With tonight’s season finale of Fantasia for Real, many questions remain unanswered. At the top of my list is, “What the hell happened with Teeny? Did he move out of Fantasia’s house or what?” And so, since I can, I got Teeny on the phone to solve that mystery, as well as a few more, like why would anyone of sound mind take advantage of his generous sister? According to Teeny, though, he wasn’t taking advantage of anyone, he’s not a freeloader and the image of him that you saw on the show differs greatly from his actual persona. He makes his case below…
What do you think about Fantasia for Real?
I love the show. At some points, I feel like I should’ve had more glory with it but with the negativity came glory. I am not really tripping on it; I still built my name up where I need to go now so I am in the direction to move.
When you talk about negativity, I assume you mean your portrayal.
I had a real negative portrayal. My character is nothing like that. Me being portrayed as somebody that uses somebody and freeloads and things of that nature — I don’t do that. I caught a lot of flack from that with people being like, “You ain’t nothing but a freeloader and you use your sister, that’s the lowest thing you can do.” Other than that, I’ve just learned to ignore whatever and keep on moving, keep on pushing.
Well, at one point, you did own up to that. You apologized to Fantasia for taking advantage of the situation…
No, not really. I never consider myself taking advantage of Tasia because of the simple fact that I’ve always been the type of to be on the streets and going out to get mine for myself. When I moved to Charlotte it was because she asked me to come so I could focus on something else in life other than…there wasn’t really a lot going that way. I already had me a house. It ain’t the best of living, but it was a place to live. When it came to the things that I needed to get done, I handled all that. As far as my kids, I don’t really ask her for nothing. Tasia will tell you that. I don’t consider myself as apologizing for overdoing something. If it was time for me to [leave the house] because she felt like it was time for me to go, then that’s what it is.
But it’s fair to say that you’ve enjoyed the benefits of your sister’s success, right?
Not really. What I enjoyed about my sister’s success is seeing her grow. When it came to me, I was an outcast. People didn’t know who I was. Joe Barrino who? They didn’t know Fantasia had another brother because my sister was always on TV and it was always Ricco because Ricco was always in the background, and Ricco was always on the road with her, and Ricco this, Ricco that. Nobody knew she had another brother. When I moved to Charlotte, I had to state my name all over again, letting people know who this who I am, this is what I do. I do the same thing that they do. I know you didn’t know this because they try to keep me a secret. Now the secret’s out the bag. Joey B is here now. Now they got to stop me.
We saw you billed with “Fantasia’s Brother” over your name before one of your performances on the show. Do you feel like you’re living in her shadow?
It don’t bother me that much, but when they do things like that I shut them down and let them know, I am not riding off of Fantasia’s name, I am building a name for myself.
We also saw Fantasia save a performance of yours…
It wasn’t even about saving my performance. I wasn’t drunk, either. I don’t why they kept saying that. The fact was that my band messed up my DAT track — the DAT track was starting half way into the track and the band was starting at the beginning, at the top. Tasia is the way she’s always been: she always likes to get on stage, like we all like to get on stage. So that night she decided to get on stage. It was nothing about saving me or any of that kind of stuff. I’m not the one to be saved; everybody else needs to be saved. I am the one that run things, I am the boss.
It wasn’t just editing that led the audience to believe that you were freeloading. We heard from your mom, your aunt, your brother and Fantasia. If you weren’t lazy and inactive like they said you were, did it make you mad to hear that?
Yeah, of course, who wouldn’t? They know it’s a lie and I know it’s a lie, too. They felt like they would make great TV, it is what it is, I am down for the whole movement but at the same time they know that that’s not really what it is. For me, to be laying under your roof is one thing, but to be asking you for money to take care of my situations and my life, that don’t make sense. To the average brain, they are saying, “This man has three kids, there’s no way he’s taking care of him and all his kids.” In order to take care of me you have to take care of the family that I created. Of course those types of things piss me off and I address them. But there’s nothing that I can do after addressing them, it is what it is.
I’ve always been a grinder. Tasia, Ricco and everybody else lives in kinda their own world, so of course they aren’t worrying about my world. I am grinding hard, I am staying up late nights, getting it in like I should get it in, but if they can’t see it, then they just can’t see it. It’s just because they aren’t around. They had every right to voice their opinion on the situation, but it was false.
Would you say that Fantasia is generous?
Oh yeah, Fantasia is very generous. She lends a hand to a lot of her friends, like putting them in homes and things of that nature. But I’ve always been the type of person that’s like, “I don’t want to be like them.” When she invited me to her home to direct my life in a different path, I took advantage of that. When it comes to being generous, that’s the definition of Tasia.
What’s your take on the way the situation in which you spent $40,000 to build a studio was handled by the show? Was that misrepresented?
