Recently, while talking to one of my married friends, she told me that the topic of oral sex came up in their household. All of her and her husband's children, minus one, are young teenagers at this point. And so, when one of them came into the kitchen and said, "Do you and daddy have oral sex?" and my friend replied with, "Absolutely", I rolled at her candor and how her child was like, "Eww!". The way I see it, good for them that they are so open about sex. After all, it's how their children got here.
Yet, as I thought more about fellatio and cunnilingus, I also reflected on the various responses and reactions I've witnessed, every time one or both acts are mentioned. I'd have to say that probably around 7 times out of 10, oral sex is spoken of, by both men and women, very fondly. Oh, but there is that 30 percent who, whether it's giving head and/or receiving it, words cannot express how much they find the act to be close to grotesque and definitely unappealing. "Problem" is oftentimes, when someone like this is in a relationship, that sentiment isn't even close to being mutual. And sometimes, that can rock the boat of the relationship, more than a little bit.
That's what we're gonna tackle today. If you're someone who thoroughly enjoys everything about sex other than giving oral and/or receiving it while you're partner is all for it, all day and every day (on both the giving and receiving end), here are some things to think about—that you might've never considered, quite this way, before.
Is It All in Your, Umm, Head?
I've actually shared before that one of my favorite stories about a mom having "the sex talk" with her child for the first time came from a female comedian who was sharing her experience during a Ted Talk. Her daughter, who was somewhere between 8-10 at the time (I can't exactly remember), intently listened to her mother put her own spin on the birds and the bees. When her mom finished, the daughter then said, with a semi-horrified look on her face, "So you have sex where you pee?!", only for her mom to revisit how real that revelation was and respond by saying, "Yeah. It's kind of like taking a trip to your favorite amusement park and going to a toxic waste dump at the same time."
Even though that might initially evoke some double yucks, just at the mere thought of it all, the reality is, when any of us who have sex, that's basically what's transpiring. For whatever reason, God himself designed us to relieve ourselves with the same parts of our body where sexual pleasure comes from. So, if that is a part of the reason why the thought of engaging in oral sex freaks you out, I get it. At the same time, God also created the people who invented things like showers, baths, washcloths and soap. So, if the reason why you struggle with the thought of participating in oral sex is because "he pees down there", I promise you that if you make the request that he hop in the shower first, you will feel more calm and confident. Or at least, you should.
Have You Ever Even Tried Oral Before?
I'm going to be very TMI here for a moment. As someone who has participated in more than her fair share of fellatio, other than bracing myself for "the final act" (I'm sure you get it), to me, it really isn't that big of a deal. In many ways, it's like sucking on a really big…I guess "thumb" would be the best way to explain it. Yes, you have to factor in things like breathing, shifting speeds and endurance (based on how long your man's stamina is), but to tell you the truth, I'm actually far more impressed with men who go down on us—not because our vaginas aren't one of the best things on this entire planet but because, if he's doing things right, there is a lot of fluid going on down there, right off the rip.
That's why, whenever a woman tells me that she hates fellatio, my first question is, "Have you ever even tried it before?" because oftentimes, they haven't. And if you've come to the conclusion that you semi-loathe something that you've never even experienced before, well, you're either basing your decision on ignorance or the stories of others—and when it comes to something like sex, that twisted logic simply isn't good enough. As Mikey used to say in the throwback Life commercial, "Try it. You just might like it."
Let’s Break Down the Penis a Bit, Shall We?
Remember how I just said that giving head really isn't that big of a deal? If you're looking at the monitor with complete and total side-eye, I've got another question for you—how much time have you even spent with a penis? Laugh if you want but I'm dead serious. Other than perhaps catching a peek (and maybe not even wanting to do that) when your partner is naked, do you really not give penises much thought beyond it being what penetrates you during intercourse? If so, that could also be a part of the issue/problem. Sometimes it's because our parents totally sucked at giving us the sex talk, sometimes it's because we barely paid attention in high school-level anatomy class, other times it's because the Church acts like sex is something that shouldn't be discussed until marriage (and, let me tell it, barely even then)—for so many reasons, there can be such an ignorance around male genitalia that it profoundly affects us on a sexual level.
