Mar 302010
 

Next month marks five years of New York living. Damn, that went by fast! Rewind a bit for those new to Funky Brown Chick. In 2005, I was a happy Chicago resident. In my late 20s, I had a healthy retirement plan, fat savings account, stable job, great friends and a beautiful 2-bedroom apartment in trendy Wicker Park. To be honest, I kind of took that whole “financial stability” stuff for granted because I’d had it for a while at that point. I was comfortable. Nevertheless, in April 2005, I moved to Manhattan. (Psst! I explain why in Every Child Is An Artist and on the About Me page.)

I can’t say the transition to New York living was super easy or that the past 59 – 60 months have always been great. One of my lowest points in Manhattan occurred Winter / Spring 2006, shortly after I arrived. With family 700 miles away in Illinois, I felt lonely. New to the city, I had quite a few acquaintances but only a tiny smattering of true “friends.” Also, having recently parted with the new job, I was started living off credit cards. I maxed out and my savings shriveled to zero. With hardly any funds coming in, I was terrified I’d be forced to return to the Midwest out of destitution. I didn’t leave because, in part, I had faith things would work out–though I wasn’t even sure how.

Fast forward approximately two years from 2006 to a random late night in May 2008. Riding home in a yellow taxi cab, I’d just spent an evening out with good friends. The cabbie’s radio was tuned to NPR, and I heard my voice. It was a repeat broadcast from earlier in the morning — when a woman I highly respect, Farai Chideya, interviewed me about African American women & relationships. I also made other appearances and, tomorrow, I’m slated to briefly appear on CNN. I’ll forward details as soon as I get them in case you’d like to tune in.

This isn’t some Pollyanna-Everything-Is-Perfect-Now story … Life isn’t always easy now, and I’m not guaranteed it will be in the future. In the meantime, I’m really grateful for the opportunities I’ve had in New York. I don’t believe my career would’ve turned out the same way had I never come here and/or if I abandoned it after arrival. Life’s choices are rarely clear cut. In 2006, had I fled to Illinois — even for, like, 6-12 months to save up money — I might’ve been better positioned to make a fresh, more stable start in Manhattan. Then again, maybe I would’ve stayed in comfy Chicago & never come back to NYC at all. It’s hard to know what the right decision is at any given moment — if there is such a thing as the “right” decision. For me, for right now, I’m glad I’m sticking around.

Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge

Last week, I took this shot as I walked over the Brooklyn Bridge. Tourist spots. New restaurants. Dive bars. Museums. Festivals. The Opera. Daily, I try to live as if I won’t be in the Empire State the following year. That way, when/if I ever leave, I won’t feel like I missed out anything. I could list a bunch of unexpected difficulties, hidden jewels discovered, lessons learned, most surprising accomplishments, and biggest failures from the past five years. However, instead of telling you what I think you should know about experiences thus far, I thought it’d be more interesting to let you ask whatever you’d like to know. So, today, I created a Formspring.me account. Visit it to post ANY personal questions about: starting Funky Brown Chick, living in New York, finding relationships in Manhattan, freelance writing, whatever. The site allows you to post your questions anonymously if you’d like. Go ahead. Ask me anything.

Mar 252010
 

In a recent post called Straight Woman Dating Bisexual / Bi Curious Guys, I mentioned a few of my exes were bi. After reading that, a concerned Funky Brown Chick reader I’ll call “Albert” emailed me to gently warn, among other things, dating bisexual men might cause me to “contract AIDS.” For what it’s worth, as a sexually active adult & a health nut — even though I use condoms like, almost, always — I still get tested on a regular basis. See: NYC’s List of Free & Confidential Clinics for testing sites.

I’m not HIV+, nor do I have AIDS. That said, as someone who writes about sex & relationships (gay, straight & other), I have to say Albert’s message made me kind of sad. It reminded me tons of negative misconceptions still exist about the LGBTQ community’s health — namely, the assumption that all gay & bisexual men have STDs and/or the virus.

Allowing an HIV- bisexual man’s penis to enter my body with a condom wrapped around it is much less risky than barebacking it with an HIV+ straight dude. Mayor Clinic, NIH, CDC, GMHC, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and others maintain great resource sites for information about HIV/AIDS. Check ‘em out. There’s TONS information available to those who’d like to learn more. I’m not saying all of the information out there is good, but there’s a lot of it.

