For Maya and Max, the cameras are always on. The YouTube duo famously chronicle their lives as partners in both love and work in front of an audience of more than one million across various social media pages, candidly detailing everything from the ins and outs of their relationship and traveling to more intimate moments including the home birth of their first child in the countryside of Sweden. The pair have carved out a digital path, each step symbolic of who they are individually and their union that refuses to shrink itself into traditional roles.
Side by side, the two shared with xoNecole, their lives prior to the creation of Max & Maya Living, their popular YouTube channel. Tracing back to when Maya, known as “Shameless Maya,” was a solo highly sought-after influencer with international campaigns and a million followers, and Max was a budding actor, student, and photographer exploring the world.
Now, three years later, as joint influencers, married, with a child, and living in a new country, the two take a walk down memory lane before an audience accessed their home, their dreams, and their family life with the click of a button.
With sincere smiles of adoration and affection and earnest candidacy, the two shared how one late night tucked away in a cafe in Colombia turned into a proposal nine months later. A friendship quickly transcends to become a story of love strengthened by cultural differences, long distance, and an age gap to build a foundation of both self-discovery and a forever partnership.
Take us to the beginning, how did you two meet?
Max: I was backpacking through Colombia, and I made a stop at a hostel where Maya was staying. I was living in London, and I was transiting to Berlin, and this was my trip just before relocating. We were staying in a surf hostel, but there were no waves, and at night it turned into a spring break vibe where people were shooting vodka through water guns, and I was not there for that. So I walked to this outskirts hotel, and there at a barista cafe, Maya was sitting there.
Maya: We began bonding over our history in the arts. We both went to drama school, so that was our first talking point and from there, we [talked] for hours and embarked on a beautiful friendship. Max and I hit it off and [spent] three days… laughing our butts off and just being able to relate to one another.
After leaving Colombia, where did the friendship stand?
Maya: When I went back to L.A. I thought this would be over; I was like, wow! I really feel like I met such an amazing soul, but I couldn't see him as anything more than a friend. I'm 12 years older, and I'm this huge YouTuber in L.A., and he's a student transitioning to Berlin. So in my brain, I automatically put him in the friend category. But, he just kept reaching out, and he was so honest with everything, and a lot of guys put up a front… they see my nice home, my nice car, they won't say it, but they just look and start asking questions. Whereas Max he was like, "Omg! You live in this house? Are you rich, Maya?" Just very candid.
Max: I had a feeling that there was a slight mutual love potential, but I was afraid. I thought the stakes were very high, and I did not want to lose her as a friend. If I allowed myself [to think about how a relationship would work], it was just too complicated. But since our foundation was such a beautiful friendship, the obstacles of age and location, living on different continents, in different stages of our lives and careers, I [just] allowed myself to be grateful for our friendship.
Are you able to pinpoint when your feelings for each other transitioned from just friendship?
Maya: [Back in L.A.] I was reading my journal because I had written out what I was looking for in my ideal partner, and I remembered crying. What I had written was what and who Max is and what we did. I had written out an ideal date for us, and we had done that in Colombia, which was hiking, and that wasn't even a date. It was more like, "I'm going to this national park. Do you want to go with me?" So we were doing this long distance [friendship], and Max had no idea I was even entertaining this idea of us being together.
Max: For me, Maya was checking all the boxes, but I hadn't done anything but be myself. It was a strong feeling that I didn't even think of myself saying, I want it to be exclusive. It just came from the heart. I knew that I wanted to be exclusive regardless if it was going to be long distance. I think there's a tendency for men to put up a facade - you want to check all the boxes that person is looking for because otherwise, you might lose this person forever.
Just a few months after their initial spark in Colombia, Maya booked a job in Germany. Not exactly Sweden where Max was spending time with his family before his move to Berlin but still much closer to him than when she was in the City of Angels. Immediately after her job concluded, she decided to visit Sweden and visit Max.
Essentially, making the first move, for Maya, this was her chance to explore the feelings that constantly linked her back to Max. For Max, it was the time to show the dazzling YouTuber more than just another country to mark off on her passport but his home.
So Maya, tell us about your trip to visit Max in Sweden.
