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African American Cooking with Paula Deen!!!
09:13 am


Paula Deen

Just days after the Food Network decided to drop Paula Deen, QVC may now follow suit:

“QVC does not tolerate discriminatory behavior. We are closely monitoring these events and the ongoing litigation. We are reviewing our business relationship with Ms. Deen, and in the meantime, we have no immediate plans to have her appear on QVC,” they said.

I wonder if the LOL video below going viral might hasten QVC’s decision?

With thanks to Carl Hamm!

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Feeling CVNTY: a new home for voguing online

As you may know, voguing is one of my major obsessions. I put together this hefty piece of writing on the modern vogue/ballroom scene for Boing Boing back in March: Welcome to the Ballroom, where Voguing is always in style

Inspired by interviews I gathered in my research for that piece, and my general love of watching videos clips of the dancing, sharing audio of the best music, and generally just watching geeky interviews, I have started a new blog dedicated to vogue and ballroom culture in its many forms. It’s called CVNTY and you can find it here:

While Paris Is Burning is one of my favourite movies ever, for many, it seems to have frozen vogue culture in a late 80s/early 90s time warp, something that is easier to digest as a retro scene. Of course, the era depicted in that film WAS a golden age, but voguing is a hugely vibrant culture right now, and I aim to show both the past AND the present, and maybe even a little bit of the future, if I’m lucky. There are already exclusive interviews up on CVNTY with kingpins of the modern ballroom sound MikeQ and Vjuan Allure, along with many others I interviewed for Boing Boing but whose contributions didn’t get used, as well as cross posts to pieces I have written for other sites such as Red Bull Music Academy and Dalston Superstore. I will keep the remit of this blog to dance music artists whose work touches on issues of queerness/race/class/otherness, although there will always be room for posting music, people and things that just fucking fabulous. Needless to say, my own production and dj work as CVNT will pop up from time to time.

To lure you in, dear DM reader, here’s a rare voguing clip I’ve just posted on CVNTY, and am sharing here too, as it deserves much more than the paltry 24,000 views it currently has.

It’s called Voguing: The Message, and it is from 1989, which means it pre-dates both Paris Is Burning and Madonna’s vogue daliance. It takes a look at the emerging vogue ball scene and the pier children who attended these events, and features interview and performance footage of the legendary Willi Ninja (above.) Founder of the House of Ninja, Willi was unarguably one of the greatest voguers of all time, and hugely responsible for voguing travelling beyond the clubs and being taken seriously as a n art form. This film possibly even pre-dates Ninja’s own starring role in the video for Malcolm McLaren’s “Deep In Vogue”, one of my favourite pieces of dancing ever caught on film. More info:

Voguing: The Message traces the roots of this gay, Black and Latino dance form, which appropriates and plays with poses and images from mainstream fashion. Voguing competitions parody fashion shows and rate the contestants on the basis of movement, appearance and costume. This tape is a pre-Madonna primer that raises questions about race, sex and subcultural style.

Dir. Jack Walworth, David Bronstein & Dorothy Low 1989 13 min. USA

Founded in 1977, Frameline is the nation’s only nonprofit organization solely dedicated to the funding, exhibition, distribution and promotion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender media arts. Frameline Voices is a new digital initiative that showcases diverse LGBT stories and expands access to films by and about people of color, transgender people, youth, and elders.

Voguing: The Message is that rare thing, an important historical document that gives insight into a time, a place, and a set of people. In other words it’s that thing we call GOLD DUST. 

You can find more like this (and subscribe!) over on CVNTY, but for now GET INTO IT:

Previously on Dangerous Minds:

Notes from the Niallist: That’s so CVNT, a ‘future-house’ voguing mix
Notes from the Niallist: A celebration of ‘Paris Is Burning’ with Latrice Royale and Peaches Christ
Dream Queens: ‘Voguing and the House Ballroom scene of NYC 1989-1992

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
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Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World that Made Him
02:44 pm

Pop Culture

Richard Pryor
Joe Henry

Wild. Singer/songwriter Joe Henry has co-written (along with his brother David) a biography of Richard Pryor entitled, Serious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World that Made Him, due out in November. If you’re familiar with Joe Henry’s work, then you already know why this is so cool and appropriate, but if not, then I’ll tell you…

If you don’t know who Richard Pryor was, well then, no wonder you think the universe is kind of boring and tedious. Richard Pryor was Chris Rock before Chris Rock was even born, unleashing his ferocious comedy to both white and black audiences in the 60s and 70s, way before it was “OK” to joke seriously about racial issues and about the experience of being an African American in a nation still trying to suppress the inevitable realization that its cultural roots were about as black as they were white.
Here’s Richard Pryor as the first black president of the US. Like a lot of Pryor’s comedy, you can’t quite see where it’s going until it gets there and, prior to arrival it veers into the surreal.

