Von Decarlo is a guy’s girl-- sports fanatic, believes in traditional gender roles and wants a man’s man.
On the dating series “According To Him & Her,” the self-proclaimed funny lady weighs in on relationship topics with all truth, no sugarcoating. But before moving to New York City, she was still wet behind the ears as a young woman navigating the dating scene. Meeting her fiancé, the late comedian Patrice O’Neal, changed everything.
The Pittsburgh-raised beauty learned being pretty wasn’t enough. So she dedicated herself to having something less vain to offer. As a mother, singer, actress and TV personality, Decarlo will soon add 'author' to her résumé with her upcoming book “Speak Fluent Man: The Top Things Women Should Consider Before Blaming the Man.” A documentary on her late fiancé is also in the works.
Decarlo spent ten years as O’Neal’s woman, but never made it down the aisle. It’s a passionate topic she warns men and women about. “If you truly love this woman and you got her doing all these things, you make sure you upgrade her to the highest level, and that’s wife.” Having learned the hard way through an unfortunate tragedy, she’s not even here to do a man’s laundry without the marriage certificate.
So what makes her qualified to dole out relationship advice? Let Decarlo tell you for herself.
CENTRIC: Before we get into your role on “According To Him & Her,” let’s talk about the book you’re writing titled “Speak Fluent Man, The Top Things Women Should Consider Before Blaming The Man.” A lot of relationship books are geared toward women, and in my opinion are sexist, telling women to jump through hoops to find and keep a man. Shouldn’t someone be talking to the men too? How is your book different?
VON DECARLO: That’s a great question. I am on the woman’s side because I am a woman. I think that a lot of the focus is on us, because honestly, it’s us. A lot of times in the relationships it is us because we won’t take responsibility for our part and we are emotional beings. I am sharing what happened to me. The whole book is set up to share Patrice’s philosophy, what he meant by it, a personal story in our relationship, why it worked for us and then my female perspective on why I think I should carry that through life in the next relationship or why it will work in general. It’s really a personal book. I’m not saying that everything works for everybody and this is the rule book for women. But, I 100 percent agree with you because there is a responsibility for the men, [which is why] my last chapter is literally titled "For Men’s Eyes Only."
CENTRIC: You have a role on “According To Him + Her” as one of the relationship experts. Can you tell me more about that role? What do you love about it and how did it all come about?
VD: Well, I must say that I am extremely happy and grateful to be a Centric woman. Being on “According To Him + Her” has been the biggest blessing. This experience is so good because I’ve never been hired to just 100 percent be myself on TV. I give my real perspective on relationships and of course we’re being funny. There’s always a funny delivery and sometimes the truth just makes people so uncomfortable that it's funny within itself.
CENTRIC: What life experiences make you someone that has good insight on relationships? Why the relationship advice role?
VD: Let me just say, first and foremost, I’m a mother. That lends yourself a little bit of experience because you see the world differently once you become a parent, and other than that I’m a grown woman. I’ve lived life and I was in a relationship for ten years with a man that was pretty popular and known for his take on relationships. Our relationship worked because of the training that I got from him. He spoke a lot about relationships and he had very specific philosophy on how relationships would work and the bottom line to a successful relationship is truth. Not tiptoeing around the truth, but the real hardcore truth. He would say, ‘You take Nyquil if you’re sick and it’ll taste disgusting, you take your medicine, but when you wake up in the morning you will feel a little better.’ You will feel better if you take your medicine and that’s how he would describe the truth.
CENTRIC: I see. Your relationship with him is your basis.
VD: I went through ten years of a relationship with a man who is not a man to just get. It wasn’t easy to be in a relationship with him. He had a lot of women. He didn’t necessary just have to be with me and that’s the type of man I like. I like a manly man. As I grew in my relationship with him, I started to understand the difference between liking a bad guy and liking a good guy that has bad guy tendencies but treats you well. With Patrice, I learned what real love was and he kept his swag. You can’t lose your man swag with me, I will test you. But that the nature of what we are as women.
If I could punk you, then how you gon’ protect me? It’s all about the natural order of things. I’m a traditional woman in the greater sense of things. I don’t prescribe to women who try to knock their man down like I’m your equal, yeah we can play the equal game, but that’s double standards when you want him to do man stuff. You want him to open the door for you, you want him to do all these traditional stuff but when it comes down to what you need to do as a woman, [you're] all of a sudden insulted that he expects you to cook. Pick a side. In my relationship with Patrice, I learned what balance is, I learned what honesty is, I learned myself and why I like that kind of man and how to be treated well by that type of man and what real love is.
