Real girls in their own place.
Not too crazy and just a pinch of naughty...
Images by Michael Edwards
Get ready for She’s Ryan bitches, because this chick wants it so bad she’s going to be the next fucking @Oprah. Except rather than Spanx and a cardigan she rocks a pink weave and leather tube tops.
It’s 9:45PM on a Monday night. I’m squished in the backseat of a Jeep next to Michael Edwards, founder and photographer for Me In My Place, and Slimmy Neutron, founder and recording artist for Hello HVLO, (pronounced Hello Halo) a music production company and independent record label. We’re darting around cars on our way from their studio on West 30th Street to Cameo Gallery in Williamsburg. There’s a plastic cup of margarita flavored Four Loko in my hand. In the front seat sits @ShesRYAN with her own can of Four Loko, peach, her favorite. Slimmy prefers watermelon. Ryan is much smaller than the two men accompanying me in the backseat, but the honor of shotgun goes to her without debate.
Ryan is supposed to take the stage at 9:50PM so we’re already running late, but she’s quite concerned about her boobs popping out of her leather tube top during her performance. “I need boobie tape, my tits are going to pop out!” Ryan screeches from the front seat. Her voice frequently rises from conversational tone to loud, uninhibited laughter. We stop at two different American Apparels under her orders, both closed. No boobie tape for Ryan. She knows they carry it, she used to manage an American Apparel store in Soho. “I’ve worked in retail everywhere,” Ryan told me back at the studio. “Banana Republic, American Apparel, Betsey Johnson, G-Star, Macy’s. I’ve worked everywhere. I was a different person then. I was smoking a pack of Newport’s a day. I was skinny though!”
With her long pink hair and tattoos, dressed in booty shorts, a leather top and platform combat boots, it’s hard to imagine Ryan in a Banana Republic. She buys her Brazilian human hair extensions in bundles from a 6’7” hair dealer who delivers the hair to your door out of a backpack. It’s baby pink now, although she’s thinking of switching to hot pick, “nasty pink.” It’s certainly attention grabbing, she’s even been stopped at airport security to have her weave checked to make sure she’s not smuggling drugs in it.
The first time I saw Ryan was at Tammany Hall in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, at Hello HVLO’s Christmas party. I was there to see my friend Skip Rage perform, another rapper signed with HVLO, and was enjoying a beer waiting for the show to start. Rap performances start notoriously late. In retrospect, we would have had plenty of time to stop at a CVS and and buy some boobie tape, but it didn’t matter, to the crowd’s disappointment Ryan changed her top to one with straps and her breasts stayed put throughout the performance.
Back at the holiday party, before I even knew she was there to perform, I couldn’t take my eyes off her. It was a combination of attraction and intimidation, only partially credited to her appearance.
“I wear shorts and a tube top every single day. Who cares? I’m not a ho, I’m not a prostitute. Who says I got to be a ho because I don’t got a turtle neck on? I walk down the street confident and bold and I don’t get harassed. I don’t like to wear pants so I wear shorts, and if you try anything I will fucking roundhouse you. Own it. Own your style and individuality”
Own it she does. Ryan admits her insistence on living in shorts presents a problem for attending weddings and funerals, but you get the feeling that even at such an event no one would give her a hard time.
An artist of many forms, it’s unclear if even she is certain what her main focus is, What is clear is that she craves success and has the determination and attitude to achieve it. Along with her music, Ryan frequently goes to open acting calls, and supports herself by freelance modeling. She’s also appeared in “basically in every tattoo magazine. Inked, Urban Ink, Skin & Ink, Rebel Ink. All the ones except fetish porn. The ones where you don’t have to shave your eyebrows off and can keep your clothes on. Or wear a latex mask.”
A believer in the law of attraction and the power of positive thinking, Ryan keeps a vision board. A vision board is a board filled with images or quotes meant to help you visualize and achieve your dreams, popular with performers. When asked about what was on her vision board, Ryan responded “Oprah. But Oprah may not be around because I feel like when I’m 56 I’m going to have my own Oprah show, I’m going to be Oprah.” Her vision also includes appearing in an Alexander Wang billboard on 42nd Street. “I swear to god I see my hair blowing and it’s not pink it’s like black and I look all morbid, you know how they look all skinny and shit.”
