Remember when video vixens dominated music television? At the turn of the century (not that long ago, people), they sashayed across screens in slow motion and skimpy attire for the sole purpose of showcasing their striking faces and audacious curves. Within hip-hop circles, they were treated like the grandest of stars. Many were addressed by first and surname (Melyssa Ford), some by first only (Ki Toy), others simply by nickname (Buffie The Body).
For their extraordinary assets, video models were awarded the glamorous life. They were flown to exotic locales, put up in five-star hotels and paid handsomely to enhance the sexy of a rapper or singer. Those brief seconds of screen time led to lucrative off-camera paper and publicity. Landing the coveted cover of men’s magazines like King and Smooth—or the inside of golden publication Maxim—brought “Baddest Chick” status, while party appearances brought in impressive dividends. Most appealing was the opportunity to transition their career from MTV to Hollywood.
For some, the hustle paid off. Melyssa Ford moved from a model on BET to a BET host to acting roles on TV (Entourage) and film (Think Like a Man). Liris Crosse (Jay-Z’s “Do It Again”) appeared on Law & Order: SVU and in The Best Man. Tae Heckard (Busta Rhymes and Mariah Carey’s “I Know What You Want”) turned heads on BET’s The Game. Albeit, the accomplishments of even the most transcendent models were few and far between.
Then the recession hit and video budgets were slashed, allowing thirstier women to do more for less pay, ultimately saturating the market. So popular vixens that once demanded five figures for a day’s work were suddenly being offered hundreds, or worse, disregarded for a never-seen-before PYT. To paraphrase Chris Rock, the only thing better than a nice ass is a newer nice ass.
That was insider information, though. No one outside the industry cared what the women were paid, only their wet dream worth. But then in 2006, Karrine Steffans, a.k.a. Superhead, wrote a book, Confessions of a Video Vixen. Her account of being disrespected on the set and passed around from rapper to rapper read more like a horror story than a fantasy. The following year, the Game released his single “Wouldn’t Get Far,” which further downgraded the vixen aspiration.
Of course, women still modeled in videos, but even twerking in a thong couldn’t compete with exceptionally attractive women who were willing to give fantasies full transparency. Kim Kardashian had curves that rivaled Ford’s, but she had a whole sex tape. Amber Rose’s computer, allegedly, kept getting hacked for pictures of her spread eagle with her fingers jammed inside of her; then Kanye wifed her. Hip-hop then began celebrating strippers, who soon discovered social media. Today, any woman with a vlog or an Instagram account can claim the title of “Video Model”; and anyone who can afford butt injections can be shaped like one.
Everyone still looks, of course—because looking never gets old—but when you can scroll through your smartphone and stare at a variety of ample ass on demand, waiting for a glimpse in a video is hardly worth the effort.