Heather Hunter: Wakeup Calls

Yes, by now you should be aware of how Heather Hunter garnered her fame, or infamy depending on how you feel about that sort of thing. But being an adult entertainer can only take you so far. Got that Superhead? Since retiring from the adult business over a decade ago, the Bronx born Heather Hunter has flexed her creative juices (no pun intended, seriously) through a number of avenues including music, art and now with the release of her book, Insatiable, writing. Insatiable is a work of fiction partially based on Hunter’s own experiences. Speaking to Hunter reveals a woman unashamed of her past, fervent in her convictions and a diehard Hip-Hop head at heart. After all, the original Hip-Hop vixen was “discovered” in New York City’s legendary Latin Quarter club, where acts like Boogie Down Productions, Red Alert and Big Daddy Kane earned their reps. AllHipHop.com caught up with Hunter via phone while she was taking a break from her book tour in her Brooklyn digs and got the skinny on everything from graffiti and tell-alls, to Tupac and rap misogyny. AllHipHop.com: How long has Insatiable been in the works?Heather Hunter: Oh my gosh, about 10 years. [It’s] a few memoirs of my life, loosely based experiences because it’s a fictional book. I been working on it for so long because I wanted to make sure that I did it right. It was a blessing in disguise that I was able to finish my book and have closure. AllHipHop.com: It’s based on your life, so was it hard looking back on those times?Heather Hunter: When I finished it, it was a cleansing moment for me. It was an emotional ride to go back into your past; some was good, some was bad. But, ya know, I embraced all the experiences and just realized I lived a very exciting life. [Laughs] Why I wrote fictionalized—I have respect for people’s privacy, as well as mine. I felt like I still should be able to tell the story of a girl like me without putting people on blast. AllHipHop.com: Have you ever considered writing a tell-all like Superhead’s?Heather Hunter: Nah, honestly it’s not my style and if I choose or want to ever do that it would be when I’m like 75 years old. [Laughs] So all my people in wheelchairs and would be happy talking about each other, about the good old time. No, it’s not my style, I have so much respect for my people, my colleagues and the entertainment and the Hip-Hop world. I believe that whatever experience that went on with people in my life, whether it was good or bad, I can’t regret it because it was something I wanted. I live by that rule.AllHipHop.com: Early in your book you describe an “Aha” type moment with a Deborah Cox’s “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here” playing in the background. Did that really happen?Heather Hunter: Not particularly that song, but I had an enlightening moment where it was like, “Why am I here? What’s going on Heather?” Ya know? I woke up out of the darkness I would say. It was just a wake up call. It was a straight wake up call. It wasn’t Deborah Cox playing in my head but it was something playing. It definitely opened the gates to a new life. It was weird because I was in the adult business—I been retired for about 11 years now, but I was in the adult business from 18 to 21. But I went back to give them some more films like when I hit 27, 26. That’s when I realized what am I doing? This is not me. It’s not me anymore and there’s so much more I could be doing with my life. AllHipHop.com: Since retiring have you ever considered going back to the adult business?Heather Hunter: Not at all. I enjoyed the adult business, it was a great experience for me. That’s where I get my claim to fame and I highly appreciate it. But I don’t go backwards in life, I always go forward. AllHipHop.com: Were you really discovered in the Latin Quarter club?Heather Hunter: Yeah, I actually used to work there. I worked there with Paradise from the X-Clan. Man, you took me back now! [Laughs] With X-Clan, with Lumumba, with Paradise, DJ Red Alert. I knew the owner of Latin Quarter and it was a great opportunity. Eddie Bell who used to work there, may he rest in peace, he gave me a job with Paradise and them, so I winded up working there. AllHipHop.com: What were you doing there?Heather Hunter: One thing I was answering phones, receptionist work. But then I was assisting Paradise with booking people and events. Pretty much just assisting and at that time I was a runaway so Latin Quarter was like my home. It was times when I would be sleeping up in there. They kept me on my feet. I definitely miss the LQ days cause it was one of my saviors. AllHipHop.com: Latin Quarters is mythological as far as Hip-Hop lore so what was it like being there?Heather Hunter: Man, I always say the birth of Hip-Hop is definitely those moments. To me it was like a church, it was like a Hip-Hop haven to me. I tell people, even the younger generation, you gotta know your history of Hip-Hop. You gotta respect the old school cats because you would never be where you at today without them. I watched people rise to fame. I watched LL Cool J blow up, I watched Salt N Pepa blow up in there. I watched Public Enemy, I watched amazing people to this day that are doing incredible things—Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Big Daddy Kane, oh my god Biz Markie, love him, that’s family. Just all those people, your roots of Hip-Hop is important and those were the great moments. I think Hip-Hop definitely has to give respect to the LQ days. AllHipHop.com: Didn’t you tag up around New York City too?Heather Hunter: Yeah, I was a little