Round #2 with Claudia Jordan, as she mixes her next signature cocktail, the “Up All Night.” The alcohol was clearly taking effect at this point.
Round #2 with Claudia Jordan, as she mixes her next signature cocktail, the “Up All Night.” The alcohol was clearly taking effect at this point.
MAXIM ACTION NEWS
Comedian-film star Marlon Wayans stopped by MAXIM to tell me everything behind his hit horror comedy A Haunted House. If I seem a bit off-cue, it’s because I was. Marlon is so crazy with the jokes that he messed up reporting chi.
MAXIM ACTION NEWS
At Madison Square Garden to cover the Monster Energy Pro Bull Riding Invitational, where I ran into supermodel Chrissy Teigen, Tiny “Deebo” Lister, NASCAR champion Kyle Busch, John Legend, and the super-hot Monster Energy Girls. Oh… and a few pissed off bulls as well.
All-Star Celebrity Apprentice’s Claudia Jordan stopped by MAXIM Headquarters to mix some of her signature cocktails with me. With her stunning looks, mixology skills, and innuendo-laced jokes, I was intoxicated before she even poured up!
Even today, I still pinch myself sometimes. My life is like a dream compared to where I was 10 years ago. Back then, I was an inmate in the New Jersey correctional system among the state’s most hardened criminals. Now I’m a magazine editor in New York working alongside esteemed Ivy League journalists. To my colleagues, our jobs are just routine days at the office – mundane interviews, self-absorbed celebrities, and a daily barrage of annoying edits. But to me, it feels like I won a gig with Donald Trump on The Apprentice.
Over my ten-year career since getting out of the joint, I’ve built my resume up to where it reads like a glossy newsstand. My writing and editing credits have graced the best magazines in the business – Maxim, Us Weekly, VIBE, Star, Essence, In Style, KING, UNleashed, Black Enterprise, The Source, and a few others on top of those. It’s surreal when I think of how I’ve interviewed and covered some of the same celebrities I once watched on TV in prison. Bold-faced names like Jay-Z, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Samuel L. Jackson, Evelyn Lozada, Ethan Hawke, Marlon Wayans, Beyoncé, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Carson Daly, Claudia Jordan, and a slew of other celebrities are all under my personal by-line. Hell, I’ve covered star-studded parties in Las Vegas for Us Weekly where I saw Christina Aguilera totally shit-faced at the bar, and then watched Kim Kardashian haul ass from the building when Ray J showed up with Whitney Houston. That was all back when news of the Kim K. and Ray J sex tape had just begun to swirl. By then, I had already reported on more than fifty A-list events, yet I was still amazed at being in the midst of it all. By all accounts and purposes, I wasn’t supposed to be there – especially as a reporter for Us Weekly. Yet, there I was – a former felon, dispatched by a prominent celebrity magazine, covering Hollywood heavy hitters. It was mind-boggling.
Then, on top of all that, I lucked up and landed a gig on a popular TV show – as myself. In 2010, VH1 premiered a reality dating series called Let’s Talk About Pep, which starred female rap icon Sandy “Pepa” Denton of Salt ‘N Pepa fame. I played the bad-boy-turned-good who was dating Pep’s straight-laced friend, the beautiful television journalist Jacque Reid. Being on that show felt like I was tripping on acid. Not only was I on TV, dating one of the sexiest women in broadcast journalism, but for the first time in my career I was being covered by magazines rather than covering people for them. Glossies that I formerly wrote for like Essence, Black Enterprise and KING, were now blowing up my cell phone to do features about me. I went from being inmate #240281B, to an editor at popular celebrity magazines, all the way to reality TV so fast that it made my head spin.
But don’t get it twisted even for a minute. Getting where I am today wasn’t a cakewalk. As an ex-con, navigating professional magazines on this level was damn near as tough as getting through the prison system. Unless you’re Martha Stewart, trying to get even an entry-level job with strikes on your jacket is hard enough. So you can imagine what I had to go through to land among the ranks of elite celebrity journalists. A lot of doors slammed dead in my face along the way, as I was disqualified from editorships at boss magazines half a dozen times.
One time in particular, the managing editor at Playboy magazine had already signed off on my position, with an awesome salary. We had determined my start date, the benefits package, vacation days, the whole nine yards. Then, human resources did a subsequent background check, and promptly eliminated my ass.
Facing discrimination for my past was definitely a bitter pill to swallow. Shit, I had done my time, was working diligently in my career, and was a tax-paying, upstanding citizen. Yet, corporate tight asses were still punishing me for my past. The range of emotions I felt vacillated between anger, humiliation, anxiety, even revenge. But I refused to quit. I always knew that if I gave up – if I even stopped to complain – I would lose. Despite my past, I knew I had worked my ass off in college and internships just like everybody else. I knew I deserved a shot. I knew I was good enough. So I took the rejections square on the chin and kept pushing past them. As a result, I now hold a dream editorship at MAXIM magazine.
The bottom line is this – everything in our lives begins with choice. And the choices we make dictate the lives we live. The real question is: What types of circumstances influence our individual choices?
Well… let me tell you how it all started for me.
