Tag Archives: down low

Duck Tape Diaries

United Kingdom: stamp

(Photo credit: Sem Paradeiro)

In the past, it was important for me to believe others perceived me as someone who knew where he was going in life. Someone who had a good life, a good career, knew everything to know about the world; someone to envy or at least, have an intellectual conversation with. It was a cover to prevent people from discovering the real me, that I was  in the category of “other.” I’ll call that protection fear. In college, I learned that distance can help prevent people from getting to know too much about me and my experience leading into adulthood reinforced that: getting a new job in a new city, forgetting old friends to get new friends, not ever having enough time to call home. Distance and perfection, I carried them like hand guns.  I was so used to flaunting them, that they became my hands. Slowly, I learned to let go of distance, but perfection I had to hold on to. Perfection, in its own right, is truth and truth is incontestable, until proven false and nothing is false anymore, only less true. Today, the most important person in my life, just called me shallow. Now I don’t know who to blame: me, him, or the world. The world, as in, the idea of things; how men think, survival; the rules of effective communicate; multi-tasking in a post-digital area; being a good boyfriend.  A friend of mine worked at a national forest and had to learn deescalation techniques to take the fire out of heated situations.  She would mimic the escalated persons behavior and recognize their feelings. It always worked. Why aren’t their deescalation manuals ready and available at bars? At this moment, looking back, I never knew where I was going.

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Reading at West Hollywood Library

West Hollywood Library Grand Opening & Dedication

West Hollywood Library (Photo credit: City of West Hollywood)

Recently I read from For Colored Boys at the West Hollywood Library with Antonio Brown and Jonathan Kidd (contributors to the anthology), and actor Jorge Ortiz. I edited and posted the reading on YouTube; please watch the videos and comment. I will be reading again at the West Hollywood Library during  the City of West Hollywood’s ‘One City/One Pride’ Festival in June.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Question and Answer Session

Stay tuned for more information on the West Hollywood Library reading in June.

US iTunes, App Store, iBookstore, and Mac App Store

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Frenchie Davis, The Voice, The Courage

Check out the teaser video to my interview with Frenchie Davis for GBM News. She talks about everything from her new single and the video for, Love’s Got A Hold On Me, to the Voice vs. American Idol, to questions about sexuality. Stay tuned for the interview.

English: Frenchie Davis at 12th annual GLAAD T...

Frenchie at 12th annual GLAAD Tidings Event (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



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E. Lynn Harris’s new book, No One In The World, will be released June 7th

E. Lynn Harris’s impact on the literary scene is still felt after his death.

Fans of Harris’s books who are craving more can get more with his new book, No One In The World, which was co-wrote by RM Johnson. Johnson wrote The Harris Family, The Million Dollar Divorce, and Why Men Fear Marriage.New E. Lynn Harris Book

“This is the book E. Lynn and I have been planning on writing for five years, and thankfully, we finished it,” Johnson said. “We couldn’t wait until the day came to share this with all of you–our beloved friends. That day is fast approaching. I hope you enjoy it.”

The review is below:

Cobi Winslow, a handsome, well-educated district attorney, knows nothing about the life of his estranged twin brother Eric Reed, a career criminal raised by the foster care system. Following their parent’s death, Cobi searches and finds his brother in hopes to regain lost years. Soon thereafter, Eric’s former prison cell-mate, Blac, becomes entangled in the twins’ lives. Trouble quickly follows.

Meanwhile, Cobi navigates the pressures of society as he lives a life in the closet. The stress comes to a head when he learns that in order to inherit the wealth of his father’s estate, and save the struggling family hair care business, he must marry a woman before the age of thirty-five. The seemingly impossible task becomes more difficult when Cobi’s sister suggests paying Austen Greer, the once successful, wealthy and extremely independent business woman to be his wife. After losing everything in the recession, in order to survive, Austen must consider the indecent proposal.

Eric discovers Cobi is gay when he stumbles upon his brother during an intimate moment with a handsome senator. After promising Cobi secrecy, Eric entrusts the discovery with his ex-cell-mate, Blac. Blac endears himself to Cobi, in hopes of securing a $150,000 loan from him to pay back a debt racked by cocaine sales.

As the clock expires on Blac’s efforts to pay his lethal debtor, and Cobi’s attempts to save the family company, rash moves are executed, family and friendship bonds are tested, and life altering sacrifices are made.

Click on the link to pre-order your copy of No One in the World: A NovelMulticultural Romance Books).


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The Other Brazil: DVD REVIEW: Madam Sata

Madame Sata Movie Trailer

The directorial debut of Karim Ainouz’s, Madame Satã, is a pictorial marvel detailing the life of João Francisco dos Santos, a black Brazilian man living in 1930’s racially and socially oppressive Lapa (northern Brazil). João (Lazaro Ramos), along with Laurita, (Marcelia Cartaxo) his best friend and Tabu, (Flavio Bauraqui) his pseudo household maid, construct a colorful yet restrained, irrational yet tender, spellbinding yet dark world through prostitution, drug usage and fantasy. Having the desire to rise above his meager lifestyle, Joao aspires to be a celebrated stage entertainer (drag queen) and loved by the public. Madame Sata illustrates how João “negotiates being in the world,” reacts to its judgment and the harsh realities that hauntingly follows. Ramos and the entire cast of Madame Satã, unforgettably breathe life into the sounds, sadness, beauty, and personal narrative of the human experience. The movie alluringly captures the multifarious textures, shades, and rhythms of Brazil in dramatic lighting and cinematography.