Oh yes, that was definitely misrepresented because for one we didn’t spend 40 grand. We were looking at 25 to 30 grand, somewhere around there, but never 40. Even to this day it’s not even 40.
But this was all Fantasia’s money that you were spending?
Yeah, it was definitely all her money that she was spending or that I was spending, so called. But it wasn’t I who was spending all her money. She told me to do so. When I called her that day, she asked me why I haven’t started on the studio. As soon as I started tearing it down there was a lot of people getting in between. She had a lot of stress built up. It was a lot of factors that played in that situation.
Something that we never saw resolved was whether you were able to move out by the New Year, as Fantasia requested. Did you?
Yeah. I’ve been at my house for two to two and a half months. My thing about it is you can’t see the movement unless you see the movement. If I am at your house of course when you come home and I am there, you don’t think I did nothing. So in order to satisfy yourself with your craving or your fixation with the situation, I’m going to do exactly what I said I was going to do. I am going to move right on out.
What are you doing for money?
I’ve been a musical engineer for nine years so I make anywhere from $65 to $80 dollars an hour. I’m a well-thought out person when it comes to my business moves and the way I do things. I can handle at least a $1,000 a month mortgage. That’s on top of me doing my shows and still displaying my music, because I can’t stop doing that. I’ve always been doing that. A lot of people don’t shed light on that situation but I’ve been overseas with K-Ci & JoJo, my first cousins. I’ve been doing that for seven or eight years. Now that I’ve got all my little court cases and child support squared away, I can focus on being more prosperous and growing in life. They couldn’t see my growth because I was really paying money to get out of situations that I had built for myself in past 5 years.
Are you still with Santezja?
No, we are friends right now. Who knows what is going to come from the situation, but for right now we are just friends. A relationship is all about learning one another, she’s always had a deep infatuation for me and we just jumped right into the situation instead of thinking it out and learning about one another.
So if your portrayal on the show was inaccurate, it must have been quite a surprise to watch it.
I was very surprised because I’d never thought somebody would portray me like that because everyone knows me and knows me well knows that I will go through hell and high water to make sure my situations is done. And when I say it’s done, I mean that by saying my child support, anything in life that I have to pay for: my cars, anything that I need to do to make sure my situation is tight.
And when Bunny and your mom and Fantasia are saying to your face, “Teeny, get a job,” you’re thinking…?
…What are they talking about, because I have a job. Because I don’t physically punch a clock and they see me go to work at 8 in the morning and pull an 8 hour shift doesn’t mean I don’t have a job. I have a job. As long as in my mind and in my heart, I know what I do and how I do it, I don’t really pay no one else no attention because I am in my own world.
One scene suggested that your own world is infested with cockroaches.
My little spot, I can’t say it was the best living environment. I didn’t have a whole bunch of roaches, but every now and then you’d see a critter crawl through. You just have to exterminate that thing and keep rolling, that’s all.
After all of this, are you still close with your family?
Yes. I feel even closer with my family. Even going through the whole Idol stuff, when I speak the level of being an outcast or a renegade, I don’t say it just to say it — I mean it. There was a lot of times I was upset because Fantasia wouldn’t mention me. She would always promise to take me on the road and that never happened. It was a bunch of promises that were always broken. I still feel like my portrayal should have been better but at the end of the day, I didn’t look like somebody that was still out trying to get his sister and trying to this and trying to do that. It really showed me moving like I really do on an ordinary basis.
Do you feel more or less understood at this point than you were before the show aired?
I am definitely more understood now. Before people couldn’t understand my flow and how I did it and why I did it. But now when they see the pure genius of how I do it and the way I strategize to put it together they say, “Oh, OK we see what you’re talking about now.” Before they were telling me things like, “Teeny you over-dreamed. You dreamed too big. You think too big.” I don’t feel like no dream is too big for me to conquer. All it takes is the drive and the know-how of putting it together and make it flow.
When’s the last time you talked to Fantasia?
Yesterday. She left for New York this morning. I actually went over to her place. I’ve been cooking her diet. She’s back on her diet trying to get ready for her videos and things of that nature. I’ve been cooking her diet and make sure she’s well taken care of. We did a family cookout on Sunday. We had a good time, we all went out and bowled. We are definitely closer now because everyone understand one other a little better.
So, then there’s perspective to be found even in something you might label a distortion?
The show gave me a perspective, but I don’t think it’s the type of perspective it gave to the people watching. The big point at the end is that regardless of what is going on or how it’s going on, at the end of the day family has to stay family. They got to stay close. People go through things and they overcome and they come out. And if you don’t know that and you don’t have that drive for your family, more than likely your family will always be distant and everybody will be in their own world and just a mess. Things now are the way that I feel they’re supposed to be. I just wish this started five or six years earlier.