Instagram daredevils have created something new: extreme modeling

Instagram daredevils have created something new: extreme modeling

Russian influencer Angela Nikolau might be onto something.

CultureApril 09, 2019 By Morgan Charlton

For most, the idea of a romantic date includes dinner, a few drinks, maybe a movie. Second base if things go right.

For one Instafamous Russian daredevil, it’s making out on a ledge with her boyfriend, hundreds of feet up looking at only the concrete landing. They hold one another tight, out of love, desperation ... safety? This all done on top of buildings, cranes or other man-made structures that people normally aren’t allowed.

Angela Nikolau first became what she calls an “extreme model” after posting a photo of herself visiting China in 2016 — unnervingly high up. She posed there with a selfie-stick as an entire Chinese city cowered below her. It went viral. Now, with over half a million followers, she and her boyfriend travel around the world seeking out the most famous skyscrapers they can find to push each edge as though it was going to be their last.

They put each adventure together with Hollywood-style effects over blistering anthemic music to set the tone, posting the stills to her Instagram and the fully edited videos on YouTube. The couple receives up to hundreds of thousands of views or likes for a single effort — veritable gold if you’re business savvy enough. Skills pay the bills, after all.

But Instagram fame doesn’t just give pretty girls a free pass to some of the world’s tallest buildings. When asked how she catches the perfect shot, Nikolau is up front with it. By any means possible, she admits.

“It’s a secret,” she tells us through a Russian translator. “We do it illegally.”

The 25-year-old daredevil says she has always been attracted to the unusual and extreme — that it was her innate curiosity that brought her to these bonkers heights, literally. On her social media accounts, Nikolau explains she’s motivated in life to be the best at everything — first gymnastics, then art, and now rooftopping. She attributes her online success to years of mastering gymnastics, a skill she understands well enough to caution others not to try themselves if they aren’t trained.

Rooftopping is her sport now though. “I love being on the top of buildings because I feel freedom,” she says. “I just love to hang my legs from above and feel how adrenaline makes my toes numb, creeping up to my heart.”

Wearing a short skirt and sneakers in one of her favorite shots, Nikolau and her boyfriend, Ivan Beerkus, are often seen sporting the hottest threads while lying down on the edge of buildings or hooking up on sketchy construction cranes. Romantic, right? The pair use drones, GoPros, selfie-sticks, whatever to capture pristine cityscapes as electrifying backdrops. Her favorite is Hong Kong. 

“Hong Kong is the most beautiful city on Earth!” says Nikolau. “It combines (both) skyscrapers and nature.”

Of course, the tallest buildings in the world are also filled with security guards. So while she maintains it’s a secret how they get to the top, she eventually drops a few hints into her methodical process.

Just like in the movies, Nikolau and Beerkus will dress in business suits with a GoPro hidden in her purse. Unassumingly, they slide right by the fuzz. Once they make to the top, she poses while he controls the drone. The way she describes it, their antics seem shockingly easy. And, based off the number of buildings she’s scaled, it’s worked out pretty well. 

Burj Khalifa, one of the tallest buildings in the world, located in Dubai, is number one on her bucket list. It’s 2,722 feet to the top. She’s tried several times to get there, but has yet to make the climb.

Despite the recent number of selfie-related deaths (and, you know, the fact that it’s highly illegal) that doesn’t stop people like Nikolau from climbing buildings or companies from sponsoring people like her to do it. In fact, she makes bank risking life and limb for the Gram. She won’t talk specifics, but with a following like hers it isn’t unusual to fetch tens of thousands of dollars for one sponsored post. Worth it?

“I’ve never fallen,” she says, laughing. “I am always careful.”

Obviously rooftopping isn’t for the faint of heart.