Clay Cane is a New York City-based writer who is recognized for his contributions in journalism. Clay is a regular contributor for various print and online publications such as The Advocate and He is the author of the highly anticipated novel Ball-Shaped World, which is a fictionalized account of the black and Latino ballroom scene. Also, he is the Entertainment Editor at and a member of New York Film Critics Online. He can be reached at

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    Thursday, July 31, 2008

    In case you haven't heard, Pride in the City, New York City's black LGBT pride, which was scheduled to take place this weekend was dramatically canceled yesterday. Allegedly, Michael Roberson, P.O.C.C.’s Executive Director, was fired by the Board of Directors. Well, there goes another black gay event down the dangerously high HIV/AIDS statistics drain.

    Of course this means the Blackout Arts Festival I was scheduled to participate in tomorrow is canceled. From what I've heard "most" of the other events will also be canceled.

    I am not exactly sure what occurred at the P.O.C.C. offices in Brooklyn, but I do think it's disappointing the event was completely axed. Was there any possibility of waiting on a staff change till Monday? Considering the state of emergency of the black gay community, now is a more important time than ever to have an event like Pride in the City (yes, I realize the prevention methods have fallen off over the years).

    Funny thing is, I remember a time when Black Pride in NYC wasn't solely a P.O.C.C. event. I don't recall all the details, but according to the Pride in the City's web site, their events didn't start till 2003, which I am assuming is when P.O.C.C. took over Black Pride completely. I can recall in the late nineties and early 2000s Black Pride in NYC was organized by a committee, which if I remember correctly, included P.O.C.C. but they were not the only ones (don't quote me on this!). Regardless, one agency should not not control an entire pride event for the obvious reasons that are in front of us.

    Black pride NYC being disregarded really makes the black gay community look like a laughing stock. Many make this colossal argument how important it is to have “our own” outside of “white gay pride”. Whose event is really? The sponsors? Agencies? The clubs? Or the community? It should be the latter.

    This black gay pride mishap is not segregated to New York City. Seattle Black Pride was canceled this year, the legendary D.C. pride is a broken shell of its former self and from what I've heard of the Miami/Puerto Rico/Mexico prides, they are run by promoters—not an agency or a committee. So, it’s more of a heat-seeking event than education, prevention, and unity.

    Gay pride in June would never be canceled. We are a divided people -- whether we are gay, straight, light-skinned, dark-skinned, rich, poor, etc. In the future, black gays should consider having black gay pride around the same time as gay pride. Hell, the same clubs that are open gay pride in June pop up again for black gay pride in August! Not that I want black prides to end completely, but I do wonder how relevant a black pride is today.

    Nonetheless, take a trip down memory lane...check out a story I did on P.O.C.C. for back in 2005, where I interviewed Michael Roberson. This was P.O.C.C. in its heyday. Click on the link below.

    Black, Gay & Beyond HIV


    Posted by Clay :: 1:15 AM :: 18 comments


    Wednesday, July 30, 2008

    It's that time of the year again, Black Pride in NYC. There are a variety of events this year and Friday, August 1st I'll participate in a round table discussion, which will include Terrance Dean and Dr. Herukhuti. The event starts at 6pm. Here are the details:

    1428 Fulton Street (near Tompkins Avenue)
    Brooklyn, New York (Bedford Stuyvesant)
    Take the A train to Nostrand Avenue and walk down to Tompkins Ave & Fulton
    Or Take the C train to Kingston/Throop. For more info call P.O.C.C. at 718-230-0700

    For information all the other events go to

    To celebrate Pride, I thought it would be appropriate to post this video of the icon, Crystal LaBeija... "I will sue the fool!"

    Clock how the white queen says, "You are showing your color!"


    Posted by Clay :: 10:32 AM :: 5 comments


    Tuesday, July 29, 2008

    Congrats to FirePrince for winning the Girlfriends Season Four DVD giveaway. Thanks to everyone who participated. Here is the caption:

    Also, check out my review of the Girlfriends DVD over at the EDGE, a popular LGBT online magazine. The DVD is in stores today.

    This season also includes the reoccurring character of Peaches, played by the talented Shawn Harrison. Peaches is Joan’s assistant, a flamboyant, stereotypical gay man. His lines are inauthentic, mannerisms overdramatic -- clearly Harrison's portrayal of Peaches was solely from the creators of Girlfriends. After several episodes that featured Peaches, it was clear this character was written by a straight person who had little contact with the gay community.


    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 0 comments

    Friday, July 25, 2008

    I was not expecting a whole segment on the gays, but I figured there would be some mention of homophobia at least for a millisecond in CNN’s four-hour Black in America special.

    Black in America, which aired this past Wednesday and Thursday, focused solely on the straights and it seemed its solution for all problems was to go back to the nuclear family: "We need more marriage!" "We need a man and woman in the house!" "Go back to church!"

    Marriage is not going to save the black family, marriage isn't for everyone. What will save the black community is education, policy (Amazing how CNN barely mentioned policies that are destroying black schools and neighborhoods. Some of these predicaments are completely out of our control.), and condoms. Yes, as Dorothy from The Golden Girls said, “Condoms! Condoms! Condoms!

