[Image: A photograph of Tila Tequila. Her hair is down and she is wearing a black bathing suit.]
Back to the choppy narrative, Tila says that she’s not happy only being a personality on MySpace. She lovingly pens, “But I wanted to be known for more than just my face and my tits and my ass. I wanted to be a musician.” She doesn’t seem to acknowledge the amount of beauty privilege that she wields or even take it into consideration. Sure, she wants to be more than just a body. But it’s her body that is helping her with all of these dreams that she has. And she never bothers to recognize that.
The next section, entitled “I’m in the band” is about how she puts ads in LA Weekly in order to find musicians for her band. But her hotness is so difficult to overcome and people don’t take her seriously. She finally told the last guy that called her from the ad that she’s young, she’s hot, but she’s a real musician and she’s really good. The guy responds that he’s pretty hot, too. And right there, Tila knew that she had a band member.
She narrates, “I called my band Beyond Betty Jean, and I wrote all the songs. I loved it. I didn’t care about getting a record label, or having a hit, for any of that other bullshit. I felt like, for once, I’m doing what I want to do. I’m in a band, and I get to write and sing. And who gives a shit if it’s any good? I’m doing it.” Which is actually an excellent idea for her to have. Because, as it turned out, she never signed to a label, none of her songs were ever hits, and what she produced might have verged on catchy a few times, but overall, her catalog is not any good. Her singing voice manages to sound weak and forced on recording and what she sings about are the same brainless, shallow topics that she discusses in this book. But more on that later.
Tila launches into the next part after a brief list of artists that inspire her (Li’l Kim and Sex Pistols make the list). This section, titled, “I’m not your Barbie, bitch” talks about how Tila threw off the shackles of her model reputation and reinvented herself as a serious artist. Kind of. She starts, “So I gave myself a Mohawk. I quit modeling and I changed my website so it was no longer a modeling site. It was my way of saying, “Look, I’ll show you! I don’t care what you think. I just care about my music.” ” This lasts for as long as her modeling money does. In the end, she doesn’t make any cash from her music and when people start booking her for modeling punk shoots, she took them.
She decides, “Fuck it. If modeling keeps coming to me, no matter what I look like, then it must be a reason.” She states that she stopped doing the girly glamour modeling, but still modeled. Which, she seems to be doing a lot of explaining for no very good reason. No one should expect a person to starve. The way Tila treats modeling, it almost sounds as something that she’s ashamed of, even when she claims that it’s not. Her complex relationship with it gets only more complex as the next section begins. This one is called, “Sucking Dick for a Bentley”.
Tila explains, “I was broke. I was sending money back to my family in Texas AND taking care of a friend from Sweden who was crashing with me.” She never mentioned why she is sending money to people that she accused of never loving her. But anyway, just one of the mysteries of Tila Tequila. She then relates, “There were times I used what I had to get what I wanted,” and informs her readers how in LA there is a delicate social construct of attractive women leveraging their looks as a commodity to obtain monetary incentives. She speaks of this practice as common and something that everyone was comfortable with.
She then writes this, “None of this sucking dick for a dollar bullshit. If you’re going to do it, I’m talk about sucking dick for a Bentley.” I once read a story on a Miss Manners page a few years ago. It goes like this; a man approaches a woman at a bar and says, “Will you sleep with me for a million dollars?” She thinks for a second and then says, “Yes, for a million.” The man then asks, “Will you sleep with me for ten dollars?” The woman is highly offended and remarks, “What do you think I am?” The man replies, “We’ve already established that. Now we’re just haggling over the price.”
While I can see that Tila is trying to relate this section of her life in order to be empowering, it comes across as anything but. First of all, the writing indicates that she is ashamed of it and has to “admit” to her actions, as if they should be something that she keeps hidden. If she was truly unconcerned by this, she wouldn’t need to frame her story in that manner. Second of all, she does not present this as that she had multiple options and she choose this one. She presents it that she desperately needed money and she did this out of necessity, not choice. When you only have one option, there is no such thing as choice.
There is nothing wrong with a consensual exchange of attractiveness and sex for other commodities between two fully-aware adults. Women can do this to take advantage of the very patriarchal system that prizes them for nothing but their bodies by using those same bodies to weld power over the same men. But between her hesitant and explanatory writing as well as her presentation of this as a last resort where she was facing serious consequences without it, it doesn’t sound that way at all.
But Tila certainly doesn’t dwell on this period of her life. She quickly recovers in the next section, entitled, “Break on Through”. She then writes about how she launched her own fashion line when she was 22 and called it Tila Fashion. The model relates that she styled, designed and made all of the clothes herself, and then even packaged them for the mail when people ordered them. Soon, she got so busy that things get out of control and people start complaining about their orders not arriving. Tila gave all of their money back and was about her hang up her hat when someone informed her that she could hire people to help her package and ship the orders. She apparently had no idea.
She then writes, “So I got some help, and I still have my clothing line up on my website today.” But for all of you trying to find a link to her website to purchase your own revealing club outfits, I’m sorry to say that as of this writing, the clothing line is defunct and there is no link on her website. Please, try to contain your sadness so you can complete the article.
In the following section, “Getting Paid”, Tila starts to brag about how she is rolling in cash. Two sections ago she was performing oral sex for favors and now she suddenly has so much money that she bought her own new car. She also relates, “I was twenty-two years old. I had a hot-ass Mercedes and a personal assistant.” How she got from the Bentley BJs to having a personal assistant is never accounted for. The only thing she mentioned in the middle is her clothing line. Did that make her that much money? How did she manage this when she said that she had to give all of the money back from orders that she wasn’t able to complete? Why is no one connecting the dots in what should be a coherent narrative?