The black and white Alexander Wang billboards she’s referring to are so stylistically different than the colorful and exuberant girl I’m sitting across from that I briefly wonder if it’s simply fame rather than artistic expression she’s after. Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that, most successful female musicians comparable to Ryan are multiple threats dabbling in various forms of art, and if we’re honest with ourselves, most of us share the same hunger for success, even if we have to veer slightly off path to achieve it. Yet then as we near the end of the studio interview, and I step into the hall with Michael and Ryan as he takes photos of her, Ryan makes a comment seemingly unaware that I’m even paying attention that reassures me of her artistic realness:
“I’m doing it because I love it. I don’t want to be the trendy bitch. In 10, 20 years I still want to be doing it.”
Ryan was born in Flatbush, Brooklyn to two high school students.
“My mom and had me when she was in high school. She went to Brooklyn Tech with my dad, they had me their junior year of high school. And basically they were really young so I had to live with my Grandmother for probably six or seven years, in not a good part of Brooklyn at all.”
She then moved in with her mother, frequently relocating from small two bedroom apartments crowded with her three siblings and her stepfather. As a teenager she moved in with her father, a successful business man, where she had her own floor in his five-story Clinton Hill brownstone. “When I lived with my Dad it was like a different world. I’ve seen both sides of the spectrum that’s why I don’t judge people. Because I know what it feels like to have both.”
She mentions the differences in her parents and their views on her career. Her father, the businessman, is often concerned about her ability to support herself financially while her mother applauds her artistic journey.
“I think he’s from a different time because he doesn’t even get it. He was friends back in the day with Doug E. Fresh, so he’s like ‘Yeah, my boy he got dropped from his label.’ I’m like how would you tell me I am going to get dropped from my label, why would you say that to me? Doug E. Fresh, you can’t compare me to Doug E. Fresh! And my mom she completely believes in me. She’s the hippie. She’s like, ‘I love to sing, you love to sing, keep singing!’ ”
From the love and camaraderie felt among the HVLO crowd, there’s no sense of danger of Ryan being dropped from her label. She was hesitant to join the group at first, having negative experiences with other producers, but Slimmy hooked her.
“Slimmy Neutron contacted me on Facebook. I used to put out little covers of myself singing and Slimmy ran across one, and was like, you have a great voice you should probably come to the studio and just check it out sometime. But at that time I was very scared because a lot of people would try to get me into the studio and it wouldn’t be productive. It would be me, sitting there, probably smoking, someone playing me a bunch of beats I really didn’t want to sing over, it wasn’t organic at all. And so it took Slimmy a while to get me here. When I finally got here he didn’t just play me a bunch of beats, he actually let me sing and let me write and constructed a beat around my voice. And that’s how “Bipolar” came about.”
If it’s her music that shoots Ryan to fame “Bipolar” will be the trigger. The jaw-dropping track alternates between Ryan beautifully crooning about her love for a man to fiercely screaming into the mic about how much she hates the same lover. It’s reminiscent of Kelis’s “Caught Out There”, an inspiration Ryan admits to, yet somehow (don’t hurt me Kelis) “Bipolar” captures the duality of emotions even more powerfully.
“I hate to say that I feel like the crazy one at most times, because if you listen to the lyrics it’s like ‘I love you but now I hate your guts.’ And I just know that sometimes that’s how women are. And it’s fine, the song is letting girls everywhere know that its okay to feel crazy girl, because we all have felt crazy at one point. You ever been so in love that you can lay in bed with this person at night but then see him do one thing wrong and you want to rip his head off his shoulders? So that’s what the song is saying, I love you but I hate you.”
HVLO isn’t quite ready to unleash the song on the world. In fact, Ryan doesn’t even have an album or video out for the track yet.
