Erica Mena either deserves an Academy Award, or she’s dead ass serious. Either way, she doesn’t give a fuck what you think. The foul-mouthed Love & Hip-Hop New York star etched her name in the controversial VH1 series with a penchant for violent altercations, but if you ask her today, she has refocused her energy on more important things. Namely her brand-new fiancé: Shad “Bow Wow” Moss.
The last time I saw Mena – celebrating Bow Wow’s birthday at Tao in New York City – she was set to schedule a VIBE sit-down with her lover Cyn Santana. Her ex-boyfriend and fellow cast member Rich Dollaz had also served as her on-and-off situationship during the show’s fourth season. Fast-forward six months, and the 106 & Park host has put a ring on it. Wait, what?
At the head of the family-sized table back in March, Mena and Bow looked like more than friends, but definitely far from walking down the aisle. So how’d the two get here? This is what happened, according to Mena – complete with infidelity, kisses on live television and a “bitch” in between. — Iyana Robertson
Clearly, you and Cyn Santana are over with. What happened?
One thing that I learned really early on, is that you could never be friends with people who want your life. So many people started to get in her ear, and it came from people that were her friends. Coming into this relationship, or any of my relationships, it was no secret how wild and crazy I am. As soon as cameras roll, everyone wants to play a victim when they’re dating Erica. From one minute to the next, me getting turned up in the club – the same thing I do with you – is a problem now because your friends make it a problem. So the best way to describe our breakup is, a lot of the worthless people in her life somehow were able to influence her. And that caused us to really have no choice but to part ways.
Are we going to see that play out on the upcoming season of Love & Hip-Hop New York?
Definitely. And you’re gonna see her play victim. Either you can tame me, or you can’t. And now, I’m finally in a relationship where I’m being tamed. But I’m able to actually be a woman, be submissive and play that role. We all know Rich is a bitch. I’m just waiting for him to like, hopefully this season, he could show the world his pussy. It’s necessary.
“The best way to describe our breakup is, a lot of the worthless people in her life somehow were able to influence her.”
And what happened with Rich? Last season, you two were on and off – liking each other, then hating each other. Where are you now, and why?
Me and Rich aren’t anywhere, thank God. Not saying I was perfect in that situation, but Rich played victim as well. Then eventually, he took advantage of certain things that he wanted me to give him control of. And I never wanted to give him control, because being in a relationship with a man, you give him too much control, you completely get lost. You just lose yourself, and they take over. I was going through a relationship and at the same time trying to make business happen between me and this man. He got away with taking advantage of me, and some money. But hopefully he could pay that child support with the money he got away with from me.
So you’re not fucking with Rich at all?
No, especially not the way things transpired. Rich somehow finds a way to just become a bigger bitch, every season. And this season, he’s like the biggest bitch of ‘em all.
People have been commenting on your love life, asking “Well is she gay, or is she straight?” But you’re openly bisexual, right?
Yeah. And then they’re like ‘You were a lesbian about a week ago, week ago.’ And it does come across that way, because you guys haven’t seen the show play out. So right now, it’s like ‘Oh, she was just with Cyn, how is she with Bow [Wow]?’ Me and Bow been friends for like eight years. So how we came together was really God’s work, because I’m telling you, we’ve crossed paths so many times, and we’ve been in situations. We’ve just, for some reason, always had this solid friendship. And the foundation that we built, eventually led us to come together. Ironically enough, we were both in relationships, breaking up, confiding in each other, and giving each other advice. It just happened.
Okay. So when did you know you were in love with Bow Wow?
When we did the kiss on 106 & Park. That got us both in trouble. He was dealing with someone, and I was in a relationship with Cyn. Then that kiss happened, and it put us both in the dog house with the people we were with. And it actually just so happened that Cyn was supposed to be part of that scenario. We were supposed to reenact that me kissing Rich in the studio [scene on Love & Hip-Hop], but this time have Cyn come out and do a little spoof on that. Cyn was with someone else and had an agenda of her own so she never made it –
With someone else, like cheating?
She’s with someone else. She has been the whole time we were dating. You guys are gonna see all this transpire. But with or without Cyn, the show must go on. So me and Bow kissed, we got in trouble, and after that kiss is when I saw his feelings for me really start to show on that higher level. When I realized I was in love with him, it was the craziest thing because once I told him that me and Cyn were really done and over with, the first thing he was really concerned about was how I felt. So before he kind of made his initial move, he was trying to literally, as a friend, keep me going through that whole breakup. That’s when I realized it was more than that. Just because this is someone that actually gives a fuck about me as a person, my feelings, my mindstate. So it was the first time I really found someone who didn’t care about the Rich thing, didn’t care what people said about me, didn’t care about nothing but just Erica Mena the person.