Maya: Love requires you to risk winning and risk losing, and you have to be okay with that. You can't be afraid. You have to keep taking steps forward, and I'm so glad I did. I made the first major flight to Sweden to see Max. Most women wouldn't do that; they'd think, "He needs to come to me." You just need to be honest with who you are and what you [want]. If that's very important to you, then that's your choice. For me, love required me to take a risk.
Since he was working in Sweden for a very short time period, it didn't make sense for me to request him to come to L.A. So, I was willing to take that first step, and you have to be open when it's a healthy risk.
"Love requires you to risk winning and risk losing, and you have to be okay with that,. You can’t be afraid. For me, love required me to take a risk."
Max: The day after Maya left Sweden, I could have asked her to marry me. I'm very traditional in that sense, where I believe in finding the one. Some people choose to commit to a relationship because of other values or interests. But I knew I needed that feeling, and I got that feeling with Maya.
At this point Maya you’re in L.A. and Max is in Sweden. What kept the spark alive despite being thousands of miles apart?
Max: The hardest thing was to say goodbye when you don't know when you're going to see each other again. So we came up with this idea where every time we say goodbye, we should have the next trip booked. By the time I left L.A., Maya already had her flight booked to visit me. So there was always something to look forward to, and you knew when you'd see each other again.
Maya: I think what was refreshing about Max is that he wasn't what I expected. In my mind, from society and social media. I feel like especially Black women are trained to idealize a certain kind of relationship, tall, dark, handsome, and six figures. You know, he has to have all these things. But with Max, he was in transition. [I had to ask myself] where were you at his age? We all start from somewhere? We're all on a journey. But the fact that he was disciplined and had a strong work ethic. So it's really looking at the qualities because I'm looking for a life partner, not someone to date for just a couple of years.
How did you two navigate cultural differences and being in two very different phases of your career?
Maya: It's important to acknowledge social norms and the differences of what each person likes and dislikes and then having a conversation about what each person wants. So if you are dating outside of your culture, you have to understand differences and not to take things as an insult.
I remember Max didn't open a door for me. I knew he wasn't doing this to disrespect me. So I literally went on Google and looked into Swedish culture. And I found information explaining that Sweden is big on equality. In their culture, opening the door for a capable woman is an insult. So it's important to acknowledge your culture and their norms. As well as seeing your dynamics and having candid conversations about what you each want. And try to see through the person that you love. Look at the core values. Look at the fun you have together.
Engaged and making the decision to explore a life together was just the beginning for the pair that, on paper, was as far apart as the distance between the continents in the middle of them. Fervently wanting to close the miles between them, Max and Maya explored all of the options; Max even considered a student visa to attend UCLA to be with Maya. However, before a full plan could be realized, the pandemic hit, and the two had to immediately shift gears.
Ready for a change of pace from the fast-paced influencer lifestyle of Hollywood, Maya moved back home to Canada. From there, the two purchased a home in the place where love first blossomed, Sweden. Finally reunited, the two married, and the very next day following the ceremony, Maya had to leave the country because of visa requirements. But, she didn’t leave alone. Max was right beside his partner as they traveled from Canada and Mexico together until they could return to Sweden together.
Finally settled and in their home, the two merged their lives together with the birth of their child and the start of their relationship as partners.
How did you two create “Max and Maya Living” together? Especially with Maya’s already influential social media career?
Maya:[When we met] I was working on my YouTube channel, and because Max was getting into videography and filmmaking, it just seemed like the most convenient option is to work with your partner. So while we were living in Mexico together, I hired Max to shoot for me. But I just didn't like the dynamic of being his boss when we already have the layer of me being 12 years older.
In "Max and Maya," that was born out of the desire to create mutually. I wanted to see him grow, and my energy was kind of like waning at this point because I had been doing my YouTube channel, Shameless Maya, for ten years, and it was just more or less the same thing over and over again. I wanted to start something new and fresh that we could both be part of.
What was that transition like for you going from behind the camera to a partner on camera with Maya?
Max: I was never intimidated by Maya’s success, I was curious, and I went through insecurities, but I was never intimidated. At the time, I was an aspiring actor and videographer. Then, all of a sudden, I felt like I got so much for free just because it was Maya. But I had to accept I was still learning. Maya was a very great teacher, and I became a sponge. Eventually, we progressed into two different levels of expertise, and now we work as a team.
How do you balance the marriage of Max and Maya versus the coworker space of “Max and Maya” you occupy when creating together?
