Black men have always been a work of art.
The beauty of their skin, glowing like black gold. The kinkiness of their hair. The broadness of their noses. The honey of their laughter. The purity of their smiles. And the fullness of their lips. All attributes that exemplify the breadth of their physicality.
But it's more than that. It's their strength, the hard work that can be felt in their hands, the undeniable essence of their masculinity, the rumble of their tone, how they hold their shoulders when they walk into a room. I could spend hours lost within them.
Sometimes I find myself creating montages in my head as I pass black men along the street. Angie Stone's "Brotha" acting as the soundtrack.
It was that affinity that led me to indulging my curiosity at Atlanta's hottest sip and paint event Booze And Nudes one Thursday night. Organized and founded by Jasmine Strickland, Booze And Nudes was created to push the African-American culture forward by allowing people within the community to experience various parts of the artistic experience in new and exciting ways.
As I stared at the tall, dark, and handsome prototype standing on the podium in the center of the room, I was hypnotized. He looked like something that belonged in a museum. Embodying both a masterpiece and a work-in-progress simultaneously. Sans his bottle of tequila in hand, of course. My mouth felt dry and I swallowed as I allowed my eyes to drink him in. He had been "gifted" in many ways, and wasn't shy about letting us see what God had blessed him with.
"Grab a canvas and sit wherever you like."
I was taken out of my daze and brought back to reality. It was an invitation to fully submerge into the experience that was this liberating class, glorifying the black man for all that he is. After showing my ID to the event's host, I walked passed him to pick up a canvas. I had the choice between rough sketches of a butt, a penis, or the model's body from the neck down.
Of course I chose his penis.
The excitement of the women could be heard and felt through the clamoring of voices, girlish giggles, wild chatter, and warm bodies. Groups of women by the couple, by the fours, and by the dozens came out to paint well-endowed black men amid red cups and liquor. It was a convening of sisterhood and womanhood where women let their hair down, dipped their toes into creativity, and stared at eye candy shamelessly.
150 of us fill the room a night to celebrate everything from birthdays to a girl night's out. And often in the midst of sold out classes. With our paint, paint brushes, and canvases - we are able to take our time and explore the black man's body.
The sounds of R&B and trap music that played in the background didn't help cut some of the sexual tension in the least, as I tried to make sure I wasn't dancing on the line of objectification too much. I dipped my wet paintbrush into the brown paint on my table and allowed it to meet the soft cloth of my canvas, all the while doing my best to keep my gaze meeting his instead of falling below his waist.
Despite the fact that my brush was painting his tip...
Booze & Nudes/Instagramalexis.lindaikejisblog.com
The model moved every 10-15 minutes and gave the ladies (and the men) in attendance a show equipped with a toothy grin, body rolls, and wagging his penis like it was a tail. Due to the event's ever-growing social media presence, the model is expected to welcome photos and videos taken of him. He looked so fearless up there. Beautiful, full of joy. Carefree. It's a look that should adorn the features of more black men in this world. It suits them well.
It's sometimes so easy to get lost in the sauce about the inadequacies of the men in our community that I found it interesting how strongly I was reminded of everything I loved. My adoration for black men goes far beyond anything that they do for me sexually, encompassing so many facets and complexities. Cue that Angie Stone "Brotha" track again.
The class surmised with us taking turns capturing whatever photos and videos in compromising positions that we wished to take with the model, per his comfortability of course. Now fully clothed, the model asked if could add my completed artwork of his penis to the collection he had on the wall of his apartment. He showed me pictures of women before me who had painted him lining his wall and asked if I wanted a spot. I worked hard on mine.
I wasn't about to give it up.
All things considered, the class did not help with my desires at all and wine coupled with male nudity definitely had me hitting up bae immediately after to come through and chill. So that night, Booze & Nudes became the gift that kept me coming. Literally and figuratively.
Since its debut, the Booze and Nudes brand has been in high demand by many eager painters to visit cities across the nation. Jasmine and her team are working hard to bring the event to 18 cities this year including New Orleans, Brooklyn, Baltimore, Miami, Los Angeles, and Houston.
Be sure to grab your tickets(they will go fast!) and support this new artistic approach to capturing the black man's anatomy. In all its chocolate-hued glory. I highly recommend.
Originally published January 25, 2018
Malikka McDuffie is a journalist residing in sunny California. Malikka currently helps brands form meaningful digital connections with their audience as a social media manager. Stay socially connected with her via @malikkamichelle (IG and Twitter) or her blog, where she shares her love of music and random adventures in LA LA Land.
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
If you are looking to bring a little spice into your life, dating a fire sign is the way to do it. These bold lovers are confident enough to take the lead but may surprise you with how generous they are as well. Fire signs are the heat, the passion, the charisma, and the heart of the zodiac. They are often the initiators in love, and don’t mind making the first move. The three fire signs: Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius, love uniquely in their own way, but all have a lasting impact on those they meet.
