Dating

Serena Fucking Kerrigan’s “Whoring Twenties” Are Here

The legendary single-girl icon is about to get even more famous.

By Claire Stern
@serenakerrigan/Instagram

“This place fucks,” Serena Kerrigan says matter-of-factly of American Bar, the buzzy restaurant in New York’s West Village, steps away from her new apartment. The fact that her name is on the menu doesn’t hurt. For the uninitiated, the content creator and self-proclaimed “Queen of Confidence” — known to her followers as Serena Fucking Kerrigan (SFK for short) — started an Instagram live dating show in April 2020 as the world weathered pandemic isolation. The concept was simple: Every Wednesday night at 8:30 p.m. EST, she’d go on a virtual blind date with an eligible bachelor and viewers could watch and comment in real time. “Let’s Fucking Date” was an instant hit, a fact that Kerrigan largely credits to our collective quarantine boredom. “No one was doing anything,” she says. “We had all watched Tiger King by then.”

Meeting SFK IRL is pretty much exactly what you’d expect from her online persona. She’ll speak candidly about a new guy she’s dating and getting wasted at a party while periodically yelling, “Let’s fucking go!” at passersby. (Over the course of our dinner, no fewer than five enthusiastic fans approached our table.) But don’t call her an influencer: “I prefer Card Game Empress,” she says cheekily, referring to her Let’s Fucking Date deck (more on that below). “Or icon.” After we each order a chopped salad — SFK-style, with a Negroni — the 27-year-old entrepreneur begins to open up about her brazen alter ego. “SFK is a larger-than-life bad bitch who makes the sidewalk her red carpet,” she says. “Serena is much more sensitive and subdued.”

You wouldn’t know it by looking at Kerrigan, or even taking a cursory scroll through her Instagram feed, where you’ll be bombarded with images of a glammed-up blonde posing confidently on picturesque Manhattan rooftops and houses in the Hamptons. Dressed in a fitted crop top and sleek blazer, with extra-long eyelashes made for fluttering, she’ll be the first to point out that what you see on social media is not, in fact, what you get. The primary difference between Serena and SFK is that the latter is a take-no-bullshit woman in charge that she created to push back against her own insecurities.

@serenakerrigan/Instagram

Serena’s origin story began in this very neighborhood, where her father, a screenwriter and director, and mother, head of development at MTV, lived as a couple before decamping to the Upper West Side. “We’re back in the womb,” she says. An only child of Jewish and Argentine descent, she relished living among a breadth of diverse creatives and taking the subway alone from the ripe age of 13. But Kerrigan's childhood wasn’t totally idyllic: her parents divorced when she was 2 years old, and she struggled with her mixed-race identity. Chalk it up to her household environment — she’d regularly dissect episodes, characters, and plot points of reality TV shows while simultaneously harboring dreams of becoming a star herself. “All I wanted was a Super Sweet 16, but I got a quinceañera instead,” Kerrigan says with a laugh. “I think more than anything, I’ve always wanted to feel a sense of community.”

She found one online. When the coronavirus pandemic hit last year, Kerrigan was alone in the city with nothing but a ring light to keep her company. “I felt very alone and scared,” she says. After an emergency session with her psychiatrist, she quickly realized that, God willing, COVID-19 wouldn’t be a threat forever, and there was a rare opportunity to create something that people would see, because they had little else to do. So she went live on Instagram. “I started doing the show because I genuinely wanted to meet people, but I was killing two birds with one stone by creating my brand,” she says. What began as an intimate wine-fueled confessional called “Quarantinis with SFK” morphed into a full-fledged show after Kerrigan casually asked a friend to set her up in front of an audience. She had hundreds of viewers immediately, thanks in part to friends like Chrissy Rutherford, Alana Hadid, Hunter McGrady, Ariana Madix, and Danielle Bernstein spreading the word. Bumble pounced on the chance to sponsor Season 1, and Hint Water, Bev, and G.H. Mumm Champagne followed in Season 2.

