Birmingham & Black Country

YouTuber James Charles tells LBC Birmingham crowd 'normal'

James Charles Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption James Charles, who has millions of fans, appeared at Birmingham's Bullring on Saturday

A YouTuber whose visit to a store sparked city centre gridlock has said the 8,000-fan turnout was "surprisingly normal".

James Charles was speaking on LBC after overhearing presenter James O'Brien say he was baffled at the huge attendance.

Birmingham city centre was brought to a standstill on Saturday, with Charles' appearance thought partially to blame.

The city council said it would have planned for a major event if it had known of his visit in advance.

Image copyright Karwai Tang/ Getty Images
Image caption James Charles rang in to LBC presenter James O'Brien's radio show

On his radio show earlier, Mr O'Brien called for his listeners to explain "why 8,000 people turned up to watch James Charles open a make-up shop", adding he was "genuinely baffled".

"Why don't I know about James Charles? Given that I read every newspaper every day," he said.

Overhearing the conversation while travelling to the airport, beauty guru Charles rang in.

Mr O'Brien asked the YouTube star if it was "normal for 8,000 people to turn up?" Charles replied: "Surprisingly, yes..."  

He said a previous meet-and-greet in Toronto, Canada, had attracted more than 10,000 people, and his recent events had been "getting crazy numbers".

Charles added: "I have been making make-up videos for around three years now on my channel and my career has definitely been quite a wild ride."

Image caption Traffic in parts of the city centre was brought to a standstill on Saturday afternoon

Who is James Charles?

He is a 19-year-old social media star from Bethlehem, New York.

He has a YouTube channel followed by almost 14 million people where he uploads make-up tutorials, reviews and challenges.

The beauty influencer makes millions of dollars via his own merchandise and clothing range and sponsored social media posts.

He calls his fans "sisters" and his fanbase "the sisterhood".

Last year, he released his own eyeshadow palette that sent millions of teens and make-up lovers into a tailspin as they tried to get their hands on it. The palette sold out worldwide within hours - twice.

Charles was greeted by three floors of supporters when he appeared at the Morphe make-up store at the weekend.

Birmingham City Council said had it known about the appearance ahead of time, it would have planned for the visit as it does for other major events such as Pride.

The authority said data showed the Bullring car park was full for longer on Saturday than usual.

Earlier it said several regeneration projects were under way in the city, including an extension to the Midland Metro tramline and the new Curzon Street station, urging people to use public transport where possible.

Stephanie Lacey, general manager at Bullring & Grand Central, said: "We understand there was some congestion in the city centre during the day and not all of our car parks were full to capacity, with many of James' fans using public transport for their visit.

"The team at Bullring worked closely with Morphe, the council and local police to establish to ensure the safety and security of all shoppers and staff."

Image copyright Birmingham City Council
Image caption Birmingham City Council said data showed the Bullring car park was full for longer (blue line)

Some people on social media blamed the work and the state of the city's roads for the problems.

West Midlands Police said Bullring staff had informed it about the opening in advance.

It said the duty city centre team and its operational support unit were deployed to "assist security staff with crowd management". There were no incidents or arrests.

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