It takes money to make money. So when the legendary ego trip collective launched their groundbreaking magazine in 1994, they were blessed with a financial infusion from a mysterious elder benefactor, Ted Bawno. Unlike any of ego trip's founding members, Ted is 100% white devil—but that doesn't mean he lacks any divine qualities. His angel investments spearheaded numerous careers and financed a wealth of projects that have forever influenced hip-hop culture.
When I contacted Ted, he was in a self-imposed exile deep in the wine country of Santa Barbara, transcribing unreleased Chuck Chillout interviews for a segment in his highly anticipated memoir (to be translated in five languages; the pre-order demand has temporarily crashed the server on egotripland.com). Despite a schedule that rivals those of presidents and prime ministers, Ted was gracious enough to grant an unprecedented and unfiltered interview. In this exclusive, the controversial tycoon speaks about his inspirational ministry, his women, and most importantly, his money. It's Teddy, baby!
Interview By John Brown
Complex: What are you currently working on and/or financing?
Ted Bawno: Thanks, young man, for taking the time out to interview me, Ted Bawno. Ted is thinking about financing a film about the state of hip-hop. That's all I've got to say about it. If I go through with it, some people will be shocked. Others might get emotional behind it. But I'm not worried about how some people might react to it. I have my son, Gaelen, back in my life again (we were on the outs for a bit—he can be mildly wigga-ish at times, and it bothers me). And of course I have all of you Bawnoists out there. The Ted Bawno Ministries is going very strong. A lotta stamina inside of the TBM.Â For the record, Ted Bawno loves hip-hop. As an older white man, it might sound strange, but really it is not. Frankly, I miss the old hip-hop. I miss that old-time religion. It saddens me that hip-hop ain't the same. At the same time, Ted is very excited about Nicki Minaj. Ever look into her eyes when she raps? She's like the beautiful owl of rap.
BUT, I'm really really really really really all about the launch of egotripland.com. It's gonna be THE destination for the truth about rap. A lot of you Young Bucks have been lied to, and we want to help the youth understand the power of the boom-bap. The Internet is all about being a virus—things grow and grow and get nastier and nastier and nastier, and that's how it's gonna be with egotripland.com. We will continue to put the icing on the cake. I'm really tight with Duncan Hines, so the flavor will be there for sure. I think some individuals are going to be very surprised by the moves of my sons. Some very specific individuals will learn what it sounds like when doves cry. Mainly, though, you will get a very unique take on things, which is what the ego trip brand has always been about. If you don't have an opinion on things, then Ted Bawno pities you, fool. I will have a blog on there—that is all I will reveal for now. Rap and hip-hop won't be the same. We've got a black man in the White House and an old, rich white man in the game. Things done changed!
Oh, and P.S.: I won't push the Bawnoist agenda too tough on egotripland.com. Chairman Mao pointed out that it is a conflict of interest, and that he hates it when other rap sites push the secret agendas of their masters. Don't get things twisted like a pretzel: I AM the MASTER of all things ego trip, and Bawnoism has helped that cause. Still, I'll go Eazy-E on the preaching.Â
Complex: Fair enough. How did your relationship begin with ego trip?
Ted Bawno: My relationship with ego trip is an interesting one. I used to party in early-'70s New York with famed sculptor and documentarian Henry Chalfant. We've been close friends for many years, and he always knows what's hip with the blacks. Sacha Jenkins, one of my most trusted employees, once worked for Henry in the capacity of production assistant way waaaay back when. The film was called Flyin' Cut Sleeves. Anyhoo, Sacha went to Henry and asked for some capital for the ego trip dream. Henry asked my opinion, and the rest is history. Man, me and Henry used to PAR-TAY, but when it comes to culture, he's on point like a sniper on a roof—like a DJ at the Fever in the DJ booth. [Ed.—Ted Bawno quotes white rappers?]
Complex: What are the defining principles of Bawnoism?
Ted Bawno: Bawnoism is about freedom: freedom to be free, freedom to lust for the beautiful things in life. But Bawnoism is also about having a heart and calling out the frauds. We are the Yin and the Yang of hip-hop, but we are NOT the Ying Yang Twins. Bawnoists are original men and women. We originate, create, with no delay. We print money. That's how gifted we are. We print it, but we don't just hand it out per se. You must learn to earn. I'll leave a lesson on anyone's dresser who wants to learn. Having money is very important to Bawnoists and to the survival of Bawnoism. Bawnoists are required to share 70 percent of their earnings with my flock. We are building tabernacles all over the country. You know, I was already a rich man before I decided to share my principles with the world via the Ted Bawno Ministries. I really don't need to share this information with folks to maintain my lavish lifestyle. I just have a pure desire for my flock to become independently wealthy while theyÂ maintain a fellowship with the Bawnoist community.
Complex: And what is the future of the Ted Bawno Ministries (TBM)?