    Jumpin’ jehosafats! The straights are f*ckin' and saying f*ck it to condoms! One young girl had a baby by a young man who already had another baby by a different woman, and the young girl was pregnant with TWINS by a different man. In another segment, a 31 year-old man had two kids, lived in the projects and quit college because he had to care for his children. One man had ten children and didn’t raise any of them—damn! All that f*ckin' and obviously no one is using a condom. You know what happens when gay men don't use condoms and contract HIV? They are criminalized for being dirty, sinful, and getting what they deserve. The straights don’t use condoms, they pop out a few kids, and they are victims of poverty.

    No wonder the HIV/AIDS rate is so high among black women, they aren't using condoms... Black in America didn't have one segment on contraception just, "Get married! Go to church! Stay out of jail!"

    I know this might be hard for some of the straights and the self-hating gays to understand, but it’s peculiar to me when the topic of HIV/AIDS is addressed in the black community, but sexuality is not mentioned. In one segment, Soledad O'Brien was grilling a black preacher on why his church is not directly dealing with HIV/AIDS, even when people in his congregation are infected. The preacher looked dumbfounded saying that was something they needed to work on. I was waiting for O'Brien to say something to the effect of "Is it because if you talked about HIV/AIDS you might have to talk about sexuality?" Considering some of the shadefest questions O'Brien was throwing at people, I’m surprised she didn’t.

    The reason why the black church isn't discussing HIV/AIDS isn't because it accidentally fell off the list after donating money for the annual gospel choir church trip to Atlanta, D.C., and New York (where absolutely NO homosexuals would be… uh-huh)—it’s because of sexuality! If the Jim Crow Jesus preachers didn’t view HIV/AIDS as a gay issue, it would be topic number one. The black church is as criminal as President Ronald Reagan for ignoring the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

    Whether or not the straights get it, there are many results of homophobia. Families being torn a part, delusional black women who think the reason why they don't have a man is because of gays, and ignorant assumptions about HIV/AIDS. Of course HIV/AIDS isn't a gay thing, but I think if the black community were accepting of the gay community, who are queening up in church every week, we could get a stronger grip on the disease. History has proved, it’s been gay people who have made strides with HIV/AIDS. The black community needs the gay community to combat this disease.

    Well, there was one gay person in Black in America. Just for a few seconds, there was a quick image of a young man dancing in a hot pink dancer's suit. However, looks like the family pulled a Dick Cheney and didn't allow him to be shown to the public. All of their other kids were interviewed except for him.

    Overall, I thought Black in America was a good special. I loved the segments on Michael Eric Dyson, how challenging it is for a black man to find a job, and the lengths single mothers go to take care of their kids. I would argue black folks need to stop thinking the solutions to our problems are marriage and church. Maybe if we let go of some of the archaic values of the church, focused more on contraception, owning our businesses, challenging policy, and accepting every faction of the black community, we would effectively progress.

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    Posted by Clay :: 9:00 AM :: 22 comments


    Wednesday, July 23, 2008

    Twenty four years ago today, Vanessa Williams, the first black Miss America was forced to give up her crown. After nude photos of her in sexual positions with a woman were sold to Penthouse and she was continuously bashed by the media, the New York State native resigned at a frenzied press conference on July 23rd, 1984.

    Vanessa Williams was 20 years-old when she was crowned Miss America, which started in 1921, in September of 1983. For the first 30 years of Miss America, black women were not allowed to compete. Vanessa Williams would be the first black woman to win in 63 years.

    Contrary to popular belief, Vanessa Williams is not “biracial”. There was a bit of a controversy in the black community when this light-skinned, green-eyed girl was the first black Miss America, some argued she wasn't "black enough." In less than a year the black community would soon realize that she was black enough for the media.

    Even with black folks wondering if she was "black enough", the public didn't know the night before winning the title she received numerous death threats—the first time in Miss America history that a contestant received any hate mail.

    There is some speculation that the media was out to get Vanessa Williams, regardless of her skin tone, regardless of her being from a middle class family (she was often asked if she was from the projects); some say Williams was a media target. Ten months after making history she received an anonymous phone call saying nude photos that stimulated lesbianism was sold to Penthouse.

    All Jim Crow hell broke lose! We were in the Regan era, the liberalism of the seventies was shunned upon, HIV/AIDS hit, sex was naughty again, and Williams was going to pay for it. If you think Janet Jackson had it bad during "nipplegate", "pageantgate" was epic.

    The media ripped Williams to shreds. They, and the America public, deemed her immoral, Un-American, a disgrace and insisted she be dethroned immediately. The last straw, advertisers threatened to walk on the upcoming pageant—well, money talks and Vanessa had to walk.

    In a 1992 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Williams described her reaction to the ordeal as "frightened, overwhelmed, and in shock", but she also said, "I didn't grieve—it wasn't like a death in the family. I was more surprised than anything." She stressed, "I was 21 years old, and I couldn't believe that the nation was making a big deal over me. When you see Dan Rather talking about you, it's pretty amazing. They did public-opinion polls on me!"

    The crown was given to the runner up, Suzette Charles, who was also black (and Italian). Charles is known as the second black woman to be crowned Miss America.

    Nonetheless, Williams had the last laugh. Who remembers Suzette Charles? Who remembers any Miss America? Who remembers the Miss America from last year? Vanessa Williams losing her crown was probably the greatest thing to her career.

