Last week on this plane, in the natural world we lost one of the most magical spirits to ever play music, Prince Rogers Nelson. As I write this, I am in absolute disbelief, how could this be. This sexy mutha has been making music almost as long as I have been alive, so many periods of my life I can refer to this genius. His music helped me during difficult times in my childhood, he was one of the major influences in my all-womyn cabaret troupe Drag, Kings, Sluts & Goddesses and he most definitely was one of the figures who awakened my bourgening libido. I remember seeing Purple Rain, which admittedly is not an amazing film but his smoldering, blatant sexuality can still be seen more than 30 years later. The music tho, what is there to say. He was different from MJ, who was the kind of man you could bring home to mama, you didnt want to bring Prince because mama ( and possibly daddy) would want him too.
I always had an open curiosity about sex and Prince was just the man to help answer the questions. The way he explored sensuality was in the lineage of Marvin Gaye, where he left off Prince picked up the reins. His "Nasty Girl" still rocks today and allows a sort of playful but aggressive stance that I always loved. His early stuff was just awesome but also really enjoyed how he grew into his grown and sexy persona. I loved the later years, with the experiments in fashion, his calm but still masculine stance with that hint of vulnerability. He took to the stage like a boss, lucky enough to catch his Musicology tour and never has a man in a blouse and heels made me so excited. I could have flown right on the stage and...well lets just say a Sista worked up a "Black Sweat " fo'reals. Like MJ, he had this shy, feminine quality which was endearing but Prince had the baritone in his voice which created an intriguing contrast. He did exploit the beauty and sensuality of women in his concerts and videos but unlike many other male artists he also put his own body on display. He believed in being seduced but also seducing at the same time. Even in this later years, when I didnt listen to him on such a consistent basis, was always an exciting artist to see perform on awards shows, he was in an elevated status of music royalty. He always remained an artist, creating and innovating, never relying on last year's laurels. He is what an artist should be doing, experimenting and creating as you get older. How would more experience in your field hurt you, it should be benefiting you. Like Clint Eastwood who's work also continues to grow but unlike him, Prince is and was a prodigy. He is one of "special" people who I believe was a gift from G*d and people like that are not ours forever, they have a purpose, a plan and then there are to move on. It can be in violent ways like Marvin Gaye, it can be perplexing like a Martin Luther King, tragic like Houston, MJ or just peacefully like Prince. Either way, it is for us to appreciate, mourn and never forget thier magical prescence because it's always like no other. #prince #princerogersnelson #purplerain #blackartists #music #genius #billboard #icon
WHAT'S SPIRIT GOT TO DO WITH IT?
I belong to a church that is based in the performing arts and my career is constantly validated by the 85% who belong to the same industry. The challenges of being a faith based woman is that the majority of my friends and associates are progressive and wary of religion of any sort. It's not like I can't understand on some level. The latest stories representing people of faith have been less than flattering bordering on lunatics. Every time I hear someone says how this climate change is the fault of homosexuality, I just have to find a place to pray for strength.
My faith is tested regularly and I struggle sometimes even sitting in church. There are members in my church who's faith seems to withstand Hurricane Sandy and there are times I feel I fall short on the ability to believe monitor. This monitor of course, is all in my head there is no competition and everyone's spiritual journey is their own. There always those that believe they know the right way to salvation but of course that is ridiculous. If you are of the Christian faith, the Bible provides a road map but how we read that map can be different for each person and how that maps directs you is based on what you view as east, west, north or south.
I have always been of the mindset , we don't have to share the same Faith but you have to believe in something greater than yourself or science. I have had very strong feelings for two men who were Muslim and someone who was "spiritual". I do believe if you are a person of faith, its crapola that you can just feel your way through your spiritual development. If we can take the time to study for our career, how to drive a car or how to manage our money, how can we give any less to the protection of our spiritual health. I feel that is just an easy way out of having to be responsible and face your own inner challenges. Your study may not look like everybody else's but it worth some effort on your part.
