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, Life, New York City, Personal Liberation, Travel

What Does it Mean to Be An Artist?: 30 Musings, 30 Days, Day 14

galenvalle.com

galenvalle.com

I’m just gonna keep posting until someone listens! Support artists…we need you. So many of my friends are artists…we want to thrive just like the technicians and engineers, in fact, of lot of our work is technical and we engineer experiences…

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Art, Life, New York City, Personal Liberation, Relationships, Sex, Sprituality

What Does it Mean To Be An Artist?: 30 Musings, 30 Days, Day 13

[continued from yesterday’s post] …And I don’t necessarily understand it now…but I’m beginning to. My knowledge (which is little) is a smorgasbord. I know a little bit about a lot. I have a lot of different interests. I think the most interesting thing about me is my interpretation of all of these events that have occurred in my life.

 

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Art, Celebrities, Culture, Dating, Important People, Life, New York City, Personal Liberation

Scary Boring.

I’m not a regular person so don’t come at me with regular conversation.

Sure small talk is good but actually, no wait. It never is.

Small talk is uncomfortable, and awkward. Even worse, it’s small. It’s insignificant and unless it’s a sweet nothing keep it.

Social media. Don’t know ya, so you can’t just say hey. Even if I do know ya, you can’t just say “What’s up?”

EVERYTHING! EVERYTHING IS UP!

So Imma need you to come a lil’ more correct.

I have about 3 friends who I speak to on the regular now. Make that two. And we never say just “hey.” We get to the point. We got shit to do, places to go, and “benevolent, progressive institutions (i.e. T. Leacock)” to birth.

I’m setting aside myself as one of those self proclaimed genius weirdos and I mean it. I’m going to start going ape-shit on people who have the nerve to tell me they want to get to know me because they’ve seen me on social media, baring breast and soul alike, and have the nerve to serve me up a dry ass question like I got time for them.

I only have time for interesting, genuine, fair people.

And that is all…Peep the conversation that was the inspiration for this post…

Him: So, wat shld I first knw about you
Me: google me. it sounds fucked up but…its really that i hate when ppl want me to open up all about me then i have to expend all this energy giving my life story. no thanks
buy the book. or just get to know me. i don’t think anyone has ever gotten to know someone by asking them about them. most ppl don’t even know who they are they just fumble around through this earth
so watch them. absorb them. give something. but i’m not telling you shit. fuck that. i have friends. and i say this with love. but it has happened one too many times
Him: You shld re-read wat I ask,tell me the first thng I shld knw…like for me,imma daddy first..nthn is more important…the rest you will learn in time as so will I..
Me: no.
i read just fine. im just bored to death with the question. there is not a first thing you should know about me, there is a first that I should know about me
that answer will be different for different people
but as long as i know who i am, it doesn’t matter what u know about me and i cd care less
lol
im literally laughing out loud!
u are a child of God and you are love. however this conversation isn’t worth my time in the least. i have a lot of research to do. way too much and im fired up. but i will use this conversation. our time is over now tho. Goodbye.
Him: Take care,good bye..

I feel like the female Kanye West right now…just on another planet…and cocky too 😉

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Life, Nature, New York City, Personal Liberation, Sprituality

Monkeys on My Muthaf*ckin Back: Depression, Productivity, and Self Love

toonpool.com

toonpool.com

As  I listen to a Louise Hay YouTube video about self Love, I realize that I’m not really all that fucked up to need it.

But I do, in fact, need it.

For the past 5 days I’ve been pretty much laid up-sure I went to an event recently and I really enjoyed myself, but mostly I’ve been in bed, resting, writing, meditating.

Sounds pretty productive right?

Well according to my new definition of productive, yes. Anything that has a positive result for me now or in the future is productive.

But that new definition is taking a while to settle in, or rather, sometimes I forget.

So I feel guilty for not working, for not being the traditional mode of productive.

But alas…I am creating.

But this is just one of the monkeys that I have to get off my back, damn near every day, just to get up!

It’s not easy. But I have reached my breaking point and it’s either die or stay alive.

I know I have all the tools in order for me to rescue myself.

So every day, even every night, I make a decision.

I will not die. I will live, and to my fullest potential.

A Course in Miracles says the Holy Spirit only guides you to something that you can do NOW. Well, I can say an affirmation now.