“It’s so epic and it’s put together so well that we don’t’ just want to throw it out and do a quick video for it. We need like time and money. So what we’re going to do is put out different songs and lead up to it and build the buzz more. So this way when “Bipolar” does finally release it’s going to be huge. Kelis probably will hear it, you know what I’m saying?”
It’s almost 11PM before Ryan appears on stage at Cameo Gallery. Ryan’s got the looks, the talent, and the attitude, yet somewhere buried in her must lie the seed of doubt: Will I make it? As an observer, I’m wondering myself as I look around the sparse crowd, in one of countless small music venues in New York. Ryan is an artist who doesn’t have an album out, yet alone a video, in a city teeming with artists trying to make it, some with better connections, more money, more exposure.
And then Ryan hits the stage. After a few songs to get the crowd amped, “Bipolar” begins. She opens the track by announcing it’s her favorite song and singing the chorus acapella, and then the track kicks on and she’s tearing off her jacket and writhing on the floor and her entire energy encompasses the room. Slimmy told me that after every one of Ryan’s performance, someone ends up booking her for another show. As a converted fan, I’ll take a page from Ryan’s book and use the power of positive thinking to hope that one day the right person is there to see her, as a vision board can only get you so far.
Before she goes on I ask her if she is nervous. “Hell to the no. I’m just going to go in there and rock the fuck out, probably with a Four Loko in my hand. I’m so fucking exhilarated, no nerves. That’s how I know I was meant to do this.”
Until HVLO is ready to release “Bipolar” you can listen to She’s Ryan’s “Painted Picture” here.
My Winter Wonderland
Remember when people use to line up for an album? Or if your town’s local Cineplex wasn’t included in the theatre release (or as is the case in my shitey youth, you couldn’t afford it), made the anticipation for the video rental unbearably delicious? When I was 12 I was curating taped trailers, interviews and magazine pages (turned posters), for every movie du jour. Intricately cataloguing them to heighten my excitement, like Beavis in the grips of a coffee addled Cornholio rant.
One of these unnatural obsessions was comedy cult classic Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. The dreamy and “intellectually challenged” duo, fell into my misshapen view (guided solely by American 80s movies) of the U.S. teen experience. Right up there with those pretty Weird Science nerds. I was convinced in ‘89 if these were what misfits looked like across the pond, I couldn’t wait to get there! Believe it or not, I also found the lives of Bill S. Preston Esquire and Ted Theodore Logan, somewhat glamorous back then. All that quotable So Cal vernacular, cartoon colored clothing and lovable misadventures. It was always sunny there, kids hung out in places called “malls” as opposed to grimy underpasses, instead of chain smoking they ate uncooked Japanese fish; and on weekends would go to a “water park.” To me California was the promised land! More than that though I simply adored the two leads, truthfully I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much if it hadn’t been the very young Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves. Alex with his pre-Raphaelite curls and blood red, bee-stung lips, Keanu in all his ethnically ambiguous glory. Both with such enviable hair. I had never seen such exotic male creatures, wondering the cobble stoned pathways of Tamworth. Which for the record, means hog mouth.
AN EXCLUSIVE MIMP INTERVIEW WITH NATASHA KMETO
With her long dark hair and eyes that gaze from the depths of her delightfully free mind, Natasha is enchanting. I dare you to listen to “Pleasure Delay” off her new EP “Dirty Mind Melt”and not have your own dirty mind melt a little. Natasha is gifted with immense capacities as an electronic producer paired with a soulful voice that conjures visions of jazz singers in speakeasies wearing black cocktail dresses and pearls, although this girl is more comfortable in her underwear.
The Portland-based singer has been in the music scene since her youth, yet over the past three years she finally found her niche as a solo artist. Her latest EP “Dirty Mind Melt” is out now via Dropping Gems, and she has a full-length album coming out this Spring.
For more insight into Natasha’s world watch the voyeuristic video for the title track “Dirty Mind Melt” below. If you want to catch Natasha live, there’s a list of tour dates on her website. I had the opportunity to speak with Natasha about her music, a quarter-life crisis, and finally finding pleasure.
