It was 2013, and Tessie Patrick had been hired to write the biography of a woman named Kat Stacks. When the author first Googled the name, she was appalled.
Stacks, better-known as Andrea Herrera, was a foul-mouthed 24-year-old, internet-famous for talking smack about rappers. On WorldStarHipHop.com, a viral-video and taste-making website, she confessed her sexual exploits with musicians. Because of Herrera's online popularity, WorldStarHipHop wanted to tell Stacks' story in a book.
Patrick, a mild-mannered woman who practices holistic healing, picked up the phone to get to know her subject. Herrera, she learned, had another, sympathetic narrative that added depth to her vapid, fame-seeking character.
Herrera had been locked up on gun charges when she was 19 and pregnant. Let out on house arrest to give birth, she had begun video-blogging. In November of 2010, she was arrested again, this time on immigration charges. A judge, having seen her videos, called her a "detriment to society" and ordered her deported to Venezuela. But Stacks and her mom, Johnyelsi Cardenas, went to the media to fire back. On Univision, Cardenas claimed her daughter had been kidnapped by a boyfriend at 14 and forced into prostitution. Herrera sat in immigration jail for two years but, with the help of activists who took up her cause, was released and given a special visa for being a victim of sex trafficking. She became an unlikely poster child for the DREAM Act.
The book, Admire Andrea: Surviving Savagery to Saving Lives, was to be constructed out of Herrera's writings in jail and was to serve as a guide for young girls. As it was conceived, it would turn the groupie into a role model.
But during the writing process, Herrera was a combative collaborator, Patrick says. The internet star forced the author to excise an entire chapter that would instruct victims of sex trafficking on how to seek help. As Patrick puts it: "She got mad when it wasn't only about her."
Ultimately, WorldStarHipHop paid Patrick for her work but stopped short of publishing the book. But Patrick claims Herrera has released a bootlegged copy of the work and retitled it Becoming Kat Stacks. It's available for $33 on her website.
Patrick is incensed Stacks is claiming authorship over the work but says it wouldn't be worth the legal cost to sue because the book appears to be a poor seller. "I just want to stop her from gaining notoriety, sympathy, and shine from a stolen manuscript and a fake story of forced underage sex trafficking — a very serious issue," she says.
"I thought I was doing something important for troubled youth and got pimped by Kat in the process, as did the USA."