ESSENCE.com: Confessions of a Video Vixen had to have offended some of the big names you mentioned in the book. Did anyone come after you?
Karrine Steffans: Nobody was irate. The only people I heard from were Diddy’s attorneys, who reached out to my attorney four months before the book came out. I suppose it was because he knew what I knew. We just told them to wait until the book dropped, and if they had an issue with it we would deal with it then, but I never heard from them again.
ESSENCE.com: During an interview with the host of the Miss Jones in the Morning show in New York to promote Confessions, she surprised you by putting Kool G Rap, the father of your son, Naiim, on the phone to confront you, and you ran out of the studio crying. Why?
K.S.: When you hear the voice of your abuser, it freaks you out. I felt like I was 17 all over again. Hearing his voice reminded me of his 280-pound frame hitting me with my son in my hands. It caused me to have a panic attack.
ESSENCE.com: Miss Jones has a new book in stores now and many have compared it to Confessions. Have you read it?
K.S.: No, I haven’t, but here’s what New Yorkers don’t understand. Living in California, we don’t care what you’re doing up there. Miss Jones is local. The truth is that nobody cares. Nobody in L.A., nobody in China cares.
ESSENCE.com: Are there certain individuals you won’t write about because they are powerful enough to ruin your life?
K.S.: There are lots of people I protect. Confessions was easier for me to write because it focused on the music industry, and I’m not in those circles. None of the people I wrote about are powerful enough to keep me from eating. But when it comes to Hollywood, I have to be very careful. It might sound cliché, but if you mess with the wrong person, then you’ll never work in this town again and that’s real.
ESSENCE.com: Does it bother you that so many people comment on your body rather than your intellect and soul?
K.S.: God knows my heart. I have a good heart. I treated my body the way I did because I was looking for something. My mother did the same thing-looking for a man to come and make right all the wrong that was done to her in the past. In my case, well, it’s not easy when your first sexual experience is at 13. As a result, you try to re-create that same account and make it better. You want each person after that to make it better until you finally realize that it doesn’t get better and you have to fix it from within. I’ve been seeing a psychiatrist for the past two years now, and it’s helped me understand a lot of things about me, including the reason that I would self-mutilate, which is common among young females who have been raped or molested.
ESSENCE.com: You said you have a houseboy who happens to be a celebrity, but he won’t leave your house.
K.S.: Yeah, he won’t leave, but I want the ladies to get themselves houseboys who will cook, clean and do whatever. When you have your own sh- [your own companies, a nice piece of property], you are focused.
ESSENCE.com: You talked extensively about your relationship with Bobby Brown in Confessions. What really happened?
K.S.: With the Bobby situation what people thought was happening wasn’t the real story. [I heard rumors] that I was pregnant with Bobby’s baby and that we were living together and I was living off him, when it was the complete opposite.
ESSENCE.com: So he was living with you?
K.S.: He was sleeping over.
ESSENCE.com: You weren’t romantically involved?
K.S.: No. He was sleeping over and I have people sleep over all the time.
ESSENCE.com: So what was the nature of your relationship?
K.S.: Bob is one of those friends you want to love but you can’t because he’s toxic. We all have friends like that where you have to make that decision like, I can’t be your friend anymore because you’re killing me. And that’s how it goes with Bob.
ESSENCE.com: Are you ever concerned that one day your 9-year-old son, Naiim, might question you about your past?
K.S.: There’s nothing about my past that is bad. All of this is good. It depends on what you think. That question makes me feel as if other people think that something was wrong about my life. I have a son and I am his mother. And if I was a crack whore on the street he’d still love me because I’m all he’s got. When a question is asked of me, I tell the truth. Whether it’s to him or anybody else. I don’t worry about what to say because there’s only one thing to say: the truth. What my son knows about his mother is this: I have worked damn hard to get him to where he is, and as a mother that’s my job. And if I have to sell every inch of this ass of mine to make sure he has what he needs, then that’s what I’m going to do.
ESSENCE.com: Would you say he’s a normal kid?
K.S.: He’s the most perfect kid. He doesn’t talk back, doesn’t speak until he’s spoken to, handles his business, cleans up his room, fixes his own food. I raised him the old island way. He plays chess and he’s fluent in French. I only allow him to watch about three channels on his television including Disney, Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network. He’s the way kids are supposed to be, not concerned with grown folks’ business. He’s not allowed to do things by himself. I see 9-year-olds walking down the street by themselves. What? That’s insane.
ESSENCE.com: When you appeared on Oprah, you said your life and struggles taught you who you are and who you are meant to be. Who is that person?
K.S.: Completely independent of the rest of the world. Focused because I’m a mom first now. Ironically, my career has allowed me to be that, so I’m home all the time. My whole life centers around home. I explain to everyone that home is first and everything else is later. I’m completely unapologetic. Even in my mistakes I’m confident. I’m not going to stop making mistakes. I’m here to do that job, make mistakes, learn from them. My blessings come from those lessons because each one, teach one.
Credit: Jamal Bayette
Karrine with her son Naiim.