Words Pisha Warden
Images Michael Edwards
Hey MIMP readers! Would you rather see a pictorial featuring a beautiful blonde bookworm, a Swedish-Canadian nature enthusiast, or a gorgeous girl-next-door with werewolf blood coursing her veins?
That’s a trick question. Meet Kristen Hager, who is all of the above. You may recognize her as her werewolf counterpart, Nora, on the SyFy Network series, Being Human, or from her numerous other TV appearances and feature films, which include Wanted (with Angelina Jolie) and Alien vs. Predator: Requiem. You can also see her later this year in the romantic comedy, Right Kind Of Wrong, where she stars alongside Ryan Kwanten (of True Blood fame).
Kristen and I spoke recently at the end of a long day (she’s currently shooting an indie feature in which she plays a heroine addict, but more on that later). When we spoke, I immediately noticed a couple of things about Kristen—most notably that she is incredibly gracious and easy to speak with, and that she has the sexiest laugh.
When she’s not busy fighting the vampire or alien hoards, Kristen can be found cozying up at home with a cup of tea and a good book or getting physical in the great outdoors. But as the Bossman here at MIMP always says, that’s enough from me. Kristen Hager, tell it like it is and show us what you’ve got! ;)
(Michael Roark chats to MIMP)
pictures by @MichaelSRoark
words by Falene
If I ever find myself in need of a Hollywood heartthrob who also passed the bar (I might), or a lawyer with matinee idol good looks (who wouldn’t need that!), I may have just found the perfect candidate in Michael Roark. Now that this former attorney no longer spends his time in the courtroom, you are more likely to find him in worlds inhabited by Prada-clad vampires, net-savvy psychopaths and dystopian revolutionaries—who seem to have an unnatural penchant for all things leather. There again that does sound like your typical visit to the LA county night court, not that I would know of course.
Without realizing it you are probably already very familiar with this in-demand actor, who’s guest starring roles in “The Vampire Diaries,” “Magic City,” “Rizzoli & Isles” and “Revolution,” has created a slightly insane shooting schedule for him of late. Then his most recent foray into film “Magic Mike,” just happened to be one of 2012’s most successful movies. Which he managed to achieve without stripping down to his mankini, or grimacing through a Brazilian buttocks waxing. After receiving the Soderbergh treatment, this month he will officially be inducted into the ‘6 degrees of Kevin Bacon’ hall of fame. As Detective Warren, he will be playing alongside Mr. Bacon in the highly anticipated premiere of Fox’s new serial killer drama “The Following” (airing JAN 21st). Whether he’s working with some of the world’s most critically acclaimed directors, writers and actors; or on (all of) TV’s highest rated shows, I have to admit Michael’s change in careers looks pretty magical.
(EXCLUSIVE Tiffani Thiessen interview/shoot for MIMP)
"IT" girls just don’t seem to have the same longevity as the ones I grew up watching.
There were two gals in particular that every “Gen X Guy” (including MIMP’s own ME!) went gaga over, the angst ridden Winona Ryder and the the deliciously saucy Tiffani Thiessen. No matter your gender, culture or creed, Tiffani was for most the epitome of universal hotness. They may have actually coined the phrase “girl crush” shortly after her long running stint on “Beverly Hills, 90210.” Not only did every hot blooded male desperately lust after her, every girl religiously kept tabs on her sassy style (midriff baring sweaters, anyone?) and perfectly cropped 90s bob. Before “The Rachel,” young women the world over wanted Tiffani’s do. Not to mention the fabulously plucked eyebrows and plump (au natural) pout. Ah blessed nostalgia, those were days before 20 year olds felt the necessity to parade around with collagen-induced lips (sigh). Of course these were just a couple of the assets that had editors clamoring to have Tifanni on the covers of Cosmo, YM, Teen, People, EW, TV Guide and FHM (twice!).
