Who is Andrea Herrera?
The hip-hop community knows her better by her street name, Kat Stacks. Y'know, the loud-mouthed Venezuela-born former prostitute who helped boost World Star Hip Hop's Internet ratings by bragging on video about having slept with basically every famous rapper on the scene.
Stacks was kind of an American anti-icon. But after spending two years fighting to stay in the country from the inside of a cell at an immigration detention facility in Louisiana, she's ready to bury the old identity and rediscover her true self, Andrea, for the first time in about ten years.
We caught up with Stacks in her good friend's Miami home as she readied herself for a hosting event at Cameo nightclub. (You can take the party out of the entertainer, but you can't take the entertainer out of the party.)
Herrera told us about running away from home at the age of 14 with an older man who pimped her out and renamed her Kat Stacks. This was her first love and that's how she learned to survive in the harsh urban landscape, using her sexuality to make money and getting mad fucked up along the way.
She left her pimp eventually (but not before having his child) and found work with World Star doing what amounts to a more entertaining version of the same old shit. She starred in web clips as the ratchet groupie Kat Stacks, as well as appearing in rap videos, hosting events, and stripping at Tootsie's.
Incarceration for being in the country illegally brought the party to a halt in 2010. And being deemed a drain on American society isn't really a boost to one's ego. So locked away, Stacks had time to sober up and go to therapy. She began to reflect on her past, and pretty soon, she was putting her life story as an underage victim of the sex trade down on paper.
A short time later, World Star CEO and Stacks puppeteer Q scored Kat a book deal. And thanks to some bighearted activists and the help of her family and lawyers, Herrera was able to convince the judge that the negative effects of her victimization outweighed her immoral public image. The 24-year-old was happily released in January.
But the turmoil didn't end there. Putting the Stacks shtick behind her, Herrera embraced Andrea and resolved to tell her story in the hopes of helping young girls such as herself, but World Star and the book publishers had money on their minds. For months, Herrera fought for her book to be an honest portrayal instead of gimmicky garbage, and in the end, she left World Star altogether. For the first time since 14, Herrera is more or less in charge of herself.
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Her book, Admire Andrea: Surviving Savagery to Saving Lives, hits shelves Tuesday, October 15, and it focuses on Herrera's true and often-difficult personal history.
Still, some of the Stacks vibe hangs around. Yeah, she's posing nude with a ski mask on for her new Twitter profile picture, and yeah, she does still host hip-hop club nights for cash, but she's opening up and taking herself seriously. She's her own bottom bitch these days, and that's actually not a bad deal.
Follow Kat Bein on Twitter @KatSaysKill.