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 BET.com. 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 BET.com and a member of New York Film Critics Online. He can be reached at claycane@gmail.com.


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    Friday, August 29, 2008

    Go to Essence.com to check out my interview with Jody Watley. This week, Watley launched http://www.jodywatleymusicstore.com, a place where fans can buy her new and unreleased music.

    In the interview we discuss being an independent artist, how Jody felt about being shunned by the black community, and some old school beef with Karyn White (a name you haven't heard in a minute!). Click below for the interview:

    Jody Watley: Flashback Fridays

    ***
    This weekend is your last chance to vote in the Black Weblog Awards. You got me the nomination now click on the link below to cast your actual vote for ClayCane.net for Best LGBT Blog!

    http://www.blackweblogawards.com/database/step1.php

    ***

    It has been an epic week of the Democratic National Convention. This is my first time ever watching the DNC and it's solely because of Sen. Barack Obama. The main speeches were incredible: Sen. Ted Kennedy, John Lewis, Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton, Sen. Hillary Clinton, and of course Sen. Barack Obama.

    Ted Kennedy is truly an icon. John Lewis is one of our greatest American heroes. Michelle Obama was poised and classy without comprising her integrity -- if people still want to find a reason to not like her, then so be it. Good 'ole Bill had to bite the bullet and give it up for Obama.

    Hillary gave the best speech I ever heard from her. I loved the Harriet Tubman analogy, "If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there’s shouting after you, keep going. Don’t ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going." A couple things though, Clinton called Tubman a New Yorker, which she wasn't, she was a native of Maryland. In addition, supposedly Tubman never even said this quote. Oh, well, Clinton lied about Bosnia, NAFTA, Obama's stance on healthcare, and Iraq -- you know how she do!

    Obama delivered another dynamic speech. We are less than three months away from the election. One day I feel like it will happen, the next day I'm doubtful...you know the ways of folk and that train ain't ever late!

    Enjoy Labor Day Weekend and I'll be back Tuesday.

    Labels: ,

    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 PM :: 4 comments

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    Thursday, August 28, 2008

    And what? I absolutely don't care if Pat Benatar is rock! She was an eighties diva and has some of the greatest songs in rock history. Pat was one of those artists who transcended her genre. Everyone loved Pat Benatar. I can remember as a kid the gospel choir singing a speaking-tongues-oh-lawdy-Jesus version of "We Belong". It was serious.

    Also, who can forget the "Love Is A Battlefield" video? Miss Pat as a runaway and found a gaggle of girls to rule the streets with.

    Pat was huge in the '80's, garnering an endless series of top ten Billboard Hot 100 hits, a record breaking four consecutive Grammys from 1980 to 1983, and according to Billboard she is the most successful female rock vocalist of all time (although she has never had a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100).

    While Pat was a rock diva, her vocals were often downplayed. Armed with a three octave range, Pat studied voice and opera all throughout school. At 55 years-old, Pat is currently on tour and according to the reviews, her voice has sustained. Check out some of my favorite Pat songs.

    "Just when you think you got it down, your heart securely tied and bound, they whisper, promises in the dark..." I love this rock ballad by a frantic Pat. Check out this live version of 1983's "Promises in the Dark".



    ***

    I used to be obsessed with 1985's movie Legend of Billie Jean. It was the story of a girl who was sexually harassed and suddenly turned into a feminist superhero. "Fair is fair!" No one else but Pat Benatar could sing the movie's theme "Invincible". The song charted at #10 on Billboard Hot 100.

    ***

    Yeah, it's typical to chose "Love Is A Battlefield" but any excuse to watch this video is good enough for me. I just love at the end when the bad girls are all saying bye to each other with feminine gangster signs -- all while the sun rises. Where are they going? Is no one walking in the same direction? Shouldn't they continue walking in a group? Classic!

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 8 comments

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    Wednesday, August 27, 2008

    Everyone prepared me for racism as a child. I learned how to deal with racism like I learned how to walk. My mother, father, grandfather, aunts, uncles, neighbors, teaches, cousins—anyone I came in contact with let me know this is a racist country. My grandfather was raised in the Jim Crow South and would tell me horrific stories that I am hoping he embellished because they were just too terrifying for a human to live through.

    It was always enforced that I am not inferior because of my color, no matter how many times I was called a nigger. Get your education, more experiences, and realize your life will not be defined by the ignorance of others. I was taught to be a proud black man. Therefore, I never felt insecure about my blackness.

    No one prepared me for homophobia. No one told me how to combat it, why it's there, or showed me documentaries. There wasn't a Martin Luther King, Jr. or Malcolm X for me to admire when the road got heavy…when I had been damned to hell too many times…when I heard gay men are destined to die of AIDS…when I was told it was unnatural…when I was told I could change if I really wanted to…when my family rejected me…when my family finally stopped rejecting me but I still can't mention "it" in their presence. On the daily, I am more affected by homophobia.

    I don't feel “oppressed” as a black man. Yes, I experience racism, but I don't feel oppressed. Yes, there are imbalances, but I don't feel that my rights are being taken away -- maybe it's because I live in New York? I simply won’t stand for someone oppressing me based on complexion. I have felt more oppressed being poor, gay, but not black. Racism is a known sin.

    I know what to say when someone is racist. When I was in college and we would have discussions about race, I could get 90% of the class on my side. Let the discussion be about homophobia, all you can hear is a huff, puff, and ignoramus mumblings.