    Ironically, the community who were skeptical of Williams in the beginning, the black community, were the first to embrace her. In 1988 she released her legendary '80's R&B album The Right Stuff, which spawned four R&B hits, including the #1 R&B hit "Dreamin'" (#8 on the Billboard Hot 100). The album was certified Gold and in 1989 she received an NAACP Award for Outstanding New Artist.

    In 1991 she released The Comfort Zone, which went 3x Platinum, the album garnered endless hits like "Running Back To You" (#1 US R&B), the title track (#2 US R&B), and the classic "Save The Best For Last", which hit #1 on the R&B and Billboard Hot 100 charts. Williams said in the 1992 Entertainment Weekly interview, "I'm always sensitive about where I had my first support and that was black radio. They were great. Pop radio stations were the ones who would take potshots at me. Disrespect me. Try to make me into a novelty. I couldn't say anything, but I'd walk out the door thinking, 'That guy is a you know, never again.' You remember those things. They're little knives."

    Twenty-four years after Williams' worldwide scandal she is a Grammy, Tony, and Emmy nominee, household name, queen bee of ABC's Ugly Betty—and as far as being a beauty queen, at 45 she can sit down any of these young girls!

    Check out this interview with Vanessa Williams after she won Miss America. She was incredibly classy, intelligent, poised, and even threw a little shade to President Ronald Reagen.


    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 10 comments


    Tuesday, July 22, 2008

    For those who may have just got turned onto my blog in the past year or so, you may have missed some of my older posts. Check out a post from two years ago, about growing up with roaches, "A Bug Story".

    A Bug Story
    The privileged, elite, well-to-do, or even middle class may not be able to relate to this entry ...

    I grew up in immense poverty and there are no greater symbols of poverty than food stamps, government cheese and roaches... all three have been in my life at some point -- food stamps (now I see the card, which is probably a lil' less shameful than those huge, colorful stamps that were OBVIOUSLY not money -- at least you can use the card at an angle and hopefully the person behind you won't think you are a lazy, shiftless welfare recipient) and government cheese are no longer around, but roaches aren't going anywhere! Roaches are simply part of the urban poor community.

    It was the 9th grade, I was in my first period music class and a stream of roaches crawled out of somebody's book bag. The entire class of thugged out boys and gangsta' girls SCREAMED, ran to the corner of the classroom like there was an axe murderer in our room. Don't ask me why we screamed...we all had roaches at home and there were several roaches at school, but just seeing those grimy insects crawling around on the floor was too much for our ninth grade spirits.

    There was one girl ... she had an atrocious perm and always wore Christian conservative clothing that her mother would force on her, however, by the time she made it to first period her skirt was hiked up and three layers of clothing stuffed in her bag. She was drenched in hot coochie red and blue make-up, looking like a heat-seeking tramp with her ass cheeks out and bosoms jiggling -- of course if I saw this now I would be mortified and probably pull her to the side demanding counseling, but as a young 14 year-old gay boy she was the saucy minx at our school and the closest thing to a drag queen -- so, I loved her!

    Anyway, I will never forget when she said she had so many roaches at home that she had to shake the roaches out of her panties each and every single morning. All I could see were little roaches clinging to dear life on her panties as they feel back into the drawer with their vile insects bodies gripping to another undergarment. I never looked at her panties the same way again, especially considering the whole class could get a peak once or twice a day with her trashy clothing!

    I remember when my favorite cousin used to take a shower over my grandfather's house and she would always bring a pair of flip-flops with her to bathroom. One time I asked why she always brought flip-flops -- she said when the water released from the faucet roaches would storm the tub and scurry around her feet... I never took a shower there.

    The most legendary roach memory I have is when I was about 15 and my father dropped me off at the neighbor's house for a barbecue. I was starving and in the heavy mood for some potato salad, ribs, mac and cheese and everything else on the "die by the time your 50" soul food diet.

    The minute I got there everybody told me to go in the kitchen and get something to eat. I looked into the kitchen from the backyard and saw plates, bowls, and aluminum pans all filled with food and I'm like, "Hot damn!" With "Superstitious" by Stevie Wonder blasting through the house (whenever I hear that song I think of this story), I made my way to the kitchen ... and what I saw nearly made me vomit on myself.

    There were a tsunami of roaches colonizing the entire kitchen! On the tables, on the floor, on the walls - there were so many damn roaches on the ceiling that they were falling to the floor! I couldn't comprehend why they just didn't leave the food outside ... was I the only one who saw these roaches? Somebody dashed by me, scooped up a plate of food, shook a roach off her hand and dashed back out -- Oh, hell no!

    Anyone that has been to a black family barbecue knows that if you don't EAT it is highly disrespectful ... but in my teenage mind I had to take a revolutionary stand and NOT eat at the barbecue. I called my father and begged him to pick me up -- he took hours to get there while everyone at the barbecue stared at me like I was a spoiled brat because I was so "shooken" by the roaches. When my father finally arrived he proceeded to cuss me the hell out - but I didn't care! I just knew one of those roaches were baked into the mac and cheese and I was not going to be eating it!

    Nowadays, especially in New York City, you have roaches in high-rise, expensive buildings ... however, being that I've been socialized and raised with them damn ghetto bugs you will NOT see roaches in my apartment. I still LIVE like I have roaches ... I still rinse off all dishware before using it, when I throw little scraps of food in the garbage I wrap it in a plastic bag first, I take out my garbage once maybe twice a day, I NEVER leave food sitting on the stove, I wash my dishes immediately ... the list goes on. Roaches are a part of the poor urban community, but that is one thing I don't miss.


