As long as she had a place to do her daily tai chi, Schatar Sapphira Taylor C’92 could block out the harpy-like antics of the other contestants on VH1’s Celebreality show Flavor of Love. Taylor, who went by the code name Hottie in the series, was a serene presence amidst catfights so vicious that at times nothing could be heard except the censor’s overriding bleep.
The series revolves around Flavor Flav, former hype-man of hip-hop group Public Enemy, whose failed courtship of Brigitte Nielsen in an earlier VH1 program led to the creation of this popular spin-off. Twenty women vie for Flav’s affection while he eliminates all those he believes are only seeking fame and fortune. The competition among the Flavorettes was intense and at times perverse: Some contestants came to blows over inspections of each other’s crow’s feet and accusations of transvestitism.
Despite being insulted and harassed by some of the more aggressive women, Taylor maintains a positive stance on her participation in the program.
“It was a chance for me to do my passion [of] entertaining,” she says. “I could provide comedy in a way that I thought would be entertaining to viewers.”
Hottie, who may be best remembered for her inability to cook chicken and her eye-catching outfits, discussed her participation in Flavor of Love as well as her career developments with Gazette intern Chelsea Tanimura C’06.
While you were at Penn, did you ever imagine that you’d be doing what you’re doing today?
Yes, I wanted to work in the entertainment industry since I was five years old. At Penn, I was in a residential program called Arts House [in Harnwell College House] from sophomore through senior year. I did a number of plays, including “Amen Corner,” and I also was one of the very first members of [the singing group] Inspiration.
What kind of singing do you do now?
I love pop music. If you look in my CD player, you’ll probably see Kelly Clarkson, Mariah Carey, and Beyonce. But I also like opera. When I left Penn, I went to Peabody Conservatory of Music, where I studied formal opera.
I’m also a trained songwriter, and I used to teach music theory. I did the title theme track for Schatar’s Star Time, which ran for two years.
To continue with television, how did you become a contestant on Flavor of Love?
VH1 actually e-mailed my mom and my agent. They said they were doing a new reality show and were looking for competitive, successful women. At first, I wasn’t going to do it because I didn’t want to go out of my way to compete for some guy. But later I said, “OK, whoever it is, they deserve a chance at love,” so I figured I would go ahead and give them a chance.
Now please note that I had no idea who it was going to be. I thought maybe it was going to be [fellow rappers] Nelly or Chingy.
So they told you it was going to be a musician but they didn’t say who it was?
They said it was going to be a hip-hop celebrity. That’s it. That’s all the contestants knew.
Some of the women were quite catty. They would say things such as, “You are an instigator.” Did you take any of that personally?
I did not take any of it personally. It was kind of my strategy to focus on the goal, which was walking down the carpet with Flav—being a winner on the show.
Were you concerned that being on the show could lead to some negative publicity for you?
I believe in success. No one could have predicted the success of the show. It is now number one on VH1 and my character, Hottie, is the [show’s] most popular girl in the United States and in London.
What did you like best about being on Flavor of Love?
I really enjoyed spending time getting to know the other women. It was a beautiful setting. The mansion had seven bedrooms. There was a pool, hot tub, plenty of space for me to do my tai chi in the garden in the back. All of the meals were catered. We frequently had parties and mixers and [Flavor Flav] would take us on elaborate dates. He took us to Las Vegas and when we got there, we opened the suite and it was full of designer clothes.
Flavor Flav was a good host then?
He was an excellent host. Oh yes—until it was time for him to throw me out of the house.