    Two of my gay male friends have been in a relationship for over five years. I don't have any straight friends who are currently partnered for five years. They can't get married, they live together, travel together, but their union cannot be legally protected. It shakes me up that they can't even give each other a kiss goodbye at the airport with at least a moment of thinking, "This might not be a good idea."

    I am not saying racism doesn't exist in my life, surely it does. Jena 6, Sean Bell—clearly racist and a whole country of black folks rallied behind them. Steven Parrish, Terrance Aeriel, Iofemi Hightower, and Dashon Harvey—names you probably never heard of. No one is rallying for them and their family doesn't even want to discuss the sexuality of the victims, regardless if their murder was based on the possibility of them being gay. For black gays, you are more at risk of being attacked for being gay than black.

    I cannot remember ever hearing in my childhood that it's wrong to hate someone because of their sexual orientation. Therefore, I cannot remember ever hearing in my childhood that I should not hate myself because of my sexual orientation. I had to learn it on my own and so do you.

    Labels: ,

    Posted by Clay :: 12:43 AM :: 30 comments

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    Tuesday, August 26, 2008

    Check out this post from last year, about me working on a plantation as a young'un!

    ***

    I was raised in Washington State in my early childhood and grew up incredibly poor. Lawd, we was po' and at our very poorest, which was usually the end of the month, we would catch this savage, dirty, baby blue bus at four o'clock in the morning to a berry plantation. Yes, berry picking on plantations, similar to picking cotton. It was horrendous...my mother could never find a babysitter at four in the morning so I had to go with her, always in the summer and normally on the weekends.

    The berry plantations were filled with some poor whites, a few Native Americans, but overwhelmingly Mexican—the lowest class of people in Washington State. Many of the Mexicans were illegal immigrants and many of the poor whites were those on welfare. Berry plantations were one of the only places they could find a job under the table, which was paramount for the illegal Mexicans and poor whites (for those who didn't grew up below the poverty line—every dime you make on welfare you had to report, therefore, it's even more challenging to get off the system because the govenrment snatches the gross amount out of your check each month).

    Berry picking was basically slave labor…exhausting work for pennies.

    We would begin bright and Jim Crow early on a hellish, dusty bus ride to some deserted plantation that could've been the location for Roots. There was a never-ending field with rows and rows of berry patches surrounded by a fortress of thorns and leaves on each berry patch. Oh yes, you had to work to get those berries. God forbid you smashed one—that is a half a penny in the dirt!

    We picked as many berries as possible, filling up each massive crate; one crate would literally take about an hour and a half to fill. For each crate we would earn something to the effect of $5.00, which was pretty good for the early '80's—you could get some milk, butter, bread for your government cheese, and still have change left over! However, if you ate their scraps for lunch (my mother always managed to bring some type of lunch) they would dock that out of your pay. Some of the people would get their first meal of the day during lunch on the berry plantations.

    Who are the people who owned the berry plantations? Take a wild guess...rich, white men, stomping around the plantation making sure the poor folk were working for their pay.

    Digging our hands into the berry patches we would encounter thorns, freakish bugs, rough leaves and the stench of fertilizer. The sun was always blazing and you couldn't wear shorts or short sleeves shirts because the bugs would eat your raw skin.

    To ease the pain, sometimes we would break out into song as we were picking! No, it wasn't a Negro spiritual, but it would be something strange like a Christmas jingle, I guess to take us out of the heat and hellish environment.

    I would pick and pick with my mom telling me I could take a rest at anytime. Nonetheless, the deal was any parent who brought kids (there were tons of kids!) had to WORK...yes, this wasn't a daycare so even the children had to earn their "wage". My little hands would get pricked by the thorns, bugs flying under my shirt, the hot sun beaming on my brown face...by noon, and nearly delirious, I would pass out in the dirt.

    Whenever I think of immigration I think of the Mexicans I met on those berry plantations. Doing the work that people in Washington State would only do in their worst nightmare and enduring the terrible treatment from the plantation "owners". No matter how poor some whites were, and even some blacks, they would never do "that" type of labor. So the argument against immigration is always odd to me, similar to how many whites in the antebellum South thought that if slaves had freedom it would take away their jobs…black men are still below the poverty line.

    Whenever I hear the word “immigration” my small taste of plantation life pops to mind. Also, WHENEVER I see a blackberry (for some reason not strawberries or blueberries) I instantly think of standing in the heat, struggling to help my mom fill her crate up with berries so we could earn our five dollars.

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 8:34 AM :: 9 comments

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    Monday, August 25, 2008

    Every once in awhile I get a gig that I know I will truly love. When I found out I would be reviewing a performance from the legendary R&B quartet, En Vogue, at B.B. King Blues Club in New York City—I was ecstatic. Special thanks to the publicity department at B.B. Kings!

    En Vogue is my youth. Taking me back to middle school and high school, when people would try to harmonize in the hallways—they all wanted to be En Vogue or Boyz II Men. Now, they are dropping it like it’s hot in the hallway, forgetting the talent…but I digress.

    The Funky Divas gave an excellent show. It’s funny, I have seen Madonna, Prince, Janet Jackson and other icons live, but there is nothing better than a small venue performance. It takes true vocals, stage presence, and soul to perform when the crowd isn’t being held back by barriers.