That's actually why I wrote articles on the site like, "15 Pretty Tripped Out Things You May Not Know About Penises", "Do You Swallow? The Unexpected Health Benefits Of Sperm", "10 Things You Didn't Know About The Male And Female Orgasm", "Blow Your Man's Mind By Giving Him This Tantalizing Massage" and "8 Men & 8 Women Told Me What They Wish Their Partner Would STOP Doing In Bed". I'm a firm believer that the more you learn about something, the less fearful you tend to be about it. Study the penis. It's not as "terrifying" as some of you might think that it is.
Did You Have a Bad (or Selfish) Oral Sex Experience?
Also, remember how I said in the intro that I wasn't only going to tackle this from the angle of women who hate to give fellatio but also women who aren't big fans of receiving cunnilingus too? I know quite a few women who roll like that (interestingly enough, a lot of them are Leos and Capricorns; if you fall into that sign, please hop in the comments). When I've asked them why they would rather pass on receiving head, some have said that it simply doesn't get them off. However, more have said that the times when they have conceded and given it a shot, it felt more sopping wet and uncomfortable than anything else. And so, after giving a couple of different partners a try and the experience totally sucking (and absolutely not in a good way), they've decided to pass on all future opportunities. Then there's another scenario. Some women I know don't get down with giving or receiving oral sex because they've found their partners to be selfish as hell. Either all he cares about is getting some head or, if he is going down, it's more like he's barely tolerating it so that he can get some fellatio as soon as he's done.
If you fall into any of these dynamics, while thankfully, I can't really relate, what I will say is, you are sooooooooooo—breathe—oooooooo missing out if you've decided to let the past hinder your future. Aside from the fact that 75 percent of women barely have orgasms from vaginal penetration alone, there is something that is so damn hot about engaging in the kind of sex that has no hindrances.
If you've had a bad sexual experience (including if your partner was selfish), the best thing to do is share that with your current partner so that the two of you can work through it. If after a few tries, you're still like "nah", don't feel bad. Oral sex—on the giving or receiving end—isn't necessarily for everybody (I once had sex with a guy who really liked giving oral sex but hated receiving it…go figure). Just make sure that you've come to that conclusion solely based on preference and not some really unpleasant past situations.
What About Performance Anxiety?
Any of you who are die-hard Insecure fans, you might recall the episode when Issa and her girls went to a sex expo and discussed their thoughts on oral sex; especially giving head. Issa shared that she wasn't that big of a fan because she felt like her teeth were too big and she wasn't all that great at it. Then, when Tiffany told her about how empowering giving fellatio was, Issa tried it on Daniel, only for him to ejaculate on her face and totally piss her off.
First, doing anything sexually with the objective of "overtaking someone" is probably not the best idea. On the sexual tip, do things because 1) you enjoy it and 2) you want to please your partner; not manipulate them. And second, while I would be lying to you if I said that all oral sex is the same (some folks really are better at it than others), what I will say is if you're with a partner who is truly worthy of you, it's not a "performance pageant" or competition of some sort. In other words, he's not looking at the top of your head and imagining a scorecard. He's simply enjoying being with you. If you're willing to check your fears and your ego (not one or the other—both) at the door, he will be willing to share with you what works for him. Also, if he's a really great lover, he will want you to do the same when it comes to pleasuring you too.
Is Giving Fellatio a Deal-Breaker for You?
Now if after all of what I just said, you're still like, "Yeah girl, I'll pass", then this is what I've got to say on that—be upfront with your partner. The reason why is because, while oral sex may not be that big of a deal to you, it might be for him. By the way, that doesn't make him a bad person. Not in the least. Matter of fact, I've said in more than a few interviews, that if I fall in love with a man and he is not completely enthralled with oral sex, he's someone I am going to have to take a pass on, on the marriage tip. I take the marriage covenant seriously, so I'm not signing up to spend the rest of my life with someone who isn't all-the-way-dirty-down on both the giving and receiving end of head. Are y'all kidding me?
