The Savage Ex Fenty Fashion Show: A Work of Art, Culture and Commerce SPOILER ALERT!

I am a Day 1 Savage Ex Fenty fan. I mean literally. I was one of the those people sitting in front of my laptop waiting for the exclusive website access I signed up for to begin when Rihanna’s line of lingerie first dropped, watching the minutes count down. I was so excited to be able to buy lingerie designed by Rihanna that catered to a broader range of sizes than I had ever seen at a Victoria’s Secret. I remember having to retrain my eye when I saw the range of varying shapes of full sized and “plus sized” models on the site. I was so used to giant skinny White women with flat asses, that it took me some time to adjust to seeing what real women looked like in lingerie. I signed up for the yearly VIP Membership as advised by my husband (heehee) and have never looked back. Over time, I’ve noticed that it’s often the fuller sized models who I look at to see how the lingerie might look on me. Body image for women in this world is such a colonized, white washed mind fuck that it can take months to deprogram your gaze from the damage of Victoria’s Secret print models.

The Savage Ex Fenty Fashion show that dropped on Amazon Prime streaming video last week took the concept of inclusion and Rihanna’s on brand strength, playfulness and sexual empowerment to a hundred and ten on acid!

Now I know that Amazon is a giant corporate monster but I’m not mad at Ri for  establishing herself as a mogul, getting that bag and creating an empire because she is also breaking the standardized mold of what we’ve been told sexy looks like as well as bringing art, culture, body positivity and non-conformity into the commercial world of lingerie. This fashion show was runway, was performance, was art, was dancehall, was concert, was furturism, was so many things! As each musical performance began you could click in the left margin to see the song that was playing and a bio about the artist. So you can buy the lingerie, the music, and discover and support some artists you may have never even known before Ri put you on.

Before it starts, there’s a behind the scenes look at the concept, vision for the show. The moment when Rihanna first sees Paris Goebel’s choreography for the opening of the show and loves it so much she decides she wants to be in it is just so exciting. The entire show is Rihanna from beginning to end. It’s strong, edgy, sexy, powerful and wildly inclusive. I’ve watched it three times so far and I get goose pimples every time.

Savage Ex Open

The opening lands like a chainsaw. It’s just sick. When these ladies go off, it’s like the Dora Milaje threw on sexy lingerie and decided to do a hip-hop concert. Rihanna’s Savage warrior spirit is on full display. The women she selects to channel their own version of that are pure fire.

The set, a collection of all white basic but theatrical shapes, landings, stairs, and several stories of domes to highlight the silhouettes of each dancer who inhabit it was a fantastic backdrop to set off the plumage of fantasy, funk, freakiness and fabulosity that graced the stage.

Raisa Verticle

Let’s talk about Raisa Flowers (above), a make-up artist who opens up part of the set for the first performance. I had no idea who she was before I saw this show but to see her is to know what she is about because her energy, her artistry and beauty are just beyond. I’m blown away by her.

Normani

There was a woman with a double leg amputation who did a fierce walk across the stage during one set. Mama Cax, a gorgeous model and just an amazing being who has a single leg amputation someone I know from being a fan of Finding Paola, was also featured.  And Normani who used to be with Fifth Harmony was all angles and hips and joint defying butterfly! She and the dancers in her set busted out and came to slay it all down.

I loved seeing Gigi Hadid walk out to  the intro of Big Sean’s “Clique” a song I really like despite the usual misogynistic lyrics. He and A$AP Ferg were a great choice to open.  Halsey was also amazing. I believe she lip synced her song because unlike the other musical artists who performed on stage alone, she performed with lingerie clad dancers who were part of her extensive set. Migos was a wondrous visual spectacle performing in a circle filled with shallow water. I loved how their futuristic metallic outfits and sunglasses reflected the multi-colored colored  laser lights that shot down towards them in slanted shapes like rain.  I also loved that Tierra Whack came on with DJ Khalid, Fat Joe and Fabolous to close it out.

I cancelled my Amazon Prime account last year and never find cause to order using their service any longer. But somehow I’ve still watched  the fashion show repeatedly since it came out. LOL!

If you don’t have Amazon Prime and are totally anti Amazon because of the shit they tried to pull, I totally understand. Just go get you a trial so you can watch and then cancel it later. LOL!!

