Reality-TV juggernaut, selfie queen, actress, model, mother, brand ambassador, Internet-breaker, entrepreneur and video game subject Kim Kardashian has something to say: "I believe that I am so much smarter than I'm portrayed."
In our new cover story (on stands Friday, July 3rd) the 34-year-old Keeping Up With the Kardashians star and multihyphenate gives Contributing Editor Vanessa Grigoriadis unprecedented access into her world — watching her work on a new website experience, fighting off a hater at a New York book signing — and talks about everything from how she's dealt with scandal (a sex tape, living under the same roof as O.J. Simpson, her vanishing brother Rob) to her relationship with Kanye West to her legacy. In 20 years she hopes she'll be remembered as both a businesswoman and a sex symbol: "I think you can be both. You can have it all." Here are 11 key highlights from the story:
When Kim was a teen she dated Michael Jackson's nephew, TJ. It was her first experience in an interracial relationship — and not her last.
At the time, her dad, Robert Kardashian, "explained to me that he's had a lot of interracial friends, and it might not be the easiest relationship. He said I should prepare myself for people to say things to me. . . . When I was in high school, I'd get magazines and see interracial couples and think, 'They are so cute.' I've always been attracted to a certain kind of look."
The most rebellious thing Kim did as a youngster? Secretly marrying.
"She was a teenager then, and teenagers do a lot of crazy things," Kim's mother Kris Jenner says of her daughter's marriage to music producer Damon Thomas at age 20. Kardashian explains it this way: "I was very happy at home learning how to cook and clean and keep a house. I knew that was where I wanted to end up."
Kim discovered her stepfather dressed in women's clothing in the garage when she was 22 — 12 years before the former Bruce Jenner announced to the world, "Call me Caitlyn."
"I was shaking," Kardashian says. "I didn't know if I'd just found out his deepest, darkest secret, and he was going to come after me." Jenner called her on the phone a half hour later, and said, "One day, I'll talk to you about this. Until then, don't tell a soul." Eight years later, he said, "Let's have that talk." Before Kim's wedding to West, Kardashian talked to Kanye about it. "I wasn't sure if Bruce was going to be comfortable walking me down the aisle," she says. "He had just had his trachea shaved, so I knew something was going on." She was afraid of what West might think, but West calmed her concerns. "[Kanye] obviously moves to his own drum," she says. "He lives his life the way he wants, a really authentic life, and he was like, 'If you can't be authentic and you can't live your life, what do you have?' "
Kim was living with her father, O.J. Simpson attorney Robert Kardashian, when the actor/athlete was accused of murder in 1994 — and he briefly moved in, staying in Kloe's room.
"It was surreal, with Johnnie Cochran and Robert Shapiro and all these guys having meetings at my dad's house," Kim says. Kris was close with Nicole Brown Simpson and believed that O.J. was guilty, creating a massive amount of tension in the family. "I definitely took my dad's side," Kim says. "We just always thought my dad was the smartest person in the world, and he really believed in his friend." As far as what she believes now, she says, "It's weird. I just try not to think about it."
Yes, you can call her a feminist.
"I've never really been one on labels, and I don't like to push my view," Kardashian says. "If I feel something, it's how I feel. I never say, 'I feel this way, so you should feel that way.' Not that there's anything wrong with it, but I just am who I am. But, yeah." She smiles. "I think you would call me a feminist."
Kim rolled with Paris Hilton's "celebutante" crew but never got caught exiting a car without her underwear. How?
"I rarely wear underwear, but that never happened to me," she says. "I was never drinking. . . . I think that saved me a lot." Kardashian explains she doesn't drink or do drugs except for "five shots of vodka in Vegas every three years."
Kim's sex tape didn't bring her closer to Hilton, who had a similar experience.
"I don't think she was that happy," Kardashian says. "We didn't really talk about it. I probably would have thought, 'Oh, my gosh, let me give her advice,' but we had no communication. But our friendship had fizzled before that."
Kardashian did find out who leaked the tape. And is over it now.
"We're in major confidentiality, so I can't talk about it," Kardashian says of the culprit. Does she still think about the fact that a great deal of humanity has seen her in flagrante? "I don't really think about it," she says quietly. "I thought about it for a long time. But when I get over something, I get over it."
Music is a huge part of Kim's life — and she still makes mix CDs.
"As kids, we were at concerts like Michael Jackson every weekend. My first concert was Earth, Wind and Fire." As an adolescent, she liked Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder, and played Mary J. Blige and Jodeci on her bedroom record player. "I still make mix CDs," she says. "I have an older computer with a disk drive so I can do it." In high school, she was obsessed with 'NSync and the Backstreet Boys — "really obsessed, though I was more of a Backstreet girl." She also listened to Snoop, Dre and Ice Cube.
Kim and Kanye are "definitely opposites" and she respects his desire not to appear on Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
"You can't expect me to jump up onstage and start singing — it's not what I do." But West has spent the past few years dressing his wife. "The makeover Kanye has given me is amazing," she says. And while she says West introduced her to wearing runway fashion, she believes she would have come to that decision herself eventually.
Kim says her brother Rob exited the spotlight because he got heavier.
"It's not that mysterious, what's happening with Rob," Kardashian says. "He has gained weight. He feels uncomfortable being on the show, and that's OK. Do I think he smokes weed, drinks beer, hangs out and plays video games with his friends all day long? Yes."
Also in this issue: Matt Diehl on the fall of Suge Knight, Ben Wofford on a young man who keeps the airlines guessing, Mark Binelli on Bernie Sanders, plus Mumford & Sons, Diplo, Hannibal and more.
Look for the issue on stands or download it on Friday, July 3rd.