Men have the right to feel the same way. So, if you are someone who doesn't like to give fellatio and/or receive cunnilingus, once the two of you enter the sexual part of your relationship, it is definitely something that you need to put on the table. If what you're thinking is, "Why? It shouldn't be that big of a deal" then the checkmate I have for you is, if it isn't a big deal, why are you hiding it?
I am all about the right couples being a great complement for one another. So, look at it this way—if he really is your "the one", then he will Kanye shrug at your reservations and all will be fine. But if he's honest that it's something that he can't go without (whether it's giving or receiving), don't penalize him for that. Sexual satisfaction is a very real and justifiable priority in a relationship. It's always best to wait for the one who will fulfill you, as you fulfill him, fully, in this area.
Always Remember That Great Sex Comes with Some Compromise
Compromise. It's what makes relationships go 'round. That said, if you're someone who basically hurls at the mere thought of giving or receiving oral sex, it would be totally irresponsible of me if I didn't advise that you absolutely not push yourself past your comfort zone. Sex, of any kind, should never feel violating. Yet if fellatio or cunnilingus are simply no more or less than not your favorite things to do—like maybe you've got a sexual position that you prefer over another—consider "being down" more often, simply because your partner wants to be pleased and please. Also, keep in mind that oral sex tends to have levels. What I mean by that is things like how long you do it and up to what point you do it can both take some of the "edge" off.
Bottom line, sometimes focusing more on simply being close to your partner can take some of the "eww" out of acts like oral sex. You won't know unless you try. So…why not try it?
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Chilli Opens Up About Flak She Received For Refusing To Settle In Dating And How Matthew Lawrence Has Everything On Her 'List'
Rozanda "Chilli" Thomas' dating journey displays how refusing to settle, and setting standards could lead one to find their ideal partner.
Over the years, The TLC group member had high-profile relationships with music producer Dallas Austin, with whom she shares an adult son, and R&B singer Usher.
Since then, Thomas has confirmed that she’s now dating actor Matthew Lawrence. Thomas and Lawrence, who were romantically linked in the summer of 2022 when they were spotted vacationing in Hawaii amidst the Boy Meets World star's grueling divorce with Cheryl Burke, would confirm their relationship in January 2023.
In a statement released by Thomas' representative, Christal Jordan, to People magazine, Jordan revealed that the couple had been dating since November 2022, two months after Lawrence's divorce was finalized. Jordan also shared that since Thomas began dating Lawrence, the singer is the happiest she's ever been.
To date, the couple has showcased their love by uploading various dancing Instagram posts on their respective accounts and talking about their whirlwind romance in numerous interviews.
Recently, Thomas opened up about her relationship with Lawrence during a virtual interview with The Tamron Hall Show. While recalling her VH1 dating series, What Chilli Wants, which aired on the network from 2010 to 2011, the 52-year-old provided information about why she set such high dating standards in the form of a list known as "Chilli's Checklist" and the steps she took to prepare herself for love.
Chilli On Matthew and Her Dating List
During the May discussion, Thomas disclosed that she wanted to show women the importance of setting standards, and although, at the time, she received massive backlash for it, she refused to settle when it came to love.
Thomas received scrutiny for her list because many thought some of her standards were unobtainable. Thomas' requirements for an ideal partner included not wanting someone that drank, smoked, or ate pork.
In addition to all those qualities, the star also wanted someone that loved God. Because of Thomas' determination to find her perfect match, the "Creep" vocalist claimed that she "waited it out."
"On my show, I always hoped that women see the importance of having high standards. I got a lot of flack from that, but I don't care. For me, I just waited it out. I'm like, 'Lord, if it happens, wonderful. If it doesn't, I'm still okay," she said.
As the topic shifted to Lawrence, Thomas raved about her new beau and shared that the 43-year-old had met all the qualities she wanted in a partner, from his physical appearance to his love for God.
"Matthew, honestly, he's the list... He is my entire list, and so I thank god every day for this," she stated.
Even though it may have taken years and several failed relationships, it is inspiring to see that Thomas refused to settle and worked on herself along the way until she found her person.
Rozonda ‘Chilli’ Thomas’ Next Chapter & Romance With Matthew Lawrence
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