Wild, no? That’s from the 1970s and I’m thinking popular culture was actually somewhat less brittle back then. The ghost of left-wing culture hadn’t quite faded away yet, though of course in just a few years Reagan’s jackboots would stomp even that poor pitiful thing into the ground. Even in the early 1980s, after Pryor recovered from a disfiguring freebasing accident that left him badly burned and near death, the nation laughed when Pryor explained: “When I dunked the cookie in the milk, it exploded!”

Joe Henry, meanwhile, dedicated one of his better albums (Scar) to Pryor, and wrote one of the songs (”Richard Pryor Addresses a Tearful Nation”) in his voice. Here’s “Stop,” from that same album (If you are a Madonna fan, you may have noticed that this song has the same lyrics as “Don’t Tell Me” from her Music album, and indeed Henry wrote those lyrics. Joe Henry is, bizarrely enough, Madonna’s brother-in-law (married to her sister Melanie) and also wrote the Baywatch theme, but don’t hold that against him.)

Henry operates in a nominally popular idiom by placing scraps of jazz, rock, R&B and even country into the athanor of his songwriting craft and then melting them all down and shaping the resultant amalgam into the odd and sometimes frightening little homonculi that are his songs.

When Henry (or his “people”) made the announcement about Serious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World that Made Him on Facebook and his blog a couple of days ago, it came as both a surprise as well one of those things that seems obvious in retrospect. I’m stoked for the publication of this book and will almost certainly celebrate this news later with a bottle of Monday-night plonk and the very loud cranking of Joe Henry’s Blood From Stars album.

Here’s a rarity of sorts, of Henry singing (or pretending to be singing) the title track from hisTiny Voices album:


Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘Hispanic Star Trek’: The shitty stand-ups of ‘Comic Relief Zero’
12:15 pm

Pop Culture

Everything Is Terrible

My god does this guy suck. He’s the pits! What VHS rock did the merry geniuses at Everything Is Terrible turn up to find this garden slug of comedy?

As one of the commenters quipped, “I didn’t know Carlos Mencia was white and had a mullet back in the 80s.”

This nameless goofball is apparently a big part of their latest found footage opus, Comic Relief Zero, made entirely out of the world’s worst stand-up comedy clips.

Comic Relief Zero will be getting a sneak preview at Chicago’s Up Comedy Club on May 16th at 8PM.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘In Bed With Joan Rivers’: a very candid interview with RuPaul

RuPaul, 1979
As another series of RuPaul’s Drag Race draws to a close (with its highest viewers yet), RuPaul’s position as a titan of queer culture is cemented.

It can’t be easy being the best known drag queen in the world, and fans of Drag Race will be familiar, by now, with Ru’s very Zen way of handling the spotlight, as well as handling other people.

Which is why this candid interview with Joan Rivers is so very refreshing. Ru really spills the T, from his often-overlooked background as a punk rocker and a go-go dancer, to his long term relationship and its “open” status, his mother (who sounds great!), his make-up tips, and his musings on gay culture and its relationship with the mainstream, which makes for some of the most interesting, and insightful, conversation here. You also get to find out RuPaul’s real name, which may come as a bit of a surprise if you don’t already know.

Of course, Joan Rivers is no minnow in the sea of gay culture herself, so it shouldn’t be surprising that when these too get together it’s a real treat. Both are fountains of knowledge, both queer and straight, and to see them kiki with so much mutual admiration is great. There’s simply no way they couldn’t be fans of each others’ work, which probably explains the openness and ease of this interview.

RuPaul in bed with Joan Rivers really is worth a watch:

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
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Ike and Tina Turner do whiteface, ‘subtly’ allude to cunnilingus during performance
11:35 pm


Tina Turner
Ike Turner

Tina in whiteface
In spite of Ike Turner… well, being a bastard, Ike and Tina are one of my favorite duos of all time (Fool in Love, anyone?). It’s a pity amazing albums like this (and their super-subversive artwork) are overshadowed by… you know… him being such a piece of shit human being. This biting little piece of minstrelsy satire is from the 1968 album Outta Season. It’s rumored that the album art was created as a response to the ongoing capitalization on black artists by white music industry honchos (That’s probably more than a rumor!)
Ike Turner whiteface
Their skill at using startling images was only surpassed by their startling performances. My favorite track is Tina’s version of “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” and while the album version is fantastic, what they did with it live was absolutely insane. Here’s a 1971 live version with some of the most explicit (and in hindsight, very disturbing) dirty talk I have ever heard in a song—or at least a good song.

Just forget that he’s a wife-beater for a brief moment and enjoy the subversive imagery and pornographic bridge!