    Posted by Clay :: 10:13 AM :: 4 comments


    Monday, July 21, 2008

    The fourth season of Girlfriends is in stores Tuesday, July 29th. This season includes the GLAAD nominated episode, "And Baby Makes Four", which guest starred Sandra Bernhard. The episode dealt with William's sister, played by Dawnn Lewis, who was a lesbian. William donated sperm to her partner so they could have a child, but she wanted him to give up his parental rights.

    The 23 episodes are on a 3 disc set and include guest appearances from Jenifer Lewis, Jill Scott, and Beverly Johnson.

    To enter, caption the picture below of Lil' Kim and Kimora Lee Simmons. Email all submissions to or post in the comments (with your email address) by noon on July 22nd.


    Posted by Clay :: 10:00 AM :: 23 comments


    Friday, July 18, 2008

    Summary: The follow up to 2005's Batman Begins, once again, directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Christian Bale as the Caped Crusader aka Bruce Wayne. All hell continues to break lose in Gotham City, but this time due to the legendary cackling psycho path, The Joker, who is turning the good guys bad and the bad guys even worse.

    Review: Nothing new in the Batman plot, Gotham City is enduring the worst crime in decades, kind of like America's current gas prices, and Batman comes to save the day. Big explosions, gruesome fight scenes and classic comic book one liners like The Joker saying, “Put a smile on your face!”

    In 2008, Batman has an extreme makeover—extra muscles, six pack abs, a Prada like superhero suit, and bone structure that Michael Keaton (1989 Batman) never had.

    Even with this beauty king version of Batman, Christian Bale manages to find the eerie balance of mystery and confidence, which other Batmans like Val Kilmer and George Clooney just seemed to be imitating.

    The character of Rachel Dawes returns, played by a drab Maggie Gyllenhaal. Out of the women in the Batman films, Kim Basinger, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Alicia Silverstone, Gyllenhaal was a disappointment. In every scene it looked as if something else was on her mind like, "Who do I have to marry to get paid as much as Katie Holmes?"

    Back in January 2007 the Defamer reported, Holmes would not return to The Dark Knight due to "scheduling conflicts" and she was “leaning toward accepting a role in 'Mad Money'." Mrs. Cruise turned down The Dark Knight for Mad Money? I feel a Joker laugh coming on.... "BWAHAHAHA!"

    Oscar winner and legendary supporting actor, Morgan Freeman, returns as Lucius Fox, Bruce Wayne’s dear friend and architect of Batman’s deadly gadgets.

    Now that we got the co-stars out of the way—let’s talk about the real star… make no mistake, Heath Ledger is Diana Ross and these other kids are the replaceable Supremes. Yes, believe the hype, Mr. Ledger as The Joker is categorically brilliant. It's rare that hype is ever true in Hollywood, but in this case the Brokeback Mountain star turned another regurgitated Batman movie into a riveting film that will be Oscar worthy only because of his performance.

    Everyone and everything is secondary to Ledger. The Joker terrorizes Gotham, they actually label him with the hot button word "terrorist", with a carved-in smile, greasy-green hair and a legion of schizophrenics as his accomplices. He topped Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of The Joker in 1989, which many critics deemed impossible. The late-great Ledger wrapped The Joker right around his soul making a strong cast of characters into perfection.

    When The Joker isn't on the screen, the story becomes flat. For example, one of the good guys is morphed into a villain and suddenly we are introduced to a new comic book character, which felt unnecessary and a bit implausible. Whatever the case, just when you are almost bored, The Joker pops back up, like he knew you were waiting for him.

    Visually, The Dark Knight is eye-popping; the film is made for an IMAX screen with portions filmed on IMAX cameras. Each scene mesmerizes the viewer right into Gotham City with not one frame disappointing. The flawless special effects are classic and will still look modern twenty years from now.

    The Dark Knight also manages to have a stream of diverse characters from every race and ethnicity. I'm not sure if this multi-culturalism was intentional by the creators, but Gotham City was as diverse as New York City from the thugs to the politicians.

    Without a doubt, The Dark Knight is the best summer film to date, even though the film clocks in at an epic two hours and thirty minutes. Surprisingly, Ledger, in one of his last roles since his death in early 2008, didn't sadden the film. The Oscar nominee was so powerful as The Joker that you completely forgot this was a man who ended so tragically—now that is what you call a gifted actor.

    Grade: B+

    The Dark Knight is in theaters today.


    Posted by Clay :: 1:16 AM :: 9 comments


    Thursday, July 17, 2008

    Whenever Chantay Savage comes to mind I think how everyone thought she was a man. It wasn't a Ciara type rumor, people were literally claiming they saw Miss Savage tuck! When I saw her for the first time I said, "Well, she does look like she needs a hormone shot!" You know, sometimes I think these makeup artists at record labels have no idea how to paint ethnic women. Everything is contoured to give an illusion of "fine" features -- not even drags go that far.

    Chantay was more like a half-hit wonder. The Chicago native never managed to achieve pop or R&B success. Savage released three critically acclaimed albums in nineties, she was a good lyricist, played piano, drums and I always thought her voice sounded like Cher with a better range.

    Her first release was 1994's Here We Go..., which hit #89 on the Billboard album chart. Her second album, which was her biggest hit, was 1996's I Will Survive (Doin' It My Way). The album peaked at #14 and looked like Savage might be on the road to huge success. The album also included a great remake of Patti LaBelle's "Love Need Want".

