Sex, drugs, and the hip-hop scene of Los Angeles engorge this autobiography of Karrine Steffans: mother, actress, music video star, stripper, and all-around expensive escort to the stars, including Ice T, Dr. Dre, Vin Diesel, DMX, Usher, P. Diddy, Ja Rules, and many others.
From the island of St. Thomas to Tampa and eventually to Los Angeles, Steffans weaves her life story around the many hardships she has endured and inflicted upon herself. Her claims of a bad childhood under the rule of her mother may in fact be true, but when her complaints include not being allowed to go to the mall, better scrutiny of her past is needed. It may not be a case of embellishment but rather a wider perspective that might enlighten the reader to the full family dynamics of her childhood.
The crux of the story centers on her many affairs with some of the most popular names in hip-hop. For numerous years, she had many relationships based on money and sex that led her slowly up the ladder to some of the most connected people in the industry. Along with her rising status came her addictions to drugs, sex, and love that sent her sprawling so many times. If nothing else, Steffans proves her resilience, but that comes as a double-edged sword; for the most part, her faltering doesn’t lead her to the conclusion to take a step back and think about her priorities - priorities like her son, who at times seems like a barely-flickering thought in the back of her head. Within the story, she seems to fall back on the love and consideration for her son, but only after she’s had all her fun and crashed. She has no issue partying hard with the big boys but then at times finds herself living out of her car, barely able to feed her son.
Now, when one hears the word “confession,” especially in the context of a tell-all book, one expects remorse, apologies, or some admonition that what is being confessed should be condemned. But that’s not the case with Confessions of a Video Vixen—in the epilogue, Steffans tells listeners that she would do it all over again. This statements sends shockwaves to the listener since, in her introduction, she explains this book as a warning to young women who are trying to get into the music business. If Steffans would willingly choose this path again, how relevant is her warning, and does her book amount to nothing more than a tally of all the big names she slept with and how much of her life and money she wasted on drugs?
This quickly becomes one of those audiobooks where the listener is reminded why having an author narrate their work doesn’t always work out. Steffans’s dialect proves more distracting than entertaining. She pronounces words like “awful” as “orful” and uses the slang “axed” in lieu of “asked,” which might be acceptable in the context of dialogue but is used instead in the main narrative. Her accent seems to mix a bit of rapping slang with hints of other places. The unmasked conceit in her voice often draws listeners away from sympathizing with her, and her use of clichés and overdramatic tones sometimes makes her words quite predictable.
Steffans certainly has experienced a lot in the first twenty-four years of life accounted for in this audiobook. However, a success story seems premature. She’s still raising a child and hasn’t completely severed her connections to her past. Her conclusions seems to reiterate this, and one wonders what this tale would look like she had written it at forty or fifty.