Clay Cane

TV/Radio Personality
BET.com Entertainment Editor

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MTV’s Biggest Music Moments of 2013

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Check me out on MTV Europe, MTV Asia and their various other international channels for MTV’s Biggest Music Moments of 2013.  The special airs everywhere except the U.S. of A. — I feel like Josephine Baker!  

Along with other hilarious commentators, we talk Rihanna, Beyonce, P!nk, Justin Beiber, Miley Cyrus and more.  Check your local listings.  

Final Broadcast of ‘Clay Cane Live’ Tonight

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WWRL — the longest running black radio station in the New York City area — is changing to a Spanish-speaking format on January 1st.  Therefore, all of the current programming on WWRL 1600 AM will be no more, including Clay Cane Live.  

We’ve had over two years of Clay Cane Live and tonight marks 97 original episodes.  It’s been an incredible run.  We originally started with one-hour at 11pm EST on Thursdays.  Due to strong ratings, we were upgraded to 8pm - 10pm EST on Tuesdays.  So many great guests joined us over the past two years: Brandy, Clay Aiken, Jennifer Holliday, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Tichina Arnold, Aubrey O’Day, Norm Lewis, Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, Keith Boykin, Kandi Burruss, Mike Ruiz and others.  

Along with Mark Corece and J’Nara Corbin (all of the other amazing co-hosts we’ve had, including Damion West), I am happy to say Clay Cane Live via Equality Pride Radio is part of WWRL and radio history with our diverse format, which reached out to the LGBT community but transcended all labels. 

For 86 years, WWRL has been the voice of black radio.  It’s unfortunate WWRL as we know it will be no more, but everything changes.  Most importantly, thank you to all of our loyal listeners.  Please tune-in to our final show at 8pm EST tonight!

You can listen on the radio in New Jersey, New York or Connecticut or online at: http://tunein.com/radio/WWRL-1600-s23848/  

'Clay Cane Live' Episode 96: Talk on Nelson Mandela, Kanye West and More

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If you missed last night’s Clay Cane Live, digital journalist Tony Anderson joined us in the studio.  We talked the late-great Nelson Mandela, Kanye West, dating and much more.   As always, Clay Cane Live airs every Tuesday from 8pm - 10pm on WWRL 1600 AM.  Spread the word!

Click on the button below to listen to this week’s show!

'Clay Cane Live' Episode 96: December 10, 2013 2013-12-10

'Clay Cane Live': Episode 95 with Gordon Chambers

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If you missed last night’s Clay Cane Live, Grammy winner Gordon Chambers was our guest.  Gordon — who wrote songs for Anita Baker, Beyonce, Whitney Houston and many more — will be performing at the Apollo Theater this Saturday, click here for details.  In our interview, Gordon tells stories about Whitney, Phyllis Hyman and his thoughts on the effects of fame.  

In addition, Winston Ruddle, the director of Mother Africa, was our guest.  Plus, we talked Kanye West, World AIDS Day, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade drag queen controversy and politics.  Click on the button below to listen!

'Clay Cane Live' Episode 95: December 3, 2013

From the Archives: He’s Got HIV

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This was originally published in March of 2007.  In honor of World AIDS Day, I pulled it from the archives.

I already knew he was positive but I hadn’t seen him in years.  He walked out of the car to hug me and his body was half the person he used to be. It disturbed me.  We drove to the hotel and I tried to act like things were like they used to be, but those things were just our past. When he turned the steering wheel I noticed the sharp bones in his elbow, nearly cutting through his skin. His collar bone appeared to be ripping out of his neck; his shirt was on more skeleton than muscle. I wasn’t in shocked he had HIV, but more disturbed looked so ill.  As the cliché goes, “HIV is no longer a death sentence.” But I kept quiet. He always hated when I brought things up when he wasn’t ready to talk.

He babbled.  Cracking jokes and laughing harder than usual. When we arrived at the hotel he immediately began to roll a blunt and said, “Well, you know I got HIV.” I looked at him nearly angry — it was as if he said, “Well, you know Keisha around the corner is pregnant!” Not that I wanted him to fall to the floor and scream, but it was obvious his diagnosis wasn’t serious to him.

He sarcastically added, “Now don’t go crying now — I got some Xanax if your ass needs to calm down!” I knew we really didn’t know each other anymore because I wouldn’t, and haven’t, cried when someone told me they were HIV-positive. I had been in New York City for years and once again, HIV isn’t a death sentence. 