    En Vogue set the place on a feminine fire with their drop-dead gorgeous looks (I can’t believe these women are in their early forties and they look better than every girl group that came after them—that includes the haggard Danity Kane and the Pussycat Dolls!), absolutely flawless vocals, and a presence that showed a well-seasoned group who paid their dues.

    As I say in the review I did for the EDGE, En Vogue was a true group—an R&B quartet with no lead. No insult to some of my favorite female groups from rock to R&B, but when there is a lead, all the other girls feel like backup singers. In En Vogue, everyone had a voice, class, and they were equally divas.

    Well, of course Dawn Robinson, the Shannen Doherty of R&B, wasn’t there. Supposedly, she is joining the tour in September. Still, the other girls made up for it, especially Terry Ellis, that southern gal sang like she was on Broadway. I am not sure if anyone knows this, but was Dawn Robinson the strongest vocalist out of the four? To me, they were all fairly equal but considering Dawn left En Vogue, reunited in 2005, left again, and is now back—I’m just wondering if she was the vocal diva for her to be so...let's say...testy.

    My only critique: I was disappointed they didn’t sing “Don’t Go” from the Born to Sing album or “Runaway Love”—those are R&B classics! I still have the cassette to the Runway Love EP! Also, En Vogue performed to tracks, not a live band, considering the opening act (forgot those German girls’ names) had live music, En Vogue should’ve had one.

    Check out my full review for the EDGE. Of course someone already put the video to the show on YouTube. It isn’t the best quality, but it’s worth it to watch them kill “Giving Something He Can Feel” and their #2 Billboard Hot 100 hit "Don't Let Go (Love)".

    En Vogue: Still Funky

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 5 comments

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    Friday, August 22, 2008

    Tomorrow is the legendary Latex Ball. If you are in New York City and haven't been to a ball -- this is the ball to go to. It's free, fun, and a celebrity manages to stroll through... rumor has it (I have no idea how true this is), Tyra Banks will show up with Isis Tsunami, the first transgender on America's Next Top Model.

    The ball traditionally starts at midnight (doors open at 8pm). Pasted below is the order of categories.

    Order of Categories

    1. Women’s Face

    2. BQ In Drags Flawless Face Part 1: AS A BOY

    3. Female Figure Runway $100 sponsored by http://www.runwaynews.com/

    4. BQ Vogue Fem- $100

    5. FQ Luscious Body

    6. BQ In Drags Realness

    7. Mini Grand #1 Designers Delight- $300

    8. New Way (In Memory Of Willie Ninja)

    9. BQ Cara Everlasting

    10. Team Sex Siren- (1 FQ, 1 BQ)

    11. Drags Vogue Performance $100

    12. FQ Bangie Realness- (In Memory Of Bangie Angie Infiniti)

    13. Everlasting Legend $200

    14. FQ La Cara- $100 sponsored by Timotheus Smart & Co.

    15. Xtravagant Bazaar (In Memory Of Avis Penda’vis) $200

    16. Grand Prize (As A House) $1500

    17. BQ All American Runway- $150

    18. Old Way Pop Dip And Spin $150

    19. Woman’s Body

    20. BQ Runway- $100

    21. Labels, Labels And More Labels

    22. Mr. And Mrs. Out Of Towner

    23. Womans Vogue

    24. Mini Grand #2 House Collaboration/ Triple Threat- $300

    25. BQ In Drags Flawless Face Part 2: AS A GLAM GIRL

    26. Realness With A Twist $100

    27. Transman Realness

    28. FQ Vogue Performance- $100

    29. BQ Realness Thugs, Pretty boys, School boys

    30. BQ Body

    31. Butch Realness & His Bitch

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 12:28 PM :: 4 comments

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    Thursday, August 21, 2008

    Well, you knew it was coming after my throwback to Mariah—I had to take it to Whitney.

    For Whitney Houston I have the same argument as Mariah—someone start repressing her again! Every since the late nineties people have said Whitney was forced to make the pop of the eighties, she wasn't allowed to be herself and she was always a hood girl at heart (a hood girl who had a mother singing backup for Aretha Franklin and was on the cover of Seventeen Magazine as a teen…yeah, okay). Therefore, Clive Davis repressed Whitney’s unruly savagery and made her spit out these endless pop hits, devoid of any soul.

    This is a lil' bit of revisionist history. Do people really think My Love Is Your Love or Just Whitney is more of a "soulful" album than 1985's Whitney Houston or 1987's Whitney? Granted, she had horrible "Gem is truly outrageous" wigs and did ham it up in videos like "How Will I Know" or "I Wanna Dance With Somebody", but for the most part—Whitney was soul.

    Yes, I know Daddy Clive allegedly toned her voice down, reportedly saying it was "too black.” However, if the real Whitney is “Whatchulookinat”, the tragic first single from 2002’s Just Whitney then Whit needs to be toned. Furthermore, why do people associate “black” with bad grammar and hip-hop? If "You Give Good Love" was titled "Ya' Gives Good Luv" it's suddenly urban? Please...

    Yes, I know Whitney received some backlash in the black community for her massive success, but to act as if she was soulless is asinine. "Where Do Broken Hearts Go", "One Moment in Time", "The Greatest Love of All", "Saving All My Love for You"—SOUL. If this is repression then someone call Massa' Clive, "We needs ya’ Massa Clive! We needs ya' to save Missy Whitney!" After hearing that horrible Akon song, (why the hell would she do a song with Akon?), I am deeply afraid of her new album.

