Karrine Steffans has made a living selling her tales of lust and passion in her first best selling kiss-and-tell memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen, followed by this year’s The Vixen Diaries. In apropos fashion, her tell-all tales have incited passionate responses and opinions from ex-lovers, hip-hop insiders and the public at large. A New York Times best selling author and owner of her own publishing imprint, Steffans Publishing, her recent impressive credentials don’t sit right with her cultural and racial community according to Steffans, herself.
With her extensive sexual resume that allegedly includes the likes of Ja Rule, Shaquille O’Neal, Irv Gotti, Fred Durst, Dr. Dre, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Ray J and Bobby Brown, the hip hop community would be much more comfortable to label her a loose woman, sew a scarlet letter onto her bra and place her in a dark corner never to be heard from again. Instead, Steffans emerged center stage, much to the surprise and discomfort of many of the aforementioned power players and pseudo-celebrities.
Self-proclaimed “Vixen,” Karrine Steffans, has positioned herself as an expert on men and all that they encompass, as if relaying the detailed and intricate rules of a board game. There is terseness in her speech, coupled by an internal smoldering anger which clearly covers up a deep vulnerability and desire to appear confident and unwavering. As Karrine Steffans puts it herself, “Growing up I was taught never to discuss these sorts of things.” Well, Steffans is discussing these sorts of things… and discussing and discussing!
PR.com (Allison Kugel): How did your book tour go for The Vixen Diaries? Is it winding down now?
Karrine Steffans: It never really winds down. It could go on for upwards of a year. But there are moments of silence in between all the chaos. So I’m taking this moment right now to commence working on the third book, which I have to turn in, in April.
PR.com: Can you talk about the third book at all and what it’s going to be about?
Karrine Steffans: Yeah. The third book is about relationships and sex and just things that I’ve learned along the way about men and the relationships that we have with them. It’s called The Vixen Manual.
PR.com: I want to go back a little bit to when you first became a published author. How did you go from being a music video girl and kind of being on the periphery and having all of these relationships with these artists, to becoming a published author? Who approached you to write that first book, Confessions of a Video Vixen?
Karrine Steffans: Harper Collins, my publisher, did. They contacted me and so it was just that easy for me.
PR.com: What prompted them to contact you?
Karrine Steffans: I had been in the news for about a year or so, just in different publications. I did ten magazines in about twelve months; just people spotlighting me. It was planned on my part. I just knew that if I could get attention drawn to myself that publishers would take notice, and they did. It took about a year. After twelve months and ten magazine articles later, Harper Collins came to me and asked me if I wanted to write a book and publish it through them.
PR.com: In your estimation, do you think that your life has been racier and more sexually charged then most other women, or do you think that you’ve just been a lot more honest than most?
Karrine Steffans: I think a little bit of both. I think I have opportunities that most women don’t have. Most beautiful, smart, attractive women in general have more opportunities then some women that may be less of all those things. Given that, and places where I’ve lived… I’ve always lived in affluent neighborhoods so it’s just a matter of being in the right place at the right time and having what it takes to get noticed. A lot of women are never noticed. Different personalities get noticed differently. I just have one of those personalities that has always gotten noticed.
PR.com: Why did you choose to reveal such intimate and graphic details, not just about you and your sex life, but about other people with whom you’ve had relationships? And did you worry how it would affect those relationships or worry about people becoming angry with you?
Karrine Steffans: All of that is a part of life and it’s impossible to tell a life story and leave those things out unless you’re a virgin. I didn’t do anything different than Jane Fonda did in her autobiography. It’s really nothing different. It’s the same formula. It’s just a different kind of person and just a different genre; a different age group.
PR.com: Why have you been more scandalized than the men you’ve slept with, considering many of those men cheated on wives and girlfriends to be with you?
Karrine Steffans: I think it’s a definite proof of the double standard that exists. But, I like the double standard. I like to play with it and taunt it and rub it in people’s faces.
PR.com: Does the double standard ever anger you?
Karrine Steffans: No, it doesn’t. I think that it’s cute. I think it’s adorable that men think that women can’t do what they can do and be successful at it, and get praised. I think that pushing the double standard is what’s really important to me. I know that it’s probably something that can’t be broken, but pushing it is realty funny.
