Beyond Lady Marmalade: Why Patti Labelle is Legendary!

It annoys me to no end that people think Patti Labelle is just hair and loud voice. Steam will pour from my ears when people only know “Lady Marmalade.” If you think the song started with Aguilera, Mya, Pink and Lil Kim, you betta stand arm’s length away: I may just slap your ignorant face! Anyhoo…

In honor of Patti’s special show “Clash of the Choirs” this week (which begin last night), I thought I’d post this video from Labelle (which , children was an entire group comprised of Patti Labelle, Nona Hendryx, and Sarah Dash). It’s the Nona Hendryx penned tune “You Turn Me On.” (And a HUGE THANKS to my sister for pointing me to this video, and then kicking my ass to blog about it. Smooches!)

Patti’s vocals are so rich, so layered, and so urgent, you forget about the costumes and all you can think about is the last person that made you “come like the pourin rain each time they called your name.” It should tell you why Patti is legendary, and if she never recorded another record since Labelle disbanded, she’d still be an icon! Without further ado, “You Turn Me On!”

(For a fierce remake of this track, check out Joi’s version, featuring the late Myrna “Screechy Peach” Crenshaw. Joi now usually sings this live with Keisha Jackson (daughter of R&B blues legend Millie Jackson).

John Legend’s Homeschool Records for the Grown & Sexy!

Last night, TVOne, that #2 venerable cable television institution of black arts and culture, is aired a hot concert billed as Get Together w/ Kenyon’s husband John Legend. It’s nice to see a live concert on TV again since the video channels seem to show everything but music. Apparently Mr. Farrow Legend has launched a new label, Homeschool Records, and this show is a promotional for the new artists he is signing to the label. He explains during the show he got the name for the label from the face that he was homeschooled as a child. It also comes from the way in which Legend and the three acts signed to the label work–in the original Motown mold, where artists worked side by side, writing and singing for each other, or competing for the hottest songs.

One of the executives of the label described the Homeschool brand will be focused on quality, over commercialism. Sure they want to sell, but artistic excellence seems to be the name of the game, instead of making tracks to sell 10 second ringtones, which is what the industry has become.

But I digress.

The concert opens with Legend singing his second single, Heaven, from his latest CD Once Again. Legend is looking good as usual, and sounding even better.

The second artist, Estelle, did two singles from her forthcoming album, Shine. Estelle, a black Brit, reminds me of the best of UK soul, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the early 1990’s, like Mica Paris or Caron Wheeler with more hip-hop flavor. Her first single already gets heavy rotation on Vh1 Soul, and I am looking forward to the record.

Next up to stage is a three-man act called The James Gang. They’re part vaudeville, part Louis Jordan, part step-show performance was really something we haven’t seen before, and it’ll be interesting to see how the market reacts to them!

Lastly, there’s my brother in-law Anthony Vaughn, John Legend’s younger brother. He’s more hip-hop in his vocal attack, dress and swagger, where John is more Marvin Gaye/Smokey Robinson meets Burt Bacharach.

Check out Estelle’s video Wait A Minute (Just A Touch). I love how she gets the boy together at the end of the video.

NYC Theater Bags ‘Dirty Laundry’ After Smash Weekend

This is an instance where “green” does not override “black.” Even in limited release in LA and NYC, the new comedy “Dirty Laundry” was the highest grossing movie per screen this past weekend, making a whopping $12,000 per screen, with The Golden Compass coming in second at $7,308. And yet, the Chelsea Clearview, the theater that caters to the white gay community, decided to close the film this Thursday, after only one week. The film opens widely on the 28th.

According to Keith, the film producers don’t want people to protest, but would rather focus on the positive, and gear up for the nationwide opening. Apparently the theater said that the opening success (with two sold-out shows in a 24 hour period) was not enough to keep running the film. Mind you, I know I have seen films at the Clearview with a damn near empty house, and yet somehow or another, ‘Dirty Laundry’ didn’t make enough money? Chile please!

I haven’t seen the film yet. I was out of town this weekend, but had made plans with a friend to try to catch it this weekend. Now, I guess that will not happen. I hope Maurice Jamal and the rest of the production team pushes to get the film opened elsewhere.

I don’t really know if the Clearview is a white and gay owned establishment. But I do know that is who they cater to. And this goes to show, (contrary to the people who like to think we’re “beyond race” and it’s just about “class” now) Black queers are still black and white people still see us as such, gay or not. In addition, black people’s buying power is never respected to the degree that if this had been a white gay film opening.

