Art, Celebrities, Culture, Important People, Life, Music, New York City, Personal Liberation, Politics/World Issues, Sex

Once I Was A Stripper: Songs by Drake and Roberta Flack, One Conclusion on ‘that Life’

It’s all the same. Drake’s song “305 To My City” and Roberta Flack’s 1969 classic “Trade Winds.” These two songs are talking about the same tragic dynamics of America.

What inspired this post was, yesterday, a man who I’d been seeing told me that he had taken his 21-year-old cousin to a strip club.

What I’m thinking about all of this is:

Here you are, a man who I’m thinking about taking more seriously. Intelligent, emotionally supportive. Has a passion, but I don’t know if you’re following it. You take your cousin to this club and you call me from there, we talk about our relationship briefly while you take a cigarette break. I’m touched that you called but disgusted at the fact that you’re there. This is beyond some immature insane old paradigm idea that I own you and I’m upset at you looking at naked women. No, from a real grown up, feminist, spiritual, economic perspective, I am disappointed in your choice.

Strippers can make a lot of money, as Drake talks about in the song “305 To My City,” but when you live in a society where it seems that the fields that women make the most money without a higher education degree are places where their bodies are only seen as sexual objects, you can’t argue that that is the best we can do as far as economic empowerment for women. Interview a stripper. Is she happy and fulfilled? Does she feel she is looked at as a whole person at her job? Now interview 100 of them. What are the odds now? I know most regular jobs sap the human soul. I’m pointing out that being seen as only a sexual object is a unique kind of soul-sapping. I won’t get into why, because I don’t know. I just feel it.

“305 To My City” is a song about a woman who is a stripper and has stacked enough money from her earnings to put a down payment on a Jaguar. Her parents don’t approve of her lifestyle but she is “shining on them hoes” (meaning doing way better than her peers, competitors, and friends) and appears to be in control of her life. It’s my own projections, assumptions, and judgments, but I am skeptical of the true happiness of any woman who feels she must exchange sexual gratification for money in that type of environment. I don’t think there are many who aren’t deeply hurting and ashamed inside. When I did it, I know I wasn’t happy.

But everyone isn’t me.

I knew that I could not live that kind of lifestyle no matter how broke I was. I had a loving supportive home where my other talents, besides being sexy, were encouraged. We can assume the woman had at least two parents in her life who care about her, because they think what she is doing is only a phase, and it must be damaging to her, and they want her to stop. Drake totally gets it. Him, coming from the bottom, celebrates the pinnacle of his success in lavish strip clubs, throwing money at women who, even if they love what they do, probably wouldn’t want to do it in that type of environment. I believe the sexual energy in these places is terribly misdirected.

I remember reading Jenna Jameson’s How to be a Porn Star when I was in high school.

She talked about how even if you work in a high-end club there are several physical, mental and emotional pitfalls that come with working in a club. (Tip: wear knee pads.)

She talked about how even if you work in a high-end club there are several physical, mental and emotional pitfalls that come with working in a club. (Tip: wear knee pads.)

And while I’m not referring to oral sex in that last sentence, I should be. Several women who are strippers end up becoming prostitutes. Stripping can often be a gateway job into other sex work.

This reminds me of the line from Roberta Flack’s Trade Winds…

“Young girls who’ll soon become

(walkers of the avenue)

streetwalkers in the night.”

The line, or one close to it in the song, made me break down in tears on a bus at JFK one night.

I was on my way to another job that I hated. And I thought if I must feel this much misery going to a job that I hate, yet people often respect (I was a flight attendant for the military), what more must a woman feel where she goes to a job where she is degraded by most of society? Better yet, where she degrades herself? I’m not saying self-degradation doesn’t happen in many other jobs. One might argue that almost any job can be done with at least a sliver of dignity. I have argued another side to this argument many times. You know, the “sex-worker-as-empowered-woman” side. It doesn’t fly when I remember my own experience. When you take that first step into the underground you are often desperate. Maybe not only for money. Maybe for something else, like love.