And Bow Wow recently went all out for your birthday. Was the engagement as spectacular?
No, it was the simplest thing. It was an ‘us’ moment, a few hours actually, and we were just opening up. And the way he popped the question I think was just the most romantic thing ever in life.
How did he do it?
Well I’ll say this: we were by ourselves, and we were at home, and – I don’t wanna give too much – but he said he got sick of me being a girlfriend. He was done, he was tired of me being a girlfriend. And that’s all I’ll say.
“I’m very submissive with him. Very. He’ll give me look. It’s like whatever he wants. I don’t know why. It’s hard to explain. He makes the rules. He’s in charge.”
Well I don’t know if this frustrates him or not, but everybody still sort of sees Bow Wow as Lil’ Bow Wow. It takes people time to see him as a grown man –
Well that’s because none of his dick pics have been leaked before.
Oh. So Bow Wow’s holding?
It’s a full hand. A fist and shit.
Is he dominant in bed?
Oh yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And that’s crazy. ‘Cause you know how you’re like, they see him as Lil’ Bow Wow? I become Lil’ Erica with him.
Wow. So make us see Bow Wow the man. You say he tames you? What is it about him?
I’m very submissive with him. Very. He’ll give me look. It’s like whatever he wants. I don’t know why. It’s hard to explain. He makes the rules. He’s in charge. He has control. I don’t know, it’s just the way he is. He doesn’t play no games. And I think I just have so much respect for him more than anything. That’s what it is, once you find a man that loves you, you instantly have no choice but to give him all the respect in the world. That’s our role as women when we come into a relationship, to respect and honor your man. I never once respected someone as much as I respect him. That naturally keeps me in my place.
You two are engaged now, which means two families are about to come together. Do you have a relationship with his daughter yet?
I don’t wanna speak too much on his situation. It’s very touchy and there’s another parent involved that I’m gonna always respect. But he is very involved in my son’s life now. His mother raised him so well, that he is not only taking on being a great father to his daughter, he’s an exceptional step dad to my son. And I’ve never brought anyone around my son. No one. For this to be the first man, and the man I’m gonna spend the rest of my life with, it’s definitely a big deal for me. It’s that serious to me and extremely sacred. And now, I get to share that with someone. It’s dope. Now my family is really complete.
Another comment on your relationship with Bow Wow has been that you just want him for his money. What do you say to that?
The thing is that Bow stays more at my house than I do at his fancy stuff. I don’t have Bow Wow money, but I have my own money. When it comes to that, he’s my fiance, so now he’s going to naturally take care of me. If I wanted Bow or any man for their money, I definitely would’ve gotten a billionaire. If you’re gonna be a gold digger, be digging for the real gold. I don’t even really know how to answer that, because it’s just like, people are going to have their assumptions. And they have to realize, I didn’t ask him to marry me. He asked me. So, if that was my intention, I think I would’ve threw him the pussy a long time ago.
Okay, let’s switch gears a little bit. A lot of people don’t know that you used to work at DASH for Kim Kardashian. What are your thoughts on her latest cover?
I think at the end of the day, let’s look at the fact that she has the guts to do it. It’s empowering because us as women, we’re always looked down upon, especially in the culture that Kim comes from. It’s crazy because her tape was put out there, and in my heart I believe that sextape was dropped with the intentions to bring this woman down. It never worked. If anything, it worked more to her favor. I’m not outraged about it. I think the people that are outraged are the people that don’t have the guts to do, the people who are insecure to do it and the people that are miserable.
Would Bow Wow let you do it?
I don’t know, that’s a good question. I’ve always had a dream to do Playboy.
How do you think he would feel?
He ain’t having it. No.
“If I wanted Bow or any man for their money, I definitely would’ve gotten a billionaire. If you’re gonna be a gold digger, be digging for the real gold.”
How far have you two gotten with the wedding planning? Have you talked about those things?
Yeah, we got the date. I can’t share it, but I’ll say it’s soon. Very soon.
I can’t say that.
Will it be extravagant?
We’re definitely pulling out the punches with this one. It’s gonna definitely be big. But it’s strictly friends and family. He said I’m only getting married once, and to do whatever I want. So, we’re going to do whatever I want.
Do you have your dress yet?
I have three designers that I’m looking into. That’s kind of the next step now that the date’s set and we pretty much have two venues in mind.
