V Exclusive: Karrine Steffans Talks ‘Confessions’ Book Tour, Bellevue And Losing Herself [VIDEO]


Niki McGloster / June 14, 2011

Karrine SteffansYou may not be buying that Karrine Steffan’s ultra disclosed, salacious stories were fabricated. As she leaked a few vids and a few surprising words on the ‘net last week, per usual, it became her word against that of public opinion. But she’s back at it again. With the release of her fourth book tentatively scheduled for August 10, it’s hard not to assume this is a controversial push for more sales. No? Well, VIBE checked in with the memoirist to get the scoop on her last few years as the black sheep of entertainment. The former video vixen admits to losing herself in the lifestyle she’s created through fiction and approaching retirement. Her life is crazy, and she’s down to share the ride with all who will listen. -Niki McGloster (@missjournalism) with reporting by Datwon Thomas

What was the promo tour like for that Confessions? I remember all the radio spots you had to do. People calling in, there was threats and all kinds of things. You just plowed right through it, unfazed.
No, no, no. I ended up in New York at Bellevue. I’m not even lying.

People wouldn’t understand that or know that, if you didn’t say it because you was showing up to everything.
Check this out, we had finished doing something at Hot 97, and you have to understand this is me being thrust in. It was a six-month process from the day that Harper Collins called to the day I hit the road. They tried to prepare me, but who could be prepared? I got thrust into this spotlight. I mean, I didn’t think it was going to be such a big deal. I mean, I knew it was going to be big, but I didn’t know it was going to be huge. It was a lot–no sleep, no food, constantly going, airplanes, trains, automobiles–it was crazy. And I broke down, but I didn’t just break down. What happened was I had a panic attack, and this is when I first realized I had major anxiety. The ambulance comes, I mean I’m not breathing properly; I’m a mess. They come to the hotel in New York, they put me in the back of the ambulance; I’m thinking I’m going to the emergency room to get some breathing treatments. Maybe a little Xanax or Valium. My publicist is with me, and she is like, “Where are we going?” They don’t tell us where we are going; It’s like Inception. It’s like they don’t tell us where we are going.

You was on level 2.
Right, and next thing we know, they are pulling me out, and we’re at Bellevue. They drag me behind this plexi-glass, [and] they give me a pill which you have to take. If you don’t take it, they either force it to you or they will inject you with it. It’s like a numb pill, and within about 35 seconds, I’m dumb. I’m literally slumped over drooling dumb. This is likeOne Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest! The ill part about it was some guy I didn’t even know shuffles into the seating area where all the patients are because now I’m a patient, sits next to me. I’m drooling on myself, I’m comatose, [and] he says, “They gave you the pill to make you crazy.” My publicist is outside of the plexi-glass calling everyone that we know to try to get me out because we had to be in Philly in two hours or whatever. I gotta catch my train in two hours. Check this out, they let me go an hour and a half later, thirty minutes before my train is supposed to leave. They put me on a Philly train by myself, no one is even with me, I’m completely like Awakenings, I’m drooling. I just came out of Bellevue; I still got this medicine in my body, [and] I’m on this train to Philly. I’m trying to stay halfway awake so I don’t miss my stop and end up in Miami somewhere and fuck up my whole tour. I jump off the train in Philly. Go to a book signing like nothing happened. All in the same day.

Insane. That’s too much!
That pretty much wraps up the Confessions tour. Not to mention we had police escorts in every city I went to which was amazing. I loved that. Sirens blaring, unmarked and marked cars, suited [and] unsuited officers. I mean, [with] people with weapons there to protect me, I felt like Head of State. I was just the shit, [and] it was great. I loved it.

What’s it like feeding this machine? You have to deliver for yourself. What’s that pressure like every time to come with a hit?
The pressure cools because they pay me for the pressure. Honestly, I’d be a fool to complain, because I could have had a different job, I could have had a different life. I did have a different life at some point. Is it stressful to have to come up with new stuff? I could come with a bunch of shit; that’s not the problem. I can make up whatever. I could write anything for you, but what do you want to read? And that’s the difficult part trying to figure out what my audience wants to read next. I’m four books in, and now Satisfaction is my last book because I am just going to retire. I don’t know what you people want from me.

