The Lucille Patio Lounge, a nondescript house turned revelry center on Rainey Street in downtown Austin, Texas, is a mob scene. A sea of eager fans has amassed outside, their faces obscured by oversized Amber Rose cardboard facemasks. They’ve chosen to bear the heat, and pass on the various other concerts, parties, and talks, to bask in the radiant glow of their sister from another mister.
A black SUV pulls up, and out steps Rose herself, sporting a body-hugging tan dress and diva shades—all the better to shield her from the flurry of camera flashes that follows. The crowd chants Am-ber! Am-ber! as the lady of the hour glides in, snapping selfies with her devotees, giving hugs, and posing for the paps. SXSW has just been Amber Rose’d, and how.
The socialite-entrepreneur is in town to promote the new 3D character, “MUVA,” she’s created in conjunction with the app Zoobe. Now, fans can create their own Amber Rose digital alter ego and channel the avatar on their social media platforms.
“Zoobe loves me, and I was really happy they reached out to me,” said Rose, who is also launching what she calls “a secret app” next week. “I’d been trying to dip my hands in the digital world for so long, and this is finally my opportunity to do it.”
We’re tucked away inside the lounge, yet still surrounded by a gaggle of onlookers snapping photos, and Snapchats, and streaming our interview on Periscope. I point out that the bar area offers a beer called the “Austin Amber,” which gives her a chuckle, before my attention turns to a man dressed in high-fashion pajamas who appears to be documenting Rose’s every move with a handheld camcorder. Who is he?
“That’s my assistant,” she says. “I actually have a documentary coming out, and another one coming out. I’m going to do one documentary every year—both to follow me and also to document my SlutWalk.”
For those unfamiliar, SlutWalks are protest marches that both serve to shine a light on rape culture, and also empower women against societal ills like body and slut-shaming, and promote the concept of sisterhood.
“She’s a hoe, she’s a slut,” Rose tells me, mimicking some of the criticisms famous women like herself receive regularly on social media—usually from other women. “We do that to each other and it’s really unfortunate. People get turned off by the name ‘SlutWalk’ because they don’t really know what it is, but it’s about ownership regardless of what we’ve done in our life. I’m a grown woman—I’m 32 years old—so I’ve obviously had sex outside of a relationship, or before I was married. I’ve dated guys in my life and realized it didn’t work out. It’s just life. You look for love and find out what you want in life. Guys do it all the time, but we get criticized for it because we’re women, and it’s bullshit.”
Back in October, Rose hosted a SlutWalk in downtown Los Angeles that drew a massive crowd. There, she delivered an impassioned, tear-filled speech about how she’s been slut-shamed ad nauseum by the famous men in her life—ex-husband Wiz Khalifa and ex-boyfriend Kanye West—and how, despite all the awful things they’ve said about her, she forgives them. I ask her why West still holds so much anger toward her, even though he was the one who reportedly cheated on her with Kim Kardashian, and later released a mea culpa in the form of his magnum opus, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
“He went to my hometown and said, ‘I want to thank the City of Philadelphia for the beautiful person I wrote this song for,’” she says of the track “Runaway,” inspired by their breakup. “And then it’s just like, I don’t understand it! But you know what, it’s not for me to understand. I’ve been married, had a baby, and it’s been fuckin’ five years. Get over it.”
Rose certainly has. Recently, after West had the audacity to insult her child with Khalifa, prompting a truly amazing rebuttal from Rose, she decided to make amends with West’s wife, Kim Kardashian.
“The thing is, me and Kim will probably—I won’t say we’ll never be friends, but we accept each other for who we are, and that’s the most important thing as women,” says Rose. “I don’t get along with her husband—I don’t think we’ll ever be the best of friends—but it’s good that we understand who we both are, got all that shit out on the table, and can just move on with our lives knowing that the Internet is mostly what gave us the beef we had. We didn’t naturally have any beef with each other, the Internet just naturally instigated everything. So we got it all out and it’s all good now.”