First appearing as goody-two-shoes Kelly Kapowski in "Saved By The Bell," she went on to become 90s sex-symbol/icon (everyones favorite bad girl) Valerie Malone. Whether setting trends or gracing glossies, Tiffani in many ways came of age in front of an audience of millions. For over a decade she’s been a TV staple, starring in shows considered by most as ratings gold. Then somewhere along the way (without me even noticing), she grew up, got married, and become a mom. And there’s a very good reason I may have not realized all this happening right in front of me. She hasn’t changed drastically in the last 10 years, she really does look just as good now. Working constantly, always picking roles that compliment her life stage perfectly, playing the characters (even the campier teen ones) that we all connect to. The cute girl next door (SBTB), vixen (BH, 90210), the hottie (What About Brian), the hottie (Fastlane), the hottie (you get the picture), then the chops-flexing co-star (Hollywood Ending); and most recently the clever (smoking hot) wife of FBI agent Peter Burke (in White Collar). If you ever wondered what it takes to remain the quintessential “IT” girl, maintain a stellar career, have Bieber sport your portrait on his T-shirt and cause Woody Allen to close his eyes to simply listen to your soft mellow voice—it’s time you found out.
Being a TV staple, what’s that like?
Sometimes it’s crazy to think about how "Saved By The Bell" and "90210" ran for so long and internationally too. I feel very fortunate and blessed, to have worked on shows that lived for a while. Especially after experiencing that popularity at such a young age. Then to continue to say I’m a working actress now, I still really enjoy it.
How do you keep picking ‘em?
It’s not just me (giggling).
(Not to be a perv, but her voice is like butter! It’s like a husky, sexy, sex-kitten!)
Yes it is just you (laughing) and NOBODY else!
Well when I was younger I didn’t really pick them, I was just getting lucky really. Now I feel like I can make more of a decision regarding what I want to audition for, or which projects I’m attached to. When I first read the script for this show (White Collar), I just fell in love with it from day one. The premise, the story and the character, call it women’s intuition. Now here we are, ready to start Season 5.
Is she a bit closer to home for you?
Oh yes! Elizabeth Burke is the closest to me, than any other role I’ve played in my entire career. I like that she’s not just sassy, but strong and driven too. At the same time she has qualities that I like, so I enjoy playing her.
Favorite 90s Jam?
I absolutely loved Boys 2 Men, but I’d have to say George Michael’s “I Want Your Sex.” I played that over and over again, I’m not kidding you.
Remember “I Wanna Sex You Up?”
I do, Color Me Bad ha ha.
(A tick tock you don’t stop).
Wine and chocolate. Or if a "Designing Women" marathon is on, I won’t switch it off. God I love that show.
If you could play any character, who would you be?
I got very close to that once, one thing that I always wanted to do was be a Bond Girl. I tested but didn’t get it. It was also probably the hardest rejection, because I’m such a fan of the movies. It was between me and 2 other actresses at the time. Unfortunately the actress who got the job, went on to be voted as one of the worst Bond Girls as well.
I know who it is, the seasonal doctor!
You figured that one out, just from that?
(Hint, Pierce Bronson, scientist. Or you could just click here lol)
Do you like Daniel Craig as Bond?
Love him as Bond, he’s right up there with Sean Connery. He’s just amazing, one of the best Bonds ever.
If you could be a man for a day, get their specific set of skills too, who would you be?
Mmm I’m trying to think, probably a rock star.
He’s not super manly though. If I’m gonna be a man, I wanna be a MAN. Tall and strong, I’m thinking maybe a basketball player. Or a person who can effect change in politics, maybe Obama.
Maybe you just want to be a black man, I know I do on occasion.
Do you think you have a type?
I don’t think so, but maybe I do without realizing, there are traits I love. My husband is a complete goofball, but that’s what makes him so sexy. He kind of exudes manliness. But at the same time, he’s very creative and a total dork sometimes. I love that (giggles). I enjoy that mixture, because I’m a bit that way too. Sure I like dressing up, but I like hanging out at home being silly in my boxers and a tank top. He made me laugh the first time I met him too.
What did he do?
The invisible hula hoop dance. The single most hysterical thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Seduced by an invisible hula hooping.
