Let’s face it, we all have “Instagram husbands” who take pictures of us oh-so-casually sipping coffee in our favorite local spot for the sake of posting the “plandid” moment to social media. In the digital age, there’s a lot of pressure to maintain a social presence that projects a fun and aesthetically pleasing lifestyle, especially when our Instagram feeds are filled with colorful landscapes from European vacations and sun-kissed afternoons on the lake. But how can a 21-year-old like me compete when I can barely afford the cover charge at Seacrets?
This slight obsession with spicing up our social media pages is what has drawn crowds to interactive pop-up exhibitions such as the Museum of Ice Cream and the Color Factory in New York, and now Selfie Fantasy, Ocean City’s first immersive photo studio on steroids. Since opening in June in the former home of Ocean City Screams Haunted House on Worcester Street, owners Stacey and Mark Warner and Jason Tillman have welcomed about 200 visitors per day into their one-stop Instagram shop.
For $13 per visitor, wannabe models can spend an hour taking pictures on the swing in the garden room, on a golden throne beside a pile of money, or on a surfboard riding a tidal wave. With a prime location on the inlet across from the under-21 dance club H2O and with current pop songs blasting through the sound system, Selfie Fantasy primarily markets to members of Generation Z. However, the owners say they’ve hosted more families than they anticipated. “We thought the demographic was going to be the 15- to 19-year-olds,” says Mark, “but we’re finding that families are coming in and they’re having a nice time.”
Unlike similar Instagram-worthy attractions, Selfie Fantasy doesn’t revolve around a central theme but instead features a “hodge-podge” of changeable rooms, Stacey says. During a recent visit to Selfie Fantasy, my mom was my Instagram husband of the day, snapping shots of me in a hot pink clawfoot bathtub, “talking” on a rotary phone in the cherry room, and swimming in the second-floor ball pit filled with emoji-themed blow-ups for the allotted three minutes. Thanks to help from the OC community—local artist Mark Brown designed the interior backdrops and Alexandra Jacobs of T.C. Studios Arts & Entertainment painted the building’s exterior as well as the psychedelic entryway—Mark says the Selfie Fantasy team has “brought a family’s vacation experience of creating lasting memories to a whole new level.” And I have the pictures to prove it.