HOW TO BE A BAD BITCH
Amber Rose on the Ian Connor Rape Allegations: ‘21 Women Have Reached Out to Me So Far’
The host of the VH1 series ‘The Amber Rose Show,’ premiering July 8th, dishes on carving her own path, gay Republicans, and much more.
Amber Rose doesn’t walk—she glides, her impossible curves sashaying from side to side like Lisa Marie’s Martian Madame in Mars Attacks! She is a Diva with a capital D, and doesn’t suffer fools lightly, whether it’s GQ magazine for labeling her “Kanye West’s ex-girlfriend” and “Wiz Khalifa’s baby mama,” or Yeezy himself for callously insulting her child with ex-husband Khalifa.
Rose is, in short, exactly how you’d expect the author of a book titled How to Be a Bad Bitch to be, and it’s refreshing to bask in her ethereal glow and imbibe her no-nonsense approach to life.
“People refer to me as a ‘slut’ because they assume, but they don’t know shit,” she says, flashing her perfect white teeth. “People are like, ‘Amber, you’re a fuckin’ ho,’ and I’m like, ‘Wait… didn’t you just suck a random dick last week? Oh, but we’re not talking about that, are we? And you won’t bring that up because you think you’re superior? Please.”
When I last encountered Rose down in Austin at this year’s SXSW, she was promoting a 3-D character named MUVA she’d created with the app Zoobe. Ever the hard-working entrepreneur and businesswoman, the 32-year-old Philly native is on the cusp of premiering her new late-night talk show, The Amber Rose Show, on VH1. She’s also taking over for Dr. Drew as the host of Loveline on CBS Radio.
We’re seated across from each other at a Battery Park restaurant in Lower Manhattan, where she’s been making the publicity rounds for her show(s). It’s a gloomy mid-June day, weeks before Rose would be one of several celebrities to have their nude likenesses pop up in the R-rated music video for Kanye West’s song “Famous”—right alongside Taylor Swift, of whom Rose is a very big fan.
So, this is exciting: The Amber Rose Show premieres July 8. From what I understand it’s a late-night talk show. What’s the format?
I love Chelsea Handler, Howard Stern, Conan [O’Brien], and I love Wendy [Williams]. I love how comfortable Wendy is in her own element, so I take inspiration from her. My show is very sex-positive—we talk about sex and relationships a lot. I also interview celebrities as well. We talk about celebrity gossip, but in a different way because I’m not disconnected from celebrity life. I actually live it. We talk about the rumors that are on the internet, then I provide an insider’s perspective. And we’re very relevant. We tape this show two days before it airs, so it’ll be the news breaking that week.
There are precious few women in late-night.
Breaking barriers! It’s awesome.
I assume you’ve been offered your fair share of reality-TV shows. Why did you decide to go this route versus that one?
I’ve literally been offered a reality show from every single network you could possibly think of—of my life, in my house, and I’m so not comfortable with that. Although I enjoy watching reality, it’s not for me because I’m the famous one in my family, and I didn’t necessarily ask for this life—I just went with it, and it worked out for me. My son is kind of born into it, but with my immediate family, I’m glad they’re not famous and don’t have to worry about internet gossip or any of that bullshit.
It seems like we’re finally starting to see the real Amber Rose. For a while, the media unfairly defined you through the famous men you dated.
When you’re in a relationship, especially with a famous man—I was married to Wiz [Khalifa] and we were together for four years—there are certain things that you stop yourself from doing. Wiz is a rapper so he talks about “fucking hos” and doing shit like that, but I’m a feminist, so I have my views about that while also supporting my husband in his craft, and supporting him to be creative. That became very difficult. And now that we’ve separated, I was able to have my own voice and do me. And it worked.
That whole undercurrent of misogyny is rampant in hip-hop. One thing that’s very troubling that’s going on right now is the situation with Ian Connor. I believe it’s up to seven women who’ve accused him of sexual assault, and yet many of his famous hip-hop co-signers—Kanye, Drake, A$AP Rocky, etc.—have remained silent.Because I have my SlutWalk, all of the women [who’ve accused Ian Connor] have reached out to me as well. They want to come to my SlutWalk and tell their story on my stage. I have that platform for them to do so. I’m not a lawyer. I can’t prosecute anyone or say, “What she’s saying is exactly the truth.” I wasn’t there. Honestly, seven came out and I’m pretty sure 21 women have reached out to me so far. So I’m assuming there are more [stories] coming out. It’s innocent until proven guilty, but when you have 21 women from all over the world that do not know each other but have similar stories, it gets to the point where it’s like… enough.
Like the song “Famous,” it seemed like the media was quick to credit other people—namely, Kanye West—with your rise to fame, which seemed like a gendered double standard.