    I won't run down Whitney's chart history... it's legendary. Check out some of her greatest old school hits.

    Whitney singing her 1987 #1 hit “Where Do Broken Hearts Go”. I don’t know how exactly Clive “toned down” Whitney because she is punishing this legendary ballad.


    ***

    This is my all-time favorite Whitney Houston song, “Didn’t We Almost Have It All”, another #1 hit in 1987. Mind you, this 1987 performance is when she was incredibly ill and still managed to annihilate every note! Clive wasn’t having any cancellations!


    ***

    In a horrible Shelia E. "Glamorous Life" wig, Whitney devastates her first number one hit, “You Give Good Love”. As one of the comments on the YouTube clip says, “She just sends every note into the stratosphere!”

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 21 comments

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    Tuesday, August 19, 2008

    For the second year I am a finalist for the Black Weblog Awards for Best LGBT Blog. Thanks to everyone who nominated me!

    Other finalists are some of my favorite blogs like Soulbounce.com, Marz, and Lenzism. To cast your official vote, click on the link below.

    http://www.blackweblogawards.com/database/step1.php

    ***
    Last week I attended a concert for blues diva, Irma Thomas. That might be too old school for some of you young'uns out there, but she was the original performer of The Rolling Stones "Time Is On Your Side". Her new album, Simply Grand, is in stores now.

    Click here for a review of the show at Joe's Pub


    ***
    This week I'll be interviewing Jody Watley for Essence.com. Watley is the Grammy winning hitmaker of songs like "Friends", "Real Love", and "Looking For A New Love." Also, she was an original member of the group Shalamar. Feel free to submit your questions in the comments!
    Check out a live performance of "Everything", my favorite Jody Watley song.

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 9:50 AM :: 3 comments

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    Thursday, August 14, 2008

    Wow, time is moving on when Mariah Carey's music is officially classic. This is back when she still had her last name, before the breast implants, before the 12 year-old meets eighties hooker outfits, and before she went hip-hop. What's strange is early Mariah was chopped up for being too plastic and pop. Now that she is the exact opposite, we all want the plastic and pop back!

    While I think Butterfly (1997) is her best album, that was her first journey into hip-hop. Everything from there has been a too short miniskirt, washed-out blonde, Nick Cannon marriage, epic downward spiral. Mariah said Tommy Mottola was oppressing her and wouldn't allow her to do the music she truly "wanted" to do -- well, maybe Tom had the right vision, dearest Mariah.

    If Mimi was coming to Tommy saying, "I have this great idea for a song about rolling around the floor and telling all these boys to touch my body -- then I will be in the video with socks up to my knees!" And, his response was, "No! Sing this song called 'Vision of Love' instead!" Well, thank God for that!

    Mariah is an amazing songwriter, something she never gets credit for. Now, she seems to have lost nearly all songwriting creativity. Looking at the linear notes from Musicbox (1993), Daydream (1995), or Emotions (1991) -- she wrote or co-wrote practically every song. Something Whitney Houston or Celine Dion could never do. I wish Mariah the songwriter would return. I don't mean a vapid song like "Bye Bye", which she sang on Oprah and acted as if it was some lyrical masterpiece, but something introspective. She did it when she was twenty, why couldn't she do it at nearly forty?

    No need to list her chart positions or album sales, her first four albums sold over twelve million each, two of which went Diamond (Daydream, Musicbox). Here are some of my favorite classic Mariah Carey songs...

    "If It's Over" wasn't a single, but it was from the Emotions album, written by Carey and the legendary Carole King. This song is absolutely riveting: lyrics, melody, and her vocal. Compared to the 2008 Mariah, I don't even recognize this 1992 Mariah Carey. If this was oppression from her 'ole man then someone oppress her again! Check out this performance from the Grammy Awards -- straight soul music!


    ***
    "Looking In" is a song you may have never heard, the last song on the Daydream album. It wasn't a single, but it's Mariah at her lyrical best with a subtle but strong vocal. The song is haunting with the lines, "She waits in insecurity and hides herself inside of me." She is giving me some Sade moments there. Check out the song below and ignore the trashy photo montage.


    ***

    Even if you have never been a Mariah Carey fan, it's worth it to sit down and listen to this video clip in full of a 1990 Mariah singing "Vanishing". Hands down, this is Mariah's best song and probably one of the best ballads of all time. It's right up there with Barbara Streisand's "The Way We Were", Whitney's "The Greatest Love of All", and Aretha Franklin 's version of "Natural Woman". The difference from those artists is that Mariah actually wrote this song -- nearly twenty years later, "Vanishing" still sounds modern today.

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 9:33 AM :: 17 comments

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    Wednesday, August 13, 2008

    Summary: A cast of diva actors, set out to make the epic war film. After on-set drama, the cast is dropped in an actual war zone to truly feel their characters.

    Review: Good news, Robert Downey, Jr. playing a black guy, is not offensive. Before anyone shouts black face, I would recommend seeing the film.

    Tropic Thunder is a movie-within-a-movie and Downey plays a five-time Australian Oscar winner, Kirk Lazarus. After a pigmentation alteration procedure, Kirk ambitiously takes on the role of the black character, Sgt. Osiris. Even with a few inappropriate racial jokes that made me squirm at times, the creators of Tropic Thunder managed to handle the white guy going black with wit and humor—Lazarus going black was essential to the plot.