You can feel a fire sign’s energy from a mile away, and getting close to them on a romantic level is a whole other type of heat.
Fire Signs in Love: What Is It Like To Date a Fire Sign?
Dating a fire sign is exciting, heartfelt, intense, and sexy. Fire signs are some of the most independent of the zodiac signs, yet they are also some of the most loyal. Their inner fire will warm your heart, but treat them badly, and it can just as easily burn. Due to fire signs' nature of feeling everything a little more heightened, they make empathic lovers, but they can also let their feelings overwhelm them and become easily irrational or agitated.
Fire signs can get heated quickly, and dating an unevolved one can get messy as they love to put on a show. They need a partner who is a good balance to their fierce nature, but someone who isn’t going to put out their inner fire in the process.
When it comes to who fire signs are looking to date, they look for partners who can love just as passionately as they can, and expect an unwavering type of loyalty. They are also looking for confident lovers, as they aren’t one to play games or beat around the bush. They are the type of partner to be your biggest cheerleader and will support you in all your endeavors, building up your self-esteem in the process.
These lovers are ready to risk it all when it comes to their relationships and love, and dating them is a fun adventure, to say the least. These are creative, confident, romantic, and heart-warming souls, and dating a fire sign is inspiring.
Dating an Aries
Aries are independent lovers. They are free spirits that are a little hard to settle down with, as most fire signs are, yet you will know how much they are willing to give and put into the relationship through their efforts. You have to be going at the same pace as them in life, and they need to see you as someone who can keep up with them to gain their respect and commitment. Aries have a vision when it comes to their life and love, and are looking for a partner that aligns with their plans or goals that they have for themselves.
Aries, at their best, are loyal and exciting; at their worst, they are competitive and brash.
When it comes to dating an Aries, they want to do things that keep their energy moving and stimulate them. They are fun lovers and are constantly doing things as a young soul does, fueling their spirit. Aries doesn’t want to feel restricted or limited in any way and seek relationships where there is a certain amount of freedom, which in turn sometimes leads them into emotionally unavailable relationships. An evolved Aries seeks their balance and finds themselves in long-lasting partnerships where they can still feel authentically themselves.
Dating an Aries is a compelling adventure.
Learn how an Aries pairs with each sign of the zodiac in love here.
Dating a Leo
Dating a Leo is like entering a rom-com movie. Leos are bold, outspoken, and dramatic lovers. They tend to prefer a spotlight on them, but when it comes to love, they are usually willing to share the stage. Leos want a grand love. They are all about outrageous romantic gestures, complete and utter loyalty, and a little spice. Leos want to be adored, and when you are dating one, they want all of your attention to be on them. Evolved Leos understand they cannot be the center of everyone's world, but Leo’s still going through their love journey may find themselves entertaining drama and controlling the scenario.
Leo’s, at their best, are playful and loving; at their worst, they are irrational and disruptive.
All in all, however, Leos can make some of the best partners to date as they rule the 5th house, the house of romance, dating, love, and flirtation. They are fun partners and are often the ones planning the dates or outings, and creating an atmosphere that is happy and inviting. They are the type to create an uplifting energy in their relationships, and you can expect a lot of laughs in this pairing. Leos don’t hold back when it comes to most things in life, including love. They will express their love and admiration for you often and will expect the same respect in turn.
Dating a Leo is a statement.
Learn how a Leo pairs with each sign of the zodiac in love here.
Dating a Sagittarius
Sagittariuses are hard to grasp, but if they decide to let you into their world, you’ll find a space of wonder, adventure, and magic. There are many different stages a Sagittarius moves through in love, and as much as they like to do things quickly in all other aspects of their lives, when it comes to dating, they tend to take it more slowly. They are not the type to be in a rush to define the relationship and take their time when opening their heart. You will feel their love, their personality, and their attention, but getting to know their deepest selves, their goals, and their dreams is going to take time for Sagittarius, and they prefer to have some fun with you while they get there.
Sagittarius, at their best, are warm and hopeful; at their worst, they are harsh and disingenuous.
Being ruled by abundant Jupiter, Sagittarius lives larger than life. They want a love that feels like it was destined by the stars, and it needs to make sense and fall into place for them with ease. They are looking for all types of synchronicities and signs when dating you, and once you make it past this stage, they truly have their eyes open to you. Sagittarius wants to go on adventures, learn, travel, and explore the world and you while dating. This is a spontaneous sign, and if you can match their energy of passion and wanderlust, then this is a good match for you when it comes to love.
Dating a Sagittarius is a journey.
Learn how a Sagittarius pairs with each sign of the zodiac in love here.
Featured image by Milena Magazin/Getty Images