That is how these two songs are related in my mind. Drake’s bass heavy, club-ready song doesn’t glorify the profession of sex industry worker but acknowledges that it is a means to an end; the woman has made some good financial choices that have allowed her to do what many Americans can’t, which is put a down payment on a luxury car. It neglects to say anything of the degradation she may have endured while she continues to work at the club, day in, and day out. It could be worse. At least he is proud of her. From this superstar she is getting the approval of her achievements that she certainly isn’t getting from the father in her life right now.

The somber mood of Flack’s Trade Winds, with the chorus sounding like sad angels of a community crying out for its children, before they reach their sordid fate, paints just how grim the picture of coming from poor beginnings can be. It ticks off the very real ills of society that make becoming a stripper a first, or last, choice for so many women, particularly, Black women. After all, trade winds are a natural phenomenon. Ships use them to trade goods, and bodies. I’ve written about sex trafficking and it is tragic that because of factors that are out of their hands, so many women will end up being seen as goods, traded for sexual gratification by people, to people, who fail to see the innocence of their victims, and refuse to acknowledge the innocent parts of themselves.

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Art, Celebrities, Important People, Life, New York City, Personal Liberation, Politics/World Issues, Race Relations, Sprituality, Technology

What Does it Mean To Be An Artist?: 30 Musings, 30 Days, Day 27

“It would be dumb to repeat a mistake that wasn’t successful,” says the world renowned visual artist Derval Fairweather of the Black Militant Movement of the ’70s and ’80s.  “[But]we know the artists are the ones who can really turn this thing around.”

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Art, Friendship, Life, Music, New York City, Personal Liberation, Politics/World Issues, Race Relations, Relationships, Sex, Sprituality, Technology, Travel

What Does it Mean to Be An Artist?: 30 Musings, 30 Days, Day 12

[on slowly discovering my abilities and talents]…It wasn’t until later that I realized that I could talk on and on for hours…and not get tired. Me, who had never traveled out of the United States and hadn’t had that many unique experiences, had never even had sex…but I had phone buddies who would tell me of conspiracies against the black man and in fact every american…and I would tell them about me….All about me…I didn’t understand it then…Snapshot_20120813_32

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Culture, Life, Nature, Personal Liberation, Politics/World Issues, Sprituality

Positive Post on the Trayvon Martin Case: A Woman’s Topfreedom in the Face of Tragedy

I didn’t follow the news. I never do, I’m ultra sensitive and can easily get caught up in the emotional manipulation of the mainstream media (and they’re not the only ones who do it). But I have to say I only saw other people’s words that could even begin to explain how I want to feel, choose to feel about the Trayvon Martin Case. The only way we can change is from within. I’m not quite sure how, but putting my attention on rallies and protests doesn’t seem to sit well with me, although I’m not knocking anyone else’s way of grieving, griping or growing. This sister, a living Goddess in her own right, chose to bare breasts and ‘love back’ (instead of fight back) with Topfreedom and a spiritual declaration of independence.

These are the words and picture of another. I was very touched by her fearlessness. I just want you to read the post. Look at the picture. Notice how your focus changes, even if just for a moment. This isn’t about sex… it’s about transmuting the energy of helplessness, it’s about knowing what is within your power to change, right here, right now. With Love…

topfree for trayvon

A powerful demonstration of peace, and love. But will the rest of the world ever understand? I think we will.

She writes:

Yemaya is considered the Mother Goddess in African Belief. ‘Mama Watta,’ as she is also known, presided over the Ogun River that she called home. Her breasts are full and large from birthing so many creations. It is said that Yemaya gave birth to all the world’s water. She is very distressed over the situation of her beloved Earth Mother, so pray to her for the Healing of Mother Earth..
I was approached by my loved one this morning… A request to post a picture of my breast for healing today for the men would kneel down and weep and receive restoration for today is heavy. I don’t know about for you but certainly not for me I see a large group of people in a lot of pain, fight back tears, wounded one more ‘gain for another one of Mother Earth’s children has transcended; and yes yes of course all is well and in divine order. Yet, on this plain of reality, it would be a lie to suggest that there is no pain, no aftermath, a crystal clean break, and everyone-meaning all mothers and the fathers of humanity are on sync with the “nothing-missing, nothing-broken” factor… Of course I rebuke the reality that this will ever be me, but I morn with the mother for the sons, hubbies, and fathers whom fit the profile of hoodie-wearing, or just looking-black, Indigenous enough [person]. For that was really his only crime on the surface….