* * *
One hot summer afternoon in Long Branch, New Jersey, my boys and I were playing video games at Scotty’s, our hometown beachfront arcade. Power pellet chomping, alien zapping, top score chasing – the whole arcade was rocking with high-energy gamers and thrill seekers, and we were having a blast. Then, suddenly, all of our quarters ran out. We were all just thirteen years old, and our mamas had only given us a few bucks to play with. So it was game over for our little Pac-Man, Galaxian, and Centipede fun. But our friend Mont-Mont had an idea.
“Follow me,” he told us. “I know where we can get a LOT of quarters.”
He led the way out of the arcade to the huge parking lot across the street, where there were easily 100 vehicles. To vent some of the intense summer heat, a lot of people left their car windows partially open. Looking around to make sure the coast was clear, Mont-Mont crept up to a little MG convertible, reached in the window to unlock it, and ducked inside. In about 15 seconds, he reemerged with two fists full of quarters.
“Easy money,” he said with a grin. “C’mon, let’s go rock some more games!”
When I saw how simple it was to get money from cars like that, the catalyst to my future modus operandi was sparked.
That’s what summer in the early ‘80s was all about – the beachfront, arcade games, and money. Our mamas gave us weekly allowances, but it was never enough. So whenever we ran out of cash for video games, and couldn’t find any odd jobs around the boardwalk, we went CC’ing. That was the code word we used for “car checking,” long before email was even a factor. People drove from all over the tri-state area for a day at our dazzling Jersey Shore beachfront, so they always kept heaps of silver coins in their cars for the Parkway tolls. Some days we raked in upwards of $100 in change and small bills rummaging through cars, which was a small fortune for teenagers back then. Other days yielded merchandise, like boom boxes and watches that we sold to “old heads around the way” – hustlers in their twenties and thirties who hung out on Central Avenue, our neighborhood’s main drag. One time, we found a Rolex in a car and unwittingly sold it to an old head for $200, not knowing it was a $3,000 timepiece. But who cared? Two hundred dollars was like $1000 to thirteen year old teens back then. So it was a win-win transaction for everybody.
Yup. It was all about the money, plain and simple. If you didn’t have it, you were a zero. But if you had it, you were the fucking man, with the freshest clothes and the prettiest girls. And getting money from cars in the summertime was like taking candy from a baby. So we were all over that shit.
That’s how grand theft auto eventually became my M.O., and that’s when things really started paying off. The petty car burglaries I pulled off with my beachfront crew later morphed into solo grand theft auto missions in wealthy suburbs. There was virtually no crime in suburban neighborhoods, so people left everything in their cars – pocketbooks, wallets, credit cards, even the car keys. So now I wasn’t just lifting money and valuables from cars, I was lifting the whole car. Hell, why not? I had cousins on deck in the Bronx who knew the 411 on chop shops, so luxury vehicles like BWMs and Acuras would net my pockets a thousand large easy. Couple that with the frauds I pulled off with credit cards I found in the vehicles, and my pockets would be fat for weeks. Back then, I use to laugh at the popular slogan “Crime Doesn’t Pay,” because my suburban forays were proving it did. You just needed the balls to do it.
But in the end, the price for all those crazy crimes was six years of my life in the New Jersey prison system. When I look back and think about it, I still can’t believe how my moral compass was so twisted. Even now, 20 years later, I can still recall in vivid HD the day my life changed when the shit hit the fan….
Dear Mr. Tarantino:
Greetings, and Happy Holidays, sir. I hope that you’re well this fine Christmas Eve, and the imminent premiere of your newest film Django Unchained hasn’t hindered your holiday shopping. Which brings me to the reason for my humble letter to you.
Personally, I’ve always been a huge fan of your writing and directing work, Mr. Tarantino. Even in spite of your incessant and foul usage of the n-word. You’re a brilliant filmmaker who can’t be denied. But when news about Django Unchained recently started swirling, all I could think was, “Here we go again with Quentin Tarantino and this n-word bullshit.”
You’ve obviously been suffering withdrawal from your beloved n-word, because you’ve returned to overusing the word seemingly on steroids. You volley the n-word around in Django Unchained over 110 times, all under the guise of “historical accuracy.” But that’s bullshit. You’re not concerned about being historical or accurate. You just have some sick obsession with the n-word, and it’s way more racist than historic.
Here, let me show you, as we take a walk down memory lane through your employment of the n-word like it was the most privileged extra in Hollywood.
Reservoir Dogs, 1992: I cringed when Steve Buscemi’s “Mr. Pink” character broke up a quarrel among the Dogs and railed, “You guys act like a bunch of fuckin’ niggers! You wanna be niggers, huh? They’re just like you two, always fightin’ and always sayin’ their gonna kill each other!” Cinematically it was a cool scene, but how you used the n-word in such a vile context got under my skin. And you went on to use the word at least five more times before the credits rolled. But, hey, I’m a black man with thick skin. I got over it. It was a great film.