    Starring and directed by Ben Stiller, Tropic Thunder takes a needed stab at the powers that be in Hollywood who believe fluff equals box office success. The hilarity starts right from the beginning with fake previews, which I could've watched for a full two hours, and the stock actors like the fledging action star turned serious actor, Tugg Speedman, played by Ben Stiller. Also, the rapper turned actor, Alpa Chino, played by newcomer Brandon T. Jackson and Jack Black as Jeff Portnoy, the drug-induced comedian. Every moment in Tropic Thunder you say, "I've seen that before" and you're glad someone is mocking it. For example, Jackson's character endorses a power drink called "Booty Sweat" and the snack "Bust A Nut Bars".

    Robert Downey Jr. is the true star of the film, landing each joke and convincingly plays a white guy who can convincingly play black. However, at times Downey’s Negro voice and blackedy-black jokes were grating, especially during an argument over the N-word. Nonetheless, Downey's delivery is pure, funny, and void of racism.

    We also get excellent cameos from Toby McGuire, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Tyra Banks, and a great appearance from Lance Bass, which made the audience bust out in laughter. There is also a secondary starring cast, which includes Nick Nolte as the man who wrote the book the movie is based on. The always high-octane Matthew McConaughey is the greedy Hollywood agent. Then there is a small but memorable role from Tom Cruise -- who I didn't even recognize until I saw the credits roll. It was a relief to see Will Smith's best friend make an audience laugh... he hasn't had a sense of humor since the nineties!

    Sure, there are some moments when the plot falls right down a gun barrel, the comedy is too over the top and the jokes are downright gross. Still, in comparison to the other slapstick comedies that are spit out yearly, like all those Will Ferrell movies, this movie-within-a-movie strikes above the rest.

    Grade: B

    Tropic Thunder is in theatres today.

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 11 comments

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    Monday, August 11, 2008

    This weekend brought the passing of Isaac Hayes, the original sexy bald-headed chocolate man, and Bernie Mac, the edgy comedian who went from jokes about child abuse to the family friendly The Bernie Mac Show.

    In a March 2003 story, Keith Boykin highlighted a story on Bernice Mac from Rolling Out Magazine, explaining how he overcame homophobia:

    "In an interview with Rico Washington, Mac admits he had to change the depiction of his nephew as a flamboyant gay character in The Kings of Comedy standup routine to settle a family dispute.
    'I didn't really know I hurt my nephew. . . . I came home to see my family, and he wouldn't speak to me,' Mac said. 'I'm a comedian, I'm writing jokes. I'm writing stories and it was funny. But I was killing him. Especially when I said 'faggot.'

    To make up for his act, Mac showed up at his nephew's school unannounced and heaped praise on the nephew as 'the closest thing to my life,' the paper reported. Then, when Mac's new television show was in production, he decided to take a different approach. 'I couldn't do him like that again,' he said, and he changed the character so that his nephew was more like Mac himself as a little boy." Good for Bernie Mac.

    Isaac Hayes is an icon. He is a three-time Grammy winner and the first African-America to win an Academy Award for a non-acting category, which was the theme song from Shaft for Best Original Song. Hayes continued his legendary status as the Chef from South Park up till 2006. There was some controversy about him leaving South Park, if it was due to a stroke, salary, the creators of South Park mocking his religion (Scientology), or a combination of everything. Nonetheless, the boy who once picked cotton in Tennessee achieved international fame and will definitely go down in history as a pioneer in soul and funk.
    ***

    I don't get all this hoopla over Beyonce supposedly looking like a white woman in her billionth endorsement. As I said in a post months ago, many celebrities go from black to white. Still, I don't see much of a difference in the L’Oreal ad; she’s always had light base that doesn't match her neck. After some turbo airbrushing to even out her color—this is what you get.
    Also, I don’t blame L’Oreal who quickly responded and said they did not lighten the photo or alter any of her features. I highly doubt a photo was approved without the consent of Beyonce’s people.

    Now, what I find offensive is Beyonce selling L'Oreal's Féria hair color products in that awful Lindsay Wagner AKA Bionic Woman wig! How can you sell hair color when your hair is Sassy Gal #2 from Ricky's?

    That would be like Michael Jackson promoting Clarins Lait Self-Tanner!

    Lil' Kim as a spokesperson for Carol's Daughter!

    Ne-Yo
    endorsing Men’s Rogaine Foam!

    Hillary Clinton
    giving marriage advice!

    Talk about false advertising!

    Labels: ,

    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 17 comments

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    Thursday, August 07, 2008

    If you think there is a deficit of female rappers, then there is a complete drought of female reggae artists. In the hyper-masculine, homophobic land of reggae artists women rarely get their shine outside of Jamaica. I would argue the hyper masculinity is part of the reason why a female reggae artist hasn't emerged since Patra in 1993.

    Born Dorothy Smith, in 1993 a 22 year-old Patra, which is an abbreviated version of Cleopatra, released her first record Queen of the Pack to a lukewarm reception. However, after prettying up Shabba Ranks in the song "Family Affair", Lawd knows that's hard to do, American audiences took notice. After heavy rotation on Video Juke Box and BET, Patra was a star.

    Queen of the Pack went Gold and reigned at #1 for13 consecutive weeks on Billboard's reggae chart -- at the time she held the record of the longest album at #1 on the reggae charts.

