Tiffany Pollard Is Still the HBIC
Since being anointed with the name “New York” on hip-hop maestro Flavor Flav’s dating show Flavor of Love in 2006, Tiffany Pollard has become one of the biggest names in reality TV, appearing in over 45 shows and movies, including her own VH1 spin-off series, I Love New York. Here, the legend gives us a lesson on how to become the Head Bitch in Charge.
TIFFANY POLLARD: Hi Mel, how are you?
MEL OTTENBERG: Oh my god, Tiffany, I’m sorry I was late, but I had to get some junk food. This is like prime time shit here.
POLLARD: You’re so funny.
OTTENBERG: I’m interviewing Tiffany mother-fucking Pollard for Interview magazine, it’s the greatest honor of my life.
POLLARD: Oh my goodness. I’m so excited about this, the shoot was amazing. Everybody is so kind.
OTTENBERG: Well, honey, we know we better be on our best behavior and we better keep it together for New York.
OTTENBERG: Because we know what happens when you don’t roll out the red carpet for New York, but also we roll out the red carpet for New York because Tiffany Pollard is New York. I’m so psyched. We actually met once before, I have the best picture I’ve got to text you after this.
POLLARD: Oh, wow. I need to see that photo.
OTTENBERG: Hey, listen. My fever for New York goes way back. So wait, tell me—we’re going to get into the lesson—but a little bit about you first, Tiffany. How did you become New York? Where’d you grow up and when did you become the HBIC?
POLLARD: Honestly, I was born the HBIC. And what I mean by that is, I never felt like I belonged, whether that be grade school, middle school, or high school. I went to college for two days and dropped out. I was always in the middle of ridicule because I wanted to wear makeup and hair that was colored differently, and where I’m from in upstate New York, all that is a no-no.
POLLARD: You were supposed to just wear a baggy shirt, wash your face, and slick your hair back in a ponytail, but that was never me. I’ve always wanted to think outside the box. Then I met this guy who owned a clothing store. He was like, “Every time you come into my store, your hair is done in a different style. That doesn’t happen here. Who are you?” Long story short I dated him for 14 years. I traveled with him, he showed me a bigger life.
OTTENBERG: Wow. Okay, so New York—may I call you New York?
POLLARD: Yes, baby. It’s all me.
OTTENBERG: Great. So I’m the editor-in-chief of Interview, I’m the HBIC of our company. What are some tools one might need in order to become an iconic HBIC?
POLLARD: I believe in rest for your mind, body, and spirit. I don’t do anything out of feeling desperate to have something going on. It’s about being headstrong, but also being mindful of others. We don’t have to bash everybody that wants to give us advice, but I’ve never been great at taking it. I’ve always just woke up off the doctor’s table with new breasts or with my nose job, I’ve never told family members what I’m going to do. I don’t know if I have tomorrow, I’m just going to get up and do what the hell I want.
OTTENBERG: You’re a “yes” woman, you’re not scared, you go for it.
POLLARD: I go for it, but there’s also a defiant side to me. My mother always used to call me a hard-headed red bull coming up, and I’m still like that. If you say I should be doing something I want to go the opposite route.
OTTENBERG: What’s your sign?
POLLARD: I’m a Capricorn.
OTTENBERG: I was like, “Are you a Taurus?” Because I’m a Taurus. How do you choose your battles as the HBIC?
POLLARD: If it’s something that won’t affect me tomorrow and I’m just a little agitated, I might let it slide. But if it nips at me through the night and I wake up and that thing is still on my mind, I’m going to have that conversation.
OTTENBERG: Absolutely. You’re a hero, but you’re also a hero by being the villain. You were never worried about people liking you. Maybe that’s why you’re so beloved.
POLLARD: We had an exercise in our household that my aunt and uncle put me and my brother through. They used to play the bully, and we had to play the victim. They would just tease and taunt. They wouldn’t say anything derogatory to crush us, but they were preparing us for how this world can be an ugly place. We had to stand there and feel that energy, so when the time came when we would actually be in a circumstance like that, we’d have some sort of a buffer toward it, and I believe that really helped me.
OTTENBERG: I like that. So you’re engaged now. Where’d you meet this lucky person?
POLLARD: I literally met my fiancé coming off the set of Famously Single.
POLLARD: I didn’t find love in that house. So to meet him at a gathering and to have him lock on me the way he did—I locked him back, and we’ve been inseparable ever since.
OTTENBERG: Honey, get you a man who can do all that. And on that note, let’s talk about being sexy. I own it, you own it, let’s talk to the people about it; New York, we’re not afraid. We’ve got to look good, right?
POLLARD: Yeah, we do.
OTTENBERG: What are your tips for getting the look as the HBIC? Because I was watching that episode again today, when you got all those messy girls up in check, and it’s still my favorite thing ever. That’s a real shade to the world, because it’s been a long time since then, but still nothing comes close.
POLLARD: Yes, people love the “fairy princess that resides over the pits of hell” read. But the whole time I was going up and down that line, I was like, “Why are you girls not stepping back?” It wouldn’t have been me on that side, I would have said something.
OTTENBERG: They let you own the season. They were like, “Wait, what? Oh my god. Bootz is so mad.” Listen, I have nothing against anyone, but the only reason Pumpkin is iconic is just because she stepped to New York.
