"... YOU'LL BE OUT IN THE WORLD. SUCH A PRETTY GIRL..."*
I shouted out my friend Michelle, who - as I've chronicled here - is responsible for my meeting Kodjoe, my spiritual soul mate who passed away in March 2005. You'll recall, Kodjoe and Michelle were the best of friends and I met him at her home. I've known Michelle since 1996 and met her through my near-and-dear Lisa Goodnight.
On this blessed day, we all came back together for the joyous occasion of Michelle's union to her Neil... and what a day it was. They had to be the most beautiful and handsome couple known to man. And the ceremony was the most elegant and under-stated scene I've experienced in a long time. From the well-cued-and-sung choir to the timeline for the whole afternoon and evening, this was an event no doubt produced by an award-winning TV exec. My Lisa, who came up from Maryland with her fiance Lex in tow, was a bridesmaid. And she was absolutely stunning a la "Mahogany" as she let the 'glam squad' work her already beautiful canvas into an understated-yet-glamorous work of art. To know my Lisa is to know that she doesn't fuss over her looks, but she allowed it this go around and just showed up like a candidate for 'America's Next Top Model' (or something the like). This wedding and reception, too, were a chance for two disparate entities in my life to come together and bond. Anthony had only met Lisa briefly a few months ago, but she got to spend some more time with him during the reception. Lex and Ant had never met, but got the chance to connect as the significant others' of Lisa and me, who can be in our own world when we get together. They got along splendidly. Thank goodness our guys got along well. And then, there was the chance to see all of these people I have known over these years via either Lisa, Michelle, or Kodjoe. And under one roof, they were all there standing for Michelle and Neil. But we also were happy to be together again in many respects - for a happy and sacred occasion.
Congrats to Michelle and Neil.
Afterwards, Anthony and I segued from wedding/reception to a birthday party for our Mara. The setting was in Manhattan at Casa La Femme Restaurant (www.casalafemme.com). The cuisine was Egyptian and quite tasty. The scene was as well - from the belly dancer to the hookah. And we took every offering very seriously. As I've chronicled over these months, Mara and her husband Tommy have become dear friends of Anthony and mine. Mara goes so far as to say we are her favorite couple, which always makes us blush. But it was additionally wonderful to be in the presence of her many friends who love and adore her. They too have great energy and it made for an awesome after-set to our already festive day. Congrats to Mara on a new year... and a new gig. We'll be hearing more about her professionally in weeks to come.
"... I LOVE YOU NOW AS I LOVED YOU THEN..."
I got the chance to host one of my favorite Savannah-based cousins Kejuanna and her husband Andrew this week. They were celebrating their 5th wedding anniversary and opted to come through New York City en route to the Bemuda Music Festival (www.bermudajazz.com/). She wanted to do a lot for the day they were here: morning shows; Sylvia's for breakfast; Empire State Building; shopping; "The Color Purple" with Fantasia; etc. I hooked her up with house seats for the latter; unfortunately, Fantasia was not on for the matinee they attended. They did enjoy just the same. Meanwhile, she made reservations for us to dine at "Justin's" as she and Andrew like the one in Atlanta; howwever, it was closed upon their arrival. I instead took them to "Maroon's" for rum punches (http://maroonsnyc.com/) and "Cafeteria" for dinner (www.cafeteriagroup.com). We used this time to simply catch up as my cousin and I haven't really had any quality, one-on-one time in ten years or so (though we've glimpsed each other on holidays and such). During this time, I got to know her husband Andrew better. And he is a total sweetheart and a really good balance for her. Though Anthony had left town on the day we hung out, he did get the chance to see them and spend a little time on the night prior after they got into town. Everybody got along splendidly. After dinner, Kejuanna wanted to roll by "40/40" (www.the4040club.com/), which was closed for a private function. But she still got to pose in front. She also wanted to get her Times Square on - to really demonstrate her time in "The Big Apple".
And to cap off the night, we went to my friend Marcos' spot "Voyage" for another round of rum punches. I am so glad I was in town to spend time with them.
"... BE EVERYTHING THAT I SEE IN MY DREAMS..."
My platonic boo Carl Nelson jumped right into his pre-Anthony role of escorting me to functions in the city (as Ant is out of town). On this night, we started with a round of cocktails at "The Ritz".