No, seriously…go…now…

 

 

Sunday at The Guggenheim

Revoke my New Yorker card if you wanna but it’s taken me years to realize that the M3 from Harlem goes to the Guggenheim museum in almost 20 minutes! I discovered it this weekend and now I just don’t know what to do with myself. I’m a bit of a Museum nerd and it kills me when there’s a show I wanna see on the East side and all I think about is all kinds of soul sucking train line switching I have to do in order to get there. The M3 route takes me through memory lane passed Central Park East and and my High School and finally on the upper East Side where I went on first dates, saw movies, hung out at HMV (remember HMV?) and tried to catch transportation home on school day evenings before my pass expired. I love this line.

Simone Leigh

This weekend, Simone Yvette Leigh’s “Loophole of Retreat” brought me to the Guggenheim, not one of my favorite Museum spaces but for some reason, it was more than tolerable this time. I always love seeing The Guggenheim from the outside but something about walking around an incline in circles without ever knowing what floor you’re on irks me. Still, when I saw one of Leigh’s pieces on a subway ad months ago I was just viscerally struck by the power of it, the Blackness and the femininity. I finally read more about Simone Yvette Leigh and her work a few weeks ago. I visited her “Brickhouse” sculpture on the Highline and have since just been fascinated and obsessed with being close to her pieces.

Continue reading Sunday at The Guggenheim

60 minute full body massage thoughts…

My cellphone switched off in the pocket of my robe hanging near the door of the quiet room. Why did one side of my body feel different then the other as he worked on it? Was he doing the exact same thing on each side or was he instinctive about what was needed on each side as he went? Do masseuses get maturity training to stay focused and not get preoccupied by merely physical sensation? Is there kindness training? How do they pace themselves? How touch can be intimate and respectful. Other than force and perversion, what else can make touch feel disrespectful? The inner thigh space felt a bit dicey. Like I was hyper aware and sensitive about him working in that space on me. I wonder what kind of experience Francis is having with his masseuse. I hope he likes it. I think we need to do this more often. The gentle way he folded my hands next to me when he transitioned to a different part of my body. What might he be thinking? Letting my body go completely limp because I know this helps the therapist work best. There were times when I wanted to say that he could increase the pressure but I wasn’t sure how that would be taken. I don’t recall whether I’ve ever had a white male masseuse work on me before. If I did it was years ago, under a different administration, I a different person. I can trust a masseuse to do their job well but I can’t trust deeper than that in this respect, and I would like to but I can’t. It’s not just my body here, but my spirit. So many White men have problems, no matter how much work they’ve done.  It’s sad. It gets in the way. There is tightness near my right clavicle, a deep tightness when he kneads it that I don’t feel when he does it on my left. What does it mean? His touch is so low pressure that it’s almost shocking when something hurts. I can hear his breathing. It’s very pronounced. Changing with his movement. Which makes sense. It feels nice to have sheets tucked gently under me. Breathing deeper. I love long deep breaths. I feel as if I have inhaled all the way down to the bottom of myself and exhaled back up again. It feels amazing. Why does it feel so good to have certain parts of the body pressed, tugged and pulled? I’m glad I kept my underwear on. I went back and forth on that. I was raised in a naked house so I’m not super shy about that in a wellness context but I didn’t want things to be awkward for anyone. My breasts rocking side to side rhythmically when he pounded on my shoulders. Loving. What a loving act a massage is. What a loving way to impart caring, healing and loving energy exchange. How do you do this thing, which requires both closeness and yet respectfully emotional distance in the most beneficial way? I’m not sure I would ever be mature enough to make a good masseuse. I admire that quality very much. What if I chose to keep my eyes open the whole time when I flipped on my back? How awkward would that be? He called me sister when it was over. Which was nice. The tiny bottle of Clary sage tucked in my robe pocket.

Stay tuned for less stream of conscious thoughts on my Summer spa experience next week.

Laughter in Hell

When I was writing Mating in Captivity and was interested in making a distinction between eroticism and sexuality, I made a connection that I had never made before. That helped me understand why I was so interested in writing about the erotic – not in the narrow sense that modern society has defined it, but rather that quality of aliveness, vitality, and vibrancy that animates us.

-Esther Perel

I was listening to a podcast interview with Esther Perel recently where she talks as she often does about the study of aliveness and the erotic as related to the family and community of Holocaust survivors from which she hails. She often says that in the camps after the Holocaust there remained two different types of survivors: those that did not die and those who came back to life. One might wonder as I did when I first started studying Perel’s work, what the erotic has to do with Holocaust survivors.

As mentioned in the quote above, the term Erotic Intelligence coined by Perel, refers to a much broader definition of what it means to be alive than what most of us or used to. As a child of Holocaust survivors, Perel was very aware that her parents made the decision, to be not just survivors, but to make of their survival all that they could and to “come back to life” rather than to be alive and exist in a state of death. The energy that lay both in that choice and the work, the daily practice of joy and gratitude required, all contain the spark of the erotic and those things which universally signal aliveness for us all.

