When Becky Buckwild tweeted last week that her fellow Flavor of Love 2/Charm School/I Love Money 2 star Saaphyri Windsor was set to be released from prison after spending 22 months in the California Institution for Women, we knew we had to talk to her about her time in the clink. Saaphyri graciously granted our request, and below is the first of two parts of our chat with Saaphyri about her arrest and time in jail. With the only thorough report on her arrest coming from Media Takeout, there’s been considerable confusion surrounding her case. Below, Saaphyri clarifies about her actual arrest (she was picked up while trying to reenter the country after filming I Love Money 2) and the reason for it (she denies the reported accusation of identity theft). She also talks about the elevated status that reality fame buys you in prison…
Welcome back to society.
I know. [Laughs] I know. I’m happy to back.
How has your past year been?
Oh my god. It was crazy. Being in there makes you mad.
Mad? Like, crazy or angry?
Angry, it makes you angry. Some of the C.O.s — correctional officers — they’re haters. So they do things to piss you off. Not the majority but just some.
Did everybody know who you were?
Oh my god yeah! Yeah! [Laughter]
I Love Money was airing when you went in, right?
It started airing after I was already in.
Did you watch it? Did people watch it with you?
We didn’t have cable, Rich! We didn’t have cable or computers so we didn’t get to watch it. I never did see I Love Money. I still haven’t seen it. There was one lady who would come in and tell me like everything that was going on. She was one of the educational instructors.
Did your notoriety via reality TV give you elevated status in jail? Were you respected?
Yeah, it gave me like elevation but then at the same time, it became controversy too because some people become jealous, you know? It was good and it was bad. I mean, I didn’t have too many problems from that fact alone. The inmates were cool but some of the female C.O.s would get jealous. They were haters.
Going back to the beginning, this Media Takeout story ran and that was the main source of information on your arrest. Did you ever read that story?
No, I haven’t.
I want to go over a few points to see what’s true and what wasn’t. It alleged that you were arrested because of identity theft. The story said you had stolen your uncle’s money to pay for breast implants. Is that true?
No, that’s not true. Me and this family member, we have been fighting for a long time. The story basically started from the time when my father died. When my father died there were several million dollars that I was supposed to inherit. My uncle didn’t want me to have the money, so he did everything in his power to take the residential properties, the commercial properties, the bank accounts, everything, so that I wouldn’t have anything. Basically, I battled with a pedophile and lost. This guy, he’s not a good person—I’ll put it like that. He did some things to myself, to my brothers, to other family members, that has been like…I don’t even know how to explain it to you, Rich. It was like he wanted me to be like a pauper. Me and him went back and forth to court for like eight years, from the time my father died in 1998. So when the situation happened that ended putting me in jail, it was because he lied on me and said some things that weren’t true. Greed and money is the thing, the root to all evil. And it definitely was the root to all evil with him. Because this man, he was a pedophile. I don’t want to go into details, sweetie. But I’m the person who always spoke up and told everything. And because of that, he hated me. And because my dad didn’t have a will, it became probate. My word to everybody is if you don’t want your kids and your family to go through those type of things, make sure you have a will.
How was it that your dad was a multimillionaire?
That’s crazy. It was like, my dad he had several businesses. He had a back pipe a long time ago he started an auto body shop. He had several of them. And that’s how he made his money. It was real lucrative because I remember sometimes, my mom would be like, they would make $60,000 a week and that was like, back in the ‘70s.
So did you grow up in affluence?
If it wasn’t identity theft, then, what charge led to your jail time?
The charges they gave me were forgery — unauthorized use of another’s ID is what they said. Not identity theft, but unauthorized use is what they said. The situation that actually happened is that he allowed me to use his ID. I didn’t get any breast implants. That was some extra stuff that somebody put in. But I had scar on my lip. I had a scar that they were trying to remove. I have a condition – BDD – and with scars and things that I happen to not like, it just really bothers me. It’s body dysmorphic disorder. If I see something I don’t like, like if I get a pimple I will run out and buy acne cream the same day. It’s gotten better, but my uncle knew this. So he allowed me to do it. But there was a mix-up at the doctor’s: the doctor never asked him to come in and my uncle decided to say that he didn’t authorize it. So that way, he wouldn’t pay it, even though he never was really paying it, you understand? It was money that was supposed to come back the following month from probate court. He ended up in probate court because he took 3 or $4,000 that he was supposed to be putting back into the probate.
