This interview is co-authored by Charla Mackey
She's the woman you love to hate, but Karrine Steffans is laughing all the way to the bank. Since exploding on the literary scene in 2005, Karrine's explosive tell-all book, Confessions of a Video Vixen, sent shockwaves throughout the Hip Hop industry and beyond. Penning three New York Times bestselling books, Confessions of a Video Vixen, The Vixen Diaries, and The Vixen Manual: How to Find, Seduce & Keep the Man You Want, Karrine's personal life was a nightmare full of deceit and traumatic experiences. One of the world's most controversial New York Times bestselling authors, Karrine is now set to clear her name once and for all.
Although haters and gossip magazines are quick to label her as a bitch or hoe, the electrifying beauty has not let the false reputation of being 'Superhead' or a video vixen stop her from becoming one of the world's most famous, successful female authors and entrepreneurs of our time. Emerging from the dark shadows of her tragic past, Karrine is ready to set fire to her old reputation and give birth to her true identity. Her scorching-hot memoir, set for release on June 2, Vindicated: Confessions of a Video Vixen, Ten Years Later, is slated to become another bestseller and is the final story of Karrine's secret life experiences that she has kept hidden from the world until now.
Once a lost soul who was held captive in a vicious cycle of abuse in a destructive marriage, Karrine is now, in her own words, "a grown woman'' who has finally found her true calling after overcoming decades of heartbreak, despair and sexual exploitation. In spite of the naysayers, Karrine unabashedly continues to use her pain to educate, uplift and inspire women all of over the world. Resilient, spiritually conscious, and courageous, Karrine is cleverly reinventing women's roles all while teaching them juicy secrets about the art of seduction, oral and anal sex, love, relationships and so much more.
Although the media continues to vilify her and put her in a box, there are always two sides to a story and Karrine is finally ready to tell hers. A highly sought after speaker, interior stylist, and book publisher, Karrine is teaching women how to be the masters of their minds, bodies, and souls. Forget about what you think you know about Karrine Steffans and learn the truth about the woman behind the brand. In this captivating, candid interview, Karrine exposes the truth behind the video vixen persona, Lil' Wayne, and much more.
Florence: If you could squash one misconception people have about you, what would it be?
KS: I think the ongoing misconception, and it has been for almost ten years, is that I live some sort of wild, sex-crazed life (laughs), whereas the truth of the matter is that in the last 7 or 8 years I've been married several times and have done very little dating. I think that's been the number one misconception.
Florence: You are harshly judged because of your past. Do you ever regret going public about your journey?
KS: No, not at all. There's nothing to regret. I don't believe in regrets. I don't think regrets actually exist. I think regrets are things people make up in their heads. So, I don't regret anything. Everything turned out exactly the way it was supposed to. Everyone has a past. So, there's nothing there to regret and there's nothing to regret about sharing. Never regret sharing your journey because that helps other people in theirs, so no one should regret that.
Florence: In interviews, you mentioned being in abusive relationships in the past. How did it change your relationships with men?
KS: Well, I've always been in abusive relationships. My first abusive relationship was with my mother and so, abuse has always been my language. It took me 33 years to teach myself a new language and so, being brought up in an abusive household--never feeling loved, always feeling put upon, being abused sexually as a child, being raped--all of those things formulated the woman I was, who I am, and who I am becoming. So, when it comes to my interpersonal relationships with men, of course, a lifetime of abuse vastly affected everything I did. I always came from a place of abuse, actually wanting, welcoming, and accepting it because that was my language. It never seemed strange to me.
Florence: How have you been able to heal and become more empowered? I know you're a different person now than you were before.
KS: I am actually the same exact person. People don't change at their core. If you're a good person, you are a good person. What changes is our behavior. So, I'm the same person I've always been. People who have always known me and who have loved me have seen me this way. But, what has changed is my behavior, the behavior I give out and the behavior I accept, including my rhetoric.
As for the healing, that comes from the writing, from living and writing. That's my catharsis. That's why I never regret sharing because it's part of my healing! My writing is innate, I've been writing since I was 5, so even when I was a child, it was how I let things go and gave them back to the universe.
Also, I've had a spiritual life coach for the last 15 years and I started psychological therapy back in 2006 while writing my second book. I had questions. I wanted to know what the statistics were when a young girl in her formative years is beaten, and raped. What happens to her afterward? I had questions about the self-mutilation and other things that I was doing in my 20's. I wanted to know where those behaviors came from and it helped me to be a better writer. I write about myself, therefore, I must know my subject. I have to do research on my subject.
The healing wasn't always easy and it's still not easy. I mean, every day we learn things, but it's what everyone has to do, not just me. Everyone has to grow up and that's what we're all doing; we're just doing it in different ways. Some people have help and some people don't. I just happen to have a whole lot of help these days and a great support system. Plus, I have this wonderful job that allows me to write it all down. It's almost like a message in a bottle for me. I write it all down, put it in the bottle, and throw it into the ocean because it doesn't belong to me anymore.
