'Hot felon' Jeremy Meeks says strangers sent him money in prison after viral fame: 'Crime really does pay'

Kelly Woo

Jeremy Meeks, the convicted felon turned model who has been called “Prison Bae”, has opened up in a rare interview about his time behind bars and plans for the future.

Meeks, also labeled “Hot Felon”, sat down with Chelsea Grayson for her What’s Your Water podcast for a raw, unflinching, hour-plus-long chat about his troubled childhood; co-parenting his kids with ex-wife Melissa Meeks and ex-fiancee Chloe Green, the Topshop heiress; and the hard and rough realities of prison life, including his stint in solitary confinement next to Charles Manson.

Meeks, now 35, is a former member of the Crips who was arrested in 2014 during a gang sweep in Stockton, California. His mugshot went viral and became a meme on social media.

Upon his release in March 2016, Meeks began a modelling career.

During the interview, Meeks recalled sitting in solitary confinement and having a reckoning with himself: “Why did you put all these tattoos on you? You just made it to where you can’t work, like you can’t do nothing really with your life.”

Read more: ‘Hot felon’ deported from the UK

He added: “It hit me that I think I was afraid to fail.”

Meeks also opened up about his viral fame and receiving “two, three hundred letters... every night. They’re sending me thousands and thousands of dollars.”

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - NOVEMBER 19:  Jeremy Meeks and Chloe Green  attend a Gala during Monaco National Day on November 19, 2018 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by SC Pool - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
Jeremy Meeks and Chloe Green at a gala in Monte-Carlo, Monaco, in 2018. (SC Pool – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

As someone joked to him: “Crime really does pay.”

He also received contracts, but noted: “I had never seen a contract in my life. It was French to me.”

And for someone who grew up in the projects, Meeks said, “I never thought anything like this was possible.”

Jeremy Meeks, the model who was referred to as "the hot felon," poses backstage before the Philipp Plein fashion show, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Diane Bondareff)
Jeremy Meeks poses backstage before a Philipp Plein fashion show in February 2017 in New York. (AP Photo/Diane Bondareff)

Meeks and Green recently split up, and he’s been seen with actress Erica Peeples. He has a son with Green as well as a son with his ex-wife. But he’s hoping to have more kids in the future.

“I want a girl really bad,” he confessed.