The misconception—and I still hear this seven years later, to this day—is, “You’re only famous for Kanye.” Initially, absolutely. In 2009, when they’re like, “Amber Rose—Kanye’s girlfriend,” I was like, “OK, that’s pretty accurate. That’s what it is.” But I didn’t ask to be famous, and I didn’t even talk or do interviews for two years, because I thought, “I don’t want this. I’m not famous.” Over time, with going out in public, I realized it would never go away, so I didn’t have any choice but to progress. Everything I’ve done since then is my own doing, and I’ve worked my fucking ass off for everything I have. But Wendy Williams put Charlamagne on. Jay Z put Kanye on! But they don’t do that to men, and they always want to diminish my accomplishments and put them on someone else when I work really hard.
A lot of people probably don’t know that Kanye’s best album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, is all about his breakup with you. And apparently it was Kanye who cheated on you with Kim, is that right?
Oh, I’m not talking about that. I am not talking about that.
OK. There were also rumors at the time of your split that Kanye was physically abusive to you. Is there any truth to those rumors?
I’m not talking about that. I’m not talking about Kanye at all. I understand why you’re asking me that—you’re just doing your job—but I’m not going there.
As far as the recent rumor mill goes, there were a bunch of tabloid reports that you and Wiz Khalifa “celebrated” your divorce being finalized at a strip club. It’s so fuckin’ weird! Why would we celebrate one of the worst times in our lives? The truth is we’d signed our divorce papers four, five months prior to that night. It took that long to go through the court system, and that initial day we went out is when it was extremely final through the court, so they said, “Hey! They’re celebrating their divorce!” We would never celebrate our divorce. We mourned it. It was a very difficult time. Wiz literally just called me and said, “I’m gonna take my baby mama out. I love you, you’re my best friend, so let’s go spend some money on some strippers.” And he knows that I won’t go to the strip club unless he’s spending at least $20,000. I just can’t do it. I’m a former dancer so I need to throw some money. So we went and we just had the time of our lives.
How late did it go? I think they closed at 2 a.m. if I’m not mistaken, and then we went out to eat. Then I slept over that night and we woke up with the baby in the morning, so it was cool. We are the best of friends. We’re actually better now that we’re divorced, which is weird, but it’s just worked out that way. He’s that dude.
It must’ve taken hard work for you two to reach this happy place.
It did. But you know what? At the end of the day, we both really love our son and he’s the most important thing, so for us to be amicable and be friends and have family days for Sebastian—our son is the happiest when we’re together. We can’t be together in a marriage, but we can be there for our son and that’s what we do.
At this point, Rose, who’d already ordered a chicken dish, spots a juicy burger being carried on a tray to a table. She spins her head around to her handlers at a nearby table and, flashing a huge smile, announces, “I want a burger, please. With extra cheese on it, too! Hook that up!” Then she turns back to me and says, “Did you want to get something too, babe?” I tell her I’m good, and the chat continues.
I know you have the talk show, but are you interested in getting more into acting?I’m working on a short film with someone very famous, but I can’t talk about it more. It’s probably coming out sometime next year. I’m taking acting classes, I’ve done a couple of movies already, and I love it. I’m really good at memorizing scripts—and it helps with my talk show as well. I work with Dr. Phil’s team so they’ve been doing this for 20 years, and they’re just like, “OK, here’s the teleprompter…” and I’m like, “Nope, I studied it and already got it down,” and they’re like, “Wooooow.”
Are we going to see you and your pal Amy Schumer in a movie together? I would love that. We have the same exact agent, so we’re gonna make that happen for sure. She’s actually working on a movie now, but I have my show and it’s shooting in Hawaii. I’m gonna go down and visit though, for sure. There’s definitely gonna be some crazy times and crazy conversations!
I saw that Oprah endorsed Hillary Clinton this morning. Are you excited by how we might have our first female president?
I did not even think we’d have a black president, either. Tupac even said it. It wasn’t even thought of when I was young, to have a black president. And then to be an amazing president, too! And going from that to Hillary? It’s cool because this is in my lifetime, and I get to live it, you know?
The alternative, of course, is one Donald Trump.
It is very, very scary. I have faith in America that they won’t put him in office. There’s a lot of people that love him, though. I feel like if our country can vote for President Obama twice, they know better than to vote for Trump. I have faith in my country. The scary part about that is I fear there will be riots if Trump got elected, and that’s scary. I feel there would be massive riots all over because people would not know how to deal with it.
As an outspoken ally of the LGBT community, what are your thoughts on the recent mass shooting in Orlando? I mean it’s Florida, No. 1, which is ridiculous. And two, it starts with the parents, you know what I’m saying? Just like the kid [Brock Turner] who raped the girl behind the dumpster, his father came out and called it “20 minutes of action” and complained that his son’s life was over. That came from his dad, you know? The thing with this guy [Omar Mateen] is they’re saying he had pages on gay websites looking for guys, and I feel like maybe because he was Muslim and came from a strong religious background he battled with that, and instead of embracing it he was mad that he couldn’t be as free as the guys in that club. You gotta talk to your kids, man.
