Friday, August 19, 2005
Hustle & Blow
More than half of the respondents hailed Ms. Steffans's autobiography, Confessions Of A Video Pigeon — er, I mean...Video Vixen as a "survivor's story."
Hm. At first I couldn't quite wrap my mind around being in agreement with such a sizable majority of sisters who were ready to bestow Bronze Star-worthy praises, but after reading passages like this:
Glass vases filled with marbles crashed all around us as he began tossing linens from the bed. As the marbles scattered, we laughed in unison ... I remember the exact moment that I first laid on my back for him ... My legs were wrapped around his waist and just before his body was to merge with mine, I noticed his upper right chest. On it was a tattoo with the words "Pain is Love."The testament to Ms. Steffans's will to overcome insurmountable odds is clearly evident in her eagerness to trade coochie for Gucci. Finding that inner strength to bed Ja Rule, Irv Gotti, Jay-Z, Damon Dash, Shaquille O' Neal, Bobby Brown, Fred Durst, Vin Diesel, Usher, P. Diddy, Dr. Dre, Ice-T, Xzibit, DMX, among many others takes a level of fortitude not found in your garden-variety video ho.
Confessions is hardly the first journey through the inner sanctum of the show, the after party and the hotel — Pamela Des Barres covered the basics of groupiedom in her 1987 narrative during the free wheeling era of the late 60's and 70's, I'm With The Band. Take a trip to the Big Apple, La-La Land, Sin City, or the ATL and you'll find gorgeous women at a dime a dozen who've had their dreams scattered like trash in a back alley while trying to break into the biz. However, the main twist to a time honored tale of a young girl with fractured sense of self who stumbles into the Babylon of entertainment, looking for love in all the wrong places is it's the maiden voyage for a woman to kiss & tell so publicly in the realm of rap. The shopworn song and dance of a hooker seeing the error of her ways and turning her life around is the stuff of Oscar nominations and the supposed nip & tuck to spruce up such an uninteresting topic is this being acknowledged as the first Blaxploitation version to hit the mainstream, with herself cast as the example to starry-eyed little brown girls watching the gyrating bodies on BET, all that glitters isn't gold.
"Where young girls once aspired to be models and ballerinas, they now aspire to be hip-hop video girls. I sat down to write this book because I think my story can serve as a warning to anyone aspiring to the kind of life I have led.You only need to take one glance at the suggestive book cover to see that theory go up in smoke. Reclining on a modular chair, weavealicious with blond locks splayed over one shoulder, glossy lips pursed and clad in an impossibly tight bodice cut low enough to give an eyeful of heaving silicone.
Like so many young girls, I grew up wanting to be famous. I used to watch television and dream about the Beverly Hills lifestyle seen in all my favorite film. I reached most of my goals, but I didn't do it in a conventional way. I did it using the oldest trick in the book. Sex.
I was known as 'Superhead,' the insatiable lover of many Hollywood stars, sports figures, and some of music's most influential performers and executives.
My hips have swayed and popped on MTV while I danced on tabletops and poolside in some of your favorite videos.
The top reason a woman finds herself in a rap video, sprawled undressed over a luxury car while a rapper is saying lewd things about her, is a lack of self-esteem. No one who values, loves, or knows herself would allow herself to be placed in such a degrading position." — excerpt from the introduction
Karrine Steffans, post-feminist icon? Riiiiiiiiight. As much as she waxes poetic on independence, self-love and respecting your body to women during every promo stop, her come-hither pose flies in the face of her disingenuous stance.
She uses her troubled childhood as the launching pad for the downward spiral into the self-destructive behavior that has made for juicy tidbits which kept urban message boards buzzing all summer. And the early years of her life reads as a Lifetime movie of the week: emigrated to the U.S. at 10 from St. Thomas, raped at 13, stripper in L.A. at 16, moved in with veteran rapper Kool G. Rap at 17 — 10 years her senior — with whom she had an abusive relationship that produced a son. Her upbringing was certainly tragic since she still is only at the ripe age of 26, but are we to give passes to everyone who's come from a tattered family structure? Where is the line drawn from blaming any and everyone for their life's missteps and taking responsibility for your own actions?
Instead of seeking professional help to work through these myriad of issues, she freely made the choice to be a skillful jump-off. She leapfrogged onto the casting couch merry-go-round with eyes wide open. Far from being empowered and "owning her sexuality," she's simply a coward. Too scared to look at the damaged young woman staring at her in the mirror and flaunting her celebrity misadventures by name dropping the entire Def Jam roster as recipients of her oral talents.
