If you’ve never heard of Kirby Jenner, that’s not an accident. “Momager” extraordinaire and Keeping Up with the Kardashians mastermind Kris has deliberately kept her son a secret. Until now. At the age of 24, Kirby is making his reality TV debut like a young aristocratic woman at a debutante ball being introduced to fashionable society. Except, Kirby isn’t a young aristocratic woman and he’s not wearing a strapless, white formal dress with matching gloves. Speaking to marie claire via Zoom from his sister Kylie Jenner’s pool house in California – “I don’t even think she knows I’m here to be honest” – Kirby is wearing his trademark navy tee. It’s this “regular dude” energy that sets Kirby’s self-titled reality series apart from his sisters’ show. “Kirby Jenner is similar [to Keeping Up with the Kardashians], except my show follows me,” says Kirby, of the eight-part series co-produced by Kendall and Kris, who was a driving force behind the scenes. “To be honest, this show wasn’t truly my decision. This was all my mum’s idea. In my family, we have this unspoken rule: if Kris Jenner tells you to do something, you do it. So here we are.”
Kirby admits he was nervous about being followed around by cameras capturing his every move, but he needn’t have worried. Much like his sisters before him, he’s a natural in front of the camera: engaging, unexpectedly hilarious and (unlike his sisters) oh-so relatable. Like most young men who still live at home, all Kirby wants to do is make his mother proud. “On the first day of filming, my mum took me aside, looked me in the eye and said, ‘Kirby, don’t fuck this up.’ It was actually great advice,” he reveals. “Kendall also told me to fill my pockets with snacks, because shooting takes a long time and I get incredibly hungry. So I always had peanut M&Ms, Twizzlers and Pop-Tarts on me.”
With such wisdom – and a dream team – behind Kirby Jenner, the series is the jewel in Quibi’s crown of quick-bite shows, alongside Chrissy’s Court with Chrissy Teigen, Survive with Sophie Turner and Nikki Fre$h with Nicole Richie. “When my mum mentioned something about a guy named Quibi and how he wanted to do a reality show with me, I was like, ‘Whoa, there’s a man named Quibi!’ What a cool name. Then my mum told me, ‘No, the network is named Quibi, the man’s name is Jeffrey Katzenberg,” recalls Kirby, who had to Google who Katzenberg was. “I was like, ‘Mum, holy shit, do you know that guy made freaking Shrek?’ Fact: Shrek is the greatest movie of all time. And my mum was like, ‘Please stop talking, I already signed the deal.’”
At its core, Kirby Jenner is the story of a young man trying to find his place in a family of overachievers. Led by matriarch Kris, there’s Kim, a fashion icon, business boss and aspiring lawyer, Kourtney, who founded a lifestyle website last year, Khloé, who’s “super good at video games”, Kendall, who’s one of the world’s top models, and Kylie, who’s “a freaking billionaire”.
“I don’t even have a bank account,” says Kirby, reflecting on what he brings to the family table. “I don’t think of myself as someone who is super talented. I do have a lot of interests and hobbies, though, like amateur modelling, magic, rollerblading and fashion. I’d like to get into gymnastics, but I’m not super flexible.”
Growing up with his multitalented (and flexible) sisters, Kirby insists he had a “normal childhood”. Well, except for the time he accidentally boarded a flight to China and was found wandering the airport by a Chinese family, who took him in. He spent eight months living with them before being sent home to the US. He was four. “It sounds scary but I actually had a really nice time. I learnt a bit of Mandarin, but I don’t remember much because I was so young,” says Kirby of his most defining childhood moment.
As a fraternal twin, he’s used to being compared to his sister Kendall. She’s the tall one; he’s the short one. She loved watching Cops as a kid; he was a SpongeBob SquarePants fan.
She always dreamt of being a model; he looked up to Billy Mays, the American salesman who sold OxiClean on daytime infomercials. The one thing they do have in common: “Kimberly has always said we smell the same. Apparently, we smell like fresh milk.”
Plus, they share a fun twin ability: “It sounds crazy, but Kendall always knows when I have to poop.”
Perhaps the twins’ biggest similarity (apart from their milky scent) is their mutual love of fashion. Kirby has walked at New York Fashion Week for Marc Jacobs, fronted campaigns for Versace, Calvin Klein and Adidas, graced the cover of Harper’s Bazaar US with Kendall and was (arguably) the best dressed at last year’s Met Gala, with his innovative tent-inspired look. “When they announced the theme was Camp, literally the first thing I thought of was a tent,” he says of his vision, naming his sister Kim as his fashion muse. “I’ve been thinking of doing my own fashion line like Kimberly. I actually consider myself a fashion inventor. I’m working on a backpack that turns into a sleeping bag and an edible cape that’s like a giant fruit roll-up you can wear on your neck.”
When he’s not inventing wearable art at Kylie’s pool house, Kirby lives in Calabasas with his mum, Kris, who he has a really strong relationship with. “She’s a brilliant, commanding figure, but she’s also very sweet and has surprisingly soft hands,” says Kirby. “Mostly I stay out of Mum’s way at home. She turned my old bedroom into a lotion closet, so I’m in the attic now. Lately I’ve been teaching her how to play Mario Kart, because the whole family’s been really getting into it.”
Standing on the cusp of international fame, unimaginable fortune and skyrocketing Instagram followers, what’s next for Kirby? “Right now, I’m really focused on my pet turtle, to be honest. I just picked him up from a Calabasas fountain and was like, ‘You know what, buddy? You’re coming home with me.’ I haven’t named him yet, but I’m trying to be a good turtle dad, which is a little harder than it seems. I’m sorry, what was the question again?”
“What’s next for you?” we repeat. “I don’t know, maybe I’ll buy a fishing boat. I feel like it could be fun.”
*Please note: this is a piece of satire. Kirby Jenner is a performance artist (whose real name is as guarded as Banksy’s). But his parody reality series is real and currently airing on Quibi, which can be downloaded at the App Store. Follow him @kirbyjenner, his now-famous Insta account where he masterfully injects himself into Kardashian moments.
This article originally appeared in the September issue of marie claire.