Charmaine Bey is living her best life in Los Angeles, and we welcome her with open arms!

You may recognize the name from her time on reality television, most known for her role on VH1’s Black Ink Crew: Chicago. The entrepreneur and media personality not only owned a tattoo shop on the show, but was able to showcase her fun, bubbly, down-to-earth personality to audiences all around the world tuning in. However after seven successful seasons, Charmaine decided it wasn’t for her anymore.

Charmaine recently made the bold move to relocate to the West Coast, bringing her husband Neek Bey and their two children: Nola and Charli. Charmaine was also previously on air at the WGCI radio station in Chicago, but now she steps into the podcast world with her hubby. Their relationship podcast is called Marriage Or Mirage, touching on the highs and lows of marriage.

On the 51st episode of Shirley’s Temple, I sat with Charmaine Bey to discuss how she met her husband Neek Bey, being Lil Boosie’s #1 fan, resigning from reality TV after 7 years, seeing her mom in a casket before she passed, losing both parents while pregnant on Black Ink Crew: Chicago, why she started her children’s book & more!

Talk about your podcast, Marriage Or Mirage, with your husband. 

Check us out, it’s on YouTube. All platforms. It’s interesting. I didn’t even realize how interesting it was till we started talking about other people’s relationships. I realized the shit that other people be going through, damn! Because this hasn’t happened in my life. I’m not thinking that so many people have these common toxic situations in their relationships. 

We try not to only focus on the toxic, we do have good marriages too. With the good marriages, I hope to show people what they deserve in life. Sometimes you need to see other people’s shit to be like, I deserve more. With the toxic shit, they know they toxic. They know the shit’s bad, and they’re putting their relationship stuff out there in order to help other people also see the signs. So it’s cool, Marriage Or Mirage. Tune in. 

How long have y’all been married?

Neek and I have been married for four years, but we’ve been dating for seven. Together for seven. We also went to college together, so I’ve known of him for so long. He was always handsome. [laughs]

Did it start out as friends?

No, he slid in my DMs. He was in Africa, completing a water system for plant irrigation. He DM’ed me while he was out there and said “when I come to the States, I want to take you on a date.” I’m like, what? Alright. He went to school with me, but I didn’t think he was serious. Then he hit me up like, “I’m in Chicago, let me take you out.”

I hit up our mutual friend, because we all went to the same school. I said “girl, Neek DMed me. Should I go out to eat with him?” She’s like “yeah, he cool. “ We went out, we had a really good time, and I went back to his hotel room. [laughs]

Talk about your love for Lil Boosie.

Growing up, anybody could tell you I was his #1 fan. When he got out of jail, I never thought Boosie was ever gon’ get out! When he got out of jail, I was working at Groupon at the time. I was watching his livestream of him out of jail. I’ll never forget, I was at work watching that shit in the office. Just couldn’t believe Boosie out! I remember his daughter: “I told y’all n*ggas! He coming home today.”

His other daughter who’s blowing up right now in the rap game, Iviona’s her name. She just went viral. She a little ass girl, me and my friends in college are high as fuck. Late, 3am, watching Iviona’s song on YouTube. Boosie was in jail and Iviona was rapping. She’s like, “I’m a daughter of a king and a queen. So cute, so mean. High self-esteem.” It was lit. I love Boosie.

Favorite Boosie song?

I got too many, but “Set it Off” fasho. That’s classic. There’s another one that I can’t remember the name of right now, but it’s a slow song. Boosie’s sex song. When you listen to it, it’s so funny and it’s so Boosie.

How long were you on reality television? 7 years? 

Yeah, I recently walked away. Resigned, sounds cuter. It was a good time. I wish I didn’t have to leave, but as a growing woman, mother, wife, and brand, sometimes you can’t be with everything that they do. I really hate when I see a lot of these girls or people play victim, be like “Oh my god, they did this and I didn’t know.” Everybody has their own right to not like it, but let’s not act like you didn’t know what the fuck this was.

Shirley’s Temple has a focus on mental health. That episode with Phor really triggered me because I know what that’s like. 

It was really hard to see him going through what he was going through. We’re obviously his friends and we were dealing with a lot altogether, just with life and being on TV. When you have all these other people around you and you’re already not feeling the best, it really fucks with you in a bad way. It was tough for us to see him going through what he was going through, but even more, obviously the producers and everybody wanted to use it for storyline. If he’s going through this, give him time to go through it without the cameras right being around. 