knuckehead back in the day. I did graffiti, I used to tag Ms. 45. I used to hit the C, the D’s, it was interesting, those were the days. But ya know I got into trouble of course and I winded up putting my pen to the canvas with my painting and everything. I was inspired by [famed '80s Pop artist] Keith Haring. I was in his workshop when I stopped doing graffiti for a second.AllHipHop.com: Where you able to interact with him?Heather Hunter: He [was] there…it’s funny, I was in this juvenile delinquent workshop where they place you [laughing] after doing graffiti and everything. It’s amazing how when you’re younger you don’t really appreciate what you got right in your face. Today I realized how much he inspired me even when I was not paying attention, you now what I mean? That’s why I say my knuckleheads days. You [winded] up going through a cleaning program and then the school that I was with put me into this program. It made me realize there’s more I can do with my life. But at the same time I miss graffiti. I wish I could tag on everything. [Laughs] Definitely much respect to all the graffiti cats out there. AllHipHop.com: How do you focus all your creative energies since you’re a jack of all trades with the acting, art, music, etc.?Heather Hunter: I have a high belief in my horoscope, I’m a Libra, I always have to keep my life balanced. So I just devote all my time to things that I find passionate. So I don’t really have a personal life. My personal life is just being me, and that can be fun and exciting too. I just enjoy it. I love painting, I love going to the studio and doing music, I love performing, anywhere I can get my hands in, I just love to work. I love hustling. AllHipHop.com: You were in the video to “How Do You Want It,” what was Tupac like?Heather Hunter: Tupac was my dear friend, to the end. He called upon me to be in the video and I felt honored to be in the video. It was just a great experience. It was one of the best videos I’ve ever experienced doing in the entertainment business. Yeah, that’s my dog. He really was a dear friend, he actually inspired me to move to the West Coast. Three months after that he passed. That’s how I winded going back out to the West. That inspiration made me realize that I’m here, let’s keep on changing the world. I’m dear friends with his sister Set Shakur, she’s an amazing woman. AllHipHop.com: What do you want reader of your book to come away with?Heather Hunter: The most important person I wanted to make proud was my mother. She’s ecstatic, she’s happy. But at the same time I really want people to take the character Simone Young and really walk through her shoes. Go through her journey and try to have compassion and not be so judgmental of a person who comes from the adult industry and how they go about getting into the adult industry. I think people have fear in things that they don’t know about. The character Simone Young can be me or any other girl out there, whether she’s a video vixen or a porn star. I just want people to understand that there’s a compassionate side that comes with that. There’s one thing that’s really special about this book because I preach it all the time. I tell people to live a happy healthy life you gotta practice safe sex. Within this book, every sex scene is a safe sex scene. It’s definitely a condom erotic fiction book, okay. I want people to come away understanding it’s natural to practice safe sex. I think we’re coming to a world right now, a society, where things that we thought were taboo, we’re trying to embrace it. I want to do my part to make that happen. AllHipHop.com: There’s been plenty of lip service about video girls and the images being projected, what’s your take on it? Any advice for them?Heather Hunter: I think in general, just within girls that are considered any type of vixen or any type of erotica, there should definitely be more opportunities for these girls to have…to be able to progress in the mainstream business. That’s something that I’m working on right now that by 2008 that I’m going to have a few projects that are going to open up other opportunities for girls. I can’t talk on [those opportunities] right now but that’s one of my missions. I believe there is a high level of disrespect for women in Hip-Hop right now and I’m going to really do my part to try to help change it. I would definitely say that any girl that’s out there, whether she’s a video vixen, whether she’s a dancer, whether she’s an X-rated adult star, however you trying to get into the game—the mainstream—you gotta know what you’re worth. Don’t nickel dime anything you do in life. You gotta be very ambitious and you got respect yourself and carry yourself like a lady. All that comes with patience at the same time. It’s not about quantity it’s about quality. AllHipHop.com: You’ve been around Hip-Hop for a long minute, would you say the treatment of women gotten worse or stayed the same?Heather Hunter: Oh it’s gotten worse. Like I said there’s mad disrespect for women right now in Hip-Hop. I never thought it would get to this. No matter what our African American women do in life, you should never portray them as hoes and bitches. I think we need to start putting our African American women on pedestals and treat them like the Queens that they are, no matter what they do in life. If we don’t respect our own culture, nobody is going to respect it. Back then in Hip-Hop it was really about empowering women, somewhere down the line we’ve lost that message and we really need to bring it back. Whether I was part of that transition, I want to do my part to fix it.