Florence: You have expressed your deep love for Lil' Wayne. What initially attracted you to him?
KS: When he and I first met, we laughed a lot. He was funny and we talked on the phone for a while before we saw each other in person. I only knew him cerebrally. So, we connected on that level first and then, by the time I saw him and was in his presence, what I loved about him was that he always knew he was who he is. He exuded so much confidence and control over his life, his business and I saw how the other men around him respected him. I am only attracted to powerful men because I am a very powerful woman. I tend to dominate men who aren't powerful and I don't like that. So, I loved that he was dominant and that I couldn't be dominate when I was around him.
I appreciated being the lady in the room. I loved that he was a gentleman, that he would always make sure I was okay. If he was out all day doing something and I was stuck at home, he would send somebody back to the house to make sure I had food and whatever I needed. He would make sure, no matter how busy he was, that I was well taken care of. There is still this chivalrous man in there who wants to make sure that you're taken care of. I just loved that about him. And he loves. He is not afraid to say I love you. He was very loving and trusting of me and very open and honest with me at times. I felt connected, and the friendship blossomed and continued from there.
Florence: Do you believe you will be with him exclusively in the future?
KS: Oh, I would never be with Wayne exclusively. That's not even possible. That's a ridiculous notion. The thing about loving someone is that you have to love them the way they need to be loved and not the way you want to love them. And Wayne needs to be loved a particular way. The way I love Wayne is the way he needs to be loved by me. I don't want anything. I don't want any parts of him. I don't want him. There's no ownership there. I think when people hear the word love, they only think about romantic love. People think that just because you love someone, that means you have to be with them, but that is ridiculous.
According to Greek philosophy, there are six different kinds of love and we love everyone differently. So, you have to be able to put that person in the right kind of love and have a different language with them. So, the way I love my son is not the way I love Wayne. The way I love Wayne is not the way I love my father. It's all different so, you have to put people in the right love zone. The zone that Wayne is in with me, in my heart, is not a romantic zone. It's not that. It's never been that. So, we're good where we are. We're just friends so, that works. We're just people who have known each other for a long time. That's all we are.
Florence: So basically, you don't deal with jealousy at all?
KS: I don't recognize those things. I don't deal with things in my life. I don't recognize hate, I don't recognize bitterness, I don't recognize jealousy, I don't recognize greed. I don't give them power. They don't exist to me. So, there's nothing to deal with because I don't see you, therefore, I don't have to deal. I am able to live a prosperous, blessed life because I don't give power to certain things. Whatever the issues are or were, if there were women in his life that have felt or do feel some kind of way because of whatever relationship we may have had in the past, I've never seen all of that. If they existed, I had no idea.
Florence: What has your relationship with Lil' Wayne taught you about love?
KS: Wayne was the first person, other than my son, who I loved unconditionally. I'd never felt that before. I don't love my parents unconditionally. If you are a bad person to me, you're a bad person. I don't care if you're my mother, father, sister, I will cut you off and not talk to you. So, Wayne was the first person who taught me how to love unconditionally. Over the last 8 years, we've had crazy ups and downs but no matter what happened, I still loved him genuinely, as a person. Having to accept that was difficult. That's hard to swallow because you want to be the person who, the minute someone says or does something that's not right to you, says, "I'm done with you. This is it." But, no matter what he does or says, I don't stop loving him. I don't stop caring.
It became all too clear in late 2012, when Wayne began suffering from seizures, how important his life is to me, regardless of what has happened. He and I had just gotten into a huge fight a couple of weeks before the seizures happened and you don't want to argue with someone and they die. You start thinking of mortality and what's important and that's when I realized I love this person, unconditionally.
Learning unconditional love helped me have healthier relationships, including my current marriage. I will always be grateful to Wayne for that.
Florence: What has your relationship with Lil' Wayne it taught you about yourself?
KS: Wayne saved my life and he doesn't even know he did it. He saved my life by reminding me who I am and who I was when he met me. I was in a really terrible place in my life, had given up on myself, and was thinking I could never be happy. I was physically very sick and emotionally drained. It was one of the lowest points of my life. He had just gotten out of prison and it was my first time seeing him in 3 years since he and I stopped talking 2 years before he was locked up. When we were reunited, he reminded me who I was, how beautiful I am, and how smart. He taught me to never forget that. I had forgotten how strong, how amazing--I am so amazing and I had forgotten it!
This is the thing about amazing women or amazing people in general. People are attracted to your light because they want it for themselves. It's like fireflies. When we were kids in New York, we would visit my dad and catch fireflies because we were so attracted to their light. Put them in jars next to our bed, and then they'd die. Then we'd go out the next night and get another firefly. That's how people are.