So when I was first asked, I was apprehensive to posting. Although, in my gut it felt right the words he spoke. If in fact I truly did want to play my part in a non-violent way. This is a powerful solution the ancestors asked of me. Sacred energy, breast energy is the sacred healer, capable of healing all humanity if we will just let it flow freely or at the very least when called upon.. For I am devotee, I am ‘mama watta’ whose job is to heal the planet for it is her deepest desire to do so… Here is my gift of healing to humanity as you requested dear you, as I am highly compelled to channel mama Yemeyah for me, for my youth, for our world today… Releasing tears, I need to perform ritual tonight going to fetch watermelon and the nearest ocean water, might possibly be in my tub, but I have to clear this for the gathering season is upon us….

Stay strong. Be present, at all costs remain loving…even if you don’t choose to demonstrate in anyway, all is well. All choices are valid. Tough to stand on this peaceful stance in the face of tragedy and as much as I feel it is one’s right to demonstrate how they see fit…It is still a violent world. At least we have the internet. If you can open a mind…then I believe it is possible to change the world.

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Me and Milton

Me and Milton at a Christmas party

Haha, also affectionately known as “my publisher.” I’ve NEVER done this on my blog…just posted a random photo. But I think it’s important to do new things, in a new year, with a new look to the blog and a new perspective on life. Looking back I think it’s time I did an ode to the man who discovered I had actual journalistic talent. Thank you Milton, it’s been a year since you discovered me and I hope to be working with you for many years to come. See some of my work on his fabulous investigative online news platform (where I cover entertainment, social, and non-profit happenings) http://www.blackstarnews.com by clicking on the photo. Here’s to another year of covering art and other things going on in this devil of a city of ours. I’m committed (touchy word for me) to share of more of those pieces here, on Helese TALKS!

Celebrities, Important People, New York City, Politics/World Issues

Me and Founder of The Black Star News, Milton Allimadi (aka “The Man Who Discovered Me”)

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Culture, Events, International Relations, Life, Nature, New York City, Personal Liberation, Politics/World Issues, Sprituality

Peace in the Midst of the Storm

Grounded in Mother Nature

I went out into the forest today. It’s a place I often end up when I’m lucid dreaming. Today, I went there in real life. After Hurricane Sandy, I wanted to see the damage that was done, if any. I was really oblivious to the storm. I was cozy in my room, only knowing that the MTA was down, so I wouldn’t be going to work. (My sister and her wife too. Major cause for celebration in this house.)

I expressed these sentiments on Facebook, and most people were concerned for the practical issues: will you get paid while you’re out? My response “Not in money, but in happiness and orgasms.”

The storm brought deep personal shifts for me. I became orgasmic with someone that I wasn’t able to cross that threshold with in the past. Something truly opened up. They say Oya brings winds of change.

To give thanks for being spared anything but more rest, more time to myself, and deep relaxation and all the other blessings the storm brought, I decided to go to the park and commune with Nature. When I got there I found some trees lying about the ground. They looked like they were resting. As you read in my last post centering around the wonders of Nature, “Nature is the New “Church”, trees talk to me. And this is what they had to say this time:

This  part of the tree was laid to rest

That tree in the distance was completely supine.

We are one with the events of Nature. We are not upset or phased when a tree is broken or uprooted because of the storm. What we say to humans is Use Us! There is still good wood here. We understand that we are here as resource to humans that you have taken for granted, but this storm is not a bad thing. Things change. Nature is change. God is change.”

Now, maybe you’ll think about that the next time you decide to count the death toll instead of your blessings. If even the trees who have been snapped off their base or maybe even ripped from the ground are not phased…why should you be?