Why did you have to use his ID in the first place?
It wasn’t an actual ID. He was financing it. I didn’t have the money at the time because I was waiting to get the money back from the probate.
The Media Takeout story says you were pulled over while driving with an invalid license and that’s what led to your arrest. But I heard a conflicting story that you got nabbed coming back from Mexico after I Love Money.
That’s the truth. I wasn’t driving. I had just wrapped I Love Money, and came back to the United States. And when they ran my passport, they saw this thing was still there. Because I was actually convicted back in 2005 but I didn’t turn myself in.
You didn’t go to the sentencing, right?
I went to the sentencing, but they gave me time to get my things in order and then I didn’t turn myself in.
You left the country though. Did you have any idea that when you came back they were going to catch you? That there was a chance this was going to happen?
I did think that it might happen but I was being optimistic that it wouldn’t. I was like, “I’m gonna pray and hopefully that won’t be the case.” But because of all the terrorist things that go on now, they run everybody’s passport when you come back to the country.
So you were optimistic, but were you surprised?
I was more than surprised, Rich. [Laughter] I still had sand in my hair from the sunny beaches of Mexico. I stepped off the plane and they were like, “Wait right here, wait a second.” When they said that, I was like, “Oh no! There’s a problem.” I was like, “Scotty, there is a problem.” They let me out of the country, so if ever I was really trying to leave the country, I could leave and never have to worry about it. But if I want to come back, then it’s a problem.
Did you regret doing I Love Money at that point, once they caught you?
At that point, yeah. But at the end of the day, I am still happy I did I Love Money 2. I wish I could have flew on a private jet home. [Laughs] I wish I would have came in on the executive producer’s jet and then there wouldn’t have been a problem. I would have been able to come back scot-free. I really don’t regret doing I Love Money 2. I regret getting caught, like anybody would. But at the end of the day I feel like a million, billion lb. ton has been lifted off my back because, there was so much I wanted to say, on other shows, that I couldn’t because for fear of reprisals, like somebody was going to come and get me. You know, even on Flavor of Love 2, when I had that altercation with that girl, I was so scared. That’s why I barely hit her. I barely hit her because I was like, “Oh no. The police will come and you will leave.” I’m still happy that I did I Love Money 2, but I wish I would have been able to come through in an Invisible Woman Costume or something.
You were sentenced for three years but only served about one.
I served 22 months.
Twenty-two months? But that’s still not three years. Were you sentenced to three years?
Well in the state of California, basically when they sentence you three years they’ll give you 50 percent of that. You’re supposed to do 50 percent. That would be like 18 months. I served 22 months.
Give me a sentence or a word that sums up the prison experience.
Boring. Boring. Boring. And turnt up. I think I’ll had to be a little bit more turnt up than normal. Or turnt down.
What does that mean?
Just a little but more on P’s and Q’s. Watching yourself a lot. I mean, I didn’t really have any problems with inmates. It was boring. I felt like my whole life was on pause. So when Buckwild and my other friend Shay came and picked me up from prison, I ran my mouth like the whole time. Five or six hours straight because it seemed like I had all these words to let out that I hadn’t let out.
How were you feeling when you left?
I would say it was euphoric and it was almost like as soon as you leave it becomes a dream, like Biggie, “It was all a dream.” It was all a dream!
Are you resentful that you lost those 22 months?
At first I was. I first I was really pissed. I was mad. But the more that I prayed on it, the more that God told me it was like something that had to happen, and now just go forward. Don’t hold grudges. Don’t be resentful. Forgive all that. If you keep all that stuff locked up in you, it blocks you from everything else. It blocks you from doing all the other things that you need to do. I was resentful but I’m not anymore.
Click here for Part 2 of our post-jail interview with Saaphyri, in which Saaphyri talks about prison lesbianism, the food trade, bathroom woes and hanging out with murderers (including a Manson girl).