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Ed Bland’s remarkable short film ‘The Cry of Jazz’: Real talk on race & music in 1959
11:03 am


The Cry of Jazz

Alex the musician breaks it down for the bohos in The Cry of Jazz
Ed Bland died on March 14 at 86. Here’s a piece from Dangerous Minds’ archives by Ron Nachman on Mr. Bland’s legendary short film The Cry Of Jazz.

With the supposed “national conversation on race” now devolved into a debate about who’s allowed to use the N-word, it’s instructive to have a look at Chicago musician and historian Ed Bland’s 1959 film polemic The Cry of Jazz

Co-written by Bland alongside urban planner Nelam Hill, novelist Mark Kennedy, and mathematician Eugene Titus, the half-hour-long Cry… is fashioned as an impromptu lecture by jazz musician Alex (backed by two fellow male African-American friends) to two male and two female white bohemians lingering after a jazz appreciation salon. Cut in to the lecture is footage of both Chicago inner-city life at the time, and early performances by Sun Ra and his Arkestra. As you’ll see below, the conversation—though generally civil and high-minded—gets frank and heated in a way that few would imagine it did back in the day.
In his recent introduction to a screening of the film, critic Armond White contends that Cry of Jazz has been “lost” because it’s retained its provocativeness. He also contended that it was a response to the romanticism of Norman Mailer’s essay “The White Negro” and a dramatized snapshot of the “tension and fractiousness” inside the bohemian community of the time.

Jazz is dead because the experience and suffering of American life on the Negro have to die. The spirit of jazz is alive because the Negro’s spirit must endure.

—Alex, from The Cry of Jazz

In strictly musical terms, Bland’s pronouncement of the death of jazz is both trenchant and puzzling. In one way, it seems literally true—the year 1959 saw the passing of Sidney Bechet, alongside the deaths under more tragic circumstances of Lester “Prez” Young and Billie Holiday. But Bland’s death warrant is also rather undercut by the release that year of canonic albums like John Coltrane’s Giant Steps, Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue, and—ironically enough—Ornette Coleman’s The Shape of Jazz to Come.

“Jazz is dead because the experience and suffering of American life on the Negro have to die,” says the Alex character. “The spirit of jazz is alive because the Negro’s spirit must endure.” With the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Little Rock in the background and the Woolworth sit-ins and Civil Rights Act in the offing, Bland outlines key sono-sociological points that would inform the freedom principle behind the soundtrack of both the civil rights and black power struggles.

Through melodic improvisation and the ever-present conflict in rhythm, the Negro makes an artform that insists on a deification of the present, and which—among other things—is an unconscious holding action until he is also master of his future.

—Alex, from The Cry of Jazz

There are tons of other highly memorable quotes in The Cry of Jazz. Do yourself a favor and check out this little-known but significant piece.

Thanks to Mixmaster Morris for the heads-up on this…

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Discussion
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Deep In Vogue: an introduction to ballroom culture and modern voguing

Throwing down at Vogue Knights, NYC
I have been a bit slack with my Notes column of late, and here’s the reason why.

I love voguing (and you should know this by now.) I love the music, the dancing, the style, the language, the queens (both butch and femme), the battling, the videos, the full length films, the drama, the energy, the past, the present and the future. Voguing and Ballroom culture a very significant and valuable part of the LGBT landscape, the serves to teach children self-respect and personal growth, and gives them a space to be accepted, and to thrive, in.

I love voguing so much that I have written a in-depth introduction to the culture for Boing Boing. Funny as it may seem, this wasn’t an easy piece for me to write—I started and scrapped 3 drafts, which just kept getting longer and longer—but I am happy with this one. There’s quite a lot of material that I just didn’t have the space to include in this piece, and my thoughts are now quite seriously turning towards a book documenting the culture. It really is that rich.

Like hip hop, ballroom encompasses many different elements of artistic expression, from music and language to clothes and design, and, of course, dance. It deals directly with some of society’s most controversial issues, namely sexuality, race, class, gender roles and expression, beauty modes, self-definition and competition. It doesn’t do this in the polemical style we may be used to from punk and political hip-hop, however, where topics are theorised and discussed. In ballroom these issues are lived and experienced, as a vast number of those taking part in this underground scene are transgender, working class, people of colour.

Ballroom includes society’s most marginalised: minorities within minorities within minorities, for whom voguing and ballroom culture is an important resource. In a world where they have been rejected, ballroom not only accepts these people for who they are, it celebrates them, in a variety of unique and different categories. The competitive, prize-winning aspect of ballroom gives some participants a sense of worth lacking in the “real” world (not to mention money), and the familial structure of the “houses”—mother, father, sister, brother—often acts as a real surrogate, as many in this world have been disowned by their biological families.

Here, voguing is not just a dance, and ballroom is not just a genre. It’s a way of life that brings pride, peer recognition and self-respect. The genre of music is one thing, but the culture which surrounds it is another; and both are intricately tied into one another.