AP Distorts Andrew Young’s Statements on Obama

The Associated Press published a story about Civil Rights veteran and Atlanta former Mayor Andrew Young going on an Atlanta show saying that he thought Barack should run for president in 2016, because he is too young to run for president and that he thought, essentially, the Clintons were as black as Barack. Here’s what they quoted from the Young interview:

“I want Barack Obama to be president,” Young said, pausing for effect, “in 2016.”

“It’s not a matter of being inexperienced. It’s a matter of being young,” Young said. “There’s a certain level of maturity … you’ve got to learn to take a certain amount of (expletive).”

Young went on to say that Obama needs a protective network that he currently lacks — a quality that could hurt him if he were to be elected. He said Hillary Clinton already has that kind of network, including her husband to back her up.

“There are more black people that Bill and Hillary lean on,” Young said. “You cannot be president alone. … To put a brother in there by himself is to set him up for crucifixion. His time will come and the world will be ready for a visionary leadership.”

I watched the interview on NewsMakers Live. Young did say those things. A lot of the issues I have with Young’s interview was the sexism in which he couched his views–“Clinton has probably gone with more black women than Barack.” Why does ‘how many black women you fuck’ make you implicitly a black man? That’s disgusting about what it says about black manhood and black womanhood both. Ugh. By this logic, Black women’s bodies are the only relevant as avenues for defining masculinity. That’s offensive as hell! And I am over that “Clintons are black” bullshit. Can we just really have a moratorium on that nonsense? I don’t care if they can huck-a-buck or Soul Train-line with the best of them–they’re not Black and there are countless ways the Clinton Administration sold black people down the river to save his own political career–Welfare reform act, Rwanda, massive prison expansion– hello! Lets not get political amnesia.

But what is perhaps most useful about Young’s comments, the AP report chooses barely to report. Young goes on for most of the interview to talk about how he’s worried about Obama’s (and his family’s) safety–even going so far as to say he wants Obama’s daughters to be older to deal with the way people are going to attack them.

After living through the Civil Rights Movement and what happened to King, Young is saying Barack has yet to develop the kind of insular network of folks to really protect him from the worst of what is sure to come. Essentially, he’s actually saying white racism is so fierce that Obama needs to develop more of aggressive tactics to be able to go after the forces that are most likely to undo him were he to win the presidency. And Young is drawing on the Civil Rights Movement and MLK’s experiences with violence and surveillance as the prime example.  I question Young’s assertion that King sacrificed the most personally–what about Fannie Lou Hamer or Angela Davis, or a host of others who history has forgotten who lost life and limb fighting for freedom? That’s a hard thing to quantify, even if he knew King personally. He also has a silly analysis of why Barack would be great at foreign policy–because, as Young asserts, his experience with “the Chinese” and with “Islam” via his sister and childhood upbringing, will make him adept at dealing with China and the Middle East.

OK. That’s a stretch.

That aside, it’s a wonder how the AP reporter got away with filing this half-assed story that takes the most sensational things that Young said, and doesn’t comprehensively report Young’s concern and critique–which is really about Obama’s readiness to deal with the racist/violent backlash. The reporter only gets to at the end of the story when it is actually, in my book, THE story.

And journalists wonder why the public has lost trust in them.

GO See ‘Dirty Laundry’ This Weekend in NYC & LA



Gay/SGL Men of African Descent is proud to support “Dirty Laundry” and encourages the Black Gay/SGL community and their supporters in New York City and Los Angeles to come out December 7th to see this ground-breaking film. The movie will be released in select cities nationwide on December 28th and it is our hope that you will see it when it comes to your city.

New York Theater: Clearview Chelsea West Theater
333 West 23rd Street (b/t 8th & 9th)
New York, NY 10011
Los Angeles: Mann Beverly Center Cinemas (Inside Beverly Center)
8522 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90038

DIRTY LAUNDRY Opens in New York & Los Angeles on December 7th In select cities nationwide on December 28th
http://www.myspace. com/dirtylaundry movie
View Official Trailer on Dirty Laundry’s You Tube Channel com/dirtylaundry themovie


DIRTY LAUNDRY is a modern-day prodigal son story with a twist. It follows magazine writer Patrick, skillfully played by Rockmond Dunbar (Prison Break, Soul Food), who seems to have the “perfect life,” until one day there is a knock at the door. On the other side stands a secret that brings him face to face with the traditional southern family he hasn’t seen in over 10 years.