Were you one of those little girls that always dreamed of getting married?
No, I never wanted to be married. You know why? Because my father, growing up, was just such a douche. I saw what my mom went through, and how she couldn’t excel because she was married. Now, I have a different perspective. The good the thing about it is my son has a proper example of someone who could show him how to really love a woman. So it’s important.
More babies for you and Bow?
Yes. I want one now.
Once you guys are married, do you plan to stay on TV?
No. It’s time to be a wife. It’s time to be the woman my man needs. My man don’t need a girl that’s on TV, my man needs a girl by his side. That’s really what it’s about right now for me. It’s kind of bittersweet, this whole process, especially filming this last season. Even though there’s still the Erica Mena crazy stuff going on, this really is the best season ever for me.
Just everything. You’re also gonna see that when put in situations that could have possibly been altercations, not become one, because I walked away from it. Since the Kimbella situation, my whole thing has been about redemption. I know the mistakes I made, and I go so hard to try and fix them, but at the same time, I’m a human being. So as I’m fixing one mistake, I’m probably gonna make a few others. I get bashed for it, obviously, but it’s not uncommon to see a crazy Puerto Rican wild out if you cross her over. It’s actually more realistic than anything else. And look at me now, I’m engaged and I still didn’t change who I was.
“My man don’t need a girl that’s on TV, my man needs a girl by his side. That’s really what it’s about right now for me.”
Does the new season end before you get engaged, or does that play out on the show as well?
Well you’re definitely going to see reactions I’m sure. My loser exes have a reaction to it. And you might see a little bit more, but one thing you’re not going to see is him. You know how I’ve been saying that I keep my son sacred? It’s the same thing with him. This is what really matters to me now. No one’s fucking with it. And if we do decide to do something like that, it’s not gonna be with a cast full of people who just, are nobodies.
And you won’t miss the reality TV thing at all?
Here’s the thing, I’ve been working my butt off since I was 16; I was 16 in a Fabolous video. I’m 27 now. I’ve had a good run. I’m bowing out gracefully, on my own terms. Plants need to be repotted every once in a while, and I need to repot myself. Love & Hip-Hop has opened doors for me, it’s even brought me to this position where I was actually able to host 106, and get to that level with Shad. I think it’s done everything it was supposed to do for me. Now it’s time to let another Erica Mena in the door.
A lot of people think that love & Hip-Hop is perpetuating this negative image of women.
It’s really not Love & Hip-Hop, it’s the people that come in. I can’t specify this enough: when cameras go on, everybody wanna be big and tough. You’re not like that in real life. Like, even this season, Teairra Mari was fucking screaming and running when I fought Kimbella, now this season, you’re so Detroit? And even if that is who you are, why weren’t you [that way] back then? Maybe you probably would’ve made a hit by now. When I came into it, I was a young girl, getting out of an extremely abusive relationship. Once I got out, I had this mentality that I have to now try to protect the little girl that I couldn’t protect then. So what you guys saw then was someone that was really lashing out because she was hurting, she didn’t know how to deal with things. I had just left a man I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with, had a kid, homeless, had to literally start from scratch. At the same time, I was releasing all the anger I had in me every time I got my ass beat. It’s not right, I’m not justifying it, but that’s just really what it is. So now, when I see girls come on and not be who they are, it makes the show look scripted, because this is not who the fuck you are.
That’s a good point.
I will say this, and I don’t care what no one says about her, the realest one on there to me is Hazel. Whether she is in denial about what the relationship was, one thing about a woman is, whether you’re fucking her or not, you obviously made her feel that way. And she’s being honest about her feelings towards this particular gentleman. She’s the only one that’s actually shed a tear, and she’s the only one that you feel like really feels anything. It’s okay to be human.
So Mona Scott-Young doesn’t give you directions on what to do during filming?
Oh no. And on my scenes, I got this down pat. From the start, Mona used to be on set for all my scenes. Now, I hardly see Mona. It’s like ‘Oh, it’s Erica’s scene? I got the day off.’ It’s so easy for me. But she doesn’t. The only thing is that, obviously, if I don’t like you, I’m not gonna invite you to dinner, but in order for America to know I don’t like you and to hear what I have to say to you, I’m gonna invite you to dinner. Stuff like that is common sense. It’s put together so that the show can be created, ultimately. But what you say, what you do, last time I checked, she’s never done that once with me. Not once.
She gets a lot of the blame.
Again, it goes back to her being a woman that running the show, doing what the fuck she wants, whether you like it or not. Who else do you blame?