Then, we attended an intimate, acoustic evening of song by our dear friend Kevin-Anthony (of BLACK 2: BROADWAY fame, which I've referenced many times here in the BLOG: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2007/6/13/from-black.html). It took place at The Triad NYC (www.triadnyc.com) which is managed by arts performer/producer Lee Summers. I told Lee I think I want my next 'intimate evening of song' to be held here (http://22.214.171.124/rileyshowforkodjoe.wmv). It's intimate and warm. Like Kevin-Anthony, it's been a couple of years since I've done my own show (though I've sung at some special events and weddings). Not sure how I want to timeline this, but stay tuned. With a rhythm section of piano, drums, upright bass, and guitar, Kevin-Anthony kept us all captivated with his soulful vocals. Sometimes backed by his "sister" LaTanya (who is a solo artist in her own right and has sung background for Miss Ross for a couple of years at the turn of this century), Kevin-Anthony covered (to great effect) songs like "If God Was One of Us"; "I Can't Make You Love Me" [one of my staples on the link above]; "No Ordinary Love"; "He Loves Me"; "Imagine"; and a few original compositions that he co-wrote with many of the players on the stage as well as a couple of audience members in attendance.
My Marcia Pendelton of "Walk Tall Girl Productions" was in attendance and we got to catch up.
After this show, my friend Jamar texted me to tell me to meet him at "The Sugar Bar" (www.sugarbarnyc.com) for its Thursday night open mic set.
It was R&B legend Freddie Jackson's birthday and he performed several of his classics on the stage. Jamar's and my friend Ryan was also in attendance and we got to catch up (In fact, he's a performer and his comic troop Poykpac can be seen on You Tube -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiZVc_EJMQM (and other links) - and soon in NYC - www.poykpac.com/. Stay tuned for more on that.).
Carl, Ryan, and I did a pitstop to Gray's Papaya (seen in many films like "Die Hard" and Chris Rock's "Down To Earth"). I joked that our two servers should have been in the movies. They weren't. So I'm putting them on the blog.
From there, we reconnected to Jamar who was left behind at the Sugar Bar, posed for a couple of pix... ... and then we all segued to Club Shelter for SPRUNG (what used to be "Luke and Leroy" - www.clubshelter.com).
Lots of our usual suspects and buddies were in the house - from Dexter to Randall to Chris to Raymond, etc. I got the chance to hang out a bit with Phillip Bloch - stylist and actor - who told me of some projects he's working on, including a film in which he co-stars titled "The Unseen" due out November 1st (www.phillipbloch.com/). It was a good night all around.
"... YOU ARE GROWING OLDER NOW... "
Ern, Anthony, and I did go and support comedienne and actress Erica Watson who is a part of the ensemble “Craigslist: Live and UNAUTHORIZED!!!” – comprised of real Craigslist (www.craigslist.org/) listings like:
*STR8 Black Top looking for a bottom to suck
*Swingers party for Lesbos! NO MEN!
*Meet me in a buddy booth in Times Square
The play with music - which was presented at Mo’Pitkins (http://www.mopitkins.com) - was a total hoot. Conceived and directed by Roman Feeser, this play was funny, nasty and raw. And just what you want to see at MIDNIGHT. Stay tuned for future runs of this production, which featured a stellar cast and witty writing (in addition to the real-life entries). And our Erika was WONDERFUL!!!
"... BUT YOU KNOW THAT I STILL CARE..."
I must shout out some folks who are doing things that I either could NOT attend or that are just worth mentioning:
1. My Nichole's good friend Michelle Sanchez-Boyce (who - with her husband Nelson) has become dear to me as well. In February 2006, Michelle started Simplicity Designs. It's been over a year and she's done quite well for herself. Check out her new site at www.simplicitydesigns.org.
Also, check out the hot links section. It's a special section she's dedicated to positive individuals who are making it happen. These individuals have either inspired or supported her professional journey... CONGRATS MICHELLE!!!!
2. You folks hear me often speak about LIVEOUTLOUD (LIVEOUTLOUD.INFO) and the important work that it does for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender youth in connecting them to leaders and role models in the LGBT community. They are hosting a special benefit performance of Charles Busch's "Die MommieDie!" on Wednesday, October 10th at 8:00 pm at New World Stages (340 West 50th Street). The rioutous, comedy-thriller steeped in the glamour of 1960s Hollywood is one of the most-anticipated and hilarious new comdedies of the fall season, stars Charles Busch as Angela Arden and Emmy-award nominee Van Hansis as Lance. I watch Hansis everyday on "As The World Turns" (CBS). He is portraying a teen who came out as gay and is now adjusting to being his truth in a town that isn't the most accepting. All proceeds from the evening will benefit LIVE OUT LOUD. To purchase tickets, go to www.broadwayoffers.com or call 212.239.6200.
3. I got the chance to know the cast of the most recent BET's College Hill. Since that time, one of its co-stars J.T. (2nd from right in pic below with his co-star Willie, next to me... and my Morehouse brother Khalid) has stayed in touch. He's working on some great projects including a celebrity basketball game. He's just signed with a new record label and is helping them put this together at . The reason for him doing this event is for the movement.
5th Element/ Jay5th
* - large fonts are excerpts from "Don't Lose The Feeling That We Have" from "The Wiz" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4aot8Djw68