Many of you continue to reach out as you see me in the promos for “Million Dollar Password” hosted by Regis Philbin (www.cbs.com/primetime/million_dollar_password/). Well, I’m told that my episode runs Sunday, July 6 (8:00 pm/eastern). Please tune in… and ENJOY!
Meanwhile, I’ve had more than enough to keep me busy over this last week. I got the chance to hang out with my mentee and soul mate in all things wise and philosophical Chris. He’s in grad school at the Interdenominational Theological Center (www.itc.edu/) but in town for some rest and relaxation. We met up at my favorite corn dog spot Cowgirl (www.cowgirlnyc.com), which ironically is where my friend Scott and his partner Tony joined Ant, best buddy Michael, and me last year during the Pride festivities (www.nycpride.org). This year, they happened to be in town again (by way of business in Philadelphia with Scott’s boss Sheryl Lee Ralph). Though they were all due to be on a plane from Philly to St. Thomas on the morning of Pride this year, Scott, Tony, and another friend of theirs took a quick road trip from the city of Brotherly Love to a city inhabited and chockfull of ‘brotherly love’ Manhattan (on Saturday night before the parade i.e. Michael K., Valente, and many others) to wish us all Happy Pride (even though they only had a couple of hours to spare). It was great to see them and to catch up with Tony who shares a LOVE of Diana Ross’ 1977 “Baby, It’s Me” album in common. I alerted Tony that this special album (to us and many) is being re-released and expanded very soon. We’re hoping to spend more time with Scott and Tony in August when they come back east. Hopefully, Ant and I will get to go west to see Sheryl Lee Ralph’s annual AIDS benefit “Divas: Simply Singing” which Scott plays a key role in organizing (www.divassimplysinging.com/).
Speaking of DIVAS, they were out and about this week at “Cheetah Girls” best-seller Deborah Gregory’s book party, held at FashionOpolis Lounge in the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising (www.limcollege.edu/) for her latest tome “Catwalk”, a brand-new book series targeting children, tween, and teen girls (www.cheetahrama.com/). Supermodel Beverly Johnson (starring in TV Land’s ‘She’s Got The Look’ - www.tvland.com/originals/shesgotthelook/); actress Lynn Whitfield; and Nole Marin of “America’s Next Top Model” hosted the evening. He was so kind and funny (as he was on the show). He even introduced me to his mom. Actually, all of them were so nice and gracious as I introduced my nephew Herman and his Spelman sister to them. Too, it was great to introduce them to so many of my friends and industry associates who were in the house – from Theo Perry to Gordon Chambers (www.gordonchambers.com/) to my Morehouse brother Chris McDonald, whose poised to write the next best musical that Broadway has ever seen. Also, Lakeshia got to meet her Spelman sister Sheila Kay Davis who is the Founder/Artistic Director of The New Professional Theatre (www.newprofessionaltheatre.org/) which held a benefit last month that Ant and I attended (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2008/5/20/a-reversal-of-mendacity.html). And screenwriter Tina Andrews (www.tinaandrews.com/) who I stumbled into – with Deborah – a year ago (around this time) is taking her latest work on Sally Hemmings (Thomas Jefferson slave/mistress/children’s mother) to Broadway. Stay tuned. Ebay’s Style Director Constance White (www.ebay.com/personalstyle) and Maroon’s restaurant owner Mitchell (www.maroonsnyc.com/) were also in the house as was author Terry McMillan who remembered my interviewing her in Santa Barbara a few years ago. Also, celebrity photographer Tar was in the house. I met him through my good girlfriend Camille some years ago and hadn’t seen him in a long time (www.tarboy.net). Also, my good friend Diaz - pictured here with my 'karaoke pushermen' Dante and Marcus - gave us a glimpse of that infectious smile that always lights up the room. And we’re always excited to see our plastic surgeon with the most Dr. Shrirley Madhere (www.drshirleymadhere.com/), who was also excited to see Ern and Tina, who also joined us for the night.
While en route to a second party (for the evening), we ran into my good girlfriend and colleague Rita who was dining at “the new” Lola Restaurant (www.lolaissoul.com). This fine, soul food dining experience is now in SOHO and is a site to behold. Just a gorgeous space. Rita introduced me to Lola and we had a lovely chat that may inspire my return to a NYC stage once they put an entertainment area into the restaurant. As it’s been a minute (http://22.214.171.124/rileyshowforkodjoe.wmv), I would love to get back into the groove of my ‘intimate evening of song’ that I’ve always enjoyed performing in intimate, cabaret/nightclub spots throughout Manhattan.
On that same night, a party that Grubman PR (www.grubmanpr.com/) invited me to attend (with my entourage in tow) in celebration of YRB’s “How You Rock It” Fall Fashion Issue (www.yrbmagazine.com/) was met with velvet-rope drama. Though I had been cleared to attend plus a few extras, it became an issue once we got there. That part, of course, is not a big deal. But the reps from the pr agency coupled with the guys at the door couldn’t seem to make a decision on whether I could get in with everyone or just some or not at all. It was quite the unprofessional scene. But sadly, that plays to the pomp and circumstance of NYC nightlife sometimes. Ultimately, I was able to walk my nephew Noot and his Spelman sister Lakeshia into the party – so they could experience it. They saw Danity Kane’s (www.danitykane.com) Aubrey and rapper Styles P, which made the inconvenience worth the trip for them. Ant, Tina, and Ern patiently agreed to wait for us as they know how unreliable RSVPs and CONFIRMATIONS can be in New York City.