I need to see that! Do you like comedians?
Oh yes, physical comedy is very alluring to me. My real secret celeb crush was Chris Farley. I LOVED him.
You were the consummate sex symbol, was that a lot of pressure?
I think any time you are on a hit show as a young actor or actress, you feel that way. Then as a woman, there’s some additional pressures you feel to look a certain way and be a certain size. I was not the girl that was a size 2 and didn’t work for it. I was never the waify model type.
Yeah but you were on FHM’s cover twice (America, France) right?
Was I? I remember the first one they ran, that cover got banned! At that time, the airports didn’t want it on the magazine stands. It was considered too racy. Even though I had no top on, I wasn’t showing anything. Now of course that would seem very tame.
Speaking of being topless, Howard Stern once described you as having the "most perfect breasts" in the world. Thoughts?
Yeah, he said that before I had kids (laughing loudly). He first said that around the time that first FHM cover came out, it came up again when I did his show again last year. I’m not gonna say I’m not flattered, he’s Howard Stern, Howard knows boobs. The fact that he talked about me positively, I’ll take it! He was really nice and complimentary, in his own special way he was very respectful.
He’s an interesting cat. Both endearing, clever and a lil creepy, simultaneously (laughing).
(Why do felines keep coming up in my mind during this interview).
Enjoy doing the MIMP shoot?
I really did. Seriously, I haven’t done a shoot like this in a while, but I was completely at ease. It was intimate and sexy, but he(ME) made me feel so relaxed.
We were both really excited about this shoot & interview.
Awe thank you. It was great, he’s an amazing photographer and I got to be completely myself. I just threw on what I wanted, so it felt very true and organic.
Is Brian Austen Green a Warlock?
My theory is that he and Nick Cannon are witches! I mean both very cute boys next door, but how do they always date (then marry) such ridiculously hot women? I must know his secret.
He’s not a witch, I promise. Just a gentleman.
Absolutely, to me anyway. If a guy is gentlemanly, that gets my attention. I don’t like men to be too pretty-pretty, like a model. I like men to be men. I mean look at some rock stars, but they always get all the girls.
They have the “bad boy” cache though. Brian Austen Green always looked so wholesome.
Really? Hhhmmm wholesome you say (a blast of laughter slips in). Yes he’s one of the good guys, I have nothing but lovely things to say about Brian and fond memories. Respectful, funny and a great dancer, with a stunning wife.
He could dance, I do remember that… mmmm.
Heck yeah! (laughing)
Your co-stars, such ugly boys, eh?
Right, it was so hard for me.
Not to be completely unfair, but if you had to pick the best kisser, which one?
Oh boy, that’s a tough one because with one co-star I was a kid, then the others I was a young woman. I would have to say… and it’s kinda weird because we are still great friends and I love his wife too…
…Zack Morris! (cackling)
(Gosh I love playing this game, I’m not even using real names anymore. I’m channeling my teens! From her raucous giggles, perhaps Tiffani is enjoying this game too).
No, Jason Priestly and he was probably the guy I did the least on-screen kisses with. Talk about pretty boys.
He was prettier then some girls I knew.
And he has an absolutely gorgeous wife, who is also a very talented make up artist. She does my make up quite often. We all actually get together for dinners, maybe that’s why he popped in my head, or did this just get weird (laughing).
Now for some inexplicable reason (and out of my complete respect for Tiffani) I had to “try” really hard to not imagine these 4 beautiful people, swimming underwater, re-enacting the closing pool scenes from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”. It was a difficult task on my part, but I managed it quite well I think.
Strangest audition of your entire life?
Woody Allen, it was strange but very cool. He flew the auditioning actresses to NY, I had no idea what I was auditioning for, which I’ve been told is the norm. With him you don’t get a script, sometimes you might get an idea of the role you might be up for. So 30 mins before I walked into the room to audition with him (and we had never met), they gave me sides to read. I also didn’t know what “Hollywood Ending” was about at that time, so the whole time I auditioned, his eyes were closed!
