Being that 2010 marks the 20th anniversary of this iconic documentary I thought it'd be as good a time to talk about my love for Paris Is Burning. For those who don't know (and shame on you gurls who don't!) Paris Is Burning provides a crash course on the black/latino gay ballroom scene of late 80's New York. Legendary house mothers such as Pepper Lebeija, Dorian Corey, Angie Xtravaganza and Willi Ninja--whose vogueing style inspired Madonna's "Vogue" video--as well as ballroom luminaries such as the late Octavia Saint Laurent are profiled about the deeper meaning of the grand balls, homophobia, transsexualism, gender identity and racism.
While the fact that many of the films' subjects have passed since its 1990 release makes it a little sad to watch, I believe this film is invaluable for the way it shows an oppressed minority within a minority finding a way to flourish in a culture that openly despises them. Like other oppressed groups, the participants in the ballroom scene create a safe space to celebrate their differences and provide support, taking the abusive language hurled at them from the dominant culture and refashioning it in way that is empowering. The colorful characters courage to be themselves in an era of AIDS-induced fear is inspiring and a slice of LGBT history that should never be forgotten. Not to mention the litany of classic lines. Here are a few of my favorites:
Pepper Labeija: "Having a vagina, that doesn't mean you're going to have a fabulous life. It might in fact be worse!"
Dorian Corey on reading: "If I'm a black queen and you're a black queen we can't call each other black queens. That's not a read it's a fact!"
Octavia Saint Laurent: "Five hundred dollars for a simple dress."
The ballroom announcer: "God help you, you know how the children are!"
Yes, the remix is fiyah--from the "doo doo" harmonies to the "Get Up And Dance" horn sample (which was also sampled by KRS One for "You Must Learn"--get up on ya' music knowledge yungins lol:)--but the slower extended version is just as good, in a different way. With the slow, sexy bassline, Taj and Lelee's sultry backing vocals and of course Coko's one of kind vocals, this track could've held its own with the other ballads ("Weak" "Right Here (Human Nature Remix)" off the trio's 92' debut It's About Time.
And while we're on the subject, what has become of the quiet storm? I mean I like to take it to the club as much as the next gay, but have the current crop of female artists forgotten the power of the slow jam? Seriously, where are the new "Red Light Specials," "Don't Let Gos," "One In A Millions" "Soon As I Get Homes," and "Anytime Anyplaces? Yes I'm looking at you Janet--"Come Back To Me" with a good ballad Ms. Jackson! But I digress. Get into the song below:
Legendary singer Teena Marie passed away Sunday at her California home. The singer's body was found by her daughter. She had apparently died in her sleep. According to CNN.com:
While no cause of death has been released, the singer's publicist Lynn Jeter said that Marie suffered a grand mal seizure -- a neurological event, marked by loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions, according to the Mayo Clinic -- a month ago.
Born Mary Christine Brockert in Santa Monica, California, Marie established herself as one of R&B's most soulful vocalists. First signed to Motown Records in the late 70's, the singer amassed a string of enduring hits, including "Behind The Groove," "Square Biz," "Lovergirl" and "Fire and Desire" her 1981 duet with Rick James. She also racked up four Grammy nominations.
The singer's music also influenced younger hip hop and R&B acts like Nas, The Fugees and Snoop Dogg, who routinely sampled her work. For those who aren't up on Lady T's catalogue of classics here's a quick review below:
It sounds unbelievable, but a HIV positive person has claimed to be cured of the deadly virus. Timothy Ray Brown, also known as the "Berlin Patient" is believed by doctors to be cured after a stem-cell transplant as part of an aggressive chemotherapy program. According to The Huffington Post:
"Timothy Ray Brown, also known as the "Berlin Patient," received the transplant in 2007 as part of a lengthy treatment course for leukemia. His doctors recently published a report in the journal Blood affirming that the results of extensive testing "strongly suggest that cure of HIV infection has been achieved."
Brown's case paves a path for constructing a permanent cure for HIV through genetically-engineered stem cells."
While it's understandable that most people living with HIV would opt out of such an aggressive, potentially deadly form of treatment, this is an incredible breakthrough. Watch a CNN report below:
Some album tracks are so good you wonder why they never became proper singles. Such is the case with this track from Mariah's Butterfly. Granted Mimi had her pick of hit singles from that album--"Butterfly," "Honey," "My All" and my personal favorite "Breakdown"--but "Babydoll" definitely could have made the cut. Granted at over 5 minutes it's a little long, but it fits right in with what was getting spins on late 90's radio. It could've played right after Aaliyah's "One In A Million," and before SWV's "Rain." Anyways, take a listen and be instantly transported back to 1997 below:
Why am I not surprised. Eddie Longlegs has decided to opt out of a trial and attempt to settle with the four young men accusing him of sexual coercion. Part of me hoped his inner narcisscist would win out and he'd want his day in court, if only so he could show off more horrible lace front wigs, expensive suits and jewelry purchased with the funds from his gullible flock.
Another part of me still hopes that the guys will reject his hand out and tear this queen a new one in court, laying all his dastardly deeds bare for all to see. But hell, even if New Birth's members saw a video of Eddie simulatenously giving head and getting hit from the back by a young twink while The Dreamgirls soundtrack blasted in the background, they'd still scream "TOUCH NOT MY ANOINTED! from the bottom of their deluded souls. SMH. Watch the AC360 report below:
I know what you're thinking. Damn that was fast! After releasing A Brilliant Catastrophe's Beta version less than a month a go, B Slade is coming out with another mixtape, this time in tribute to the Jacksons, specifically Michael and Janet. Dance Floor Arsonist: The Jack5on Magic Mixtape contains vocal homages to MJ that are almost scary in their similarity to the late King Of Pop, as well as covers of Janet classics like "Got Til It's Gone" and "Rhythm Nation." Listen to a few tracks below:
Watch Steven Retchless rehearsing for the American Pole Fitness Championship (yes you read that right). Even if you're not into guys working a pole, the clip is fascinating to watch--he's that good. I almost want to do a good swang from a pole myself (did I just say that lol:). Anyways take a look below:
Today is World AIDS Day, a day where people around the world come together to raise awareness about the devestation caused by the global AIDS epidemic. While I know of no close friends or family that suffer from the disease, I believe it's still important for all of us to know our status and encourage others to get tested, especially in the black community, where 1 in 22 people are expected to contract the disease in their lifetime, according to the CDC.
Prevention can not only save lives, but money as well. According to a Black Voices article, a study by the CDC and John Hopkins University concluded that "for every HIV infection prevented, $355,000 is saved in the costs of providing lifelong HIV care and treatment. The study concluded that an investment of $4.5 billion in HIV prevention over 10 years would save $104 billion in medical costs."
While the number of worldwide HIV cases has dropped 20 percent in the last decade, and medical breakthroughs--such as the invention a daily pill that can reduce the risk of infection among gay and bisexual men--have taken place, AIDS is still far from over.
Ways to Get Involved:
1. GET TESTED. Find a testing location near you here.
2. Encourage friends and family to get tested.
3.Educated youself and others about AIDS and other STDs.