That wasn’t planned at all?

No, definitely wasn’t planned. He was going through some shit.

How did he feel when the producers wanted to air it? Was that an issue at all?

I think that he had to relive it. It’s always tough: when stuff plays on TV, you have to relive it again. I already went through this, it was a tough time, and now I have to relive it. Now, people have to talk about it. For your mental health, that probably hits you even harder than what you were already going through. But once you’re able to resurrect yourself at some point — on TV, because it’s always conflict and resolution. Always.

If you look some way in a moment, they’ll try to build you up later to really bring out the best. They definitely tried to do that with showcasing more positive things about his rap career later, as an artist. Things like that, but it’s always tough. 

It was definitely really tough because I didn’t want him to ever think that taking his life was the answer. It was really scary. It was almost somebody else was in the room that you didn’t see, and the guys would talk about demons a lot. They would bring it up sometimes. They say if you believe in God, you gotta believe in evil too. If you believe in good, you gotta believe in bad. 

I know before my mom died, they say that death comes and visits you. Have y’all heard of that? That’s for real. I seen this death figure in the corner of my bedroom. I woke up in the middle of the night, I was pregnant. It was this death figure, then my mom died. The craziest shit used to happen for me. 

I used to get these flashes of my mom in a casket, a couple of weeks before her death. I’d think that was crazy though, because my mom lost four of her sisters all before they were 50. It was a back to back thing, so I always had this scary thing about my mom dying. I used to cry for no reason in the middle of the night, thinking about my mom dying and she’s alive. I really hate that I spent so much time of my life worrying about her dying when she was alive. 

All my friends know about it. Kat was like “you used to talk about it all the time, it’s like your mom was preparing you.” And that’s my friend telling me I used to talk about my mom dying all the time, before she even died. It was something that horrified me. It was not what I wanted. I used to get these flashes of her in a casket. 

The night before she died, I was filming a scene, leaving my shop. I opened my shop door and I walk into this scene of my mom in a casket. It was very quick, it took over though and I had to shake out of it. I was outside of our world, like I stepped into a portal. I’m immediately thinking like, something’s fucking wrong with me. Stop.

Studies show that losing a parent can lead to increased risk for long-term emotional and mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety and substance abuse. First of all, losing your parents, but then having that on camera too?!

Definitely what I was going through was extremely traumatic. On the other hand, when it comes to Black Ink, I also took my job on reality TV very serious. At some point. [laughs] I always took this aspect of it serious: providing not good shit, but shit that people can relate to. It’s not about it being good, it ends up being good because it’s relatable. 

I’m not trying to put my parents dying on TV for some clout shit, but this was a part of my story of what I was going through in real life. If you’re somebody that watched Black Ink from day one, which was a lot of our watchers, they sees me go through it all. They seen me have to get my car repossessed. They seen me in my situation with Don. They seen me get a new man, then we get married and get pregnant. They followed me through everything. 

When my mom died, it was so crazy how it happened. I was supposed to film and I told the producers I wasn’t gonna be able to make it, because my mom might have had a heart attack. Still trying to figure out what’s going on, because my dad’s not really telling me much. But I won’t be able to film with y’all, because I’m trying to catch a flight home.

They’re like “well, can we send someone over there?” I’m like, no, it’s not that serious. One of the producers ended up coming to my house as I’m trying to pack, and I couldn’t find my debit card. I’m pregnant, fuck! He comes to my house, he’s like “I’m gonna come over just to make sure everything’s okay.” Okay, l didn’t think anything of it. He was trying to do his job.

Next thing I know, my mom died. I find out, and he had already had his phone out. The guys started calling my dad a little bit more, checking up. He pulled his phone now to make sure he could catch something if something happened. But I can’t be mad at that. That’s the business, that’s what he should do as his job. I wasn’t really worried about that, because I’m not thinking my mom’s finna die. 

That’s so crazy Charmaine! 

I keep calling my dad, I’m calling me Neek. They’re not really telling me their conversations too much. Neek knew a little bit more than I knew when I first found out, I wasn’t supposed to find out how I found out.

How were you supposed to find out?

My parents don’t like to tell me stuff. I’m an only child, they don’t want to worry me. My mom ended up having a heart attack. A couple people in my family knew, but nobody reached out to me and told me. It was the thing: “don’t tell Charmaine, but Glenda’s in the hospital.” One of my cousin’s ended up hitting me up like “hey, sorry to hear about your mom.”