Ant and I didn’t have any problems at the Bleu Magazine 2nd Anniversary Party (www.thebleumag.com/). So many of our friends – like Devon, Ra-Fael, George, Seven, and Richard have put their blood, sweat, and tears into this periodical (which targets urban gay men), we just had to support them. We too stumbled into the cast of “Finding Me” (www.thanks4findingme.com) – including co-star and friend Derrick L. Briggs (www.derricklbriggs.com/). Like me, he’s quite the multi-hyphenate – so it’s exciting when we catch up on each others’ projects. “Finding Me” about which I’ve blogged before (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2007/12/20/holiday-shout-outs-for-the-kids-and-everyone.html) is scheduled to be released later this summer/early fall (and will hit the festival circuit as well).
This evening set the tone for other PRIDE festivities. Ant and I were to join Ted Gibson’s partner Jason and some others at his salon to watch the parade (www.tedgibsonsalon.com) but instead we bumped into Jason on the streets of the Village as the parade was going on. Too, I ran into one of my favorite fellow Diana fans Dustin, who shared excerpts of Diana Ross’ 1979 HBO Caesar’s Palace Concert (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bqow17_je3E) & (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEnKEcBvBvw) with a Clearview Cinemas audience (in place to celebrate PRIDE by seeing “Mahogany” on the big screen one more time). And there was Henry Mitchell, who designed the interior of my favorite boutique N (www.nharlemnewyork.com/). And someone we haven't seen in a while: Rico. Welcome back! Also, we had a good time between BBQ (www.bbqnyc.com) and karaoke (www.karaoke17.com/) with friend Edwin and many of his friends.
Speaking of N, Ant and I too got the chance to hang out with Jamar, his partner Miguel, Natasha, her brother Demetrius at the Port Authority Bowling Alley (www.leisuretimebowl.com/). I won the 2nd match (not by much). I came in a close 3rd or 4th (not by much) on the 1st game, but who is counting. What did calculate? The fun and the silliness. Oh! And I always like bowling alley food. This experience was no exception.
Diana, by the way, has been popping up all over the place. First, she was featured performer for an audience of Janet Jackson, JD, Fergie, Ashanti, and others for a Cartier event (http://diana-ross.blogspot.com/2008/06/diana-ross-sings-at-cartier-loveday.html). Then, she had an audience of one at LAX when it seems her bag might have been missing (http://www.tmz.com/2008/06/26/diana-ross-pisses-off-another-airport-worker/). And though it’s not the first time she’s been a doppelganger for Diana, Ant's buddy (from their photo shoot in Essence Magazine) Erykah Badu (www.erykahbadu.com/) is channeling her inner-Diana on the artwork that promotes her new fragrance ‘White Patchouli’ which is under oft-Diana-inspired Tom Ford (www.tomford.com/).
Speaking of BADU, her child Seven’s father Andre 3000 has a new, self-funded line of clothes set to be on the racks in Barney’s (www.barneys.com/) come Fall 2008. The 70-piece clothing line, Benjamin Bixley, is inspired by football players of the 1930's. It includes collegiate themes and athletic detailing.
Perhaps my friend Clarence could be a model for the line. He was once a book editor and was helpful to me in attempting to get his former employer to buy my book “Big Willies & Amazing Graces: gay men and their best girlfriends” – a collection of conversations between men and women inside that paradigm. Well, they (along with a couple dozen other publishers) LOVED the idea but didn’t BUY the book – leaving me to unearth some new strategies to ensure this book reaches the marketplace. But Clarence will be too busy to advise me as he’s segued from the book world into modeling and acting. And AM New York (www.amny.com/) did a story on him this week (page 28). See it here:
And another friend I’ve been meaning to shout out is my Elise Durham, media relations manager at Morehouse College (www.morehouse.edu). Well, in addition to being an Emmy-award-winning news producer (in her previous life when she and I worked alongside each other in Atlanta), she is now a Telly-award-winning producer as announced at the 29th Annual Telly Awards (www.tellyawards.com/) – honoring the finest in commercial film and video work. Her Morehouse Recruitment video (which she produced) won in the recruitment category. According to the Telly Awards, they received over 14,000 entries from the finest ad agencies, production companies, TV Stations and cable companies in the world this year. I’ve written about Elise and her work at Morehouse many times, but she continues to amuse and amaze us with what she’s doing at my alma mater. Oh! She’s a great friend, too!
Something to look forward to: My good girlfriend/theater marketer/audience developer Marcia Pendelton is working on For Colored Girls..." ,which returns to Broadway at Circle In The Square Theatre (www.circlesquare.org/)! As blogged about before, Whoopi Goldberg is presenting two-time Grammy-award-winner India.Arie in this new, re-envisioned production of the groundbreaking work from celebrated playwright Notozake Shange. This play with music is choreographed by three-time Tony-winner Hinton Battle. And it’s directed by Shirley Jo Finney. It opens Monday, September 8 (WWW.FORCOLOREDGIRLSBWAY.COM). You won’t be able to buy tickets for this amazing re-envisioning until July 19. BUT, if you are a Black Theater Online Subscriber* or a client of WTG Group Sales, you can purchase group tickets TODAY! The discount price for groups of 15 or more is $49 per person during previews (August 19 - September 7) and $59 per person after opening (September 8). The regular ticket price is $98.50 so you can save nearly 40% by arranging your group tickets right away. You can contact Marcia or Mydra Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 646.467.7393 to book your group immediately! Jasmine Guy, by the way, is Directing another version of "For Colored Girls..." down in Atlanta at the 14th Street Playhouse (http://www.ikamproductions.com/coloredgirls).
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