“I deserve the best out of Life, not because I’ve done anything good, but because I AM.”

I can choose to look at the situation with Love.

Last night one of the things I did before I went to sleep was to Mother myself.

I imagined a set of hands, older woman hands, not my mom’s during this lifetime, but maybe someone from ancient times. She spoke English though.

She said, “It’s ok baby. Everything’s going to be allll right.” And she caressed my face while I cried in her arms. I just imagined this maternal graceful spirit totally encompassing me…She said “I know baby…” And she wiped my tears away. And I just rocked in her arms while a tear or two rolled down my face.

So, I would advise everyone to chill the fuck out…because I have noticed that although I have lost damn near everything several times over in the past year, feeling like all hope is gone…I am more centered and believing that everything is going to be OK more than ever.

I’m creating more often than ever. And I’m putting it out there!

And I’m more clear on my purpose than ever. And I’m doing something about it!

I’m convinced that this bump in the road ISN’T the end of my journey. So I keep keeping on. I’m doing herbs, self soothing techniques, shaking up my routine, and simply not believing in the monkeys and the lies they tell anymore. 

I’m doing more stuff than ever to help those monkeys go back to their trees, or caves, or jungles, or where ever the fuck they came from. Despite them coming to hang out every once in a while, the Universe has got my back. But they don’t belong on my back. 

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What the F*CK Have I Been Doing?

…Yeah? Why haven’t I been posting every day?

The format of this blog has been changing, and is about to change ever more.

I don’t want to upload it with a bunch of crap.

It started as funny commentary on some global happenings, (see my first blog post ever) about the Slave Memorial, and soon exploded into a funny following of me, my life, my fucked up relationships, and my spirituality.

I’m not stopping. And now, more than ever, I have space, time, and opportunity to express myself, daily.

Fuck grammar and rules. This is about consistency.

I keep about 5 journals about various aspects of my life. Some of the details get really gritty as you’ve seen me talk in depth about my  birth control pill debacle (which I now have reason to believe was an early miscarriage. No I was NOT happy about that.) This is also the infamous Topfreedom post which got me the most hits ever. (Surprise, surprise.)

If you haven’t noticed I like talking about things that people shy away from because it’s why I was BORN. My life story is a gift for people to learn from but inevitably people will judge. I started this blog as a way to get my voice out. Then it turned into a story of my journey to finding love….well what I didn’t know was….I’m still finding myself and that’s the only journey I’ll ever need to embark on.

Stay tuned! It may get messy….

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Celebrities, Culture, Life, Nature, New York City, Personal Liberation, Sex, Sprituality

CELEBS: Hadiiya Barbel Talks on NYC Living

On my Tumblr.  Tee hee hee! I’m so proud of it. Check the vid.

Hadiiya Barbel. I loved her Spirit, Feminity, Goddesshood, Wisdom, and Essence. Find her online and check out some of the things she’s doing. She’s truly inspiring!

http://helesetalks.tumblr.com/post/63534174270/hadiiya-barbel-i-loved-her-spirit-feminity

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Dru Hill Talks Music and Multiple Loves

Dru Hill performed at B.B. Kings on Saturday, August 24th and they reminded me that the importance of live performance in the is undeniable. All of the commitment to the craft comes to light on stage. The true test of a performing artist is the stage. Dru Hill passed with flying colors.

The members of Dru Hill are sex symbols in their own right. Jazz is like “Big Sexy,” a huggable teddy bear, Tao is a sensual thug (who can probably sing you to tantric orgasm), Sisqo is the dynamo and beating heart of the group, and then there’s Nokio, the mysterious and sexy mad scientist and producer.

When it came to wooing the ladies in the audience, they delivered, calling a woman up to the stage and singing to her while we all screamed like they were singing directly to us.

Jazz took us to church on his solo on the number one R&B single “Never Make a Promise.” When they performed “How Deep Is Your Love” I became overwhelmed with yang energy, and “These Are the Times” opened up my heart chakra immensely. “Beauty” took me down memory lane. It’s one of the most flattering, soothing and melodic songs ever written about the enchanting mystery of a woman.