I thank God that I was spared. For every storm, even since Hurricane Hugo I was spared. I slept through it, curled up like a baby at 6 years old on the living room couch. Maybe that’s why I feel that there’s nothing better than falling asleep on the couch, to this day. That little house built from brick and that little girl inside was kept safe from the wind and rain. It brought my family closer, and I was thankful even then. So, I don’t too much get caught up in the monsoons of life for others. I have work to do here, and although I’m compassionate…I know there’s a reason for every season, every tragedy, every disaster. For my family, even though I am the biggest cryer, I am also the one to take a detached emotional approach to death when someone transitions…since even a pre-teen, saying, “Don’t cry Mom, there is no death…they’re in a better place.”

I don’t take anyone else’s suffering lightly but I also know what to take in and what to block out. That’s why I never watch the news. To each his own. That flooding in the streets became my own when my orgasm flooded out of me, this is how I make the storm personal for me…I won’t take on more hardship than was given to me, not now. I’m OK and believe that everything will BE OK. This is what it means to have peace in the midst of the storm. Thank you, Sandy.

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Culture, Dating, Events, Life, New York City, Politics/World Issues, Relationships, Sex, Technology

Had to Repost: The Kissing Sailor, or “The Selective Blindness of Rape Culture”

This is so well written and concise, and I would have written it had she not…so I’m very happy to present you with this article about a “pretty picture” and it’s ugly truth:

 

The Kissing Sailor, or “The Selective Blindness of Rape Culture”.

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Culture, Life, New York City, Personal Liberation, Politics/World Issues, Technology

The Helesian Renaissance: 2011-Present (Why I Chose Media as a Means of Re-Birth)

renaissance –

ren·ais·sance (r n -säns , -zäns , r n -säns , -zäns , r -n s ns). n. 1. A rebirth or revival.

The Helesian Renaissance: Manifesting Goddesshood through Rebirth

On the heels of a snap decision to move to a small “hippie town” called Yellow Springs, Ohio (I’ve been wanting to leave New York for a while now, updates on that coming soon), I’m really excited about the opportunity to totally emerge myself in a culture wehre I feel free to explore it and find my own niche within it. When I visited 7 years ago, I was relieved by the fact that there, you don’t have to look good, you just have to BE good. I’ve always wanted to be admired for my mind, not just my face and body and face. They are equally important to me as a being, but, my face and body have gotten alot of attention in recent years. Now it’s time for people to hear and feel my words. I call this the my Renaissance because I truly feel a shift, a huge transformation in my perspective on the events that happen in my life and where I choose to put my energy.

I have recently decided that I want to be great and make a huge impact on society. I like to do this simply by living, but I want it to be publicized and I wish for it to generate money, material things, wonderful friendships, and “first-time” experiences. I see myself starting trends and calling attention to ones that have already been started, (such as my T.I.T.S. Movement concerning topfreedom).

I would like to to be the first person to have ever done something, and I may have already broken barriers being a Black woman who chronicles her experiences of going topfree shamelessly in a fear based society and getting interviewed for it, and while I am still able to use the high I got from that experience, (especially having the support and presence of those near and dear to me) to laugh through moments as akward and downright creepy as an episode of Awkward Black Girl or The Office a few days later, this accomplishment is still not enough for me.

Not enough people know about the subsection of the American black female population who are intelligent, delicate, sexual, spiritual, articulate, and close to the Earth. Not enough people know about me! When I began studying media and becoming really interesting in filmmaking, I was in high school and took an intro to film class in high school, I remember being bored out of my mind but also disappointed in that we were forced to watch Birth of a Nation by D.W. Griffith. It had nothing to do with my present experience, (or anyone’s if you take the film’s interpretation of reality literally) nor my desired experience,  and the filmmaker probably had never considered that a young precocious Black woman like me would have to analyze this film. It was about the slave trade and showed slaves to be less than human, “unintelligent and sexually aggressive towards white women,” and portrayed “the Ku Klux Klan (whose original founding is dramatized) as a heroic force.” (Source: Wikipedia. Don’t judge me. I actually DO  research. More of that to come.) I knew not then what had to be done about this type of propaganda that perpetuates self hatred among  even worse, a self denial among Blacks and unnecessary and counterproductive white guilt. I had much earlier mentally checked out of the public “fool” system altogether as early as 5th grade anyway, so I didn’t expect much at that point, but still, I was disenchanted.

