The Secret Life of a Video Vixen

vixen1

Image via Getty Images/David Livingston

By Nathan McAlone

Last month, Vibe opined that we as a society were witnessing the death of the Video Vixen. “Remember when Video Vixens dominated music television?” Yes, we sighed. No more. “What happened?” Vibe asked, answering themselves with a combination of the recession and the “full fantasy transparency” of the sex tapes and photos of Kim Kardashian and Amber Rose. Girls dancing in videos no longer held our interest without something else. We needed more than that, needed to be closer to the lives of these ladies who titillated us.

Perhaps those individual explanations don’t ring true for you, but it’s undeniable that the Video Vixen is disappearing in the world of hip-hop royalty, and that our ability to be entranced by just a thong and camera angles has diminished. This all makes it hard for women like Buffie the Body, whose name says it all. They were models (of course not in the traditional sense, but models nonetheless), not celebutants or reality stars. Many used their Video Vixen status to gain a career in media, but as Vixens, their bodies and dancing were the art (however lowbrow), not their backstory.

Nothing showcases the line between pseudo-reality-star and video model like the case study of Karrine Steffans aka Superhead, whose 2005 tell-all, Confessions of a Video Vixen, exposed the dark underbelly of the music videos we loved. She named names that included Ice-T, Ja Rule, Jay Z, Irv Gotti, Ray J, Diddy, and the list goes on (oh wait, did I mention Fred Durst). In some ways Steffans was a proto-Kardashian in ambition if not in execution. She used her sexuality to break down the professional boundary between rapper and video model. Then she used her story to sell a book and attempt to launch a fashion line. Whatever your personal feelings about her are, it’s undeniable that a portion of the zeitgeist resides in her.

As a eulogy for the category of Video Vixen, we combed through Steffans’ book to try and understand what her life could show us about the prominence and eventual fade-out of our ladies of the screen. Here are 12 things we found. Video Vixens, how little we knew ye. Read on.

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By Nathan McAlone

Last month, Vibe opined that we as a society were witnessing the death of the Video Vixen. “Remember when Video Vixens dominated music television?” Yes, we sighed. No more. “What happened?” Vibe asked, answering themselves with a combination of the recession and the “full fantasy transparency” of the sex tapes and photos of Kim Kardashian and Amber Rose. Girls dancing in videos no longer held our interest without something else. We needed more than that, needed to be closer to the lives of these ladies who titillated us.

Perhaps those individual explanations don’t ring true for you, but it’s undeniable that the Video Vixen is disappearing in the world of hip-hop royalty, and that our ability to be entranced by just a thong and camera angles has diminished. This all makes it hard for women like Buffie the Body, whose name says it all. They were models (of course not in the traditional sense, but models nonetheless), not celebutants or reality stars. Many used their Video Vixen status to gain a career in media, but as Vixens, their bodies and dancing were the art (however lowbrow), not their backstory.

Nothing showcases the line between pseudo-reality-star and video model like the case study of Karrine Steffans aka Superhead, whose 2005 tell-all, Confessions of a Video Vixen, exposed the dark underbelly of the music videos we loved. She named names that included Ice-T, Ja Rule, Jay Z, Irv Gotti, Ray J, Diddy, and the list goes on (oh wait, did I mention Fred Durst). In some ways Steffans was a proto-Kardashian in ambition if not in execution. She used her sexuality to break down the professional boundary between rapper and video model. Then she used her story to sell a book and attempt to launch a fashion line. Whatever your personal feelings about her are, it’s undeniable that a portion of the zeitgeist resides in her.

As a eulogy for the category of Video Vixen, we combed through Steffans’ book to try and understand what her life could show us about the prominence and eventual fade-out of our ladies of the screen. Here are 12 things we found. Video Vixens, how little we knew ye. Read on.

  • Devin Middleton

    That was so sad. I felt like I actually read the book. But I think the fall of the video vixen has been how the idea of them has turned so cliché. Most of the girls’ names aren’t even memorable like they used to be in the early 2000s. Last name I can remember is Rosa Acosta from Drake’s Best I Ever Had video. I think, stylistically, videos have seen better results displaying beauty using 1 or just a few women per video, than a buncha women pretty much bare. Kinda like how the girl from Kendrick’s Poetic Justive got a lot of media attention, b/c the directors didn’t want to use her b/c she was dark skinned, but Kendrick thought she was gorgeous n fit the part. It gives the viewer the right focus and gives it the music more respect, which I think is frankly a result of hip hop growing up n not being such a young genre anymore. Except of course for 2 Chainz’ Birthday Song, but that video was amazing/hilarious.