Morgan Fairchild to Speak at DAP on World AIDS Day

That PSA aside, I wanted to say I was also happy to get Albert’s email because it inspired this post. As I’ve said many times before, my favorite thing about this site is that it allows me to interact with readers — unlike, say, print newspaper or magazine articles that don’t appear online and/or don’t have comments sections.  I like engaging in healthy conversations about sex, sexuality and intimacy. So, if you’ve never shared your thoughts in the comments section, I encourage you to do so in a future post. Also, for what it’s worth, if you like reading Funky Brown Chick, reading the comments section might introduce you to a few other fun people who read this site, too. Though I haven’t responded to thoughts shared on Straight Woman Dating Bisexual / Bi Curious Guys post yet, I’ve read them. Nando, the Mexican dude featured in my 5 Tips: Oral Sex Performed on the Penis, was first to weigh in. Rachel, Baba Doodlius, Janelle, Darnell, Miko Holt, Puma73, Arielle Loren, Pamela, Lady M, dkzone, A, Christian and Tom had a lot to say too. That is all. Just a quick post to talk about things spinning in my head since receiving the email about bisexuality & AIDS.

Mar 232010
 

Last month I wrote, I didn’t know how to perform oral sex properly until one of my exes — a bisexual man with many many years of delicious dick slurping experience — showed me how. Several of you emailed me (and a few friends directly asked) about that comment. Yes, I’ve dated bisexual men. A few. My first was a boyfriend from university days. He asked me out. I told him I thought he was gay. He responded, “Everyone thinks that.” So, of course, I asked, “Are you?” He said no. When I asked, “But, how many men have slept with?” His response was “four.” That’s when I learned people typically only answer the questions you ask them. If you ask a man, “Are you gay?” or “Are you on the down low?” the answer might be “no” if he doesn’t want to believe he is. So, now, I ask dudes, “If you could harmlessly fantasize about having sex with a man, what would that look like?” The answers are often very very juicy. It’s a conversation starter that leads to more intimate discussions about what same-sex experiences they’ve already had and/or which one’s they’re open to experiencing.

bisexuals: they do exist!

I don’t solely believe in strictly gay, straight and bisexual men. By that, I mean I don’t think guys are all 100% exclusively attracted to other guys OR 100% exclusively attracted to women OR exactly 50% into dudes / 50% into the ladies. Another one of my exes — though he’d never slept with a man (at that time) — said he wouldn’t feel his life was complete if he left the earth without being anally penetrated by another dude. To be clear, each of my bisexual guys probably wouldn’t have told me ANY of this stuff if: (1) I hadn’t asked them and (2) I didn’t communicate I would not — under absolutely any circumstance — judge them based on what they told me. So, when other women tell me they’ve never dated a bisexual guy, I usually respond, “At least not to your knowledge.”

At home, I have an original, green cloth copy of Kinsey, Pomeroy & Martin‘s 1948 edition of “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male.” (Amazing what retiring sociology professors give away to their students.) The book is actually a really good read. You can buy a copy on Amazon or read it online at Google Books. In writing about his Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale, Kinsey said, “Males do not represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual [...] The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats [...] The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects.” When Kinsey asked men about their sexual orientation, answers ranged from:

  • Exclusively heterosexual with no homosexual
  • Predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual
  • Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual
  • Equally heterosexual and homosexual
  • Predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual
  • Predominantly homosexual, only incidentally heterosexual
  • Exclusively homosexual

Fifty-two years after that study, it’s really hard for some men to admit they’re bisexual. For the most part, straight women (and many gay men) assume bi guys are really GAY … but they just haven’t, you know, totally come out of the closet yet. In fact, the first bisexual/ bi curious dude I dated mentioned this bias. Years after we broke up, he said he’d gone back to dating men exclusively because it was easier; no one challenged his sexual identity when he neatly fit within the gay box. He actually told me, “After you, Twanna, I never dated another woman again.” Wasn’t quite sure how to interpret that — i.e. either I was so much woman that he didn’t need to experience others anymore or I was so neurotic that he decided to give up vaginas for good. I’m okay with either :) Anyway. Pity he’s not into boobs anymore. Saw his pictures on Facebook and he’s fucking HOT now. Six pack abs. Sexy smile. Looks even better than he did when he only dated women.

If you’re a straight woman and you’ve had experience — either positive or negative — with discovering your lover (married or single) was bisexual, please use the comment section below to tell us about it. If you’re a gay, straight or bi dude, I’d love to hear your thoughts as well. As a guy, do you think it’s still much easy for women to be bisexual than men? And, if so, why is that STILL the case in 2010? Feel free to share your dudely or womanly thoughts on bisexuality.