She talked in the interview about the role laughter played for survivors of the Holocaust, laughter in the darkest, the most terror filled times, “Laughter in hell.” This notion grabbed me and I took note of the times when laughter in my life during rough times (many of which I still wading through) have brought me and people around me to laugh totally at random. Marginalized oppressed people all over the world relate to this kind of laughter, the kind that pushes up defiantly through the ugliness and pain of human injustice and disparity and explodes into spaces blanketed with fear, sadness, hopelessness and depression like light breaking. Perel talks about laughter as autonomy in dark times when one feels that the sense of control over everything else has been lost.

The affirmation of this through Perel’s study touched me deeply. It confirmed something I had always suspected about why laughter is so important to me. There is a sense of unabashed freedom and bonding, a collective agreement, a belonging when we laugh together and even alone. There are times, in my therapist’s office when we will both share bursts of unexpected of laughter, sometimes moments after I have been crying. And that laughter…man, it makes me feel like no matter what, I still have the energy of life in me, that I have not shut down completely, that light can still enter and will again and again if I hold space for it. And I hold space for laughter in my life actively. I hold space for laughter and to make people laugh and to laugh at myself most of all.

Shit Serena Doesn’t Say

I was scrolling through IG a few days ago when I saw this quote by Serena for the press conference after she lost to Halep in the Wimbledon Finals posted by USTA.

Serena Quote

I had watched that entire match and the press conference afterward with my mom and I saw right away how they left out the only words in that quote that I had hung on to. The complete quote is as follows.

Serena Actual quote

I knew even then that when Serena said made this statement that it was still vague enough for the media to manipulate and project it’s agenda onto. But wow, they just went ahead and took the whole damn thing out. When Serena said “People that look like you and me…” I feel like she was doing that old double consciousness balancing act that still haunts many of us as Black people to this day. Serena’s indications about people who look like her and the reporter (I’m assuming she wasn’t white?) were specific and yet leaving enough wiggle room for the customization of truth that is written by Whiteness. In fact, every conference I’ve watched Serena give during this Wimbledon tournament has made me wonder what anger, frustration and irritation lay unsaid inside of her as she appears to maintain a lo-key, laid back, non-reactive and non-threatening facade, the anti-thesis of her behavior during the now infamous Osaka match.

My husband made the interesting point that the media’s uproarious and favorable acceptance of Coco Gauff has taken a lot of pressure off of Serena this year. If not for Coco she might have had to withstand harsher focus from the media. It’s ironic really how Serena and Venus have clearly opened the doors for young Black female tennis players like Sloane and Gauff, who seem to be getting the kind of measured and unbiased treatment from the press and media which the Williams sisters were never afforded because of blatant racism. Its wonderful, strange and a bit concerning to me (double consciousness again) to watch Coco respond to the press by just being the young girl she is. When I think of that terrible “interview” Venus had to endure with that White a-hole who probably called himself a journalist when she was just 14 years old, I cringe. I know this is an experience like many others the Williams sisters endured which informed the women they are now, experiences they have had to surpass and transcend so that others who look like them might not have to. And although the Williams are revered as top tennis champions and hold a place in history as Black women who have persevered oppression and racism in the sport, the thing is, it’s not over. It’s not over and they know it in ways Sloane and Gauff may never know. That’s how it works after all.

Obama Translator

I studied Serena’s face when they dared to ask her how she felt her stamina compared with Roger Federer’s considering their advanced ages and I longed for the equivalent of the Key and Peele Obama translator sketch  ; a Black woman with nothing to lose could stand beside her and translate what Serena said unapologetically in explicit language that Black folk would understand and make racist White people uncomfortable with their implicit role in her frustration.

Muthafucka, Federer ain’t had to push out an entire fucking human being out his body and then almost die afterward! Who the fuck do you think she is? She slayed the Australian Open while she was pregnant bitches! Why not ask Federer if he thinks he could have pulled that shit off?

That’s what my imaginary Williams translator would have said if she was there with Serena that day. She would have also said the words Black women, not “people who look like you and I.” But fuck if I don’t understand why she didn’t say Black women. She would have to deal with all kinds of stories calling her angry and asking why everything has to be about race…

It’s fucking exhausting y’all.

Ya’ll Whiteness is fucking exhausting.

 

 

 

Baldie Revolution or Guess What? I Shaved My Head.