I asked how he was feeling and he answered, “Oh, I’m great! I feel good — I’m only on two medications. So, yeah I’m good.” As he proceed to finish rolling his blunt, he explained he found out about a year ago. I asked him why he lost so much weight. “I lost weight way before I was positive then when I got HIV it was hard to gain the weight back… plus, I snort coke.” He sprinkles in he’s also working in porn to “make a little change.”

I’m trying not to judge. I know how stubborn he is and when he feels like someone is judging him he might never speak to you again. He continues more uncomfortable jokes, saying, “Yeah, the stat is true if four people are in one room, one of them is sick — that’s me!” Big laughs.  “Yeah, you know I left you something in my will — but don’t get too excited, it wasn’t no money!” Big laughs. “Yeah, I’ll be working on this porn, but I won’t be co-starring in it this time!” Big laughs. All of these laughs were by himself, similar to the “fat girl” in the room who constantly mocks herself because she doesn’t like who she is.

I was getting angry. I wanted to storm out. His mask was plastic and deadly.  He wanted me to fall for his toxic act of illusions.  He was a former HIV/AIDS educator! He was one of my best friends, he was my roots, he knew I was gay before I knew.  He taught me what it meant to be bold and unapologetic, he taught me how to survive with my tongue.  He helped me to affirm myself when no one else would.  I wasn’t going to listen to him lie to himself, I thought.

But I was afraid if I walked out I might never see him again. I didn’t want our potential last conversation to be me storming out. So I said what was in my heart, “Stop the bullshit.  I’m not one of your dates.  You can’t tell me everything you just told me and say you’re okay! Don’t lie to me and expect me to believe it — you taught me better than that.”

For just a moment,  he took the mask off, put the guard down and admitted he had a problem — but that he was the problem, no one else.  He admitted the reason why he was positive was the drugs. He admitted to letting his “ex” penetrate him raw, even though he knew his ex — who was now dead — was positive.  My dear friend said, “Maybe if I would’ve loved myself I wouldn’t be HIV-positive.” That was all I needed and all I was going to get. I thanked him for opening up to me just a little bit. It may not have been the real thing, but it was good enough.

When I hugged him goodbye I grabbed onto him like he was my son. I kissed him on the cheek wondering if this would be the last time I would see him. I knew he could change things right now if he wanted to. He could turn it all around. However, he was half a person. It wasn’t that he had HIV, it was that he was abusing himself. Cocaine, alcohol, weed and HIV meds don’t mix. Before I left I gave him a second hug.  I wondered if he thought I was being dramatic.

My generation had a different experience with HIV. We received all of the education, facts and history. When I came out one of the first things I learned was how to use a condom. Still a teenager, an HIV educator said, “There is no reason for any of you to be HIV-positive through unsafe sex because now you all know how to protect yourselves.  My generation didn’t know.” I believed him and everybody in that room seemed to believe him.  The teachers in our community taught us our lives are valuable enough to protect.

When I left the hotel I listened to “One Headlight” by The Wallflowers and didn’t shed any tears. I rode the train and played “Home” by Stephanie Mills and my eyes didn’t well up. However, when I finally arrived home with no music, no scenery and nothing to cloud my thoughts, I sat on my bed, thought of the whole day and cried till it hurt.

Check out my interview with Jeffrey Wright — he talks making Jennifer Lawrence cry, playing a gay character and more.  

Red Carpet Premiere of ‘Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley’

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Check me out below interviewing Whoopi Goldberg, Kathy Griffin and Andre Leon Talley at the red carpet premiere of Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley, which was held at the Apollo Theater.  Whoopi was as cool and kind as you would think she would be — and I got the opportunity to bow down to the legend.  Also, check out my Q&A with Whoopi - she talks Moms Mabley, criticism from the black community and more.

sonofbaldwin:

dynamicafrica:

A set of stills from Janet Jackson’s Got ‘Til it’s Gone music video and the original images that inspired these particular scenes.

Original comparisons done by Cinememory.

My all-time favorite video.

'Clay Cane Live' Episode 92: Wade Davis, Election Night and Two-Year Anniversary!

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If you missed Tuesday night’s Clay Cane Live on WWRL 1600AM via Equality Pride Radio, click on the red button below.  

Former NFL player Wade Davis was our guest.  Plus, talk on the 2013 election with Maggie Haberman and Edward-Isaac Dovere from Politico.com.  Also, episode 92 marked our two-year anniversary!  Thank you to all of our supporters!  

Clay Cane Live airs every Tuesday from 8pm - 10pm on WWRL 1600 AM via Equality Pride Radio.