Max: The one thing that I find the hardest is to switch off work when you are working very close with your partner. Don't bring in the emotions from your private life into the workspace, meaning, if you're working on something, try to work towards some sort of neutral space where you can step in together and be like, okay, we'll deal with this private stuff at another time.
And really nourish the family identity together, like your privacy as a family. So when we're out, and we're actually vlogging. That's not family time per se. So make time for family without the cameras.
Why do you think your story as a couple, as coworkers, as social media influencers resonates with so many and continues to engage thousands?
Maya: I think it's because we are carving our own path and being honest with ourselves, and however that translates online is just a by-product. A lot of women especially subscribe to the ideals of someone else versus what they enjoy. I know what I want. I'm older. I take on what society calls masculine attributes. I don't find it that. I just know who I am and when I'm in a relationship. It's nice to not feel like I have to dumb down or ask for help.
Max: I'm a very emotional person, and this relationship allows me to fully embrace that and just be myself. I don't have to act as if I'm something else. I don't have to prove that I'm some sort of alpha male that has to provide according to traditional social norms.
Maya: Society tells you that when you're married and have a child, you're supposed to have stability. But for us, we've always been travelers. We've always been adventurers, so we've just adopted our daughter into our lifestyle. It's easy to lose yourself to your partner or your family. And I think it's important to hold on to your self-identity as well as sharing this new dynamic with children and partnership. In our channel, we just share who we are and try to inspire others to create the life that you want.
Featured image courtesy of Max and Maya Living
Whether it was your group chat, social media feed, or your favorite media outlet covering the spectacle, I’m pretty sure you’ve come across the viral Black wedding between actress KJ Smith (Sistas, Raising Kanan) and actor Skyh Black (All the Queen’s Men, Sistas). From their grand entrance to Jay-Z, Kayne West, and Beyoncé’s song “Lift Off” to KJ’s standout dance routine and the endless celebrity appearances, it’s an addictive TikTok scroll you can’t help but delve into.
But what many people would be surprised to know is that the couple’s original wedding plan was nothing like what it grew to be. What started as her simply scrolling through posts to get ideas eventually transformed into what the internet knows now as #TheBlackExperience. In an exclusive conversation with xoNecole, KJ walked us through her planning process, the morning of her wedding, and what she thinks of the online response.
Some women have their whole wedding planned out, from the bridal gown and venue to the bridal party and playlist. However, KJ was not one of those people. “I didn’t foresee a wedding in my future,” she reveals. “I was just gonna be the boss chick, rich auntie. I didn’t force love in my life until recently. I never had an idea of what a dream wedding would look like, it was easier for me to elope.”
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
And to many people’s surprise, that was their original plan – until Skyh brought up a valid concern. He was raised by his grandmother and thought she should be at the wedding, and naturally, that led to KJ wanting her grandmother to be there as well – then her mom – and later her sister – and, you’ve gotta invite the besties too, right? From there, the guest list continued to blossom. Much like the updo and pop of color bold red lip, she wore on her special day, which was initially on her Pinterest board as a soft glam look with her hair hanging on her shoulders, KJ is okay with changing her plan if it brings her and her loved ones happiness.
So let’s get into the wedding, which took place in Malibu, CA. The first thing you should know about the celebrity couple is that they’re non-traditional. They know, and they don’t care. So, in true unconventional fashion, they shared the morning of the wedding together.
“I woke up with Skyh, we walked our dog, had black coffee, and said good morning to the people who stayed at the venue with us,” she says.
Now, it was time for hair and makeup. While she was getting glammed up, she had Black-owned McBride Sisters wine and champagne (which ties into The Black Experience theme) on deck with her mom and friends, had her besties help rework her vows, retried on every outfit (sis is very Type-A), took photos, and ended the early-celebration with prayer and meditation. It seems very non-Bridezilla, I said.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company,” she explains. “The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
Things moved quickly, and before she knew it, it was time to line up to walk down the aisle.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company. The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
KJ Smith and her bridal party
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
Since everything started with their grandmothers, the couple wanted to ensure they honored them and planned to keep an element of their wedding traditional. Although we’ve all seen the reception videos and photos online, you may have noticed visuals from the wedding itself are harder to find.