Her alter ego was born long before the pandemic, when Kerrigan was an undergraduate at Duke University. Back then, she admits to being “super insecure” and craving the validation of others. “My whole self-worth was wrapped up in whether a disgusting frat boy liked me,” she says. Hyping up a girlfriend after she was treated poorly by a guy, Kerrigan proclaimed, “You’re [first name] fucking [last name]!” Realizing the power of her words, Kerrigan decided to be that person herself, too. Thus, she rebranded herself Serena Fucking Kerrigan (which she often jokes is now her legal name) and created an annual party in her own honor, which still exists today. While the first fête attracted 150 guests, the invite list is now approaching 400. This year’s event, “The Whoring Twenties,” will take place this month at a bar in lower Manhattan.

Much of Kerrigan’s mantra is encouraging her followers to channel their inner SFK in their dating lives, and never accept less than what they deserve. “Confidence is literally looking at yourself in the mirror and talking to yourself like you are your best friend because you are your best friend on the regular, every day,” she says. At American Bar, one of Kerrigan’s loyal followers tapped on a plexiglass barrier to catch her attention. “Is it OK if I say hi?” the 20-something girl asked. “I’m just a fucking fan. You’re a queen.” I asked Kerrigan how often this happens and she replied: “Every time I leave my house.”

@serenakerrigan/Instagram

With similar aplomb, Kerrigan approached “Let’s Fucking Date” as if she was producing and starring in her own scripted series. Utilizing filming techniques honed at Refinery29, where she worked for three and a half years — including creating and starring in a show called Taboo, where she interviewed guests about hot-button topics like period sex and peeing in the shower — she started peeling back the curtain of her life, allowing both sides of her identity to shine, and broadcasting it all on Instagram. She’d regularly have 5,000 concurrent live viewers and a larger international audience that would tune in later on IGTV. For the third and final season of her show, “Fantasy Fucking Date,” Kerrigan utilized every social media app imaginable: she cast the dates on TikTok, hosted a Clubhouse for the after-after-show, and asked her Instagram followers to pick the winner. During quarantine, she filmed a total of 50 episodes. It comes as no surprise that she hit 100,000 Instagram followers this spring.

Because Kerrigan’s biggest first date red flag is not asking any questions, she also launched a card game in September 2020 with prompts that make it easy to get deep in no time at all. The decision came after her audience pleaded for advice about what to say on dates. (Some examples: Compliment yourself, “Tell me about the worst sex you’ve ever had,” and “What was your first impression of me?”) She’s since sold 10,000 decks (and counting) in locations as far away as India and Australia. The next iteration, Let’s Fucking Fuck, drops today, June 9, just in time for what Kerrigan is dubbing the “Summer of Fucks,” a blissful, carefree energy with an air of openness and desire to make up for lost time. “It’s freedom and not giving a fuck,” she says. “Wear what you want; hook up with who you want. Be safe, wear a condom, but life is too short.”

While her work helps others find love, after months of pandemic-era dates, Kerrigan is happily single. She insists she doesn’t have a type, but hopes to find “someone who wants the Serena, but loves the SFK.” Her dating philosophy in general? “If it’s not a ‘fuck yes,’ it’s a no.” She’ll make her triumphant reality TV debut on MTV’s Siesta Key tonight, and hopes to produce and write more TV projects in the future (with herself at the center of the narrative, naturally). Between her card game and burgeoning self-help empire, it’s hard to believe she even has time in her schedule for dating.

“Success doesn’t just mean a rock on the finger,” she says. “The message I want to put out into the world is to love yourself first.” Looking back on a year of whirlwind uncertainty, Kerrigan can’t help but feel content and flash a knowing smile. “I have a new apartment, I have a team, I have a company, I have a following — I have a salad!” she says. “I’m really fucking confident.” Let the Summer of Fucks begin.