Next, enter True Romance in 1993. I know, you didn’t direct the film, but you wrote the screenplay. And you ping-ponged the n-word around no less than six times in this one, in a context even worse than Reservoir Dogs. Dennis Hopper’s “Clifford Worley” character viciously stammered, “Sicilians were spawned by niggers. The Moors conquered Sicily. And the Moors are niggers. So Sicilians still carry that nigger gene.” Now, that was foul, Quentin. You sounded like a straight up ignorant racist with that one, because even a cursory search of history proves that the Moors were one of the most advanced societies the world has ever known. I was deeply offended.
Then came Pulp Fiction, your 1994 cult favorite that you’re most notable for. This is where it seems that use of the n-bomb got really good to you. The word was tossed around as a cameo character at least 13 times. No one will ever forget Jimmie Dimmick – the character you insisted on playing yourself – reprimanding Jules Winnfield: “Did you notice a sign out in front of my house that said Dead Nigger Storage? You know why you didn’t see that sign? ‘Cause storing dead niggers ain’t my fucking business, that’s why!” Oh, and Jules just happened to be black. For the first time, we didn’t just hear the n-word in your movies, but we heard you spew it from your own lips. And the context was as racist as a Neo-Nazi. That was it for me. I had heard, and now seen, enough. I was done with you and your films, Mr. Tarantino.
By the time you released Jackie Brown three years later in 1997, I was livid. So when Spike Lee stepped up and took you to task about the film’s 38 n-words, I was rallying with him. And Spike’s browbeating seemingly worked, because you ceased from using the word. Ten years passed, during which time you dropped the brilliantly entertaining Kill Bill volumes, as well as Sin City, and they all were completely void of the n-word. In the first Kill Bill, you even opted to use “colored” to describe the organ player at the wedding of “The Bride.” I thought, “Ok. Quentin has chilled on using the n-bomb. Cool. I can get down with him again, now that his films aren’t so offensive anymore.”
Then, ten years later in 2007, you dropped Death Proof. This is where you started twitching. You made a mild return to your obsession with the n-word through Tracie Thoms’s character “Kim.” She dropped the n-bomb no less than seven times. Not surprisingly, Death Proof was the worst film you ever made. You even admitted yourself that the film was garbage. And how could it be otherwise? You were obviously scratching and shaking in withdrawal while you were writing it, anxious to toss the n-word around like a fiend, in the fashion that you formerly did.
And now, enter Django Unchained. 110 n-words, in 160 minutes, in a movie about slavery. You say your excessive use of the word this time around is for “historical accuracy,” but, I say again, that’s bullshit. First, use of the N-word over 100 times isn’t necessary to drive history home. I regret to inform you, Mr. Tarantino, but Django isn’t the first film about slavery. Your audience and fans already know about the racist brutality of slavery - via films like Roots, Queen, Amistad, et. al - without having the n-word driven down our throats. And second, your record of using the word is obviously derived from a racist vantage point, as illustrated in Reservoir Dogs, True Romance, and especially Pulp Fiction.
So, Mr. Tarantino, I’m humbly asking you to chill on the n-word. Please. You’re a cool dude, but you’re not Carl van Vechten a la the Harlem Renaissance. And I know you have a lot of notable black friends, like RZA of the Wu Tang Clan, Samuel L. Jackson, Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, and a few others. But you’re not black, no matter how many Dada sweatshirts and Kangol hats you wear.
I love your work as a filmmaker, and I think it’s safe to say that most black people feel the same way. However, your history with the n-word is not proper – it’s offensive. And after employing the word nearly 200 times in just six films throughout your career, I think everyone in America would agree that you’ve slung it enough.
Happy Holidays to you, Mr. Tarantino, and a prosperous New Year as well.
I rarely watch reality TV, but when I do it’s Basketball Wives, hands down. And I don’t mean that tired reboot out of L.A., either. I’m talking about those sexy, beautiful, ORIGINAL ladies out of my favorite U.S. playground, South Beach! Courtesy of my celebrity journalism acumen, I was able to book the show’s breakaway star, Evelyn Lozada, for an interview and shoot on MAXIM TV. The end result was hot - a print Q&A, a bunch of sexy photos, and some sizzling videos.
Say what you want about her, but I dig Evelyn as one of the most entertaining personalities in reality television. Plus, she’s very professional to work with. Case in point: the venue where we conducted the interview and shoot was freezing cold (it was January), but Evelyn didn’t complain even once. And she was in lingerie. So hate on that.
Click the title for the pics and interview. The videos are after the jump below.
Evelyn Lozada’s Sexiest Shoot EVER.
Evelyn on Chad Ochocinco.
LET’S TALK ABOUT PEP
Ahh… dating and relationships. Win or lose, we all love them, right? Anyone who says they don’t want to be in a relationship with the opposite sex (or the same sex to be PC, but that’s not me), is in denial or just flat-out confused. I’ve had a few relationships over the years, and I have no regrets about any one of them because they helped me grow in the game of love. So much that I’m convinced I’ll be the (almost) perfect mate to a very lucky woman.
Here’s one of my dating scenarios from the VH1 series Let’s Talk About Pep. I have to admit, dating on TV definitely makes it more challenging. Wow, I can’t believe this aired nearly three years ago? Crazy. Shout out to my lovely friend Jacque Reid! To see episodes from the entire series, go here.