I have always been a light; that's why I attract certain kinds of people. I don't go out looking for people. I didn't go out looking for Wayne. I wasn't at a concert somewhere. I don't do those things. You don't see pictures of me out and about. I don't go anywhere or do anything, ever. People are attracted to me. The law of attraction is powerful and it's my light. I forgot I had it because the person I was with captured it, put it in a jar next to his bed, and watched me die.
Charla: It's good you're shedding light on that because a lot of times, when you look at things, people think she met them when she was in a video. Where did you usually meet them?
Karrine: Wayne reached out to a friend of mine. He had a birthday party in LA and my friend was the promoter. I'd never met him before. That was September 2006. I came to the party and they were asking people to say happy birthday to him on the red carpet, for a birthday video. I left a video message for him, like everyone else did, saying happy birthday and many, many more. I was still standing in the doorway of the club when a fight broke out. So, I kicked off my shoes and ran out, like everyone else. That was it.
Months later, after reviewing the tape and saw me, and he called a mutual friend of ours and that's how we met. He traced me down. I've never been a groupie. I've always lived in a nice neighborhood--always. So, I would meet people at places like the grocery store. I've met a lot of people in the neighborhood.
Florence: Your critics define you in a negative light, but how do you define yourself?
KS: I don't. I am not to be defined. I am all things. I am the queen of everything. Every woman is. I don't define myself and critics don't matter. To me they don't exist. I don't define anything. I am a free spirit. I am omnipresent and bigger than any definition.
When you start defining yourself, you put yourself in boxes and I don't want to be trapped in anything because I will always evolve--I will always change. It's like water. I take on many shapes. Everyone should be that way and not define themselves. I am everything.
Florence: You're a best-selling author who has lived a painful, yet empowering journey. What are two lessons women can they learn from your journey?
KS: The number one example I wish to set is I want women to talk about things, no matter what it is, even if you don't come out looking good in the story. Everyone is so afraid of making themselves look bad and of judgement. If my mother had been honest about one thing, she would have a better life today and better relationships with her children and grandchildren. As the child of a woman who never answered anything honestly if at all, I knew I didn't want to be that way, especially with my kid. I already knew everything about my mother. I was there, I saw it. But, when I'd ask her questions, she would lie.
The blatant lying and never wanting to admit things created the disrespect. I never wanted my son to feel like I lied or even hid anything. I want women, especially, to talk, answer questions, and be honest. My son is not going to grow up thinking sex is bad, therefore, he won't shame women for having sex or be afraid to talk to me about sex. If women would stop hiding, their children would be better equipped to deal with what the world has to offer. If my mother would have prepared me, I wouldn't have been out here with no preparation.
Charla: Tell us about Vindicated: Confessions of a Video Vixen, Ten Years Later. What was the hardest part to write and why?
KS: I got that deal in 2013, and I didn't know what to write. I struggled with it for months. I talked to my closest friends and my then boyfriend, asking what they thought I should do. The hardest thing was to start because I knew there was just one story left that didn't belong to me anymore but I wasn't sure I could write about it because it was so hard. It was the admittance that I allowed a man into my life who treated me so badly for so long and I couldn't get out of it.
While the rest of the world was busy making up stuff, I was at home with my husband and our two kids, reading things about me that weren't true. I always thought, wouldn't there be pictures? (laughs). I was fighting for my life inside my home so, I couldn't fight for my reputation. I couldn't fight the world and my husband at the same time. So, when writing Vindicated, it was difficult to explain the cycle of abuse and how long it went on--7 years. Even after the divorce and I married someone else, it was still happening in one way or another. It's difficult to admit that and to take readers through the cycle because it was so long. It was hard to admit I let this person do this to me and kept it secret for so long.
Charla: Can readers expect to experience a different side of you?
KS: I think what readers will experience here is the actual me. I said this a few years ago, but people didn't understand it when I said it--the vixen never existed. My career, up to that point, had been the culmination of truthful, yet, carefully placed stories and picking certain groups of people to write about, never telling the whole story all at once. Outside of the words, I didn't create anything. Even the title, Confessions of a Video Vixen, I didn't name it that. I hated that name! It wasn't me but that's what the publisher came up with so, that's what we went with. So, for so long, I let publishers help create this vixen persona so that the books would read a certain way or create a certain stir.
I have friends in music, film, TV, and friends who work regular jobs. I can take anyone of those groups and write about them. But they are all in different nomenclatures so, I can write about just my friends who work in television and that's a book all to itself, yet, it may not be the whole story. So, when I said, "The vixen never existed," back in 2011, everyone took it to mean I lied about everything, not realizing that the person they thought I was doesn't exist. So, for the first time, I am letting people into what really existed from 2007 to 2013.
Charla: What would you say is your biggest life lesson to date?