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Image by Caitlin Childs

Mar 222010
 

Roger EbertI’ve loved film since I was a little girl in Illinois. From the cornfields, cinema took me to different languages, cultures and places. It showed my childhood eyes the world was much bigger than the Midwestern prairie. (For example, my first memory of hearing Italian spoken was during the Godfather movies.) As an adult, I’ve attended festivals in Toronto, Rotterdam, Chicago and elsewhere. I’ve also volunteered & worked at Tribeca Film Festival (three times), IFP Chicago and Amsterdam’s Amnesty International Film Festival. On Netflix, I’ve rated 1,321 films. In Illinois many years ago, you can imagine I was ecstatic to land a job curating — among other things — a Film Studies program. My inherited portfolio of instructors included Chicago Tribune’s Michael Wilmington, Chicago Reader’s Jonathan Rosenbaum, indieWIRE’s Chicago-based Anthony Kaufman and Chicago Sun Times’ film critic Roger Ebert.

Ebert was the only one I never met in person because the years of my gig occurred during his now widely-publicized health stuff. I have a story, but I don’t typically blog about full-time work that doesn’t pertain to my freelance writing. So, skipping the details, I’ll simply say I remember a particular incident in which Ebert gave a much lesser-known film dude from Facets Multimedia an awesome gig. I’m impressed by those who actively seek out mentees, helping them groom their careers.

Fellow native Illinoisan Roger Ebert is today’s Manly Monday pick! If you’ve not been to Funky Brown Chick before, you may not know the week starts off with celebrations of all things manly — usually someone specific and/or a question about a testosteronely idea. Hurray for Manly Monday! Also, because I like learning more about my readers, I often close each post with a question. Over the five years of running Funky Brown Chick, I’ve asked if you’re gay or straight, married or single, whether you prefer hairy or waxed chests, how you found this site and tons of other stuff. Since today’s Manly Monday pick is a film critic, it seems fitting to ask you (yes, YOU, reading these words): “What’s your favorite movie and why?” Here, I’ll start by telling you my pick first: I don’t have “one” favorite movie, but I have several by genre. Australian film: Muriel’s Wedding because it’s fucking hilarious. Documentaries: the Up series because it has been pretty amazing to watch the children grow over the years. Romantic comedies: too many to list, but I really like Harold and Maude, 500 Days of Summer, 2 Days in Paris, Before Sunrise, Drôle de Félix, L’auberge Espagnole and other wacky, non-saccharine romance dramedies. To me, they’ll always be more interesting than whatever latest Hollywood blockbuster featuring a big-name, no-talent actor. So, now it’s your turn. Please use the comments section to tell me about one (or more) of your favorite movies.

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Illustration by Mike Pfunn

Mar 212010
 

I took a week off the site. Lately, I’ve felt a bit stressed due to travel & random stuff going on. Between working, writing, editing, etc., etc., I got a little swamped, and I felt like I was drowning. I’m bad about taking time out for myself. I usually just go-go-go until I hit proverbial wall. At that point, I retreat a bit to relax and regroup. Over the weekend, I had a great time hanging out with a couple girlfriends. Sunday afternoon, I spent hours kicking back while feeling sun on my face and inhaling fresh air at Central Park. Real low key. It felt good.

NYC - Central Park: Sheep Meadow

So, I’m back now. As I mentioned in my previous post, I was in Austin for South by Southwest (SXSW). I learned a lot, and I think the presentation went well. I co-lead it with Patrick O’Keefe; Darren Rowse and Brandon Eley were special guests. The session was taped, and video may be available later. Other updates? Hours after I returned to New York, I took the stage at Madame X to perform at Abiola Abrams’ Kiss & Tell live. I think there’s a video of that, too. When/if I get my hands either clips, I’ll let you guys know.

If you’re in New York, hope you’re loving the FANTASTIC weather! Expect your regular, Monday – Friday dosage of Funky Brown Chick posts this week. Okay, so, now I’m gonna savor the final drops of this weekend. See you tomorrow, my sweeties!

Mar 102010
 

The caramel-skinned black woman had thick, neatly-styled dark hair that stretched to her shoulders. She was pretty. Yesterday afternoon, I saw her in Midtown Manhattan at the Barnes & Noble on 54th Street and Third Avenue. Hunched over a small cafe table with a medium-sized cardboard cup of peppermint tea, lined note pad and books spread in front of me, I was working.