Which makes sense now you’ve done the film.
Well yeah, his character goes blind, but that wasn’t explained before. So I’m thinking, how is he going to make a decision about me, he just closed his eyes (laughs). Very, very, very nice man, quiet. It worked out well though.
Who’s poster was on your wall as a teenager?
Michael Jackson and Ricky Schroeder.
OMG! Silver Spoons!
Ever had a celeb girl crush?
I dunno if it was a crush, more that I just idolized her. Olivia Newton John. I think there’s also a part of me that wishes I was a rock star.
KD Lang, she was my sexual confuser. She was also Keanu Reeves doppelgänger, so… SOLD!
That’s hilarious, but now you mention in it. They kind of did look alike.
Whose music do you listen to?
Ben Harper, Mumford & Sons, Dave Matthews, Amos Lee . I’m more of a band than a DJ kind of girl.
What makes you feel saucy of an evening?
A bottle of wine works. Every time.
Finish this sentence, “In the next life I will be a… “
… a ROCK STAR!!
In my book Tiffani, you already are luv!
Tiffani returns as Elizabeth Burke on Season 5 of USA’s “White Collar,” airing Tues, JAN 22, 10/9c.
We will be posting a few selects from Tiffani’s shoot on the site, but you can see the entire edit on the MIMP APP here… Yeah, she’s still got it!
pictures by @SaulWilliams
words by Falene
Saul Williams is smarter than you!
The problem is he’s smarter than me too and I’m interviewing him. Usually chatting with complete strangers never intimidates me, in fact there’s nothing I rather do. There’s a certain intimacy to a phone conversation with a person you have never met. This time however in the back of my mind with every “silly” question I ask (not that that’s ever stopped me before), there’s a little voice taunting me. “Saul Williams is smarter then you! Yeah - that’s right! Saul Williams is smarter than you” and for some strange reason it’s to the beat of “You Can’t Wu Tang Better Than Me.” WTF? Perhaps it’s because Saul is not only creatively quite the genius, but academically he’s pretty impressive too; with a B.A. in philosophy from Morehouse and that Masters from NYU. When it comes to debating a topic, he’s usually got you beat, or at least in a quandary. Which of course adds to his mischievous charm and striking good looks. Not too far back the blogosphere was ablaze, how could he let “List of Demands” (his damning tune on over-consumption), end up as a commercial soundtrack for Nike? Intentional irony? Was it part of his satirical plan all along? Or was he just letting the most well intentioned progressives know, not even they have the right to dictate to Saul what’s cool or acceptable.
Influenced as much by Allen Ginsberg as Public Enemy, he’s collaborated with everyone from Erykah Badu to Trent Reznor. Emphasizing his utter refusal to be artistically contained. His is a voice that can contribute as easily to popular men’s mag Esquire, as the more highbrow New York Times and African Voices. He’s published 5 critically acclaimed poetry books, won the coveted Grand Prize at Sundance and the Cannes Camera D’Or, while shaking up the literary academia in his spare time. My brain matter got greyer just thinking about it! Now after the irreverent “Niggy Tardust” (an eff you to musical genres) he brought out “Volcanic Sunlight,” a personal music collection of sorts. For Saul Williams it’s more important to get people thinking, then talking. Whether you agree with him or not, really isn’t the point.
He skypecalls me from Paris. I suddenly feel terribly cosmopolitan.
Desperately Seeking Hattie
Words by Don Thomas
Pictures by Michael Edwards
Today we have a really, rare treat, an exclusive interview with @Hattie Watson.
Hattie is an instantly recognized model, whose image is literally flooding the internet right now. If you don’t know who she is, than likely somewhere along the way in your various online interactions, someone you know is a Hattie lover/follower. Or at the very least, has found themselves mesmerized by a random photograph or video that she was featured in. Standing at only 5’3” with her flaming red hair, shapely body, prominent tattoos and usually ‘au naturel’ freckled face—even amongst the beautiful people in the art crowd, she has no trouble standing out. A fiery walking contradiction, in physical feminine form.