegations and her detractors without directly addressing them. “Them waiting for me to deactivate all my social media platforms,” she said in a recent video while grinning broadly, lipsynching, “it’s gonna be a long day if you watch the clock.”

Many of the Daddy’s Girls that were in the group earlier this year are still fiercely devoted to Angela, commenting yellow hearts on her videos and posting their own content spelling out their diehard loyalty to her. “Say what y’all want, we still here,” one follower posted in the caption of her latest video as she confidently struts underneath the words “Pushing through the hateful comments to love on my Daddy.” Even the member who left recently says she has “nothing negative to say about the girl,” and that Angela CashApped her money and stayed on the phone with her the whole time while she was recently in the hospital.

“She’s not what people are making her out to be,” the former member tells Rolling Stone. “Every woman who decided to become a Daddy’s Girl, it was out of free will. Nobody held them captive or threatened their lives. They wanted to leave so they left. A cult, you can’t do that. That’s not how that works.”

For her part, Jasmine harbors at least a modicum of warm feelings about her time in the group. Though she has enough space and distance from it now to know that Angela likely never cared for her or any other member, she feels she got one thing out of it: “The only love that was real was between her girls,” she says. “We were like a family.”

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