PR.com: You’re not just an author. You’re kind of a sensationalized personality…
Karrine Steffans: Sensationalized personality?! Wow!
PR.com: Well take someone like Danielle Steele. She puts out a book when she puts out a book… or Sydney Sheldon… people don’t really know anything about their personal lives. They’re not gossiped about. Are you enjoying that kind of fame, and does it give you something you didn’t have before?
Karrine Steffans: I don’t think so. To me I’m just a person and I write books and everyone else sensationalizes me. I’m a normal person that just happens to write books about things that happened in my life. They may not be normal to other people, but it’s all normal to me, and I’m just a person. I don’t see myself that way. But, I do understand I’m a different kind of author, because most authors, you don’t even know what they look like and you don’t know anything about them. But when someone writes about their personal life, then of course! It’s like reality TV, but [with] books.
PR.com: That’s a good comparison actually. I never thought of it that way.
Karrine Steffans: Yes. It’s reality TV. My books are reality. It’s the thing that’s going on right now that people care about the most. They want to know about your life. Fiction doesn’t sell as much as non fiction. If your life is interesting they want to know about your life. It’s reality TV… on paper (laughs).
PR.com: There’s a common theme in your relationships, of which you describe in both Confessions of a Video Vixen and in The Vixen Diaries. The common theme is of you becoming involved with a lot of men who are unavailable in different ways. Largely, a lot of them were in other relationships. Why, in your past, have you been so attracted to men who were unavailable to you?
Karrine Steffans: I think that after being married for four years I didn’t want to get into a relationship. I wanted to be with people that were unavailable so that I couldn’t be caught, and so there was no option of a relationship. There was never an option, which was great. I wanted to be single and remain single. I didn’t want to be a wife again. I wanted not to be tied down. I was tied down very young and I had a baby very young.
PR.com: Where do you stand on your reputation within the hip hop community and all of the stories that have gone around about you? Do you embrace it or are you embarrassed by it?
Karrine Steffans: I’m never embarrassed, first of all. That’s impossible. I don’t have a stance on it at all. I don’t care. How ‘bout that? I just don’t care. I live in a bubble and I don’t care what goes on outside of my house and people who live in it with me.
PR.com: How much time went by between the publication of Confessions and when you began writing The Vixen Diaries?
Karrine Steffans: I was writing The Vixen Diaries as I was on tour with Confessions. So it was the same thing. They all went into each other, because Confessions was based on a set of diaries as well and so was, of course, Diaries. It’s me publishing my diaries. I keep diaries every day so the writing never stops.
PR.com: Talking about some of the people you write about in your books, everyone knows you had a serious relationship with Bill Maher. Now you refer to him as a close friend and a mentor. From a distance, people probably can’t figure out what the two of you had in common because you come from such different places. What level did you and Bill Maher connect on and what do you have in common?
Karrine Steffans: Well Bill is an intellectual, obviously, and I was in need of someone who was an intellectual. We have a lot of things in common and I have a lot of things in common with a lot of people. I think that the people that you would least think I would be with are the people that I would be with, because there is something there. There is a humor there, a string of conversations, and all of those little nuances that go along with being a lot like someone. I think in our heads we’re a lot alike. He references me as his “Zelda” and he my “F. Scott Fitzgerald.” That’s how close we were within that time.
PR.com: Do you share his left wing political views?
Karrine Steffans: I don’t know. I don’t pick sides on stuff. I just feel how I feel. I think he opened up my eyes to a lot of things as far as politics are concerned. It’s allowed me to think differently and more openly, but I hate teams. I don’t pick teams. I don’t even belong to groups. I like to stand alone, but he did open my eyes to a lot of different things as far as politics is concerned.
PR.com: When you were on Jamie Foxx’s radio show, why did you say that Ray J (Ray J is an R&B singer and younger brother of singer Brandy) was gay?
Karrine Steffans: I don’t remember the Jamie Foxx show (The Foxx Hole on Sirius Satellite Radio) to tell you the truth. I don’t remember anything I said. The Jamie Foxx radio show is one of those things where Jamie’s a good friend of mine. We spent, I think, seven hours together that day on the beach having shots of Patron and drinking champagne and having a good time. Things were said that were just said. It was just good radio. People should stop taking things so literally and so seriously. It’s only radio.