They also covered equally unforgettable classics like Mint Condition’s “Pretty Brown Eyes,” Jodeci’s “Forever My Lady,” Blackstreet’s “Before I Let Go” and ended with a finale of their hit “5 Steps.” Although we wished they could bless us with more and more encores, we all left excited and full.

I was happy to talk to them about their many years in music and of course, love.

Why the long absence? Nokio explains that when they got back together in 2008, they had to transition from restructuring the group to touring, letting Tao find his niche in the group. He didn’t mention his brother, former group member Woody, and I didn’t ask.  He was a foundation and always remembered by fans who have been supporting Dru Hill from day one. Tonight was all about the now, being present, and celebrating the future that fans will help to create with their love and appreciation.

Not to analyze all of their previous hits because we all know of their impact and how they touched our hearts. But I think it’s important to remember one of the reasons why we ever fell in love with Dru Hill’s music in the first place: the honesty and emotional vulnerability expressed in their lyrics. I think they were ahead of their time when it comes to artistically representing relationships. “These Are The Times” is a perfect example of unconditional love with the line, “no pressure from you, and none from me.” Isn’t that what we all want in our relationships and in our lives…freedom?

“I Love You,” accompanied by a heartbreaking video, gives the most beautiful line by someone expressing their true capability of lasting love: “even though I said that you should leave me, I want another chance just to adore you.” Isn’t that what true worship is? Gratefully accepting the opportunity to simply bask in the other person’s presence?

Speaking of relationships… “You guys are sex symbols,” I ask. How do you feel about new paradigm relationships, like poly and open relationships?”

Tao answers first, “I go with the flow.”  Previously married, having experienced a long term relationship, and now single, he goes on to express a Zen stance on the topic: “live how you live, as long as you’re happy.” This is the little known secret to a long and stress-free life: don’t judge.

Jazz playfully sang his answer, “Jazz is the man when it comes to ladies…!” a bit of a verse from one of their songs entitled “I’ll Be the One.” He explains that he’s been around the world, and each situation defines itself… “Many people don’t feel they wanna be tied down.” Of his own experience with relationships he says, “Being a star, there were points where I couldn’t lock anyone down. It depends on the relationship,” he concludes.

Sisqo kept it pure and simple in his B-More accent “I’m married to music, I love her.”

And Nokio, ever a man of few words calmly states, “I plead the 5th.”  He’s a private person who “loves women.” Quiet as it’s kept, still waters run the deepest. (Ok I’m biased, I always fall for the quiet ones.)

I asked Sisqo, what was up with the country music reality show? Was it just a matter of jumping on the reality show bandwagon? “It was the highest rated show in Country Music Channel’s history.” He did it to prove a valid point. “I’m a musician, and it’s about the music.” He goes on to explain that a lot of general audiences were looking at him as “Sisqo the Rapper,” but no person who has followed Sisqo’s career could ever say that he’s ever been anything other than the quintessential modern R&B singer.

The latest album InDRUpendence Day begins with dance oriented songs like “Do It Again” tinged with auto-tune and turns into a more classic and familiar type of R&B with “What You Do.” I liked it a few seconds in, and the cherry on top is the nasty little rap by Nokio. Sexy slow jams on the album begin with “State of Emergency,” a song enriched with all kinds of much appreciated sexual innuendos and double meanings. “Remain Silent” narrates a naughty arrest, a call for submission which speaks to the deepest part of a woman as she is commanded to “spread ‘em.” “Love MD” segues smoothly into the part of the album where the guys pour out their hearts and lay it all on the line to save their relationships. The album ends with a refreshing cover of “Rule the World.” It’s spiritual, humanitarian, and all about love. Tao helps close the song by performing a beautiful run in his powerful soprano (notes I can only hit when in the pinnacle of ecstasy).

Despite them leaving us for a while, when it comes to classics that stand through time, vocal talent, artistic growth as musicians, and a relatable style that millions of fans have come to love, Dru Hill is the truth. Nokio sums it up in a few words on his speech in “Rule the World:” we’ve come a long way as a group…this signifies unity. And please–don’t call it a comeback.