    The pop meets reggae Scent of Attraction was released in 1995. The album delivered her one and only top 40 hit and was basically a success, locking down what looked like a promising career. Still, Patra vanished after her 1995 release and didn't return until 2003 with an independent label. Her last release was in 2005.

    Rumors swirled the reggae diva's disappearing act was due to a drug addiction, but in a 2004 interview with the Jamaica Observer Patra said she "took a break".

    It's a shame she took this "break" because who knows what could've happened with Patra's career. Scent of Attraction was a sign that the dookie braid diva was going more pop -- she could've been the Rihanna of the nineties! Check out Patra's greatest hits...

    "Queen of the Pack", the title track from her first album, did not hit any of the American charts, but if you had Video Juke Box you remember this song. I just love how she is throwing, rolling, and popping her coochie all over the video -- then staring down at it like she wants to watch too. You know you were doing the dance in the mirror! By the way... some of the women in this video, my God, they look like they need to be hosed down expeditiously! There are so many beautiful women in Jamaica, Patra obviously pulled out the most homely girls so she could stand out.



    ***
    "My property is my property!" You know you loved "Romantic Call", which featured Yo-Yo. I vividly remember this song on heavy rotation from video channels to the radio. People were willingly embracing a female reggae artist. All of the girls rocked Patra's signature dookie braids pulled up with a bright colored scrunchy, letting out a fountain of hair pouring. "Romantic Call" peaked at #9 on the rap charts, #55 on the Hot 100, and 35 on the R&B charts. Check out the video which featured 2pac.

    ***
    In 1995 Patra remade Grace Jones' 1983 ode to anal sex "Pull Up to the Bumper". The song charted at #35 on the Billboard Hot 100, her only top 40 hit. Patra, being from Kingston like Jones, is probably the only one who could pull off this remake. Still, I prefer the original.

    Labels:

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

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    Wednesday, August 06, 2008

    Nearly two years ago I did a post, The Hunt: Part Deux, on the various types of men who date men might encounter. After some of the comments from yesterday's post, I thought this repost would be appropriate.

    ***

    When you're dating ... what to look out for? What is out there? And speaking specifically to black gay men
    (the straights who are reading will have to reinterpret for themselves like the gays do everyday!) many people feel there are so many "issues" in our community that prevents us from having a healthy relationship.

    I completely disagree. We are all capable of having a healthy relationship. However, I do think it's worth examining the categories we consciously or unconsciously fall into. Please keep in mind most of these categories are due to a socially oppressive society. Some of us are one of these, a few of these, none, or pieces of some here and there. Also, you must read with a bit of a sense of humor -- I'm not saying these are absolutes.


    THE TRAGIC HOMOSEXUAL

    You know the type ... always complaining about how all gay men are f*cked-up, all gay men cheat and it is virtually impossible for two men to have a long-lasting connection.
    Not surprisingly, he attracts the types he complains about -- everyone he meets cheats, lies, and deceives him. He is in the constant "woe is me" syndrome not because he is the victim, but because he is ALL of the things that he doesn't like about gay men. He has cheated more times than he has been faithful, he lies so much that he believes his own reenactments and never takes blame for his own choices -- but blames his actions and everyone else's actions on the state of EVERY black gay man in the USA. He is the Tragic Homosexual and does not think for one minute the reason why he meets such vile men is because he is attracting what he is.

    THE DL CHRISTIAN

    He is "DL", but as obviously gay as his church queen girlfriends, who are in the choir and all having sex with each other. They admittedly feel they are going to burn in a fiery depths of a Christian, or an Islamic, hell yet getting their guts banged out on regular basis and having the most decadent sexual happenings that makes even the biggest whores say:
    “Well, damn -- maybe I need to go to church if I can get this much sex!” They believe being gay is only “temporary” and one day they will wake up with an unforgettable, juicy pussy on their mind. This mindset is understandable when you are in your early twenties and going through "gay puberty" (trying to get over the hate you feel for yourself) -- but when you're knocking on thirty’s door, dating men for years, managed to have sex with a few women, which somehow allows this man to violently clench onto the last remains of heterosexuality, AND still not straight -- THIS is not temporary.

    These men are often times misogynistic, minimizing women to baby making machines. They make statements like,
    "If this gay thing doesn’t work out then I’ll just get with a woman, get married and have some kids.” As if the DL Christian men are going to step outside of a gay club and find some coochie waiting for them with legs spread open and saying: “Splash up in me and let me make you some babies because you couldn't find a man!” These are the saddest types of black gay men because no matter how many times they get their dick sucked and don't suck, no matter how many times they are a top and claim they never bottom, no matter how many times they pray to their God ... they will ALWAYS be gay. They will live and die as GAY.

    THE DL THUG

    The DL Thug foolishly believes they are one up on everyone else because they've mastered the art of looking like a bad BET video. They are from 20 to 50 with hats cocked to the side, baggy/saggy clothes and a hood lingo that is embarrassingly inauthentic. They have no clue they are in "hood" drag –- at least a drag queen knows they are playing role, but the DL Thug believes this is him. He doesn’t realize his whole demeanor is a learned behavior.

    The DL Thug believes all of his problems would be solved if he could just be heterosexual. He constantly gives examples on how straight relationships work and somehow relates them to himself. Periodically he manages to splash up in some girl but never converts.
    Inside, the DL Thug is painfully lonely and shamed; he remedies his loneliness with excessive sex that makes up for all of the ways he hates himself.