Have you lost yourself in this whole process of writing the books, or just in life in general?
Yeah, I’ve lost myself in life. Like, I don’t know who I am. I feel like there is a disconnect between where I started to where I am now. I think a lot of people go through that where in the beginning you are so hungry and you feel it and you are doing it because there is an eviction notice on your door and your babies needs pampers or whatever. I’m past that already, so now I don’t know what I am doing it for. What am I fighting for? When we did the tour for Confessions, as difficult as it was, I left Bellevue and got on that train to Philly because I had to go sell these books, I had to go make this money, I had to feed my kid and I was behind the eight ball when I was began this journey. Six years later, I’m no longer behind the eight ball, and I’m still looking for that inspiration. This holiday season I’m going to go back to my hometown, going back to St. Thomas, going back to my grandmother’s house. November, December into January, I’m going to post. No heat, no air conditioner, no hot water, no windows, no nothing.

Do you feel as though searching for inspiration is better than it coming to you?
I’ve been here 11 years. I haven’t been home in a while. Whenever I talk to my grandmother, I just break into tears. I miss her. I want to be in the house where I was brought home from the hospital. I want to be in the house where I was raised. We got chickens in the backyard, a mango tree and banana trees. I want to climb trees. Climb the coconut tree with the machete and cut it down I want to go the beach Coki Beach and Megans Bay. I have an ill family history there. My family is a historic family on that island; we are in the museums down there. I want to go do that. My grandfather started his autobiography before he died; he never finished it. I would like to finish his autobiography because I finished mine. There are a lot of loose ends that have to be tied, and I want to go do that. I think that somewhere in there, I’m gonna find myself. What is this really all for? I’m the only person in my family that has made it this far. I do feel to answer your questions that sometimes you have to go not looking for i,t but just go back to square one. Just go back to where it all started, your islands, your projects or grandma’s house.

I know you’ve heard about everyone and their books that are coming out: its like all these different tell all’s and all that.
No, honey. I’ve only heard about myself.

Guess who has new tell-all book? Prodigy from Mobb Deep.
I don’t know Prodigy, [but] I’ve heard of Mobb Deep…[singing “Get Away”]

People in that circle that understand all those underground people that he is mentioning there are a lot of instances where they are starting to get upset that he released this information. Some people call it snitching, but he’s like how is it snitching if it happened to me, and it’s my truth. Where is the line drawn?
You people with your lingo. That is the most urban shit I’ve heard in my life. When Goldie Hawn wrote her memoirs, no one said Goldie Hawn was snitching. When Jane Fonda wrote her memoirs, no one said Jane Fonda was snitching. That is part of the black experience. Where do you people come up with this shit?

It’s an issue in that community.
This is a community of secrets and lies; a community of don’t ask, don’t tell. I mean that didn’t start with the gays; that started with blacks. That’s the types of families we all came from. I remember specifically my mother telling me growing up don’t put my business in the street. I was like seven, and I am like what does that mean. I feel like the truth is the truth, and the broader and the bigger the truth the better because then other people get to know they’re not alone, that they are not the only people to have these feelings. I feel that it is important that people aren’t afraid to share their stories; this is why people get upset when you share your stories because it reminds them of themselves and their secrets. It’s a lot of people’s truths. And people don’t want to hear that. It makes other people very uncomfortable. I kind of like when people say, “Hey how are you?” You always say, “I’m fine.” And why do you do that? I don’t do that anymore. I haven’t done that since ’04. I say, “I’m not doing well. Today’s a shitty day. Fuck off.” Whatever I feel, whatever is going on, that’s what I’m going to say because I want you to know what I’m doing. But, I feel like people say “I’m fine”, because it allows the other person to keep moving. But if you say, “I’m having a bad day, my husband is beating me and my kids don’t listen to me.” What is that other person supposed to say? You have to respond. You have to do something about it. People don’t want to get involved. So everyone always says “I’m fine.” When you start writing about your life, and it’s not all peaches and cream because nobody’s life is, other people become uncomfortable because now you have to respond to that. And I think that it’s sad that in this particular community, we’ve been brought up to don’t ask don’t tell. That’s why a lot of us are so hurt and so angry because there aren’t any outlets. But good for him, whoever he is. Good for him.