I was asleep. I went to the doctor early that morning, and had an anxiety attack at the doctor’s office. That was another reason why me and my mom were really connected. I didn’t know why I had an anxiety attack. I had to excuse myself and go to the bathroom, and try to get over this anxiety attack. I’m 20 weeks pregnant, sweating bullets and short of breath. Clenching the sink, going through it. I knew it was gonna pass because it wasn’t my first anxiety attack, but my mom was having a heart attack while I was having an anxiety attack. 

Wow, that’s crazy! 

I didn’t know for a couple hours. I ended up going home. I had got breakfast, took a nap. Woke up to walk the dog, get my phone. I missed a text from my cousin saying “sorry about your mom.” I look on my other phone, noticed my mom didn’t call me for her lunch break. She called me every day on her lunch break. I called her phone a couple times, it didn’t pick up. I call my dad like what’s wrong with mom? He’s like “oh, I’m at the hospital.” He was trying to be positive, not really tell me much. I was trying to ask him what happened? He was very like, “oh, she wasn’t feeling good.”

It was a heart attack out of nowhere?

She had a heart attack. She had high blood pressure for a long time, uncontrollable high blood pressure since she was 19. It’s something that runs in my family down. You have it early, because it’s uncontrollable. Such a sad situation. The guy, the producer just happened to have his phone out. 

Then my dad died and I had to beg my dad to do a scene with us for Black Ink, on his deathbed. That seems to some of my family members: why you had to do that? But I asked my dad to do that, because this was a part of my story. You’re living with me, can we show you’re going through this? Because no matter what happens, people are going to be able to look at this and it might help them with their situation. I’d have to explain that to him, because he was going through it and he definitely didn’t want to show him being sick on TV. 

I totally understand that, but I really had a connection with telling my story and it wasn’t always pretty. I had a connection with the people watching, for them to get through whatever they were going through in life, because the shit was tough. How many of us are dealing with taking care of a parent? Or how many of us are dealing with a parent with cancer or a parent that’s died? Or even loss of a loved one while pregnant? It’s all around. That’s unfortunately what I was going through, but I worked very hard to try to show all aspects of my life. For sure, no doubt about it. It wasn’t easy.

How did you get through that though? 

I was pregnant, I didn’t have a choice. I didn’t want to hurt the baby by being so emotional. It was hard, I was really emotional sometimes. I’d hope the baby was okay, because I couldn’t help but to be stressed out. You can’t help it, and I’m a nervous type of girl. When my nerves are bad, I feel it all through my body. 

Because I lost a parent both pregnancies, both of my babies felt at all of my all of that. That’s why I have the connection I do with my kids, because they were with me through my toughest time before they were even here on this earth. They could feel everything. I remember when my mom died, I felt Nola moving in a way that I had never felt her move before. She had just started moving. 

Talk about your sea moss company, Bey Moss.

Sea moss, you can get it in different ways. We got a lot of sea moss powder. We bringing the gels back. You could put it in a smoothie. You can get extra discounts. We have powder, gel, capsules. We have products outside of sea moss as well, like maca root. We also got 102+ mineral capsules. Your body’s made up of 102 minerals. When you’re taking sea moss, you’re eating 92 minerals out of the 102. 

Talk about your children’s book, Nubians Come In All Shades.

When I took my break with my husband, I was sober from weed. I’m joking, but serious at the same time. One night, I was really trying to figure out how for my children’s view, to express what they’re going through currently, and they don’t even realize it yet because they’re kids.  

One day, I’m gonna have to have this conversation and explain certain things to them. I don’t know how to do it as a parent because it’s serious, but it’s not that serious. Other people are making something a thing, and it doesn’t have to be. People think things are funny, the internet, the internet. “Oh yo kids, who they daddy?” Sometimes they’re like “who the parents?” Like I didn’t have the damn kid myself.

I’m not gonna lie, it be other races too. They’re like, “Oh, your kids. Well, who has those eyes? Well, you don’t. Your husband probably does.” I’m like no. I noticed I had to explain it all the time, so I put it in a children’s book in Layman’s terms. For kids, so we can have the conversation young. Nubians Come In All Shades, we can look all different ways. We’re still black or still proud. Just because people look a certain way, don’t take that away from their roots. Period. Get that on Amazon,