POLLARD: You’re right about that.
OTTENBERG: So respect to Pumpkin, wherever she is.
POLLARD: We actually located her. She does insurance now. We were supposed to do a show together a few months ago and talk out that whole spit moment but she backed out at the last minute.
OTTENBERG: Pumpkin, if you’re reading this, we really want that sit-down.
OTTENBERG: Also, there is an incredible painting out there of Pumpkin spitting on you. Have you ever seen it online? I’m sure it’s screen-grabbed 800 times on my phone, I don’t know where it is now.
POLLARD: Yeah, I’ve seen it. I think I’ve actually posted it.
OTTENBERG: Oh, it’s gorgeous. If the artist is out there, I would love to buy the original from you, because it’s great, and when I die, I’ll give it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
POLLARD: Yeah, that art captured every moment of it. You could just feel it.
OTTENBERG: They really captured the moment and the drama and the energy of the whole thing. Okay, before I ask you some shallow questions to end our incredible phone call can you tell me a little bit about your spiritual journey?
POLLARD: My spiritual journey is easy because the Lord says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, my yoke is light.” I’m free in him, I’m free to experience him, I’m free to get his love flowing through me and to give it to others, and I do believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ, the death, burial, and resurrection. He is like my calling card, my entrance into heaven. He said, “Call on me, I’m your savior”—boom, that’s it.
OTTENBERG: Thank you, Jesus. I love that for you. And on that note, I’m going to ask you some questions that we’re asking a lot of people in the issue.
OTTENBERG: Who watches you?
POLLARD: Everybody with a pulse that is relevant watches me, whether they admit it or not, honey.
OTTENBERG: How do you get attention?
POLLARD: I get attention just walking down the street being the HBIC. I don’t have to put a stitch of makeup on and men are going to turn, women are going to turn, and children are going to turn and say, “Who is that?” I don’t know why or how it happens, but they all watch me.
OTTENBERG: Tiffany, what do you do when no one’s watching?
POLLARD: I can’t answer that! You really want to know?
POLLARD: Well, when nobody’s watching, I’m touching myself, I’m not even going to lie.
OTTENBERG: Yes! Hey, Tiffany. You’ve got to let it out.
POLLARD: That’s the truth.
OTTENBERG: One of the rules of being the HBIC is that you’ve got to be honest, and honey, here we are. What do you hate-watch?
POLLARD: Oh, that’s easy. Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. They polished him up, but when that show first came out, that man would eat all kinds of gooey things out of the earth. I couldn’t stop watching him.
OTTENBERG: What’s your favorite channel?
POLLARD: Lifetime Movie Network. It’s on right now, it plays continuously in the background no matter what I’m doing.
OTTENBERG: Do you ever feel like you’re under surveillance?
POLLARD: All of the time, yes. I could be doing something on my phone and the next minute, I see that thing come on the television. But you know what I say? “Fuck it. If they’re watching, let them watch.”
OTTENBERG: And on that note, have you ever made a sex tape?
POLLARD: I don’t think I ever took it there. What I do have is self-porn in my phone where I watch myself perform.
OTTENBERG: Oh, girl. I like it. What’s the last thing you got in trouble for?
POLLARD: Well, I did get a ticket for urinating in public. But we might not want to use that.
OTTENBERG: Can I just die now? I just want to die now. I know you don’t want me to use it, but just the fact that you said that is just so perfect to me. Okay, you don’t have to answer this if you don’t want to. What kind of porn do you watch and where do you watch it?
POLLARD: [Laughs] I’m not going to lie, I like girl-on-girl porn.
POLLARD: I watch it while I’m alone, I just kind of creep up on my phone and type in either Lobster Tube or Pornhub. But now that I’ve got my fix of that I am a little bit curious about gay porn.
OTTENBERG: Tiffany Pollard, I love it. I’m so glad I wasn’t too shy to ask you that question. You’re so inspiring. This has been a dream come true. My friends are not going to believe that I interviewed the HBIC, Tiffany motherfucking Pollard on, what? March 11, 2022? And from 3:02 to 3:46 p.m., let it be known. Thank you for talking to us. You know what I’m going to do?
OTTENBERG: I’m going to keep the “urinating in public” line, but I’m going to bleep it all out, so no one will ever know it was there.
POLLARD: You can do whatever you want with that, honey, because the cop did write the ticket. I begged him not to. I didn’t pay it. But hey, it’s still probably out there. Who knows, if I’m pulled over, they might arrest me.
OTTENBERG: Then I will use it. Let it be known, because that’s important. And you know what? Fuck that cop.
POLLARD: Thank you. Exactly, fuck that cop.
OTTENBERG: And fuck you for being so major, New York. Fuck you for being such an inspiring HBIC to the world. We love you, we fucking love you.
Hair: Latisha Chong and Lamesha Mosley using Bumble and Bumble
Makeup: Raisa Flowers using Mac Cosmetics
Set Design: Abby Walton
Production: Born Artists
Manicure: Aja Walton
Photography Assistant: Chris Lloyd
Fashion Assistant: Ava Van Osdol
Hair Assistant: Kadija Camara
Makeup Assistant: Eunice Kristen
Production Assistant: Toogii Khumast
Location: St. Regis Hotel