“We planned for it to be traditional, but we’re not like that, so we tried to create those moments. We jumped the broom and had a salt ceremony (where the bride and groom individually pour salt into a glass container, symbolizing their lives becoming one.) But honestly, still, nothing was traditional about it.”
She goes on to explain that her mom caught the holy ghost coming down the aisle, her glam team was on deck, and she became so nervous with excitement that she had an anxiety attack – something she struggled with for years, she explains tearfully. Her friends had to literally cheer her down the aisle because of how overwhelmed she felt until she eventually calmed down.
“Skyh was standing there with his hand on his heart; we have our own little language, and I could feel the support,” she shares.
It was surprising to hear all these emotional moments happened before the party we saw online. That is until she once again got into the backstory.
“As a Black woman actress, for so long, it was popular to be mysterious and secretive, but that’s not who I am or what I like. Plus, we both wanted to create an experience for everyone there. We are the people who always host family and friends,” she says. “Like for me, the first order of business was getting sandals for the women so they can dance all night long. We had oxtail, D'ussé, and a coffee and sativa lounge – which is part of Skyh and I’s lifestyle and routine. We wanted to bring them into our world.”
Skyh Black (L) and KJ Smith (R)
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
She went on to discuss the dance routine she did for her husband at the reception, which has taken over the internet. Apparently, that’s another thing that didn’t go according to plan. According to KJ, she had promised a performance at their joint bachelor/ bachelorette party, but her outfit got stolen from her car. So, Skyh ended up performing for her – complete with a strip tease. Still, she never forgot her promise to dance for him.
So, she hired her friend as a choreographer, learned the routine, made friends and family watch it endless times, and attended Beyoncé’s Renaissance show a few days before for a confidence boost. It ended up being a show to remember. But that wasn’t all the night offered. Lil Mo performed, and the guests received special goody bags featuring their favorite Black-owned products like journals, hair care, and more.
“We made sure everyone was taken care of all night. That kind of stuff makes us happy. I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives,” she says.
But naturally, the internet is going to internet, and while there were countless people praising the event and applauding the newlyweds, some thought it was too over the top. I was curious to know her thoughts on some of the criticism.
“It’s cool. We did what we wanted to do. I’ve decided to share my world with people. Just how I went on social media platforms and found inspiration, I want people to do the same,” she explains. “I don’t think it's fair to my supporters not to give that out. There’s so much I wanna share with brides, specifically Black brides. I love that people are adding it to their Pinterest boards."
"I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives."
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
“I’m happy with it because we did what we wanted to do. They can do what they wanna do. Don’t be cruel, though, because you will get blocked,” she said, laughing.
The more I spoke with her, the more her sense of freedom shined through. People are always going to have their opinions, but at the end of the day, it’s you who has to live your life, and it seems like the couple realizes that and embraces that power. She also stressed the importance of not living for others and the lessons life has taught her.
“I’ve been to countless weddings, and I’ve been in countless weddings. I’m a generally older bride. So when women in my demographic get married, and you and your husband are busy working people like us, you deserve to have the one you want to have,” she shares.
“This is what we wanted to do. Our loved ones love and support us. We did so much to honor them, but we also wanted to start our own tradition, legacy, and creation. I'm not going to be pulled back into ideas of the past when I’m trying to create a future with my partner. “
If you’d like to see more of the couple, you probably won’t have to wait long. Although no content is planned yet, she admits to being an oversharer. “Me being open and transparent about my experiences lets people know it’s okay to have flaws; it makes you human, and for many years, I didn’t believe that was okay. I had pressure to be perfect, and I’d crumble every time,” she explains to xoNecole.
Now, she owns her flaws and uses them as a superpower to connect with her community and feel and express her love.
“Some people give us [Skyh and KJ] a hard time because they say we just seem too perfect. I’m like, why is that a bad thing? I love the people I love. From my man to my mama, to my friends - unabashedly. We move through time and space how we want to move. If we did it another way, we’d let ourselves and our union down.”
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Feature image by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
In my opinion, oral sex is the best type of sex. In the words of my favorite female R&B group, “You gotta go downtown, that’s the way to my love...” But if you want to enhance your oral sex experience, you gotta try face-sitting.