KS: A couple of years ago, when I was building the Karrine & Co. brand and trying to decide what the brand was going to be, I wanted people to see me for me instead of what media made me out to be, especially during my years of silence. I remember sitting in my room and thinking of where it all went wrong and how I ended up losing control of everything, and I realized I hadn't asked myself one question: And then what? That was my most important lesson. I learned to think about the consequences before the action and that saves me, to this day, from a lot of trouble. If you play it down the line, you'll start making better choices.
Charla: After all that you have overcome, are you now in a place where you can truly say that you are happy and that you love the woman you have become?
KS: I am so completely satisfied. Every day, I wake up happy and that happiness is not attached to anyone else. I made it through some really terrible experiences and that was amazing. But what really solidified the happiness I feel now is living my purpose. That's what was missing. I disappeared for years. There were rumors but you rarely saw or heard from me from about 2007 until now. I was taking time to get my life together because there were a lot of things that had to be fixed, all of it stemming from my first marriage.
So, I had to make it through that and everything that happened after that, which is what Vindicated is based on--making bad decisions and choosing the wrong partner can ruin your life for a long time, perhaps forever. My happiness came from learning my purpose, which is to be honest and to share things that normal people probably wouldn't share, in an effort to support and uplift other women. I love that my journey gives other women hope, letting them see how far God can bring a soul.
Charla: What's the next big thing for you?
KS: Vindicated is my last memoir and the most important. There is a reason this book's cover is the only cover on which I am standing. That was important to me. I am done writing about my life as my relationships have become more substantial. It's finally time for me to live. Moving forward, I am working on the television version of Confessions alongside Flavor Unit Entertainment. As far as books are concerned, I don't know what's going to come next.
Over the past several years, I have continued to build the Karrine & Co. brand and have consolidated all my interests and former websites into my website The Gorgeous Girl's Guide (The G3). I will build that sub-brand further and continue branching out into merchandise and licensing. The G3 is also slated to become a series of books for women, covering personal and professional issues. The entire sub-brand focuses on health, beauty, and an overall better quality of life and includes my Dear Gorgeous advice column, which runs every Sunday. I am looking to publish a Dear Gorgeous book, as well, filled with reader's questions and my answers to them.
My son is turning 18, soon, and that's huge for me. That means I will be an empty nester at 37 when most of my friends are just now having their children. It's a great time to be an empty nester because I want to explore myself more without being completely responsible for someone else. Then, I may want to have more kids but I can't be sure, just yet. I am in a super awesome relationship and marriage so that's exciting, too! Basically, life is good! I can do whatever my heart desires and I'm looking forward to it.
Charla: What message do you want to give your fans?
KS: Most importantly, especially for my female fans, I want them to not be afraid to live life, to not be afraid to make bad decisions because there are a lot of lessons and blessings in those decisions. Sometimes, if you don't fall into the pit, you won't reach out to God. So, don't try to jump over the pit. Know that you are going to fall and that it's okay. You are going to make bad decisions but just make sure you repent and rectify them, talk about them, move on and try not make the same mistakes, twice.
But, if you do, that's okay, too! It's like riding a bike. You'll get it when you get it and you may fall a lot during that journey. Then, when you really, really get it, take the hand of another young girl or woman and show her what you've learned. Each one teach one. That is so important because if someone would've taught me, I wouldn't have had to go through the merry go round. I didn't know. But it's fine. That's okay.
God allowed my life to go the way it went. God is not somewhere surprised about my life. He is completely aware of what's happening, he's God! (laughs). He knew what was going to happen. No one tricks God. But now, it's my job to turn my mess into a message and never regret a day of my life. It was all allowed for His good so, I have to make all of those work for mine, too. That's what I want women to do. Live life without being afraid of judgment from others because judgment from other sinners is invalid.
When I die, the world is going to talk about me. They will never forget me and I will never have any regrets. If nothing else, the world will know I was here. I think that everyone should make their mark wherever they are. They will talk about you way after you're gone. Make your mark. Live your life.
The saying is, life is short, but what if it's not? But if life is short, is this how you would like to spend your last days? And if life is long, is this how you want to spend 50, 60, or 70 years? Being ashamed? Being quiet? Hoping no one notices you? Not telling the truth? Walking around heavy? If I die in my sleep tonight, God forbid, I am happy with how I've lived my life. I've lived it truthfully.
My grandmother told me in 2005, when I published Confessions, "You get to walk around never having to lie about who you are and most people will never know how that feels." That's better than anything else to me and that's what I want women to know.
Karrine Steffans is the bestselling author of six titles: Confessions of a Video Vixen, The Vixen Diaries, The Vixen Manual, SatisFaction, How to Make Love to a Martian, and Decor and the Single Girl.
You can view Karrine's other website here to learn healthy living tips and more!
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