CENTRIC: You credit him for making you a better woman.
VD: What I mean by that is when we first met, I was a pretty girl walking around with my pretty girl thing and I didn’t have any logic in my bones at all. I was just an emotional being. The only credit that I’d give myself is when I told him to tell me the truth and help me through it. I listened and I tried my best to apply these things. A lot of times as women we say, ‘Tell the truth,’ and as soon as a man tells us the truth, it hurts. We scream, bug out and all we really did was assured that they’ll never tell us the truth again and they’ll just continue to spin us around in a circles of lies. What I figured out with him is how to compromise, how to respect each other, how to love. [...] It was hard, but it made me stronger and that is why I say I’m a better woman, better mother and a better performer. He taught how to deliver myself as an artist and be funny, he taught me so much.
CENTRIC: Tell me more about the #CoachVon Playbook Instagram series-- it will be relationship tips in the form of sports plays?
VD: In the very first clip I think the question was: is it ok to take a break? I think my answer was something like, ‘you can’t call a timeout and switch jerseys in the middle of the game because we’re losing.’ The very first thing out of my mouth was a relationship sports analogy and when I first saw that I was like 'OMG they totally get me.' Now having the opportunity to do the #CoachVon Playbook, this is so up my alley. I treat my sports like I treat my relationships. How you treat your sports team says a lot on how you treat your relationships, because if you dip out on your sports team, your so-called favorite team, I’m not going to believe you’ll be loyal to me. You’re just a disloyal ass person. That’s how I think.
CENTRIC: You’re working on a one woman stage play titled “Lasagna.” That’s an interesting title. Do tell.
VD: Lasagna is an inspirational one-woman stage play about love, loss and hope. I didn’t name it, Patrice named it. Originally the play was written about postpartum depression and all the things that you go through after having a baby. Lasagna is a loose skin and stretch marks that some women get on your stomach. I got it really bad. When [Patrice] first read the very first line of my play, he was like you should name it Lasagna. It has layers like the play has layers, like life has layers. Our beauty as women has layers and sometimes we don’t know that, especially as a young girl. You just think pretty is all you have and when its taken away, what do you do? I got a tummy tuck and once the lasagna was gone I have a scar. I was like I need to get a tattoo to cover the scar now and he said to me, 'when are you going to stop? You keep covering one scar with another scar and another scar when are you going to stop?' That’s when a lightbulb went off in my head. I keep trying to hide things that’s there and I keep creating a new problem to hide and that’s what Lasagna is.
CENTRIC: Top three dating and relationship tips for women and men.
VD: The first one is honesty. Don’t front. Number two is stay consistent, don’t switch up. Be consistent ‘cause otherwise you were lying in the first place and you didn’t get number one right. Number three is respect. You can’t convince me that you love me if you don’t respect me. Those two things go together. From the door, we have to have a certain amount of respect for each other’s time, space, family and work. We’re grown. We don’t need to be explaining a whole bunch of stuff to each other.
CENTRIC: The last chapter of your forthcoming book is titled “For Men’s Eyes Only.” It’s a very clear message to men about marriage that you learned from being with Patrice for ten years without marrying. What’s your message?
VD: For the “For Men Eyes Only” chapter, I’m saying okay guys, your woman read this book. She understands, she’s going to step back and be more logical. Now what are you going to do? I was in a ten-year relationship. We were going to get married in December and he died November. Technically our lifestyle suggested that we were married five years in. We just didn’t go ahead and get married. I suffered and he suffered way more than we should have if we had that piece of paper.
I feel like I should be a special advocate for every woman that’s in a relationship that isn’t married. At this point in my life, if you ask me to do your laundry, it better be a ring in the basket because I’m not playing those games again. My message is to men because its always the man. It’s your responsibility as the man to completely upgrade her to where the position is that you have her playing. Don’t call her LeBron unless you’re giving her the LeBron status.
When Patrice was in the hospital dying, there were certain decisions and certain papers that I couldn’t sign. I knew everything that he wanted me to do and needed to do if something was to happen. He used to always say death is hard on the living, damn sure is, and things were even harder than it needed to be because we weren’t married. I lost everything. We need to stop subscribing to the idea that the government has nothing to do with our love or its just a piece of paper. Let me tell you what -- that is a lie and the people in our culture need to stop telling that to us and to everybody else.
(Photo: Courtesy Vondecarlo)