“Are you Twanna?” she asked.

Embarrassed I couldn’t place her face, I froze. Did she work in media? Had I met her at a New York industry-event? Looking at her sceptically, I hesitated a soft, “Yes.”

“Oh, okay, I thought I recognized you.” She began slowly backing away, and I got the impression she didn’t want to intrude. She quickly added, “I read your blog … Just wanted to say I love it.”

Smiling, my face’s wattage shown brightly. I love it when I meet Funky Brown Chick readers. As I told the pretty brown girl, I don’t aggressively shove my site in anyone’s face. I create content. If you find my writing and you like what you read, that makes me happy. Ever the chatty Midwesterner, I told her I was in Barnes & Noble because one of my writing mentors told me I should check out other memoirists’ books. (“Read what you write.”) I also told the woman I hadn’t updated my site in over a week because I’d been busy writing my book.

“I grossly underestimated how much time editing takes. I have 302 pages written. So, technically, it’s done. But, I’m re-working it to get it in better shape.”

The pretty lady and I continued talking for a few minutes. She told me she found my blog because one of her exes, a short white dude, told her she should read it. I thought that was cute and sweet.

“You know,” I confessed, “I’m weird because, now, I totally feel guilty about not updating my site. I think I’m gonna write about you. Seriously, I’m really grateful for my readers and I feel bad I’ve neglected the site for this long.” I thanked her again and said something about keeping in touch.

Before exiting the bookstore’s cafe, she mentioned, “I’ll email you.”

I reached to fetch a business card out of my purse. “You know how to contact me?”

Smiling, she paused to let the obvious sink in.

“Oh,” I fumbled words, “yeah, I guess that makes sense. Of course you know where to find me.”

She laughed.

* * *

Apologies for the post-free days. I’m a one-woman show, balancing a very full plate. I’ve been buried in editing hell for the past week or so and, in two days, I’m jetting out of New York to speak at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, TX. So, just a quick update to say THANK YOU, as always, to everyone who reads my site. I’ll be back to posting more regularly very very soon.

Mar 012010
 

Um, excuse me? That’s “Miss Skank” to you, my dear!  ;) Of course I’m grateful for all my readers; So, thank you for dropping by. That said, I’ll remind you the only FUNKY BROWN CHICK® “comment policy” is: Be Kind. Disagree with what you see here if you like but, for fuckssake, please be nice to your fellow comment-leavers and be civil to the person — c’est moi, Twanna — who writes the site. If you can’t do that, go play elsewhere.

And, since we’re on the topic of comments, let’s talk about yours. I wrote: I UNKNOWINGLY slept with a married man once. He told me he was single; I thought that was shitty. I also wrote: I’ve never knowingly slept with a married man, even though I’ve been approached and tempted by many. So, yesterday at 8:14 a.m., you read and responded to those words with these thoughts:

“Hypocrite! [...] Men who fuck around on their wives are lying both to their wives and to God. They are running around sinning while only pretending to honour their SACRED vows before God to remain exclusively with their spouse.”

Eww, I don’t like self-righteous finger wagging :( Plus, for what it’s worth, I never said I thought it was cool for men to lie to their wives. Sleeping with someone to whom you aren’t married doesn’t always equal cheating/lying. For example, have you heard of open relationships? In life, each coupling is as uniquely individual as the person(s) who enter(s) it. Some men don’t have affairs, some do. Some men lie about their cheating, some men are more upfront. Back to you.

“I don’t see how lying to you, a person who acts like a skank [...]“

Ahem, sorry to interrupt again, but, as I mentioned, it’s MISS Skank ;) Carry on.

“I don’t see how lying to you, a person who acts like a skank, should be seen as being a worse offense than lying to his wife, the mother of his children, and the keeper of his heart and home. Pray tell, don’t you think you’re going to be lied to if that’s your attitude?”

Regarding “lying” men and me being a “skank,” please see my previous comments. [Points up to earlier paragraphs.]

“You reap what you sew, young lady. You are your own worst enemy”

Oh, sweetie, what’s wrong? Why so much hatred in that little, red, faithful heart built for spreading love? Scratch that question. Here’s a better one: What the hell happened in your life that compelled you to spew such venomous thoughts about my fucking sewing skills?!?!?

Be well. Now, if you’ll excuse me, a bit of skanking awaits me.

Yours,

Twanna / FUNKY BROWN CHICK®