I seem to be in a reflective mood tonite and of late. Any such stories as this will not likely be shared by my survivors; they also have no clue. I will post no pictures here, I’ve never wished to embarrass anyone…but there are encounters and realities I choose to engage tonite, just because I think they reflect interesting human tendencies.
For years I’ve been a guest of numerous fundraisers, largely because of my “celebrity standing”. Never an A lister, nor B lister. Perhaps a C lister on a good day and mostly a D lister, celebrity wise…yet there were many events to which I was invited. I love golf, was a pretty good golfer once and I will always show up for the fun and the hoorah and to support charitable intentions. I have been a public figure since the mid-70’s. Most of you don’t really know what that means. Essentially it means that when you walk down the street, whether in NYC or London or Paris or Sydney or Bucharest, people recognize you. That’s all…and you learn that it’s not really about YOU. It’s about the fact that they have seen your face before…and they react. So here’s the thing.
Other A/B/C/D list celebrities show up at these fundraisers, with their dates. Wives or lovers or friends. These women are largely white, largely hot, largely intent on finding some light of their own. Guess what? A shitload of these hotties would gravitate towards me, especially on the dance floor. Why? They wanted to be in the spotlight. Their male escorts weren’t interested in embarrassing themselves on the dance floor…and their women assumed that I (as the resident Black Celebrity) had the savoir faire to display their hottie-ness to its best advantage. Boy were most in for a surprise.
I was an exceptional dancer once, probably long before they were born. Gwen Verdan taught me to samba on the set of The Cotton Club. I won twist contests on the USS United States. TWIST CONTESTS, people! That was eons ago! I have no creditable dance skills anymore. Yet these women would come up to me and woo me and entice me to take them out there on the dance floor and show them off. Apart from a very small percentage that I did fool around with, I had no personal investment in them; I was totally clear I was being used. And imagine the varying degrees of resentment thrown my way by their husbands/escorts/beards. Serious shade! Which made later interactions with those guys uncomfortable, remembering how their ladies had fawned upon me the night before.
So yeah, I have numerous photos of me and an incredibly hot woman. She wasn’t mine…she just wanted attention…and she got it. As I’d mentioned, these women were pretty exclusively white. I’d grown up during our struggle for civil rights. Emmett Till wasn’t ancient history to me, he was murdered when I was a young man. These women didn’t know or even care about my own considerations…but I always knew the social impact and the subtext of our paired photographic depictions. When you judge and regard those who’ve achieved some measure of success, whether in sports or media or politics, bear in mind that the women drawn to them may be personally invested…and may as well be personally devoted to their own self-promotion. And therein may lie danger. Caveat emptor. Just sayin’