To quote the late, great Willi Ninja, who is perhaps the greatest voguer the world has yet seen, voguing is like a challenge dance: instead of fighting you take it out on the dancefloor. Depending on who you ask, this uniquely stylised dance form arose either amongst the inmates of Ryker’s Island, or at gay Harlem dance parties in the sixties (it’s most probably a mixture of both). Voguing got its name from Vogue magazine, as the competing dancers would flip to pictures of models posing, and imitate them, trying to outdo each other in the process. As it developed the dancers became quicker and more agile, and incorporated other forms of dance such as waacking (high speed arm movements and hand gestures) and body popping (though some say that voguing actually pre-dates popping, and was itself an influence on the original b-boys). Fast forward to 2013 and voguing has come a long way, progressing through the styles of old way, new way, femme and dramatics, to today’s almost hyperactive, turbocharged version of the dance. Although key elements of old way voguing remain (posing, “face”), a much more frantic and stylised choreography takes precedence, with signature moves such as the dip (when a dancer falls flat on their back), the duck walk and hair control (using long hair as stylistic element of the dance, in essence whipping it back and forth).

There’s more to vogue culture than just the dancing and the dressing up, and if you have seen Paris Is Burning you only know the very tip of this glittering iceberg. If you want to know more, read the rest of Welcome to the Ballroom, where Voguing is always in style here.

To accompany the piece, here is a 13 minute dj mix I put together of “cunt” tracks, “cunt” meaning “fabulous” in the world of Ballroom. Yes, the c-bomb gets dropped quite a lot in this mix, so you’re getting a warning: it’s NSFW!

CVNT TR4XXX 13min Cunty Minimix for #FEELINGS

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
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Meanwhile, in post-racial America…
09:43 am



Jet Black
If you haven’t noticed, that is a row of men’s hair dye from a Wal-Mart Kroger store in Ohio, with only the “Jet Black” option locked in a theft prevention device. Some thoughts:

1) Damn Wal-Mart Kroger! Can’t you be discrete and just continue to dutifully conceal your racism in the most diaphanous shroud of corporate capitalism? I’m disappointed in this transparency!

2) Is that Walt “Clyde” Frazier?

3) (After googling.) That is Walt “Clyde” Frazier! What an amazing product endorsement!

4) Is theft prevention of a $7.24 item even halfway worth it when your company makes over $140 billion a year?

5) Why do men need manly hair dye? Will their dick fall off if they use a hair dye not endorsed with the virility of Clyde Frazier?

6) I hope some one organizes a mass theft of all the non-Jet Black men’s hair dye out of protest.

7) If they were really smart, they’d just separate the Jet Black option in a special “ethnic needs” section of the grooming aisle, making this way less obvious.

EDIT: This was actually taken at a Kroger grocery store, not a Wal-Mart. For shame, I have mis-identified the price tags of the anti-labor corporations sucking the life blood from my native midwest!

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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‘Stop that shit’: the people of Harlem weigh in on the so-called ‘Harlem Shake’ craze

The Real Harlem Shake
The actual Shake in action in the Bronx…
First, the good news: The “Harlem Shake” viral video meme is likely winding down pretty soon—at least we hope.

And as the excellent video below shows, lots of Harlem residents emphatically disapprove of the way that thousands have mindlessly helped appropriate the name of a community dance into some dopey shit.

If you’re not familiar with the meme, here’s the rundown. Last spring, Brooklyn producer Harry Rodrigues a.k.a. Baauer released “Harlem Shake,” a hugely catchy downtempo party track that very clearly samples a rapper saying that he does said dance. YouTube comedian Filthy Frank used the tune in a very silly costumed dance video that launched literally thousands of similarly silly copycats, full of mostly costumed people (many, notably, in white-collar office settings) flailing their limbs and humping the air.

Cue the analysis. The Fader contextualizes the details of the phenomenon, and The Gadfly has even framed its sociological potential as communal silly fun.

But of course it goes deeper. As writer Tamara Palmer eloquently put it in her article on the dance in The Root:

Popular culture is infamous for borrowing—and sometimes outright stealing—elements from a subculture and transforming them into something completely stripped of its origins. But it is still surprising to see how the current viral video craze called the Harlem Shake has managed to almost completely supplant a vibrant form of African-American dance that was born and bloomed in Harlem.

On the face of it, there’s absolutely zero wrong with limb-flailing and air-humping. But that’s not what the 30-year-old dance known as the Harlem Shake is about. Like most dance crazes cultivated by (and appropriated from) African-American communities, it requires a modicum of skill and, dare we say, pride.

Harlem itself is pretty unequivocal.

After the jump: want to know what the real Harlem Shake looks like? Check out this “shake cypher” video for some real context…

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Discussion
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