Not many of you know this, but I used to be black. It’s true! It was only for a hot second, in late 1987, early 1988, but I was DEFINITELY African-American. Yes, yes – I worked the door of a funky house/hip-hip club called The World, and I had the Gumby hairdo, the fly pimp fur coat, the ropes of gold chains, the big, gold Africa medallion- (AFRIKA spelled in diamonds, of course), the bamboo earrings and even a gold tooth. Oh, I was completely dope, darling. I said things like “Yo, step off, G.” and “I’ll house you” just in the course of natural conversation! It’s true! Why, in 1988, you couldn’t get more “urban” than James St. James.
As the years pass by, though, I find that I’m not quite as “down” as I used to be. Hard to believe, I know. And as my next birthday quickly approaches (cough – Miu Miu mirror tie – cough) I sometimes have to question the trends that I see. It’s part of getting old. I don’t want to, but sometimes I roll my eyes at the ridiculous looks “the kids” are coming up with these days. Other times, I have to do a complete Danny Thomas spit-take, and ask if I just saw what I thought I just saw.
Such was the case this weekend. I was watching MTV HITS, hoping for that totally slammin’ Gorillaz video (the lead singer is SOOO CUTE!!!), but suffering through hour after hour of Backstreet Boys (“IN…COM…PLETE!”) and Akon (“LoneLY! I am so loneLY!”). I was slipping into torpor, yes absolute torpor, darling when I was suddenly jolted awake by the Fat Joe/Nelly video.
OK, HERE’S THE SPIT-TAKE – I swear I wasn’t in a k-hole, but – WERE THEY WEARING PEARLS? Were all the guys wearing pearl necklaces with their “bling”? Is this a new “thing”? Because if it is, I am WILDLY EXCITED by the prospect. I have been wanting to sport my pearls for ages, but it just never felt appropriate.
There was a time – right before I was black – when I was an 18th-century French fop. It was at the ass-end of the Androgeny movement, just as AMADEUS hit, remember? And we all wore brocade frock coats and satin breeches and tri-cornered hats, and powdered our faces and powdered our hair and drew moles shaped like ships on our faces… AND OF COURSE PEARLS! We draped ourselves with buckets and buckets of pearls!! Real, fake, black, white, choker, opera-length – It was GLORIOUS!! Really, it was the happiest time of my life.
And so to be able to revisit that…. to be able to pull out my pearls again…. and wear them in a 2006 kind of way… well, I would be OVER THE MOON! Please, tell me the hip-hop kids are wearing pearls. Please let it be so.
(PS: THERE WILL BE NO PICTURES OF ME AS A YOUNG URBAN YOUTH. I’M TERRIBLY SORRY, BUT IT’S JUST TOO EMBARRASSING.)