'Clay Cane Live' Episode 92: November 5, 2013 2013-11-04

Ten Tips For Aspiring Writers

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I sometimes receive emails from aspiring writers asking how they can become a journalist in politics or entertainment. While I am not Michael Musto or Marc Lamont Hill, I have written for reputable outlets and I’ve interviewed some amazing people—some celebrities, some not. This is not etched in stone, but here are my humble tips.

1. No Money
Don’t expect to get paid. There are so many people who want to be writers. Therefore, magazines and web sites do not have to pay them. Only those who have a nice stack of credentials or a history with a publication will get a check. There is absolutely no money in writing in the first six months to a year. Just like singers perform at clubs for free or actors act for free, until you get a nice resume, you will have to write for free.

2. Go to School
If being a writer is something you truly want to do, it’s paramount that you attend college. Sure, there are the stories of high school dropouts becoming writers, but not as many in 2013. If you want to be a serious writer, school is a necessity—nothing can replace the demands of writing tons of papers monthly and reading several books a week for four years straight.

3. Editors Can Help You, Not Other Writers
Sure, other writers can give you tips, but it’s the editors you need to know. I get emails all the time asking me how they can write for The Advocate, but I’m the writer, not the editor. The best questions to ask is, “Do you have a contact for the editor at… ?”

4. Do You Want to be a Writer or be Famous?
Writing will not get you fame. Yes, there are the small percentages, but 95% of writers do not become a headline on TMZ. If you think writing is your avenue to becoming Oprah, it’s not. No one cares about writers except for others writers. No one reads interviews and remembers the writer’s name. You are the vessel. If you want to be famous, a personality, a gossip columnist, that is different.  That said, notoriety might come with work ethnic or the content you create, but that can’t be your intention.  You have to write because you love it.  

5. Don’t Comprise Your Beliefs
I’ve never written a review I didn’t believe in. I may have changed my mind, but at the time those were my true thoughts. In the cases where I have been told to say something was good when it was bad or say something is bad when it was good (yep, that happens too!)—I have politely declined to do the story. Sure, you might tone things down, but don’t comprise or people won’t believe or trust you. Thankfully, when you do more objective writing your opinion doesn’t matter.

6. Don’t Take Advice From People Who Aren’t Writers
Sure, words like, “Go with your heart,” from your mama is fine. But when random people “advise” you how to do a story, how to ask a question, what you are doing right and what you need to do right—and they have never been published, don’t get paid to critique others and think they are an expert because they can form a full sentence—ignore them! Call up fellow writers and ask them. Unless they have a Master’s degree in English Literature, they are to be ignored.

7. Be Professional
No mater the publication, be professional. Meet your deadlines — Michael Musto once told me, “Half of it is meeting your deadlines and turning in properly edited work.”  Don’t curse, dress appropriately and don’t get comfortable.  Address people by Mr. and Ms. unless they tell you differently (Alfre Woodard once thanked me for addressing her as Ms. because the other journalists casually called her by her first name).  Be aware of your social media!  The days of “professional” and “personal” social media pages are extinct.  Also, for those who say, “I don’t do interviews, we just have conversations!” No — unless you’re Dick Cavett or Howard Stern and you have an hour sit-down. Celebrities don’t care what you think unless they ask. They’re on their twentieth interview of the day, they want to go home, they are exhausted and you are normally only given five to ten minutes to make magic happen — what they really appreciate is an original question.  There is an art to interviewing. Acting like you are sisters since the river was young can sometimes be about your ego because you’re making the interview about you and not them. 

8. Take a Risk
Ask the edgy questions, the questions you would want to know — always with respect.  If you’re a gossip columnist, your angle might be different but if you want to be a respected interviewer, be creative and fresh with your questions, which requires research and brainstorming.  You can ask the edgiest of questions but if you frame it respectful enough, the person might open up.  Nonetheless, know your boundaries.  

9. Study the Greats
Larry King
(king of quick, clean, three-second questions), Dick Cavett (one of few who conducted the “conversational” interview), Oprah Winfrey (queen of the emotional interview), Diane Sawyer (hardball, fearless questions), Wendy Williams (not just the hot topics lady, she’ll pull out the truth like the lasso of truth is in her hands),  Ed Bradley (stone-cold journalist style, no one did it better), Howard Stern (the king of all media for a reason — raw, knowledgable and trusted) and Barbara Walters (the master of interviewing in any format or any person). 

10.  Take All Advice with a Grain of Kosher Salt — Including Mine!
There is no formula.  There is no perfect way to do things, go with your gut and you’ll still make mistakes.  Writing, journalism or creating any type of creative content is all about growing and endless editing.  The great thing about being a writer — you can always revise.  

Good luck to all of the up and coming writers!

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