HERE COMES TROUBLE

Most likely you've never heard Karrine Steffans's name, but perhaps you've seen her... face, in such hip-hop videos as Jay-Z's "Hey Papi" and Mystikal's "Dangerous," or opposite Vin Diesel in "A Man Apart." A few years ago, Steffans was not only a booty-shaking, breast-implanted video queen, but arm candy (and, she claims, much more) for some of the most famous men in hip-hop, Hollywood and sports. She shopped at the best stores, went to the best parties and even enjoyed a four-month period during which, she says, one superstar athlete was depositing $10,000 a month in her personal account so she'd be available at his whim. Steffans not only offers scandalous details but names names in a book called "Confessions of a Video Vixen," scheduled to be in stores next week. "I wasn't trying to hurt or embarrass anybody with my story," Steffans told NEWSWEEK. "Because that's what it is--my story, not theirs. It describes what happened to me in graphic detail. I'm just putting it out there as plain as I can. But it's only about 40 percent of everything that happened."

It's more than enough. Some of what Steffans relates is funny, like the night a substance-fueled entertainer supposedly told her he was a member of Al Qaeda, in regular touch with Osama bin Laden. Her personal history is not. She describes having an absentee father, getting raped at 15, stripping, marrying Mr. Wrong, cruising through a few years of celebrity hookups and, in 2001, overdosing on a cocktail of drugs and finally understanding that the party was over. "It sounds dumb," Steffans says, "but I really thought these men cared at least a little bit, and would be there for me if I asked. I'd never done anything to hurt them. But when I was homeless and fighting for my life, no one cared. This is the story that young women watching BET don't see. And I know it was meant for me to tell them."

You may have noticed by now that we're not actually mentioning any of those famous names (except for bin Laden's). Gilda Squire, associate director of PR at Amistad/ HarperCollins, says the book was fact-checked against newspaper reports, magazine articles and people "familiar with" the celebrities in question. NEWSWEEK put in calls to three of them. One rep had no comment; one star said, "I can't believe this is happening," and another said he "didn't give a f---" what Steffans had written. Her stories, true or not, may prove so embarrassing that no celebrity would want them aired in court. But somehow we get the idea that we haven't heard the last of her. Steffans--who says she's now in a "very satisfying" relationship with Bill Maher--is at work on a novel and in negotiations for a movie and, inevitably, a reality show. It won't be called "Dancing With the Stars."

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