    THE NARCISSIST

    This man is typically attractive, goes to the gym more than he goes to work and focused on his appearance rather than his stale personality. He thinks everyone wants him ... the first thing he will tell you after a long day is how many people tried to hit on him - male, female, elderly,transsexual, etc. "This girl in the elevator was really staring at me -- I know she wanted me to f*ck her," "Everybody in the club was looking at me," "I think your best friend was looking at my dick," "Your neighbor bumped into me and tried to feel my ass," the comments are endless.

    The narcissist does not realize that most people are not lusting for him -- but he is so focused on who could
    possibly be lusting for him because he needs constant validation from others about his appearance. Even the ones who are starring could be looking for an entirely different reason than the Narcissist assumes. When it comes to gay men he is convinced everyone wants to have sex with him and makes comments like, "
    I can't be around too many gay men because all they want to do is f*ck." In actuality it's not that people think he is so beautiful, being attractive is relative, it's that he is the one who wants to f*ck everyone, therefore, people perceive him as an easy f*ck ... f*ckable but not conversational.

    THE QUEEN LOOKING FOR A KING

    She's a f*ckin' lady. He's looking for a strong man with an amazing job, big dick and an aggressive personality to make him feel safe and protected. However, he is none of these things -- he is the striking opposite of what he wants.
    He is trying to emulate male-female relationships, which aren't even working for the straights! He expects his man to always pay for dinner, always hold him in bed and always make the first move. Characters like Noah and Alex from Noah's Arc have inspired him to believe, "This can really happen! I can find a man that will treat me the way all of my straight girlfriends want to be treated!" Often times this boy is lazy, shiftless and his femme drag is as inauthentic as the DL Thug's hood drag. He is one wig away from a drag queen and doesn't want a gay male relationship -- he wants a straight relationship in his boy body.

    THE LOW SELF-ESTEEM GOOD MAN

    This man thinks he’s too fat, too skinny, too old (still under 30!), too short, too tall, too dark, too light, and too much of everything. Telling this person, “You look good tonight!” Will only end up in, “I gained five pounds.” He loses all self-confidence when walking into a gay club comparing himself to every muscular man feeling as if, “I could never get someone like that.”

    He’s jealous of other people who he thinks are more attractive than him, eventually isolating himself in a cocoon of, “Nobody wants me.”
    Therefore, he lowers he standards so low that he ends up with manipulative, evil men who prey on his insecurities. Despite all of the creative and sometimes unique ways this man hates himself he would actually be a great boyfriend … he lives alone, has a career (not just a job!), sense of humor, intelligent – but ignores all of these attractive aspects and focuses on what he feels will keep him alone and unhappy forever.

    THE AFFECTION WHORE

    The Affection Whore doesn’t have sex with every man he meets, but he shares a bed, kisses, hugs, reveals his whole life story -- in a matter of days. He thinks any man who has sex immediately is a tramp, however, he doesn’t realize every time he gives away a piece of himself with intimacy – even if he doesn’t have sex – he is still feeling empty. Empty in more ways than the promiscuous man because at least the slut does not expect anything in return.

    The Affection Whore feels he is doing everything right by waiting before he has sex and investing ALL of his time in a man he met less than a week ago. He quickly dives into romantic fantasy land after date one, seeing their whole life playing out... living together, joint accounts, traveling and of course adopting children! At the end of the day, no one can live up to the fantasy.
    Once the Affection Whore realizes this guy is not what he imagined, he goes to the next guy and unknowingly has the same experience.

    All the while he says,
    “I am not having sex with every guy I meet like everyone else! Why can’t I meet someone?” He doesn’t realize there is no formula to make a relationship work because if there were we would all be in relationships.
    He is simply patching up his own toxic issues ... maybe it has to deal with love he didn't get as a child ... maybe a relationship that broke his heart and he never moved on ... maybe he doesn't love himself.

    Which one are you?

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 9:58 AM :: 23 comments

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    Tuesday, August 05, 2008

    On P.O.C.C.'s web site it reads, "If we do not do the work, then who will?" My question is...who was? Who is? Who ever will?

    Ever since the P.O.C.C. debacle I’ve been contemplating on the “black gay community.” At times it’s a phrase that hasn’t made sense to me. Let me explain, a friend of mine said he was at a party that was majority black and gay. There was a woman of transgender experience there and she was bluntly shunned. No one would speak to her, make eye contact and many were quizzing why a “he-she” was there. The transgender woman told her friend, “This is supposed to be my community.” Her friend replied, “If this is your community you better find a new one!”

    I’ve also seen this happen to feminine men or anyone whose gender identity might be a bit alternative. However, when I’m in a white or mixed gay environment, I never see anyone made to feel uncomfortable because of their gender presentation. Note: I’m not saying every black gay male is like this, this is an example (you know how the speed reading kids do).

    Another example, after my SOHH.com interview on gays and hip-hop someone told me, "Well, it doesn't matter if a rapper came out because black gay people wouldn't support them. We don't support anyone!" I replied, "No, that isn't true—the problem is even if every black gay person supported a gay rapper, the rapper still wouldn't be successful. We are not the white community." He didn't get it.

    The black gay community is incredibly small. There are only 12% of black people in this country. There are only 10% of gay people in the country. So that means when narrowing to the black gay community you are chopping the numbers down even smaller. There aren't enough of us to make any artist successful. We are extremely specific and packed to mainly cities like New York, D.C, and Atlanta (maybe Chicago and L.A.). Is that a community or just a gaggle of girls?