    1999's critically acclaimed This Time, failed to deliver with none of the singles cracking the top 40 of the R&B charts. Check out Chantay's greatest hits.

    Strictly a hit in the hood, "Betcha'll Never Find" hit #14 on the Billboard R&B charts in 1994. The video is pure '90's and she looks like a completely different person from her later work.


    Savage's remake of the Gloria Gaynor classic, "I Will Survive" is the only remake of this song to be certified Gold. The song was a great interpretation by slowing down the torch anthem. Plus, she was looking like butch queen up in drags in the video.


    1997's "Remind Me Of (So Def)" was a song by Common, which featured Chantay Savage. The song charted at #9 on the R&B charts and would be Savage's last time in the top forty of any Billboard chart.


    Posted by Clay :: 11:19 AM :: 3 comments


    Wednesday, July 16, 2008

    Check out my interview with Lalah Hathaway for gay press. Her album, Self Portrait, hit stores last month. Click here to purchase.

    I first met Lalah Hathaway on a red carpet at event at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York. Celebrities were sashaying for the press and there was Lalah, looking stunning in a flowing, earth tone dress. She was taking questions from reporters when she was asked, “What are you wearing?” Lalah answered with a warm smile, “I’m just wearing Lalah!” Whenever I think of Lalah Hathaway I think of her “just wearing Lalah”, which is exactly what the R&B veteran is doing on her new album, appropriately titled Self Portrait.

    Self Portrait, her fourth overall album, a confessional, soul record, where Lalah channels the spirit of her late-great father, R&B icon, Donny Hathaway. The twelve-track album is Hathaway at her best: captivating, honest and emotional. Daddy would be proud.

    Hathaway chatted about the new album, her gay following and shares a few laughs.

    What can your gay fans expect from the new album Self Portrait?
    Basically, the same thing I hope that everyone expects, which is an album of quality and original material, written and co-written by me, produced and co-produced by me. I really hope it’s the music that they need, and when I say “they”, I mean everybody. I don’t really separate one group from the other, that’s just me.

    R&B has changed so much since the days of Donny Hathaway, your father. Many people don’t play instruments, lip-synching is common place. What is your reaction to the state of mainstream R&B?
    I’m kind of disappointed just in mainstream everything right now. I’m on this promo tour and every city you go to, black radio stations are either the hip-hop power stations or the oldie stations. It kind of gives you the impression that no new soul is being created. It used to be when I was growing up that each city had its own set of radio jocks. You would hear soul music, new music, local music—it was just more about the city in which you were listening to the radio. I think that R&B is homogenized and it makes me kind of sad.

    Back to the gays—when did you realize you had a following in the gay community?
    Did you say “back to the gays”! [Laughs]

    Yep, back to the gays!
    I like any group of people that we put the word “the” in front of! [Laughs]
    It’s funny, I always say “the straights” so I kind of go back and forth!
    That’s hilarious! [Laughs] Okay, I’m sorry… when did I realize I had a following in the gay community? In the last ten years or so and it’s a weird realization because it’s like—am I realizing that, what is that and why am I realizing it? It’s just like figuring out, oh, older black ladies come to my shows, wow, I wonder what that’s about.

    I know some old school queens who were big fans of your father when he was alive. Was your father at all aware of having any type of following in alternative or gay communities?
    I don’t know… I’m going to say, probably not. It’s easy for me to look at my web site and get the comments on MySpace to see who is coming to see me. I don’t know if it would have been as easy for him to know, I can’t say for sure.

    Do you have any thoughts on gay marriage?
    I had a talk with some friends of mine; they’re married for like twenty years. They felt like it was an abomination, which I understand for them because they got married in front of God and the state. They did what they thought was the only way to do it. But, I really think that whoever wants to be married, if you want to call it a civil union, whatever you want to call it, should be fine. I don’t feel like if two people live together and want to be together that they shouldn’t be able to benefit in the same way that married couples do. However that has to happen, I think that’s fair and that should happen. It seems likes a no-brainer to me.

    Who is the closest gay person in your life?
    Who is? You want names! [Laughs] I have a few friends. I mean, you know, I’m a musician. I grew up in this industry so I know a lot gay people. People who are bisexual—I know a couple trannys! You know, I get around a little bit!

    How are gay fans different than straight fans?
    None at all! I’m looking in the audience and I don’t know who is gay and who is not, so everybody is enthusiastic to me. Sexuality is not something I’m considering when people come to a show and they’re excited about it. The only group of people I found more enthusiastic than other groups is like Asian people because I can clearly see that they’re Asian! [Laughs] So, it would be hard to say.

    When I interviewed Patti LaBelle she said that straight people are stiff and boring.
    She said that? [Laughs] Well, you know, I’ve seen men at a Patti show dressed like Patti so that’s totally different! If you come with the Patti wig then you’re extra enthusiastic, but I can’t tell with my audience. That’s funny though, I love that…

    I know you don’t like to compartmentalize your fans, but any last shout out to your gay fans? They are very loyal to you.
    I understand, the thing is I have many fans on my web site and they are all extremely loyal. That’s how I measure the success because if I measured it on how much money I make or how many groups of people come see me—then I wouldn’t be able to measure it. I’m sure we have a lot of gay and lesbian people on the web site, but it’s not like we discuss it all the time. I just really appreciate everybody that can appreciate it—the work I do is for them. I hope we can get to a time, perhaps I’m naïve, where we don’t have to do gay press and straight press, the concept is kind of strange to me.