So after months of thinking about it and agonizing over it, I finally shaved my head  bald a few weeks ago. Though I do feel super liberated and in love with my bald head, I’ve had my share of insecurities, particularly since I’ve been challenged with some hair damage over the years but I’m kinda into moving past that right now and healing rather than harping. It has helped a lot to have the full support of my husband whose clippers I used to shave my head initially. He finished it off in the back and then smartly suggested that I go to the barbershop to have it lined up and neatened and stuff.

Shout out to Denny Moe’s in Harlem for never making me feel weird, awkward or shamed for coming in to cut my hair short and always making me feel welcome because I have heard some bad stories about the terrible treatment of women of color going to barber shops to have a big chop done. As if we don’t have enough problems!

Here are some things I have experienced since I shaved my head.

Continue reading Baldie Revolution or Guess What? I Shaved My Head.

Now Accepting Cash/Experience Gifts

I found very important the idea of the body passing through space, and the body’s movement not being predicated totally on image or sight or optical awareness, but on physical awareness in relation to space, place, time, movement.

-Richard Serra

This Memorial Day weekend, I celebrated my birthday by taking a day trip to Dia Beacon Art Center in Hudson Valley with a dear friend and co-worker, another fellow Gemini whose birthday is this month as well. What I looked forward to seeing most was an installation by Richard Serra called “Band” which I saw in the Social Media feed of a friend of mine a few years ago.

Dia Beacon is not like a traditional museum per say. It’s really built for large scale installation pieces, several of them inviting viewer interaction and participation. All of this is exciting to me. It checks all my sensory, discovery and sense of play boxes. My appreciation of abstract and modern art has expanded over time. I don’t try to understand anything intellectually at first. I just tap into whatever feeling a work gives me and go from there. I felt Richard Serra’s sculpture immediately. I felt it all those years ago seeing it in a friends IG feed. I never forgot it. It’s funny sometimes, the things we silently file away in our minds. Things we never mention or talk about that pop up years later as opportunities to engage, unfold and make connections.

You can find a description of the “Band” anywhere online. What’s harder to put into words for me is the feeling of entering, approaching and taking in these mammoth cylindrical iron structures. For me, it was dark in nature (but not in the stereotypical negative way usually connoted by darkness), immensely soothing, calming, harmonious and just filled with an intense kind of presence I can’t put my finger on. I loved it.

Me in a Serra

There were other pieces I liked there as well but Serra’s was my absolute favorite. It surpassed my expectations and I was so glad we went out there to see it and just hang out and talk, laugh break bread and enjoy the silence and nature. Even the train ride there with my GemBae was a fun adventure. It was so refreshing to get out of the often draining confines of our work environment and enjoy each other’s company in a  space that inspired a different kind of contemplation, introspection and exchange.

For the last 5 or so years I’ve been drawing a blank when it comes to thinking about what I want for my birthday. Objects and material gifts, though I would never refuse them, are not really my thing  anymore. This weekend made me realize that what I really want are experiences. Experiences that challenge, inspire and sharpen with people I love and enjoy being around. I want more of that.

And cash. LOL! Cash gifts are always good.

Screen Cracked/Waist beads Broken

 

I was in line for the restroom at the NYU Skirball Center. A White lady behind me was like,

“I love your blouse.” in a very high energy chirpy way.

“Thank you.” I said matching her high energy chirp

“It’s very happy.” She said.

She’s right. It’s my very happy blue blouse with crazy bright pink birds on it that I wear whenever Spring begins. I love it. Everyone loves seeing it. It’s a fucking cheery ass blouse.

That was the end of that conversation. I’m pretty sure both of us were miserable liars. We had just gotten out of a lecture with Esther Perel about the “Spiritual Crisis of Loneliness  in the age of social media and #metoo.

I was super excited all weekend to attend and it was a good talk, very much like what you’ve seen in Esther Perel’s talls if you’ve ever seen her TedTalk or any lectures or workshops she’s done. She engages the audience by saying things like “Stand up if you have ever been having a horrible time with someone and just let it keep going and not said anything?” that peel back the onion of your well guarded pretenses when you stand up with like 90% of the audience.

You laugh and feel not alone but more alone at the same time.

I for one learned that I am one of those people who is in a poly-amorous relationship with husband and my cellphone. I am. That’s me. I know I’m not alone, and it doesn’t make me feel any better…

Not yet anyway.

Continue reading Screen Cracked/Waist beads Broken

Coloured Beautiful

It’s rare that I write about make-up on my blog though I’ve been obsessed with it for years and wear it just about everyday. And though my obsession with make-up has begun to shift more over to skincare, I’ve recently gained a new love of creating vivid eye shadow looks using the Coloured Raine Vivid Pigments Palette, which I’ve had for months now.