The Orlando mass murder also, I think, exposed the hypocrisy of a lot of politicians—particularly on the right—who are against gay rights yet mourned the tragedy.
First of all, half of the Republican men are gay anyway and then they vote against gay marriage and go out and fuck their boyfriends while their wife is at home taking care of their kids. We’ve seen that quite a few times. It’s just ridiculous. Listen: Let people fuck who they what to fuck, be who they want to be with, and mind your own goddamn business. It’s frustrating.
Your look’s become pretty iconic. I mean don’t get me wrong, it’s working, but do you sometimes feel like Kit Harington with his Jon Snow hair where you perhaps want to change it but feel pressure to keep it as is?
I try to change it and I’m uncomfortable. I’ve had this haircut for 14 years—people don’t know that—and it just became me. I feel free, man. I feel free. It just feels wonderful. If I put on a wig or something I just don’t feel like myself. It’s just not me.
How did you arrive at this look?
I was 18 and I just wanted to do it. I liked Sinead O’Connor—I knew of her when I was younger—and then when I was older revisited her stuff, and thought, “Man, it would be so cool if I shaved my head.” I said it to all my friends, and they were like, “Don’t do it! You’re gonna look crazy!” At that time, I was taking the train up to New York and trying to get signed to a modeling agency, and they kept saying, “You just don’t have it.” Then I shaved my head and got signed to Ford Models, which is crazy. But yeah, I finally did it and my hair was really dark so I felt I looked really masculine, so a week later I dyed it blond, and 14 years later I’m still here with it. It just fit. I went to the barbershop and made him go down the middle so I couldn’t turn back. I was crying the entire time he did it. Even though I wanted it, it felt so dramatic. It took about a week for me to be comfortable with it. Once I dyed it blond, I walked outside and I was causing car accidents. Guys were like, “Whoa, who are you?!” I was that bitch in Philly after that. For real.
Will we see you pop up in your pal Blac Chyna’s upcoming E! reality show with Rob Kardashian?
Nope! I don’t do reality, man. That’s her thing. I’m proud of her, she’s doing her thing, but it’s just not my thing.
The tabloid media has, it seems, started to come around on Chyna—but it took quite some time. She was initially painted negatively, as an interloper, and I think that has a lot to do with race. You received similar treatment. If you and Chyna looked like Taylor Swift, I don’t think you would’ve received the same level of tabloid scrutiny or vitriol.
They said a lot of fucked up shit about us. And I agree. The fact that we were dancers as well, people just felt like we’re just users and gold diggers, but we’re very passionate women. We love so hard. And dancing is hard work and an honest living—it’s not prostitution, that’s a different job. It’s not porn, that’s a different job. We’re not into that business and never have been. It’s just dancing and being comfortable with your body. But we’re both really good girls and love really hard, and I’m just so happy for her.
It’s a bit strange though, with the whole Tyga and Kylie thing going on as well. Because then, since Chyna has a son with Tyga, it’s like, if they get married, who’s an uncle and aunt and all that? I’m not even sure to be honest.
I mean, I don’t think Tyga and Kylie are together anymore so I’m not sure they have to worry about that now, but love is love, man! You can’t help who you fall in love with, and in this case it was Rob. It fit perfect with her. They’re great for each other.
How’s your love life going?
I’m dating and getting to know people. I’m very busy though. I’m not a convenient girl. You can’t just fly me out when you want to and have me on call. I have employees, I have a household, I have a son, I have my show, I have other businesses. I kind of just do what I do when I do it.
Is it tough to date when you’re the Amber Rose?
It’s tough to date me. One-hundred percent. My lawyer tells me all the time, “Everybody wants to date Amber Rose until they date Amber Rose.” Guys want to feel superior, and with me, I’m a boss as well. If that’s uncomfortable for you, then it’s not gonna work.
It must generally be tough to date when you’re famous, too. I can go out and sleep with whoever I want and won’t get photographed leaving an apartment the next day, but for you, you can’t go out and just pick up a guy at a bar or club because you have to worry about whether or not they’ll yap about the encounter to Page Six or some gossip rag.
Right. That’s why somebody like me can only date somebody that’s famous, because they understand that. And then you get more judgment for that as well, because it’s like, “Why can’t you just date a regular guy?” It’s like, I can’t! It’s a risk for a lot of things, and he’ll never, ever understand my life. You don’t know what it’s like to be famous until you actually live it. You’ll never understand what it’s like. It’s a blessing… and a curse.