Fast forward to college to when I took another film class. We watched movies like Amelie and Nanook of the North, which were more relatable: Amelie’s cuteness on screen and her adventurous nature I could relate too. It wasn’t as heavy. I’ve always felt a connection with the Native Americans too, as my lineage is strewn with them.

I’m not saying the point of every movie is to be relatable. But I am emphasizing the importance of people, especially children, seeing representations of themselves of what they desire to be, on film.

Films are programs, and these images and sounds are downloaded into the brain when one views them. They become ingested by the soul, encrypted in the spirit. The research is there, but I know from personal experience–besides an artful martial arts film, I can’t stand violence, horror, gore, and blood. When I’m sick, it actually makes me feel WORSE! Everything you hear and see affects your health.

I saw many problems in the self image of Black women who were very close to me, and this was only examining my own self hatred. I dealt with my hair and went natural in 2003, I dealt with my fear and fascination of Black men, and started the process of digging up layers of sedimentary hurt and trauma caused by situations with my father and other Black men who I felt harmed me.

I decided I want to undo some of the negative stereotypes of Black women in the media by producing media that showed who some of us truly are, and while we are unique, I hope I’m representing even a bit of you… and I hope the rest of you will give me a pat on the bottom for giving it the old college try.

Speaking of college: I’m going back.

It’s something that will change my life forever and now is the perfect time for me to do it.

“I just decided that I want to be great.”

The above quote was my Facebook status just a few days ago. I was looking at a Youtube video of Oprah speaking about Maya Angelou and her influence on her life. I embody a few characteristics of both. Despite all of the the conspiracy theories I’ve entertained about Oprah and how she got and keeps her position in the media, and Maya Angelou, who’s greatness over the years has been damn near forgotten by many in my generation, I have come to my senses: the positive impact of these women on people’s lives, especially black women who have the added effect of them being someone who looks like them, who they can see themselves, in is undeniable.

They made me see that even though my method of getting attention may never be theirs, I want to impact people’s lives the same way, especially young black women.

Sept. 11th, 2012–Two more high school young women came up to me to inquire why I was topfree. I took pictures at their request, and encouraged them to look at the blog pertaining to my movement. It’s one small thing I could do to inform them that there’s more to this than just what you see, even in my actions.

That is exactly what I want the world to see about them, that you can’t judge them by their looks, or even their actions that you see for a few seconds on a news clip. You certainly shouldn’t take any of the caricatures you see of them on film seriously without doing some reflection on the industry as a whole. And more importantly I would like for them to see this about themselves. This is the reason for the shift: as I give birth to a new me and manifest Goddesshood, they birth a new image of themselves as well. They will realize their dynamism, their potential, the Goddess in themselves. May they have their own re-birth and be inspired to have a Renaissance of their own.

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Celebrities, Culture, International Relations, Life, New York City, Personal Liberation, Politics/World Issues, Race Relations, Sex, Uncategorized

Pre-Election Day Dreams: President Obama Saw Me Naked

long braids implied nude

Maybe there are some suppressed sexual implications for my dream of being naked in front of President Obama…I mean, who doesn’t have a crush on the man? Hence my flirty shoulder and smile 😉

Yeah right! In my dreams! No, really, it was:

I was at my grandmothers house in the backyard, completely nude. My brown thick yet long and slender body was glistening in the late afternoon Georgian Sun. Somehow President Obama with his entire family, the first lady and the two girls, pulled up in a car. I don’t know how an entire street ended up in my Grandmother’s backyard,  but that’s besides the point: the President saw me naked! He motioned with his head to the two girls in the car, as if to say all cool like, “What are you doing, put your clothes back on!” The girls were eating McDonald’s of all things, it was as if they were on some type of road trip. (Maybe just to see me!) Michelle looked a little confused as to what was going on, but she wasn’t outraged, just going with a flow, a study in femininity.