    Self Portrait (Stax Records) is in stores now.


    Posted by Clay :: 10:30 AM :: 4 comments


    Tuesday, July 15, 2008

    Yeah, it’s good to honor folks like Lena Horne and Sammy Davis, Jr., but we cannot forget the original queen of raunch, Millie Jackson. In case you don’t know, Millie Jackson was the first Lil’ Kim. Her music was graphic, explicit, comical and mortified a whole generation in the seventies. Millie once said people are embarrassed to say they own her records. Today, the Grammy nominee turns 64 years-old.

    I first got turned on to Millie Jackson in my late teens by a friend of mine who loved to lip synch Millie Jackson’s songs. He wasn’t a drag queen, but if there was an audience of at least two he would put a shirt on his head (you know, as a wig) and run around his apartment singing Millie’s Caught Up album. At the time I didn’t really appreciate it, but this was the same guy who introduced me to Nina Simone and Phyllis Hyman—I eventually became a Millie fan.

    I’m not sure how true this is but rumor has it Millie was discovered when she was at a nightclub and heckling one of the female performers on stage. Millie supposedly, “I can do better than that!” The performer and Millie got into an argument until the performer said, ”Well, come on stage and do it!” Millie jumped up and allegedly sang the hell out of “Don’t Play It No More” by Ben E. King. The rest is history…

    Millie Jackson’s biggest hit is 1973’s “Hurt So Good”, which hit #24 on the Pop Singles chart (now called the Billboard Hot 100). However, she garnered several hits on the Black Singles chart (now called R&B) like "A Child of God (It's Hard to Believe)” (1971), “If You’re Not Back In Love By Monday” (1977), “Love Is A Dangerous Game” (1987). Today, in this age of Internet, Millie is remembered for her graphic album covers like Back to the Shit!, E.S.P. (Extra Sexual Persuasion), and I Had To Say It.

    Last I heard Millie Jackson now hosts a radio show in Atlanta.

    Check out this raw 1984 performance of “"(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want to Be Right", which was originally recorded in 1974… the story of a mistress being in love with a married man. This must be JL King’s theme song!


    Posted by Clay :: 10:30 AM :: 4 comments


    Monday, July 14, 2008

    Well, just when you think the Brits are more progressive—you have Lillian Ladele, a marriage registrar in North London who refused to marry same sex couples even after civil partnerships were given legal recognition in 2005. Ladele, a staunch Christian, rants, "Gay rights should not be used as an excuse to bully and harass people over their religious beliefs."

    After reading several articles, I'm not exactly sure how she was harassed—she argues she was given the silent treatment and cried, "I had nobody to go to lunch with!" Also, Ladele claimed her boss said she shouldn't expect to get promoted because, "'by refusing to perform the civil partnerships I was failing to do my job.'"

    Whatever the case, Ladele filed a lawsuit against Islington Council in North London and according to the BBC, "Last week, a tribunal ruled that the North London council had ignored her religious objections to same-sex civil partnerships, finally bringing the 47-year-old single mother’s years of torment to an end."

    47 year-old single mother? Wait, before I get to that, according to the Daily Mail, Ladele told her boss, "'I told her I would not be able to conduct civil partnerships because it states in the Bible that marriage occurs between a man and a woman, not people of the same sex." When did someone’s Biblical interpretations about other groups qualify as facts on the job?

    The article also says, "She admits her Christianity was tested when, at the age of 20, she gave birth to a son out of wedlock." HYDRA!

    If Ladele is such a devout Christian wouldn't she know that according to the Bible all children born out of wedlock are an abomination and so are all of their descendants? How about if a woman is not a virgin when she is married then she too is an abomination? Wouldn't that mean, according to Ladele’s interpretation of the Good Book, that she will burn in the fiery depths of hell along with the homosexuals she won't marry? It's one thing to stand for your "religious beliefs", but cherry picking and ignoring particular verses that clearly applies to the straights, is hypocritical, ignorant, and down-right stupid.

    Some of her gay co-workers filed formal complaints against her "based on her refusal to conduct the partnerships, claiming she was discriminating against all gays, including them." Ladele was shocked and claims she is not homophobic, "‘I’m not homophobic. I’ve never had a problem with gay people or their lifestyle."

    This always kills me from the straights—you believe two people marrying, when you are living a life of unwed sin, is against God… you are denying a group a basic right that is legal (regardless of religious beliefs), and in her case, she has the legal power to say no to marrying -- but yet you want to claim you are not homophobic? That is just illogical... this is a pattern for prejudice people, they take all of the stands of discrimination and cry, "I'm not racist/sexist/homophobic/classist!"

    With a mediator involved there was an attempt at a compromise, “the council wrote her a letter offering a compromise – that she would not have to conduct the ceremonies if she agreed to register them. ‘But the legal aspect of the union is its registration, so I couldn’t accept,’ she says.” What exactly did Ladele think would happen if she registered gay couples? Would God strike her down? Give her a harsher punishment in hell, especially considering she had a child out of wedlock when she was twenty and probably fornicated since -- having men splash up in her for the last 27 years?