PR.com: So you were just joking around?
Karrine Steffans: I don’t know what I was doing! I was on the radio with Jamie Foxx… drinking. That’s what I was doing.
PR.com: Have you sensationalized or taken any creative license with any of your relationships to make the books more sellable or juicier in any way?
Karrine Steffans: No, that’s how my life really is. There’s no reason to take poetic license when your life is poetic in itself.
PR.com: You were quoted as saying that “Your people and your culture didn’t like the fact that you came out and told your honest story.” What did you mean by that?
Karrine Steffans: I feel that there is a difference in the cultural and social rules, if you will, about what we discuss and what we don’t discuss. And for me, I was taught never to discuss these sorts of things. And so, a lot of people are like me, taught never to discuss these sorts of things. Whereas I think, in more crossover and white culture it’s ok. It’s ok to discuss these things. Pamela Des Barres (author of “I’m With the Band”) did it a long time ago. And you have Bebe Buell (mother of actress and model Liv Tyler) who didn’t know who her baby’s daddy was, whether it was Steven Tyler or Todd Rundgren. But you guys (referencing white people) didn’t make a big deal about it. You guys don’t put her on a cross and crucify her. She’s cool, she’s white, and she’s great. Black folks, we can’t do that. Well… I can. Everybody else can’t (laughs). You have to admit though that there is a difference culturally. That’s all I’m saying.
PR.com: I didn’t know that actually.
Karrine Steffans: You’re not black, are you?
PR.com: No, I’m not.
Karrine Steffans: There’s a difference in the cultures. The way that we’re raised and the things that we’re told from the time that we’re younger, it’s inbred. It’s generations deep conditioning. That’s why when I do what I do it strikes that chord. But, I love to do that. I love to ruffle feathers. There’s a quote that states that “Nice girls never made history.”
PR.com: Did you have any fear of the sophomore slump in writing your second book, The Vixen Diaries because your life wasn’t quite as salacious as it had been in your early twenties?
Karrine Steffans: I did. I think for any artist the sophomore slump is something that you fear and that your publisher fears. Harper Collins didn’t want to publish me again. I think they thought they hit gold with the first [book] and they didn’t want to take a chance with the second one. Luckily Warner, which is now Grand Central Publishing owned by Hachette, took a chance and we struck gold again. But you always have that fear, especially since the second book is so different than the first, and so much more introspective and mature.
PR.com: I like how you said, and I think it was in one of your video diaries on your website (www.karrine.com), that you like the fact that it shows people that even though you start off on the wrong foot, you can still end up right.
Karrine Steffans: Yeah, just ‘cause you start off wrong doesn’t mean you can’t end up right. That’s what I wanted to be able to show and the audience got that and I love that. My readers got it, but yeah there’s always that fear. I read [The Vixen Diaries] twenty thousand times, so by the time it was published I had read it so much that I was like, “I hate this book. No one’s going to love this book. This book is garbage.” But I think every artist does that though. I think everyone, right before they showcase their art, is thinking to themselves, “I hate this. This is trash.”
PR.com: You so clearly are capable of being a huge financial success, so why did you depend on men for money for so many years?
Karrine Steffans: Well, I had to get the fodder to write the books to make the money. You don’t just come out of your mom’s womb and make money, you know what I mean? Everyone has to find their way. The fact of the matter is that by twenty-six years old I was a millionaire. How many people can say that? So, forgive me. It only took me twenty-six years. I’ve only been an adult since I’m eighteen, so let’s say it took me eight years. So, it didn’t take me a long time. In the meantime, there were people that supported me and made sure I was ok in the interim. But come on, that’s kind of a silly question. Think about it.
PR.com: I don’t take anything away from you. You became a success at a very early age…
Karrine Steffans: Right, but in the interim you have to have people that are supporting you. People go to college and your mommy and your daddy pay for everything. Other people support you while you’re trying to find your way. I don’t have that, so I had to make my own family, my own friends and my own life and have those people support me while I’m finding my own way. And then when I found my way, I think I did a really good job of hitting it big. So now all those people can look back and say, “You know what, we didn’t help her for no reason at all.” It took me a few years but you can’t blame a girl for having friends that love her and want to support her.