He got out of the car to deal with the um, situation, of me being naked. Or maybe he just wanted to stretch his legs for the pit stop, because that’s the last anyone else in the dream even mentioned anything about my me being bare. I’m not sure if anyone else in the dream ever saw me, but I was starstruck. I couldn’t believe the President was here, to see me, and let alone I was naked. This was such an epic moment! I wondered if he knew about my topfreedom movement and my quest for love and personal liberation. And full nudity is something l’ve always wanted to try in public as well; being that I was in a private setting (although I can’t really imagine doing it at my Grandmother’s house) this was a perfect place to test out how I felt in my own  skin in a literal sense. I just knew I’d get an interview with him and this would make my hits online soar. I walked up the stairs to the laundry room of my Grandmother’s back porch, which is an extension of the kitchen where she also keeps her freshly baked cakes and pies, and went to tell the rest of the family like my aunt and my…Grandfather? He transitioned several years ago in July 2008… yet he was alive, shiny, dark, thriving, tall, and very REAL in my dream. I’ve dreamt of him before and he was always at peace. He actually pulled the President aside and said “Come here son, let me talk to you for a minute.” He put his arm around him and they began to walk away to exchange father and son like murmurs, and the most touching thing about it was that President Obama was totally receptive, respectful, and eager to learn from an elder Black man who was a political legend in his own right in the small town of Commerce, Georgia. (Riley Harris was a politician, preacher, veteran, father, husband, grandfather, writer, and he built my Grandma’s and his house with his own two hands. He was my hero and I supposed that’s why he shows up in my dreams ever so often, a symbol of what my “dream man” would be.)

Another strange part of the dream I was in the salon, my hair was dyed (I promised myself in my waking life that I would never do that again) and I was pressing it (also banned). While this was going on, suddenly I COMPLETELY lost my hearing. It was quite strange. I could see people’s lips moving, but I couldn’t hear anything: The whir of the blowdryers, the click clacking of the hot curlers (suspiciously similar to the sound of the overseer’s horse’s hooves on plantation hard-packed dirt roads), or the senseless gossip. Then without warning-It came back.

So there you have it: President Obama and Helese, who was naked. Go figure! If anyone interprets dreams I’d be happy to hear what you think of this one. Care to find out more about what goes on in the depths of my subconscious mind? I might continue sharing my dream life if this post gets enough comments!

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Culture, Events, International Relations, Life, New York City, Personal Liberation, Politics/World Issues, Race Relations, Technology, Uncategorized

This Friday Live: Radio Show will Discuss T.I.T.S. Movement and The Social Politics of Black Female Sexuality

My deepest fears of ridicule by the intellectual and academic world are being obliterated now that on this Friday, September 7th, 2012 I will be interviewed by Dr. Richard Cooper for his show “Karamu” (which means “feast” as in “food for thought,” click on his name for his bio), along with the former Director of the Human Sexuality Dept. at Widener University in Philadelphia, and more. Many students from the graduate program of Human Sexuality/Social work will be calling in to express their views. See the piece to be discussed, “Topfreedom: The Right to Bare Breasts” here. It promises to be TITillating!!!  Details outlined below:

SHOW DETAILS:

Date: Friday September 7, 2o12

Time: 4:00PM EST

Show: 900 AM Wurd (http://www.900amwurd.com)

How Listen/Ask a Question: Call 866-361-0900 or 215-634-8065 or go to http://www.900amwurd.com and CLICK ON PLAY BUTTON in the red banner at the top of the station’s website to stream LIVE! But you can’t join the conversation unless you call! 

I trust all of you will listen in and post your comments here. Again thank you for your support on my quest to raise important questions and seek personal liberation. Join me!

Update on 9/12/12: THE SHOW WENT WELL! Unfortunately,  the former Director of the Human Sexuality Dept. at Widener University in Philadelphia could not join us. Stay tuned for the recording of the show, as I will be sharing it with you as soon as it becomes available for listeners who missed it. Thanks again for the support!

Update on 5/3/2020: Going through my archives, removing the topfree photos as I feel they’ve done their work. There’s no link to that radio show now but you can listen to my very new podcast here. I can smell you following now…😊

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