    Plus, aren't civil ceremonies a space where anyone can marry without religious affiliation? How can Ladele inject her own selective beliefs?

    Well, with a group called the “Christian Institute” behind her, who covered all of her legal costs, Lillian Ladele won her case that she was harassed on the basis of her religious beliefs. The U.K. doesn't have a written constitution, but I'm surprised at this ruling. As a friend told me, "Here in the U.S. they ruled that even pharmacists who do not believe in abortion must dispense the plan B pill."

    On another note, how sad that a woman of color, who according to the article, only made £31,000 a year, a single mother, who has more than likely experienced discrimination herself, would uphold discrimination of another group—and then gag when people dislike her for it!


    Posted by Clay :: 9:37 AM :: 16 comments


    Thursday, July 10, 2008

    If you are reading this and haven't heard of Stephanie Mills, quickly go to iTunes and download this woman's greatest hits. She has one of the best R&B catalogues of all time. I think if she would've put on a cheesy wig, had some boys flipping behind her in a random pop video, her career would've been as big as Whitney Houston.

    The eighties was the last decade where vocals mattered in R&B. It was all about the pipes and if you couldn't hit those notes, you couldn't hit R&B radio. For Brooklyn native, Stephanie Mills, she had the pipes from the start. By her teens she won Apollo Theater's amateur night a record six times, opened for the Isley Brothers, and signed to Motown Records. However, it was her 1975 role on Broadway, at only 16 years-old, as Dorothy in The Wiz that made her a star. Originally, Mills was signed to star in the film version, but a 33 year-old Diana Ross snatched the role from the teen. Mills didn't let it get her down, especially since The Wiz was a critical and box office failure—but still a classic in the black community.

    Stephanie racked up some hits on the disco scene, locking in a gay following with going from Broadway to the clubs. Stephanie once said, "I get along better with gay men than regular females. When I go out to the discos, most of the men I hang out with are gay. I relate to them better; they are more open about a lot of things.”

    In 1979 came her first Gold record with Whatcha Gonna Do with My Lovin', which hit the top 40 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Throughout her career she would garner three more albums in the top 40. All of her albums in the '80's would chart at least in the top 12 of the R&B charts, with four hitting the top five and 1987's, her biggest hit, If I Were Your Woman, landing at #1.

    It's tough to go down memory lane with Stephanie Mills because there are so many of her songs that I love. I will give it at try...

    All the years of loneliness came crashing down on me..." Damn, that’s some good R&B lyrics! “Comfort of a Man” was from 1989’s Home and the song went to #8 on the Billboard R&B charts in 1990. The song is classic Stephanie—heartbreaking yet romantic at the same time. By the way, the way the man in the video is withering on the bed—he looks like he wants and needs the comfort of a man too!


    Fast forward to 3:40 to see this dynamic performance of Stephanie Mills performing her #1 R&B hit "I Feel Good All Over" at the Apollo. She devastates the song, the crowd is losing their mind and Stephanie is enjoying every moment -- it's all about that note at 7:55. This song is one of my faves and on heavy rotation on my iPod. Quick fact - "I Deel Good All Over" is a song that Patti LaBelle passed on... I love Miss Patti, but for some reason I don't think this song would've worked for her.


    Please watch this clip in full! I've posted this before, but I think this is one of the best live performances on YouTube. "Home" was Stephanie Mills fifth and final #1 on the R&B charts in 1989 (didn't even chart on the Billboard Hot 100). Ironically, "Home" was a song that would start her career and would be her last big hit ("Comfort of a Man" was the second single from the Home album, as I mentioned above). Catch how she walks and holds the note at 3:52!


    Posted by Clay :: 9:45 AM :: 14 comments


    Wednesday, July 09, 2008

    The final season of Soul Food hit stores yesterday. This season included guest appearance from Mario Van Peebles, Hill Harper, who played an HIV positive character, and the legendary Diahann Carroll. Check out my review of the DVD for the EDGE.

    Also, if you are wondering what is up with the star of Soul Food, Nicole Ari Parker, check out an interview with her over at (the interview wasn't written by me).


    Posted by Clay :: 9:31 AM :: 2 comments


    Monday, July 07, 2008

    Check out my interview with Terrance Dean, author of Hiding in Hip-Hop, about two months ago for the LGBT Center in New York City. I grilled Dean pretty hard, all with a sense of humor, so I commend him for standing his own.

    By the way, around 6:45 Dean references a "recent" CDC report from 2007 that supposedly says "many" of the women who contracted HIV/AIDS were from men who were participating in "down low sexual behavior". I have not been able to find this report from the CDC so if anyone knows of it please let me know, I would like to read it.

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    Posted by Clay :: 9:06 AM :: 29 comments


    Friday, July 04, 2008

    Yesterday, while waiting for the train, I saw a young man of color (I couldn't tell if he was Latin or black), wearing an oversized T-shirt that had Sen. Barack Obama on one side and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the other -- he was selling drugs to several people, one who was a young woman with a baby in a stroller.

    Hope you are enjoying your Fourth!

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    Posted by Clay :: 10:47 AM :: 6 comments


    Thursday, July 03, 2008

    Everyone enjoy your 4th of July. Below is a repost from a year ago -- Frederick Douglas gave an amazing speech on July 5th, 1852. A speech that is often forgotten.