PR.com: But the love wasn’t unconditional…
Karrine Steffans: There are very few loves in your life that will be unconditional. If you’re lucky, you’ll get one or two. Those are probably going to be your parents. If you find someone who’s not related to you who’s going to love you unconditionally, you should marry that person.
(Karrine turns to her fiancé, “Family Matters” actor Darius McCrary, who proclaims his unconditional love for Karrine. She then returns the sentiment before returning her attention back to our conversation.)
Karrine Steffans: Mmm hmmm! That’s my huuuusband. He’s so sexy! (McCrary and Steffans are not yet married.)
PR.com: Why did you choose to expose rapper Method Man as “Papa” (until recently, an unnamed rapper with whom Steffans alleged to have had an ongoing affair) after such a long time of keeping his identity concealed?
Karrine Steffans: It was good business. It was not personal at all. It was just something I had to do for my publisher.
PR.com: In The Vixen Diaries you talked about your experiences doing the press tour for Confessions of a Video Vixen. You mentioned Tyra Banks being a hypocrite and you described her as being a female “male chauvinist,” and said that she turned on you during the interview. What did you feel that she did that was unfair, for people who didn’t see it?
Karrine Steffans: To make a very long tragic story short, when someone who is really not that different from you privately, but is publicly different from you, takes a public high road, then at some point it’s just disgusting. I think that Tyra was new in her job. We filmed my show before her first show ever aired. So, it was two months before she even hit the airwaves, so she was very new at her job. I don’t think that she understood, in her newness, how to be objective while doing the interview and not letting her personal feelings get in the way of being a talk show host, like her mentor which would be Oprah. Having been on Oprah and everyone else, it gave me a chance to see, “Ok. This is how you do it right and this is how you totally fuck it up.” And Tyra totally fucked it up. But she was new. So, I’m going to give her that credit. Maybe she didn’t know or understand, or maybe she’s just a giant bitch.
PR.com: I want to ask you about your publishing company, Steffans Publishing. You get your own imprint after having a successful book, and then how does it work?
Karrine Steffans: What we want to do and what we are doing is to not go in and have one deal with one particular publisher. I don’t want all my books to go through Warner, because my books are all so different. Warner gets first looks at everything, and I’ll probably go back to Harper Collins for second looks. Then there’s a plethora of publishing genres at different publishing houses out there that publish different kinds of books. What I do know for sure is that when it comes to a large publisher, they want my kind of book. Their first question is, “Does it have celebrities in it?” Not everyone’s life is like that but that doesn’t mean that their stories aren’t important and that kind of bothers me. With a lot of my authors who have very important, wonderful stories, they’re going to find themselves at smaller publishing houses but they’ll still be successful. Steffans Publishing is able to go to Warner first and then Harper Collins, because those are my two parent companies. Then we go out to everyone else if those two companies don’t see a fit. We re-write the synopsis and we send them out to different publishers all across the country until we get [our authors] signed, and it’s successful and it works.
PR.com: What’s been your experience in raising your son as a single mother, and will you be candid with him about your past?
Karrine Steffans: There’s only one thing to tell your children and that’s the truth. And it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I’m very proud of my entire life and I think that I would feel a little differently if it didn’t end up so great. But we’re fine. And so it’s, “Mommy did all of this for you, and this is where it’s gotten us. [We’re] happy, healthy and taken care of for the rest of our lives.” We’re completely stable. And before thirty I was able to turn it around and change. Most young parents are a little confused and don’t know what to do, which is why you shouldn’t have kids when you’re eighteen or nineteen years old. It’s ridiculous! I would have waited until I was thirty-something to have my son. But I was ill informed; so was my mother and so was her mother before her. This is what happens when you don’t know how to raise your children. You have a plethora, and a cycle of mistakes. So yeah, of course you want to sit down and tell your kids all your mistakes; all of them. You have to, so that while they’re making the same mistakes, because they probably will, they can come to you and you can help soften them or make them better in some way.
“The Vixen Diaries” is now available through Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group at Karrine.com, Amazon.com and at all major bookstores.