Tila doesn’t bother answering any questions. She blows through the rest of the section talking about her empire. She then goes back to talking about her music. She says that after befriending people from Sweden, they suggested that she came to Sweden to record. So she did. Tila writes, “So I went for a month or two, and I was writing songs, recording, writing songs, every day.” She notes that she did a cover of the song “No Woman, No Cry”. And recorded a song called “Playboy Central” (not available on YouTube). She remarks that this song was about, “”Look, I’m playing you. You’re not playing me.” That was my whole thing. And people loved it.”
She notes, “Of course, as always, there were some haters. But, as I’ve already said, “Who the fuck cares?”” As today Tila has decided that haters don’t matter and she’s not using them to fuel her determination. Tila then writes that she posted her music on MySpace, which, at that time, did not have a music player. But that was about to change. “So Tom, being smart, saw how much people loved being able to listen to my music, and he decided they should have the same features on the rest of the site. I started that. Not bad for some dumb model, right? If I was a dude, they’d be calling me an Internet mogul.” She might be right there. But if she was a man she wouldn’t have made it so far in a heterosexual male-dominated society with only her body.
In the next section, Tila discusses her work in TV. She talks about doing small movies roles and being on a reality TV show before she was offered her chance to do A Shot At Love. She also talks about how now that she’s famous and making money, she gets to embarrass sales associates at stores. She pens,
I had my own real-life Pretty Woman moment at a Prada store in Hawaii. This was before my show, and this bitch who worked there didn’t like the look of me, so she tried to tell me the store had a dress code. I was like, “Wow, that’s a slap in the fucking face.” I decided to show her. I tried on these books that cost like $1,000…. I looked at that woman and said, “Thanks. I’ll take them.” She didn’t say a word. It felt so good, you know, like “Don’t fucking judge me.” And I had earned every penny of that money myself.
There’s too little information in this story to really make sense of it. What was Tila wearing that violated this dress code? What did the term “dress code” even mean in this context? What was the employee’s tone while saying this? And why is shelling out that much money for boots supposed to be a vindication? The book does not elaborate.
In the final section, “A Shot At Love,” Tila begins by stating, “It’s such bullshit when people say I’m a fake bisexual. The only reason MTV even approached me about doing my show was because everyone in the underground scene already knew that I’m bisexual because I spill EVERYTHING in my blogs.” Which doesn’t make much sense. Blogs are not limited access. There is no such thing as an “underground blog” because blogs are visible to anyone with internet access. They might not be widely known, but they wouldn’t be underground.
Tila admits initial trepidation towards the show. She writes, “I thought the show could be really exploitative and bad for me. But I also knew it could really help people, because there was nothing out there about being bisexual.” How this show was going to help people, she never elaborates on. She also never mentions seeing or even hearing of positive things happening as a direct result of her show. She has a ludicrous theory on one, but I will get into that later.
After spending most of this chapter claiming absolute realness, Tila then states this, “I want my real fans to know that the crazy Girls Gone Wild chick on the show, that’s not me.” What? It’s not? How is she going to cultivate this image of everything she does being completely genuine and real when she openly admits that her TV show, the main reason for her fame, is not an accurate depiction of her? Why should she tell her fans now that that’s not the “real” her? How does any of that statement make any sense within this book or her overall image?
But Tila doesn’t even bother to explain what she just said. She skips right ahead to one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. She writes, “I can only hope it [the TV show] helped other people in the gay community. I mean, hello, California just lifted the ban on gay marriage. I know, none of you seem to believe me when I say this, but I really think that decision has a lot to do with my show.” I will allow you a second to take in what she just wrote. Let it soak in.
For some reason, Tila seems to believe that important lawmakers, when mulling over the decision of giving others the same equal rights that they have been enjoying all these many years, sat down at their televisions one night, turned on MTV and sat back for an hour of A Shot At Love with Tila Tequila until they realized just how much marriage equality needed to happen. While this image is quite comical, it would not surprise me that if every person involved in the actual process of lifting the ban was asked if they were even aware of who Tila Tequila was, the answer would be a resounding, “Who?”
And yes, it’s one thing to think that somewhere, somehow, your dating show helped a young bisexual person to be more comfortable with themselves. But it’s entirely something else to think that this trashy, easily-forgotten show influenced people to change laws around it. As for Tila Tequila championing gay rights; where is she at rallies and demonstrations? Where is she giving speeches about equality and visibility? Why does she think that exploiting her sexuality on a show that made no lasting impact is enough to claim this kind of effect? I don’t know. And apparently, neither does she.
Tila doesn’t bother to even attempt to explain this outrageous claim, she instead skips over it with a cool, “I don’t care what anyone says.” Because, remember, if you disagree with her, you’re a hater. You can only be a Tila fan if you agree with everything she says, no matter how strange or off base. Tila then talks about what she gained from the show. She writes, “–I learned that I am capable of love. And I am willing to be vulnerable in order to find it. I consider that revelation to be one of the biggest accomplishments of my life so far.”
And it’s this juxtaposition, her first stating that she caused people to overturn a ban on gay marriage to her then saying that she realized she is capable of love, that makes me so incredibly sad for Tila. For all of her bravado, she is clearly someone that is insecure and uncomfortable with herself sometimes. Even with her mental illness, she never mentions seeing a therapist, self-care, or finding outlets to deal with her emotions (some might try to recall her music, but singing about fucking up someone with big tits doesn’t seem very reflective or productive, healthwise). As much as she’s trying to help others, Tila has yet to admit that she needs help in her life and that she still has some very real and very apparent scars from her childhood. She wants to claim that she’s made it, but Tila really has a long way to go.
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