And nothing sells like airing dirty laundry. Confessions has now replaced The Coldest Winter Ever as the ghetto read du jour. It has remained on The New York Times top 10 nonfiction list for the past 5 weeks since its release in late June. Big screen adaptation rights are in the works. Gossip rags have reported that a reality series may be hitting the airwaves faster than a quickie hand job. It's also interesting to note that while Steffans is spending so much time now denouncing the lifestyle she chased without abandon and her contempt for hip-hop on the whole, guess who her book is strategically marketed to? She's gone from Superhead to Superfly in pimping the 'hood for publicity.
While her overnight celebrity may appear glossy from the outset, all the press releases and money in the world can't earn you respect. What is she going to tell her 7-year old son when kids taunt him at the playground with the cold, hard truth? When he finds out why he was left for months at a time while his mama bounced from coast to coast, sleeping with anyone at the drop of a hat, getting drunk, popping ecstasy pills and servicing second-rate rappers? When he comes across her scantily clad photos proudly emblazoning Superhead across her surgically enhanced chest? If he ever happens to stumble on her taped romp with porn star, Mr. Marcus?
This behavior doesn't scream survivor to me. COAVV is the culmination of all the anger, dissatisfaction and resentment not towards the men who used and discarded her once the pillow talk was over. It's with herself for not having the discipline to take the road less traveled, for not using what's between her ears instead of what's between her legs to further her "career." Superhead's old enough to decipher right from wrong and made up her mind that it no longer mattered, because her lifelong abusers held the chips and she consciously succumbed to it. She submitted and accepted it since her feelings of self-worth were nonexistent and instead of turning that negative around, she opted to wallow in it, relish in it and it became her reality. Every day women struggle with their own private pain and somehow manage to wade their way to the light at the end of the tunnel without delving into degradation. I tip my hat to these unsung heroes for they define what being a survivor is truly all about.
- Will commented at 8/22/2005 02:19:00 PM~
Please have this published somewhere. Wait... I have the perfect spot for it. The next edition of The Flow magazine. Check out the site (www.theflowmag.com) and then email the editor (firstname.lastname@example.org) and get this in the STRENGTH issue. This needs to be seen, read and acknowledged.
Ummmm... that is, if it isn't published somewhere already. LOL
Great... just great!!!
- Michael commented at 8/22/2005 11:36:00 PM~
Excellent post, Trini.
- Midlife Crisis commented at 8/23/2005 12:30:00 AM~
Yeah, this is excellent. For real.
You're an excellent writer and this is a powerful piece.
I haven't read the book nor any excerpts even though just for the hell of it, I am bordering on being VAGUELY interested in her whole take of the situation.
- TriniPrincess commented at 8/23/2005 11:17:00 AM~
Good lookin' out, ya'll....'preciate the encouragement. I was meaning to get up on my soapbox when Superhead fever hit NYC radio, but that Essence poll left me stunned to how low our collective expectations have dropped. Midlife, hit up Amazon. com to buy it used if you're still curious...it really isn't worth the paper it's printed on to pay full price. Will, I'm gonna e-mail you because I have a question about submitting this @ Flow.
- Mak commented at 8/24/2005 05:21:00 AM~
I am so glad that YOU wrote this. It would not, could not have been recieved by women if a MAN wrote it. I appreciate the candor with which you wrote and the honesty that flowed from it. A beautiful piece about a not so pretty topic. Wonderfully written. Midlife doesn't lie.
- BFKASO commented at 8/24/2005 05:39:00 PM~
I'm crazy late to the party but good stuff!
The interesting thing about this, is that your point is staring everyone in the face but so many have chosen to ignore it. She is a chick who loathes her creators (cuz without em she would have no story to tell)and is capitalizing on the drama from "telling all". Next thing you know she'll have her own morning talk show on UPN telling girls how to get their lives straight.
In the words of some people I know "Chick Please!"
From one Trini to another KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!
- TriniPrincess commented at 8/25/2005 12:13:00 AM~
Exactly, bf...before she gets all Iyanla Vanzant on the public now, she needs intensive therapy sessions. Then again, it's America we're talking about: land of the loose and home of the deranged.
Another BK Trini holdin' it down in the blogsphere? Your cool pass just got upgraded to platinum. Wha' happnen?
- lady in satin commented at 8/28/2005 04:25:00 PM~
I couldn't have agreed with you more about this. Well said!
- lala_bird commented at 8/30/2005 03:08:00 PM~
the last part of the post rang bells.
all i can say is: word.
- Mealone commented at 8/30/2005 07:02:00 PM~
wow, you really do need to write for a magazine.
I love your take on things.
- PimpHop commented at 9/15/2005 06:18:00 PM~
Exclusive interview with Karrine "Superhead" Steffans
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