When Kardashian posted a half-naked selfie on her social media accounts celebrating her post-pregnancy body—and was subsequently slut-shamed by the likes of Pink, Bette Midler, and Chloe Grace Moretz—Rose rose to her former nemesis’s defense, blasting the other women’s lack of sisterhood and extending an invite to Kim to participate in her upcoming L.A. SlutWalk (Rose says Kim is still mulling the decision). “It’s bullshit, and this is the thing: They come at me and Kim so hard because I was a stripper and she had a sex tape,” says Rose, who used to strip in her teen years to help provide for her family. “So if we could sing, it would be OK if we were on stage half-naked. We all love Beyoncé, but she’s on stage half-naked and twerking all the time, yet people say, oh, she has talent so she’s able to do that. We don’t have the talent that Beyoncé has, so we get criticized as former sex workers, but at the end of the day we’re just women—we’re all women—and we should all embrace each other. No one is greater. We’re all the same. So, to criticize us as incapable of being smart businesswomen because Kim has a reality show and I’m a socialite and we don’t sing is stupid. We’ve both been in movies, and we take our acting, business ventures, and everything else very seriously.”
Rose takes a deep breath, sips her drink, and continues: “No one gives a fuck that Channing Tatum was a stripper. He’s an established actor who’s at the Vanity Fair parties and the Oscars, but for me, no matter how far I go in my life, I see these stories that keep referring to me as a ‘former stripper.’ No one says ‘former stripper’ about Channing Tatum, or ‘former McDonald’s worker’ about Brad Pitt. No one does that to men. And furthermore, if a man was to post a semi-nude selfie in the mirror—like The Game, for example—everyone is like, damn, you’ve got a big dick, or damn, you’ve got a nice body. Nobody says, damn, Kim had a fuckin’ baby and that bitch looks bangin’ as fuck! Nobody says that! They just criticize her because she’s a mom.”
One of those publications that she felt didn’t do her justice was GQ. In October, they ran a profile of Rose, referring to her in the article’s teaser as “Kanye’s infamous ex,” “Wiz Khalifa’s baby mama,” and a “teen stripper turned megalomaniac muse.” Naturally, Rose wasn’t having it, and put the magazine on blast for their sexist treatment of her.
It’s taken quite some time, she says, for the media to cease defining her by the celebrity men she’s been with, and to treat her as the strong, outspoken woman she is. Firing back at GQ was just one step (of many) she’s taken in order to reclaim her narrative.
“I had to go in on GQ magazine and all these famous publications to be like, ‘You’re not gonna fuckin’ do this to me,’” she says. “I did a 12-hour interview and photo shoot with GQ, and that’s how you’re gonna label me? Fuck you. They labeled me as ‘Kanye West’s ex-girlfriend,’ ‘Wiz Khalifa’s baby mama,’ ‘former stripper,’ and it was just like, I work so hard every day as a businesswoman and mother and nobody ever mentions that. I was so pissed off and went after their necks because I don’t care if I’m ever in GQ again. Everybody had my back, and now people get it. They don’t label me like that anymore.”
One gal who definitely has Rose’s back is Amy Schumer. The two are close pals, and Rose shot a memorable cameo during the last season of the comedienne’s award-winning TV series Inside Amy Schumer.
“It works for us because we talk about the most obnoxious things when we’re together, and we just don’t give a fuck,” Rose says of her BFF. “We own everything about our lives. I was a fan of Amy’s, and I went to a comedy show at The Laugh Factory in L.A. and asked the owner if I could introduce Amy because I love her so much. So I introduced her, and she got up on stage after and was like, ‘Amber Rose introduced me! I fuckin’ made it.’ This was before she started doing movies and stuff. So we became friends. She lives in New York and I live in L.A., but we talk all the time. And I just shot another sketch for the upcoming season of Inside Amy Schumer that I’m really excited for people to see.”
The How to Be a Bad Bitch author is also excited by the prospect of the first female president of the United States: Hillary Clinton.
“I can’t fuckin’ wait! I’m so excited,” she exclaims. “I’m voting for Hillary, I don’t give a fuck. I love her, and always have. I feel like this is her time to just shit on everybody and be the powerful woman that she is.” “And I’m leaving the United States if [Trump] is elected,” she adds, with a chuckle. “Fuck it! I’m moving to Canada. It’s over.”