Ted Bawno: The future of the TBM is bright. We've got some big thangs about to "pop off," as the blacks and Hispanics say in the streets. My Twitter Ministries are booming. Again, the Tabernacles are being built all over the country. Special big-'em-up-shout-out to all of the Naptown Bawnoists. They really inspire me to keep on keepin' on. More Bawnoists are becoming millionaires. The TBM is no joke and no cult. We are addicted to money and fellowship.
Independent of the TBM, there is of course the M.O.E.T. (Men of ego trip). I must say that I am equally proud of their achievements. They are some of the most gifted individuals I have ever worked with, and I am so glad that I had the vision to put my dollars behind their sense. Gabe Alvarez, Sacha Jenkins, Chairman "Jefferson" Mao, Brent Rollins, and Elliott Wilson are gifted minorities. Sometimes they fly from the coop, but I am always so excited to see them spread their wings and glide through the skies. Excelsior! But no Birdman—I don't kiss my sons on the lips (no judgments, Mr. Williams).
Complex: How has the economic downturn affected a venture capitalist media mogul like you—if at all?
Ted Bawno: We Bawnoists laugh at the economy and we laugh all the way to the bank. The beautiful tellers at my bank give me extra-special service, you feel me? I'll say this: if you wanna make money, join the Ted Bawno Ministries, and follow us on Twitter. If you want to stay broke and live in your mother's attic like an addict, go 'head, Dick.
Complex: Twitter's clearly been good to you—what's your opinion of the social networking boom?
Ted Bawno: Ted Bawno is with technology. Soon, people won't have sex in the flesh, they'll just text. I'm never gonna go out like that—I love the ladies too darn much—but to each his own. Twitter has been great for my ministries, but not even a fraction of my followers are on Twitter. We meet every Thursday in New York City at Reverend Ike's old theater up in Washington Heights. There are so many of us. Join us! We're spreading the Bawnoist message to Bill Gates. He's gonna purchase Gateway Computers—the entire company—and hand it on down to us! Soon, Ethiopians will eat at Red Lobster for free and all Bawnoists will have a laptop for free! It's Teddy, Baby! When I do it, I do it BIG. All Day In Your Mouth (ADIYM)!
Complex: It's common knowledge that you have a lot of children; do you have any words of advice for your offspring?
Ted Bawno: As far as advice for my sons and daughters, I say this: stay true. And be real. And don't carry yourself around like a chump. And be proud of who you are. Homosexuality appears in the wild, so there's no reason to be ashamed. It's creepy old white men like Pat Robertson and his corny 700 Club who spread ignorance about same-sex relationships. The TBM supports gays, which is why they love us so much. Our gay TBM members are the most die-hard. So again, my sons, my daughters, come out, come out, wherever you are.
Complex: How has being a white man factored into your business dealings over the years?
Ted Bawno: My white skin has opened several doors and I am thankful. On the other hand, it causes friction between myself and the people I love. I love eating pickled pig's feet in Queensbridge projects with Nas' half-white stepcousin Portia. There's no place I feel more comfortable. But then someone at the table will go and mention "the white man" and everything gets out of whack. I am white, but I am not all bad. I do make mistakes, and admittedly, I am a racist. But I've come a long way, baby. I'm getting better and better every day. And I absolutely love women of color! The dark meat has the most juice. Lots of flavor, neighbor!
Complex: Who's your hero?
Ted Bawno: Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Records is...a colleague I respect. Ted Bawno has no heroes, but I respect his gangsta. At the end of the day, there can only be one hero and that hero is Ted—Ted Bawno. Your idol, the highest title, numero uno.
Complex: You have a reputation as something of a playboy. If you could smash one female in the world, who would it be?
Ted Bawno: Ted doesn't "smash", but I understand your question. Ted has class! But you want dirt and I will lower my standards to share my fantasy. OK: three-way tie (get it? Three way. LOL. I crack myself up!). Keri Hilson, Nicki Minaj, and Kardashian (any one of them Kardashian girls). Oh, and Scarlett Johansson. Ted likes the dark meat, but I can't forget where I come from. Also, yes, I am a playboy, and I've made love to a lot of your favorite starlets and pornstarlets. It's cool, but I don't like to brag. I respect ladies. My relationship with Jane Fonda is pretty well known, though.
Complex: Why was there no (White) Rapper Show pt. 2?
Ted Bawno: That's a good question. I blame the white man... can you believe that? Next question.
Complex: Where were you in 1492?
Ted Bawno: This question seems to be getting at my old age. I want to say for the record that Ted is proud to be old. Ted is like fine wine. Ladies, come and sip! BUT, if Ted was around in 1492, he would be getting that spice money. It was the spice game that got Columbus open; it was the spice game that put Columbus in the position to open up the West. Ted would be getting that money, too. I woulda had the freshest meats in the entire world. Hear that, ladies? Â BAWNOISTS: we go hard, we go hard! Don't let me get my hands on a time machine. One last thing: I came from nothing. I became someone important. I should be an inspiration to you. Because YOU are an inspiration to ME! Together, WE can grow larger and larger. You give us 70 percent of your income, and we'll give you Bawnoism uncut.