    Now, after the P.O.C.C. cataclysm and several other canceled black pride events this year around the country, I wonder how could this actually happen to a “community”? Answer is: we don’t have the leadership, money, resources, or even the numbers. Honesty, I think the numbers are the most important, there just aren't a visible amount of us. There are so many black gay people who are tragically closeted and wouldn't attend a Pride Event even if Jesus was there, handing on new sexual orientations!

    We have problems that the black community in general endures. We don’t have an ethnicity, religion, or language. When I’ve gone to Dominican or Puerto Rican gay pride events they have cultural bearings that are removed from America -- even if their native country might have perceptions of homosexuality that are uniquely different than the United States.

    I would call the ballroom scene the black gay community, but so many other black gay people look down on the ballroom community.

    Let me be clear, I think there is a culture of black gay people, there are numbers of black gay people that are sufficient for statistics, but a "community"—somebody show it to me. Of course when I am talking to the straights I use the word "black gay community", but in the back of my mind... I wonder what that truly means.

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 11:00 AM :: 35 comments

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    Saturday, August 02, 2008

    I rarely respond to my comments. People have a right to say what they want and after three years of my blog I have learned to not take things personal. But, this comment yesterday from a member of the Board of Directors at the deeply dysfunctional P.O.C.C. wore my spirit:

    "THIS IS NOT TRUE - ONLY THE BLACK OUT ARTS FESTIVAL WAS CANCELLED ALL OF THE OTHER EVENTS ARE STILL HAPPENING- THIS IS THE PROBLEM IN THE BLACK GAY COMMUNITY TOO MUCH GOSSIP AND RIDICULOUS BEHAIVOR WITHOUT ANY FACT CHECKING TO MAKE SURE THAT WHAT YOU ARE SAYING IS ACTUALLY TRUE--DID IT EVEN OCCUR TO ANY WHO WROTE THIS TO ACTUALLY CHECK AND MAKE SURE THAT ANY OF THIS WAS ACTUALLY THE CASE??? PRIDE IN THE CITY IS HAPPENING- JUST NOT ONE SECTION OF IT. IF YOU ARE GOING TO SPREAD THIS KIND OF STUFF PLEASE GET YOUR FACTS CORRECT.

    DAVID WATKINS
    CHAIRMAN
    BOARD OF DIRECTORS, POCC"

    First, I'm not sure if Mr. Watkins read my post yesterday, but since he wants to rant on facts, what I said was "allegedly" and most importantly, "From what I've heard 'most' of the other events will also be canceled." I didn't say all, I said most. When someone writes allegedly -- never mind, since this is from a board member I will assume he can digest a self-explanatory comment.

    Furthermore, it's troubling P.O.C.C. would come to my site, identify me as "ridiculous behavior" and chalk it up to the "problem in the black gay community". Especially, when I was one of the people participating in their canceled event.

    P.O.C.C. approached me to be part of a round table discussion and I said yes. They cancel it, I mention it on my site
    (using words like "allegedly" and "most" -- barely touching on their current circumstances, unlike other web sites) with bigger commentary on "Is Black Pride Still Relevant?". Now, someone from the board wants to "correct" me as if I am one of their employees?

    When I was told "most" events were canceled it was by someone at P.O.C.C. The same person who asked me to participate in the Blackout Arts Festival. It wasn't "gossip" -- obviously, they contacted me because my name and picture was on the email flier. So, what fact-checking should I do at P.O.C.C.? Considering all the allegations, potential charges, and what some are claiming to be downright criminal activity -- I don't think P.O.C.C. is the greatest place to double-check "facts".

    Lastly, let's be clear... the only Pride in the City event that wasn't canceled was t
    he Family Day Picnic in Commodore Barry Park. EVERYTHING ELSE IS JUST CLUBS... is that your example of Pride in the City not being canceled? The same clubs that are open every weekend or a few times a month and charge people an extra $20.00?

    David Watkins should worry more about the tragic goings at P.O.C.C. then commenting on web sites. It would've been respectful to send an email directly to me if he had questions about what I wrote, but this makes sense -- P.O.C.C. can't even properly terminate someone without it being a big hoopla.

    Let's hope that P.O.C.C. doesn't forget the message. According to the Washington Post, HIV/AIDS: "Steepest Rise Is in Black Males Ages 13 to 24".

    I have done nothing but support P.O.C.C. If this is the way a board member behaves on a web site, I can only imagine how they act in their own organization.

    You must check out Rod 2.0's coverage of the P.O.C.C. saga. His headline reads, "Dismissal, Lawsuit and Investigations Prompt Cancellation of NYC Black Pride."

    UPDATE: The Family Day Picnic in Commodore Barry Park is canceled. Like Milli Vanilli, "Blame It On The Rain". The legendary Fred Pierce said in a recent email blast, "Hey! Let’s blame it on the rain. Yeah, that’s it. Let Mother Nature take the blame for their inefficiencies. But alas, the rain has subsided, the sun is shining and now would be the time that folks would be heading out to Commodore Barry Park anyway. We all know if we organized an event correctly, rain or shine, we would be there. So a rain-out excuse is not going to stick here."

    There have been endless pride events that have endured the rain. If that was the barometer for pride events there would never be pride events.

    After hearing about this cancellation it makes the comment from David Watkins seem even more absurd and offensive.

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 10:25 AM :: 18 comments

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