Coloured Raine is a Black owned make-up company I discovered on Youtube of course. The Vivid Pigments Palette is legendary among many MU lovers and I was lucky enough to grab a palette while it was on sale. It sells out very quickly and I believe it is sold out presently because of it’s immense popularity on the Coloured Raine site.

At first, these very vivid intensely pigmented colors can seem very intimidating. They were for me. I looked at them for days after the palette arrived just in awe but having no idea how to use them, particularly after having gotten comfortable with creating fairly safe matte nude looks with touches of peach or coral shimmer. But after taking in a few tutorials, getting some better brushes and pushing past my fear of fucking up, I’m starting to understand a bit more about how these colors work together. Some knowledge of color theory doesn’t hurt.

Continue reading Coloured Beautiful

Sex With Me So Amazing

Like so many things I cherish, Esther Perel was shared with me by our dearest Khalilah Brann. Esther Perel is a therapist and psychologist whose primary focus is relationships and erotic intelligence, which I think is so dope. Erotic intelligence. Just think about that term for a minute. What comes to mind. What do you think it means?

I watch a lot of Youtube y’all. A LOT! And I can click on just about anything where Esther Perel speaks and be completely engaged, enlightened, enthralled and just wowed by her wisdom and intelligence and understanding of human sexuality and relationships. I always think I have some idea what she will say on a particular topic but she always ends up saying some truth I never knew I always knew! LOL! And in a way I never could have imagined. In other words, she surprises and empowers me at the same time. Since that doesn’t happen very often, I know when it’s real.

In the latest Esther Perel video I happened to click on randomly, she talks about how a woman has to be turned on by her own self before she can feel like she wants to have sex.

NOW!

It took 1.1 seconds for me to know this to be true but I’ve always thought that this quality in me was narcissistic and wrong because of the messaging I get from society about the evils of that kind of “self pleasuring.” But Esther doesn’t mince words. She’s not here to judge. She’s just saying it plain and she even uses the word narcissistic. But she’s not saying it’s bad. She’s just saying this is what it is that women need. We need to feel like we are sexy in order to have sex. “If she doesn’t want to make love to herself, she won’t let anybody else do it either.”

Nerisa

Cut to another woman Khalilah turned me onto, a Sistah named Nerissa Nefeteri, the self acclaimed “FemHealth Activist” whose Nene Feme Yoni wash stays in my bath time and shower rotation, the Sistah who brought us Yoni Poppin. I follow her on IG, another social media tool I am immersed in as much if not more than Youtube. Nerrissa will post a sexy random photo of herself and or her and her man (father of her beautiful children) in whatever position, wearing or not wearing whatever, whenever she sees fit. I can tell she gets off on herself but it’s not remotely similar to anything I would compare with pornography because she does it for herself, and not a male gaze. She could give a shit about what men are watching, though she know fully aware that they are. But these images are for herself and she shares them with us in an effort to promote a self awareness in Black women that really challenges notions of how we feel about our own  bodies, both physically, spiritually, emotionally and practically.

I’m not gonna lie. I sometimes will catch myself feeling like damn! I wish I could use visual mediums to be that bold and liberated about my own sexuality but I do worry about what people will think and about having to ward off harassment and other unwanted attention. Because I think this kind of expression is truly beautiful and sexy as fuck in a deeply transformative way. Any super sexy photos I have taken stay strictly between me and my husband. But there are times when I wish the world was not so inclined to the violence and perversity and destruction of the unleashed female imagination.

Thanks to women like Esther Perel and Nerrissa Nefeteri, and Cardi B (did you catch her Grammy performance?) I don’t feel quite as ashamed of needing to feel sexy or seeking pleasure in my own sexiness as I once did. It’s okay for us to be in love with and creative with our own sexual power. As to sharing that with other people, social media has seriously changed the game on that front by providing permanent as well as temporary options to express our exhibitionist qualities whenever the mood hits. In this Snaphat seflie thirst trappy culture, the average person can’t help but take at least one or two sexy photos of themselves that go out into the internet galaxy. The option to keep it to yourself is also always a sexy option. The idea is not to feel pressured to express your sexuality in any way that does not make you feel…sexy and safe, to understand truly what sexiness means for you.

My hope is for a future that continues to evolve into a place where women can continue to be sexually fearless. Because our sexual liberation, self care and being comfortable in our bodies usually leads to pleasure, joy, creation and community for all.