Face-sitting has been making its rounds again on the interwebs, however, it’s been around since the 1800s. During that time, it became increasingly popular for “upper-class women” to enjoy sexual gratification from men and avoid pregnancy all at the same damn time.
What Is Queening or Face-Sitting?
Face-sitting is just what it says, sitting on your partner’s face. We're talking genital-to-face contact here. We're talking delightfully, smothering intimate oral sex. Face-sitting can be a deeply fulfilling experience for both partners since it allows them to develop incredible intimacy and closeness. Because of its throne metaphor, face-sitting is sometimes called queening. In comparison to traditional penetrative intercourse, face sitting can lead to orgasms that are much more frequent for cisgender women. This makes total sense since it’s been scientifically proven that direct clitoral stimulation boosts intense orgasms.
The only couple I trust when it comes to learning how to “face-sit” correctly are sex experts Dee H. Black and Laydee Vee of DVPassion. When I found out they actually teach a “face-sitting” class at Exxxotica a while back, I had to interview them.
Laydee Vee believes sitting makes people of all sizes feel comfortable praising their partner. Through breath play and smothering, participants learn how to enhance communication. The top person gives instructions to their partner below, which can make them feel dominant, powerful, and in control, whereas bottom partners may feel empowered and submissive.
Queening 101: The Most Ideal Sex Positions For Face-Sitting
Women sometimes hesitate to try face-sitting for fear of hurting their partner or being too heavy. Personally, I subscribe to the philosophy, "If they die, they die!" If they gotta go, why not go in between my legs? However, to build confidence, Laydee Vee suggests looking within. “Confidence starts with you. If you’re nervous, your partner may sense it, causing harm. Once you feel comfortable, you can experiment with different positions to find the one that works best for you.”
Once you become more comfortable, face-sitting can be even more enjoyable for you and your partner. A good position to try and build your confidence is the classic reverse cowgirl position, with your partner lying on their back and you straddling their face while facing their feet. By adding a pillow, the bottom partner can lean back more and add pressure to the vulva to intensify the face-sitting experience.
In addition to using a pillow while in the facesitting position, the bottom partner can also use other sex toys. For example, he or she can use a butt plug or a dildo to feel enjoyable. You can also engage in face sitting while you're on your knees or in a squat with a pillow for support if you want to take things to the next level. You'll experience more sensations and pressure as a result of this.
A personal favorite from Laydee Vee and Dee Black’s workshop is “The Queening Position,” where the person on top sits on the bottom’s face like a chair. For those of you that love anal play, this can be a really intense way to get it. You can also get up close to the anus and stimulate it with your mouth and tongue. If you are feeling adventurous, you can also try stroking the anus with your fingers.
Another advantage of face-sitting over other positions is that it can be used for threesomes and group sex. The top can, for instance, use their hands or a sex toy to satisfy others while simultaneously getting pleasured through genital stimulation from the bottom. The bottom, on the other hand, can also experience genital pleasure from others or even penetration while engaging in oral sex with the top.
Face-Sitting: How To Enjoy The Queening Position Comfortably & Safely
Although a number of people can enjoy the act of face-sitting, it is a very risky and potentially dangerous practice. It is possible to hurt your partner if you aren’t careful, hence why communication is key. As with any sexual act, it's important to talk with your partner ahead of time about their comfort level with face-sitting, as well as any potential boundaries or concerns they may have. In many cases, it may be helpful to start with a more gentle, exploratory approach, such as placing your partner's face between your thighs without bearing down too heavily.
Many things can be done to make face-sitting more comfortable for those who are hesitant about it. The first thing that you should do is get a good understanding of anatomy and the position. You might also want to discuss what kind of stimulation you're looking for in a face-sitting session with your partner.
A queening chair, a chair with a hole in the seat big enough for a mouth and part of the face to fit through, is another option I suggested. After lying on their back, the person on the bottom slides under the chair, allowing them to perform oral sex on the person sitting on top. Lastly, it's a good idea to have a signal with your partner for when they need a break. This can be as simple as tapping on their thigh or butt, but it's a great way to avoid having the session become too intense for them.
With a little bit of communication, experimentation, and attention to safety and pleasure, face-sitting can be a wonderfully intimate and satisfying addition to your sexual repertoire. So go forth with confidence and enjoy all the exciting new sensations this position can offer!
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Featured image by LightFieldStudios/Getty Images