Photo: Helese and Dru Hill Tao, Jazz, Nokio, and Sisqo. Taken by Calico Olu.Image

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Life, Nature, Personal Liberation, Relationships, Sex, Sprituality

Blood & Sacrifice

Feeling hungry, sad, depleted. will pour into a blog but just wanted to give yall update. hate when i feel like this altho its needed. im serious abt clearing ev month with period now. i just don’t know why its trying to knock ME out. last night i was talking to ****** (named changed to protect the womb choice extroaordinaire), the man who ive generally had the best sex with ever, and he started talking about parenting and “when you have kids…” and a huge wave of sadness overtook me…

That was about to be my Facebook status, just now, but I wanted to pour some that that sacred red energy into this blog here.

Ever cried when you saw that first little peek of blood of the month? Lately, for that last 2 or 3 periods, I’ve cried for the things I’ve lost over the 28 days, or the energy of what I’m clearing now from my life, which is represented by the blood that is leaving my body. I don’t know. I know I’m getting a little closer to Goddesshood every day, with each moon cycle, but I still feel pain.

I’m not pregnant.

Nor did I want to be. Not most of me. If I were it would be from an ex who was damn near 20 years older than me and who clearly has emotional and alcohol issues. I would have sprinted to the abortion clinic. Or would I?

When I see my blood now, I simultaneously celebrate and mourn. I’m losing yet another opportunity to do what is instinctively an urge for a lot of women. I’m imagining that little microscopic egg being soaked into a pad or wiped out of me, dropping in pool of chlorinated water, and being flushed down the toilet. Discarded with no honor, no regard to the life that could have been.

I know I’m not ready to have a child of my own but every time I go to work and see those kids I feel so maternal, that I can’t even follow through on disciplinary procedures. I’m tough on them, but then I get soft, always wanting to give those fresh new talented souls another chance to make me proud.

So, I’m sacrificing my opportunity to simply follow my gut instincts and I’m waiting until the right situation presents itself.

I have to add this in, sorry this post is a little disjointed, I’m deciding what I should reveal and what I shouldn’t. I’m getting more private these days, another sacrifice I’m making to honor the mystery of these feelings, some things are better yet left unsaid (better buy the book.)

I heard there were 3 steps to make any man love you. I said to myself, “Oh that’s easy.”

1. Know who you are.

2. Love who you are.

3. Be who you are.

Simple right? No, well, at least not for me. The blood mysteries have taught me a lot. Now that I honor yet another cycle of my life, my time of bleeding (I’ve honored the cycle of trial and error in other posts), I’m learning to embody the feminine in a way that flows with nature. Yet another thing that not another human soul can take away from me. It’s empowerment through connection with my blood.

No matter how much I may love someone, I will never love them more than I love who I truly am. I’ve bled because I’ve sacrificed who I am at times, in order to please another. And the beauty of it is, it’s a process to grow out of that. I’m not done knowing me, because the “trials and tribs” of everyday life constantly try to pull you away from that. Once you have tasted the purity of getting a glimpse of who you are you will NEVER want to let that go. BloodRose-300x225

The blood sacrifice of every month signifies that you are letting something go in order to make room for some new quality, trait, person place or thing, an energy, an essence if you will, to take it’s place. Out with the old, in with the better. And in order to be better, sometimes we have to give something up. Well, give it up already. Goddesshood is what I’m after. The funny thing is, I may never reach that place, but the journey is so delicious…I don’t even know if I care about the destination anymore.

*NOTE: In my case, the abnormally heavy menstrual bleeding is caused by fibroids which were aggravated immensely by the ingestion of false hormones in the form of birth control pills, which I took as a result of denying my own desires for my life (sacrificing my ideals in order to fit into another’s ideals). Now, this is what I deal with. Ironically, when I went to the doctor for help, more false hormones in the form of an IUD (intrauterine device) were recommended in order to manage the symptoms of the fibroids.  I declined the offer to become sterilized like a dog and instead I am healing through natural methods (although I know it is possible to get pregnant after removing the IUD, that’s how I felt staring at the device and the eager doctors). Since taking a daily herbal supplement to regulate hormones, the pain of this condition had reduced dramatically. I switched to a new supplement from the same company that isn’t taken everyday, only when pain is drawing near, and the pain has returned because it is only taken during PMS, and if you don’t catch it in time, it may take a while to work, if at all. The pain and heavy bleeding has caused me to take days off of school and work. I’m going to order some more of the daily supplement immediately. Just a few thoughts on this, I know the picture can be disturbing to some.

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