My hope is that my Faith will be like steel, that I will be able to rely on it like a well oiled muscle and it will silence the constant fear and doubt that plague me at times. The struggle of being political progressive and spiritually focused is real and it creates such division amongst many of the people I know. Not being able to mix company and it seems like I have two lives. The irony is, my political commitment is fueled by my spiritual commitment. It is the responsibility I feel to contribute to the world, to walk in the path that the Divine has paved for us. If I didn't feel that spiritual responsibility, I would never have the energy or desire to see things through. I don't receive financial rewards and many times I feel like an outsider at these political outings. The sting of classism and racism still permeates even the places that are looking to create a "better tomorrow". I sometimes go to phone banks, where I am merely tolerated or just not seen or rally's where I am ignored. It doesn't matter, my motivation doesn't come from a need for community but to be anyplace where the work is to create justice for all.
The stronger or deeper my relationship with the Divine, the more I sensitive I am to images and sounds. I am a fan of SVU but I realize that I used to be able to watch marathons, I cant now. Hearing and experiencing painful images of assault and degradation just doesn't sit well with my anymore, it feels wrong. Television shows that rely on insulting or talking rough to one another disturbs me and I cant watch it, songs that degrade someone over and over and again I just cant tolerate. My need for beautiful imagery or thoughtful conversation becomes even stronger. Trust, I can always enjoy sexual imagery but it has to be done in caring way. Even if the result is just for momentary pleasure, there has to be some connection.
I have never enjoyed violence, I don't like action movies but now I cant even watch someone being shot, I have to turn my head. When I was watching 12 Years a Slave, I was practically doing spins in my chair because I had to turn my head so much.
Whatever your spiritual choices, it must and has to change you. It has to deepen whatever is strong within you and bring to light your challenges. I believe that is the purpose of bringing the Divine into your life, your soul, your being is to change you and always for the better.
Marilyn 50 years later
It has been 50 years since the death of the America's sex goddess, Marilyn Monroe. I have always had a special place in my spirit for Marilyn Monroe because when I was growing up she was the only celebrity who I knew, who had a mother with a mental illness and who thrived. She was an inspiration to me of sorts even with her well-publicized setbacks. When I went to college, I had several of her pictures of her on my wall but no one knew why, I didnt share my family painful experience of mental illness and the damaging effects it has on a family's structure. I assumed people believed I wanted to look like her or I had some great admiration for her. Having a strong sense of pride, while I thought Marilyn was a beautiful woman I had no desire to look like her, though I have emulated some her flirtations, they are effective.
We also shared some other histories in our background, that I won't go into on this post but they gave me a unique understanding of what obstacles she faced and conqured in those short 36 years. The other nite while buying groceries in Fort Greene, I saw a magazine highlighting her death and all her scandals. There is a whole industry created on the "tragedy" that is Marilyn Monroe and she is consistently depicted as this breathless idiot, who couldn't take a step without swallowing a pill for confidence.
I never met Marilyn, would have loved to be but she died long before I was born and all I have to know her by are letters, journal entries, endless documentaries and those beautiful pictures that have stood the test of time.
Knowing and understanding a little of her background, one thing is very clear to me, she was no one's idiot and most definitely no one's victim. You do not survive, a children's home (esp in the 20-30's) prior to children's advocacy, while having no family to support you, being a pretty female w/little education and become one of the biggest stars of all time; without a will of steel. I cant even imagine the situations she endured during her childhood, the sexual misconduct that she had to withstand, the inner fortitude it took to be rejected over and over with no means of emotional support to get to that pinnacle. She was one of the first women to have her own production company, Egg Productions, and she lifted weights when women were not supposed to. She dictated her image, her roles, her leading men and she did not die penniless. When she was fired from her last film, for her own misbehavior she sued, won and recieved a pay hike. She took a small role in All About Eve and translated into her own empire. Her challenges with her husbands is they assumed she was coquettish sex goddess, and she was an ambitious shark who wanted her career and intelligence to be honored as well as her body. As the wife of Arthur Miller, he thought she would be her career on hold for him, he was jealous of her production company but as a woman who had always taken care of herself there was no way she would defer her dreams-not even for him. Marilyn Monroe was a woman ahead of her time, she layed the groundwork for Madonna, Janet, Beyonce, Angelina Jolie and on. She illustrated that you can be sexual and ambitious all in the same being. She understood that sexuality is a performance and she was a master at it but it was still just that, a skill not her being. As a woman she struggled to find the person/and or industry that could accept that but they just werent ready. #marilynmonroe #feminism #acting
An Actor/Director sharing her thoughts on creativity in this crazy metropolis, New Yawk Citay.