After 30 years, Sandra Denton, aka Pepa, is still playing huge shows with Salt-N-Pepa, the legendary hip-hop group that implored a nation to push it real good. Pepa is also an active supporter of Lifebeat, a youth outreach organization that spreads the message of HIV and AIDS prevention. I met her at an event thrown by the organization in Manhattan to talk about about sex, baby. She’s got a lot to say about the importance of making sure that it’s not only safe, but also incredible.
BuzzFeed: How did you get involved with Lifebeat?
Pepa: It’s been about 20 years now. Salt-N-Pepa did something with them at a show, and ever since, we’ve been big supporters of the organization. I’m so happy to still be a part of it today. It’s been that long! But from then to now, it’s an ongoing process. It’s important for me to play a part in this, and the public can help raise awareness of HIV and AIDS by tweeting #archesofhope — get tested and spread the word!
BF: Do people ask you for sex advice a lot?
Pepa: My friends do, because I’ve been through some stuff. I’m really at a great place now, even in choosing someone to be with. I don’t stand for the BS no more! I don’t lower my standards for anyone anymore, not a tiny bit. It doesn’t work! I know who I am and what I want, and I don’t settle for anything less. So that’s what I say to my friends, too, along with some other little tips.
BF: Do you think that “Shoop” and “Push It” changed the way that women thought about and spoke about sex?
Pepa: We empowered a lot of women. That’s what drives us. It’s always been a male-dominated field, and it still is to this day! So it felt good to have a voice, and for our record to be so inspirational in that way. Women looked up to us, and I have this platform, so I feel the need to help them in any way I can.
BF: What are the crowds like at your shows these days?
Pepa: The energy is amazing. People ask me if I still love it, and I sure love it, because of the fans that to this day come out and support and sing every single lyric. You would think I had a number-one record on the radio, with the magnitude of people that come out to the shows still.
BF: Are you writing any new empowering songs right now?
Pepa: Not currently. I’m working on a Push It line of workout things and trying to get fit! I’m working hard; I got me a trainer! It’s hard — bread is my safe place, so I go a little crazy thinking about it. I, like, just smell stuff now when I miss it. But I want to show people, “Look, I gained some weight, but I’m losing it to fit into my own line!” Salt’s trying to get fit, too, but she’s a snacker. Don’t tell her I said that.
BF: What else keeps you motivated?