    156 years ago today, July 5th, 1852, the iconic Frederick Douglass gave a speech in his hometown of Rochester, New York titled "What To The American Slave Is Your 4th Of July?"

    Little background— Harriet Beecher Stowe, who was a white woman, released Uncle Tom's Cabin in March of 1852. Well, the book detailed the bloody conditions of slavery and many white folks were in an unruly shock. That good white-guilt was flooding the minds of many Americans and Abraham Lincoln once credited the book as starting the Civil War.

    By July of 1852 a 34 year-old Frederick Douglass, also a former slave, had just about enough of the foolishness of the 4th of July. Can you imagine rich whites rejoicing over patriotism and throwing firecrackers in the air knowing that over 80% of black Americans are still slaves? Douglass decided to deliver in an unapologetic blast of truth, venom and fact. Here was the first punch:

    “What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us?” He continues, “I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence bequeathed by your fathers is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.”

    This nearly brings a tear to my left-eye. Especially considering the legendary quote from the Virginia Gazette in July 1777, “Thus may the 4th of July, that glorious and ever memorable day, be celebrated through America, by the sons of freedom, from age to age till time shall be no more. Amen and Amen.” What type of hypocritical, socially irresponsible hogwash is that? Obviously I could never feel the rage that Frederick Douglass felt, who was only a freeman for fourteen years when he made the speech.

    Here is another excerpt:

    “I do not hesitate to declare with all my soul that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this Fourth of July! Whether we turn to the declarations of the past or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future.”

    Can you imagine the risk Douglass took as a former slave to make this speech for every white person in America to read? Emancipation was still 13 years away and the Civil War wasn’t even close to being started. Many argue if it wasn’t for this speech Emancipation could’ve happened thirty years later versus thirteen.

    This is not to say you shouldn’t eat on the 4th of July or spend time with friends and family, but realize the history of this American holiday, which is so un-American it rots like a bloated corpse after Hurricane Katrina. Frederick Douglass changed the world. I will leave you with this:

    “Your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States at this very hour.”

    To read the full speech click here.


    Posted by Clay :: 12:18 PM :: 3 comments


    Wednesday, July 02, 2008

    Yeah, I know Samantha Fox isn't an "urban" artist, but I loved this trashy white chick from London. The big hair, ripped jeans, and leather jackets -- she was sotcore '80's porn meets pop.

    Samantha Fox, which is her real name, got her start when her mum took some provocative pictures of when she was only 16. Mommie Dearest submitted the pics to an amateur modeling contest, the teen was soon posing topless in popular UK magazines -- with her parent's approval.
    In 1986, only 20 years old, Fox debuted with her first album, Touch Me, which went gold in the U.S. The following year she released her second album, Samantha Fox, produced by '80's R&B group Full Force. Her last successful album was 1988's I Wanna Have Some Fun, which marked her third consecutive gold record.

    Samantha would continue a bit into the nineties with some great remix albums and many of her song surviving the house music craze of the early nineties.

    Fox wasn't much of a vocalist, dancer, or innovator, but she managed to combined R&B with European pop music, which resulted in some classic campy song for the '80's. Check out her greatest hits...

    "Touch Me" was Fox's first hit, which hit #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1986. This line gives one of the best lines in bad pop music "like a tramp in the night, I was begging for you to treat my body like you wanted to... ahhhh!"


    "Naughty Girls (Need Love To)" is Fox's biggest hit, which hit #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1988.

    Probably her most memorable song, which peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100. Full Force is emoting in their treacherous Jheri curls while Fox is showing the interracial love, proving this to be her last big hit. I hope she is still having fun...


    Posted by Clay :: 11:50 AM :: 4 comments


    Tuesday, July 01, 2008

    Summary: An alcoholic superhero gets a makeover by an ambitious PR executive who wants to make him more likeable, profitable, and not take the law into his own hands.

    Review: Will Smith, the 39 year-old Philadelphia native is Hollywood royalty, and he will more than likely strike gold again with Hancock, which is in theaters tomorrow. You would think folks would get tired of seeing Smith as Mr. Good Guy, but for some reason he manages to make it fresh each time. As the tagline reads, Hancock is "not your average superhero."

    Smith delivers as Hancock, the unruly superhero who is loved by some but mainly hated by the City of Los Angeles. Jason Bateman is a PR executive who wants to polish up Hancock so he is a help to his community versus a nuance. Bateman's wife, played by Oscar winner Charlize Theron, is weary of Hancock and the threat his powers causes to her family.

    In the beginning, Hancock feels like a trite superhero film with overzealous special effects and a loopy plot. However, by the second half there is an engaging plot turn that manages to rejuvenate its audience without the film taking itself too seriously. Every dull moment at the start of Hancock is made up with witty action for the rest of the film.

    Sure, this is no Bad Boys or Men in Black, but it's probably one of the better superhero films to come out this year. Yes, there are plenty of plot holes and the CGI effects could easily land this film on the Cartoon Network, but Hancock is still a fun summer film.

    Will Smith has had nearly a flawless career when it comes to films, excluding The Legend of Bagger Vance and Wild Wild West, and Hancock will more than likely be no different. No matter how fluffy one might think his work is, he always manages to choose a good script and balance the cheese ball with substance. Expect another blockbuster for Smith and it will be well deserved.

    Grade: B

    Hancock is in theaters tomorrow, July 2nd.


    Posted by Clay :: 9:29 AM :: 11 comments


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