DIRTY LAUNDRY’s cast includes a colorful array of character and comedic actors including Loretta Devine (Waiting to Exhale, I Am Sam, Dreamgirls) as “Evelyn”, Jenifer Lewis (Antwone Fisher Story, Castaway) as “Aunt Lettuce”, Terri J. Vaughn (Daddy’s Little Girls, Steve Harvey Show) as “Jackie”, Sommore (Queens of Comedy, The Parkers) as “Abby”, Alec Mapa (Ugly Betty) as “Daniel” and Director Maurice Jamal as “Eugene”. Supermodel Veronica Webb also appears in a fun cameo.

DIRTY LAUNDRY is the winner of the 2006 American Black Film Festival Audience Award for “Best Film” and “Best Actor – Loretta Devine.”

Rest in Peace: Bob Kohler

I learned a few days ago, that Bob Kohler, Queer liberation activist, died.

I didn’t know Bob well, but had spent time with him when I was working with FIERCE! –a queer youth of color community organizaing project. Bob was a long-time resident and business owner of the West Village, and a real vet of the Stonewall riots (probably one of the few white men in attendance). He was always very supportive of the work FIERCE! was doing, and always turned up to assist us when he could.

He always shared very openly his life, his work, and the history of the West Vill, Stonewall, the Gay Liberation Front, his lifelong friendships with Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, and any other work he was involved in. He was a real shit-stirrer, and sometimes not in the best way. He could be extremely cranky, too!

I mean, REALLY, cranky!

But at the end of the day, Bob always had our back. And not just other activists and organizers. Bob helped a lot of homeless queeer youth who would have otherwise been jobless or homeless. In terms of his activism, he also worked outside the “gay civil rights” paradigm, and very much sought to support Black and Latino struggles, especially around homelessness and police brutality.

He led a really interesting life, and I am glad to have crossed paths with him for the short time I did. The Village Voice just republished a 1999 profile of him…

In 1999, after his arrest in front of One Police Plaza /a>, where protesters set up vigil after the police shooting of Amadou Diallo, Kohler told the Voice:

“I do not equate my oppression with the oppression of blacks and Latinos. You can’t. It is not the same struggle, but it is one struggle. And, if my being here as a longtime gay activist can influence other people in the gay community, it’s worth getting arrested. I’m an old man now. I don’t look forward to spending 24 hours in a cell. But these arrests are giving some kind of message. I don’t know what else you can do.”

Some folks I know are having a political funeral for Bob, starting this Sunday, December 9th, beginning at the NYC LGBT Center at 4pm, and ending at the Christopher St. piers.

Hundreds March in Atlanta for Prevention Justice

pjm-puzzle-pieces.jpgShowing the “missing pieces” of HIIV prevention puzzle in the United States, more about three hundred people poured into the downtown Atlanta streets for the PJM Unity Rally and March in Atlanta, GA, on Tuesday, December 4th, where the National HIV Prevention Conference (NHPC) ended on Wednesday. People from across different communities marched to demonstrate unity for a comprehensive HIV prevention in the US, not to be divided by community or issue.

In order to draw conference attendees from the hotel to the opening rally two blocks away at Hardy Ivy Park, a group of carolers sang an HIV prevention song to the tune of “The 12 Days of Christmas.”

“In the AIDS epidemic, the gov’ment gave to me–NO NATIONAL PLAN, anti-gay bias, a decade of flat funding, a fast track to prison, no decent housing, roadblocks to treatment, silver virginity rings, censorship of science, discrimination, misinformation and a country full of H.I.V.”

Other PJM folks were in the lobby, decorating marchers with the PJM sash—a white satin cloth with the red PJM Unity logo.

The spirited marchers burst from the Hyatt onto Peachtree Street, blowing whistles and chanting, and made their way to Hardy Ivy Park to meet the crowd already assembled. The march MC Waheedah Shabbazz-el took the bullhorn and hyped the crowd to a frenzy, reminding the crowd, “HIV is more than a disease, It’s positive proof of injustice!” The marchers grabbed signs and fliashlights from organizaers and marshals, and the rally was in full swing. READ MORE!!