To the world, Joseph “Rev Run” Simmons, co-founder of Run DMC, is a legendary rapper but to his wife Justine from Hempstead, he’s simply “Joey.” In their new book, “Old School Love” they both talk about their successful marriage of 25 years which includes seven children (three from Run’s previous marriage) and three grandchildren.
Today they live in New Jersey, but they'll head out to Long Island for a signing at Book Revue in Huntington on Thursday.
Newsday spoke with the couple about how they met, the secrets to surviving stardom and how they’ve made their marriage last.
Where did you two meet?
Rev Run: Justine went to see Kurtis Blow in concert when I was 15. I was hanging out doing a little rapping on the side calling myself the Son of Kurtis Blow.
Justine: He looked so innocent, shy and cute. After he got off the stage they whisked him to the back, but I kept thinking about him. So I knocked on the stage door and he came out to sign an autograph.
Run, you had a prior marriage. What did you learn from that experience?
Rev Run: You grow as you go. It’s easier for me now to be married than it was being on the road and absent from home. When you are younger, you do foolish things; when you get older you put those things away.
You both reconnected then married in 1994. What has held you together for such a long time?
Rev Run: Doing right by each other. If you are not selfish, you can make it work. We always say, be selfless instead of selfish.
Justine: We are constantly trying to make each other happy and look out for each other. I don’t want to see him sad and he doesn’t want to see me sad. We are always trying to make our relationship better.
The divorce rate is so high these days. What are some key tips you can give young couples about staying together?
Rev Run: Whatever you were doing that got you so excited to get married, don’t change those patterns. If you’ve been together for two years and now you are married, don’t start putting new rules in the game. Whatever made you say, “I do!," stay right there. Don’t let the word “marriage” change the way you treat your significant other.
Do you think young people today are fearful of getting married?
Justine: Yes! That’s why we called the book “Old School Love.” The back-in-the-day love was more intense. People tried to keep it together and not break up as fast. We are not saying we are the “It Couple.” We say, here are some things that we do and hopefully it will work for you.
Run, being a rap icon, how do you stay grounded?
Rev Run: They come with me. When I’m in it, I make sure they enjoy it as well. Think about it, I took the whole family and put them on TV with me [MTV’s reality show, “Run’s House,” from 2005-2009]. They are stars in their own right. My daughter Angela has three times the amount of Instagram followers than me!
In the book, you talk about how you lost your baby Victoria Ann in 2006. How did you survive that?
Justine: Truthfully, a lot of marriages would have broken up. When we went through that loss, I was so devastated. Then my husband came to me and said, “Why don’t we adopt?” Literally everything went away and my heart was healed. Now our daughter Miley is 12 and she’s taller than me. It’s crazy.
What’s your favorite thing about each other?
Justine: He’s very, very attentive to my needs and our children’s needs.
Rev Run: Justine is very much into making sure all that I want to happen happens. She’s my biggest cheerleader.
Justine: But, he keeps leaving his robe on the floor!
Rev Run: Whatever Justine.
Joseph "Rev Run" and Justine Simmons book signing
WHEN | WHERE 7 p.m. Thursday, Book Revue, 313 New York Ave., Huntington
INFO All books ($26.99) must be purchased at Book Revue to be signed; 631-271-1442, bookrevue.com