Today, reality TV is still very much a guilty pleasure for many. But back in the time of VH1’s Flavor of Love, it was an absolute obsession. And we all know Tiffany “New York” Pollard and her antics are to thank for that.
New York wrote the book on being a ridiculously over-the-top reality star when she competed alongside 19 other women for Public Enemy rapper Flavor Flav’s heart in 2006. And while we’ve seen many an animated reality TV “wife” imitate the blueprint she laid more than 10 years ago, New York insists she wasn’t putting on for the cameras the way many stars do today. The 36-year-old earned her infamous reputation fair and square.
“Everything I did was real, everything I do is real,” New York told NY Mag’s Allison P. Davis in a profile as hard to look away from as her time on TV. “And,” she added, “if you wanna know, yes, I did f-ck Flav.”
I think we can all agree that we wanted to know, but didn’t really want to know.
Getting back to the real, however, New York confessed, she “always prayed to be famous,” but, “I didn’t know how, though.” Funny enough, it was being herself that allowed New York to turn 15 minutes of fame into a 12-year career, as NY Mag pointed out in their headline. And while showcasing people’s real selves may be what the reality TV genre was about before it became the brand-launching monster that it is today, we all know, like New York said, “sh-t isn’t as real as it was when I invented this sh-t.”
And that’s why New York, even for all of her shortcomings and the debate over the image she represents of Black woman, still remains cherished by many: she’s real. So real in fact that she knows her fame — even though she’s been able to sustain it for far longer than her counterparts — is as fleeting as the next pop culture phenomenon. But we’ll forever have the memes and GIFs her persona has left behind.
“I love when it comes and I love when it leaves,” New York said of her fame. “I love the whole ride of it.” Clearly her fans are riding with her until the end.