Madame Satã (film)

Image via Wikipedia

Emotional Scene from Madame Sata

Madame Sata is subtitled, it’s a Brazilian film in Portuguese. After the first five minutes it’s like you’re watching an English language film. The movie was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Film – Limited Release and won Cinema Brazil Grand Prize’s top prizes Best Actor (Melhor Ator) and Best Actress (Melhor Atriz).

The name of the movie is taken from Cecil B. DeMille‘s movie Madam Satan about a woman trying to seduce her unknowing and unfaithful husband and teach him a lesson. In the movie João dresses as the character from Madam Satan.

Lazaro Ramos also stars in one of my other favorite movies, Carandiru, about Brazil’s largest prison in São Paulo. I only own two DVD’s Madame Sata and Carandiru.

Carandiru Movie Trailer

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American reminders: a poem

Four centuries of American reminders
On my skin

Elders bare stripe welts

My inheritance from the gone
On my back

The pistol is there

We’re still
On the block

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believing with nothing

The Book of Revelation is the last book of the New Testament. Revelation contains 5 major visions. L. Michael White, bible scholar and director of the Institute for the Study of Antiquity and Christian Origins, believes the book unfolds like Chinese boxes. One box opens to another box. The reader “gets the sense that we are always in the sixth [box], just on the verge of the seventh thing happening. That’s what gives the book its sense of urgency and feel that something important is just about to happen.” I felt that way watching Alvin Ailey‘s signature choreographic work “Revelations.” Like something important was just about to happen.

I had never heard of it until last month. Friends were discussing it after seeing Philadanco, the Philadelphia Dance Company, perform at Cerritos Performing Arts Center.

“You’ve never seen it,” they all said, gasping for breath.

“I’ve never seen Ailey perform.”

Shocked is not the word to describe their faces. More than shocked fits.

Dancer Clifton Brown in a promotional poster f...

Image via Wikipedia

Last Friday, April 8, the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater performed at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (Music Center) in downtown LA. Since this is Judith Jamison’s last season the group is performing Revelations at each of their performances this season. Standout performances include “The Hunt” and “The Evolution Of A Secured Feminine.” However Revelations transcends dance. It’s like prayer, believing with nothing.

First produced by Ailey in 1960, Revelations is divided into three visions “Pilgrim of Sorrow,” “Take Me To The Water,” and “Move, Members, Move!”

Ailey described Pilgrim of Sorrow as “songs that yearn for deliverance, that speak of trouble and of this world’s trials and tribulations.” The dancers wear brown clothing and look up to the sky, arms fully extended, reaching their open hands spread-finger to the sky. The movement, bathed in yellow hues, represents “asking God for strength and guidance.”

Take Me To The Water, the second vision, represents baptism. The dancers, who make the overeffort look effortless, are dressed in all-white. The stage is blue-lit. Dancers off-stage wave a large blue silk fabric the length of the stage waving it gently symbolizing water. A minister baptizes a young couple. It represents Ailey’s own baptism in a pond behind his church.

Move, Members, Move! celebrates “the church” in the black community. Women wear yellow elaborate dresses and hats and use yellow fabric fans and stools to reenact the church. Men wear traditional “male costumes.” Songs that play include Nina Simone’s thunderous “Sinner Man” and “The Day Is Past and Gone,” “You May Run On,” and “Rocka My Soul In the Bosom of Abraham.” The synchronization is on-point, almost puppet-like.

What I found most amazing was their use of movement. I know it sounds silly. Dance is all movement. Compared to other dance theaters their bodies were in continuous movement. Hands didn’t stop when someone was lifted in the air. Feet didn’t stop when someone was lifted in the air. Every part of the body moved as if they fell in a body of water.

Lady Gaga’s avant-garde Grammy performance of the controversial song “Born This Way” may have been inspired by Ailey’s Revelations. (Interesting fact: Tamar Braxton‘s husband manages Lady Gaga. Tamar Braxton, Toni’s younger sister, is one of the stars of WE’s new reality show Braxton Family Values.

According to writer Meghan Blalock “Gaga’s latex top and skirt mimics the long dresses worn by the women in Revelations. Her dancers emerge in similar outfits, suggesting that she sees them as her equals, as her fellow freed slaves. The jacket she wears during part of her performance is similar to the button-front dresses worn in some stagings of Ailey’s ballet. The yellow hat is nearly identical to the one worn by the freed slave women in Revelations. The modernization of the costumes – the use of latex, minimalist at that – reflects Gaga’s own aesthetic and emphasizes that this performance is not Revelations – it’s Revelations for the 21st  century.”

“The visuals – the costuming, staging, and lighting – are not the only aspects of Gaga’s “Born This Way” performance that directly reference Ailey’s ballet. The choreography is strongly reminiscent of Revelations’ trademark movements, especially those found in Pilgrim of Sorrow.”

Check out the performance below to judge for yourself.

The book of Revelation brings together the worlds of heaven, earth, and hell in a final confrontation between the forces of good and evil. Its characters and images are both real and symbolic, spiritual and material. Revelations embodies the same elements. If you have not seen Alvin Ailey perform Revelations you need to. It may be the last time they perform it. The group is in Los Angeles until the 17 @ Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (Music Center) in downtown LA. I truly believe that art inspires art. Even if you aren’t a dancer and don’t follow it this will inspire you.

Additional Tour Dates:

  • New York, NY April 6-17, 2011 @ Ailey Citigroup Theater
  • Lexington, VA May 2, 2011 @ Lenfest Center for the Performing Arts
  • Mamaroneck, NY May 6, 2011 @ Emilin Theater

Coincidentally I went to The Abbey in WeHo on Sunday (black urban night) and ran into one of the dancers, Ghari DeVore, and gave her big hug. She’s stunning beautiful.

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