Thursday, July 28, 2011

Backstage Banter: Interview with House of Ra'oof and Debonaire Models stylist, Jamal

iSocialite was backstage this weekend at the Charlie Mack Party for Peacefashion show, hosted by Lisa Raye and showcasing the artistic opinions of several local designers. Although these events are for a great cause and many supporters created an engaging atmosphere, the entire weekend was in complete disarray and left us many questions about how the PR & event mangers handled it all. Hopefully next year will be better. Through our own efforts, we got a chance to chat with a stylist for Debonaire Models by the name of Jamal. He gave us some details about their upcoming August Launch and as everything gets finalized iSocialite will keep you updated! Jamal described his style as 'classic sheek' and this was clear in not only the order of his model's clothing, but in his as well. A little camera shy, he didn't want to take a picture but I wish you guys would have been there, he was very dapper! I'd let him dress me any day! Along with him was Dez, of Dezign Your Identity, who was responsible for the dazzling eyewear in the show! I need a pair of those glasses, they were to die for!

Next we caught up with Taji Nahl, the creator of 'House of Ra'oof', and asked him a few questions! I almost forgot I was interviewing him, the conversation seemed to just flow. He spoke to us about his background as an antique dealer and how he uses that as an inspiration. His creativity is so visible in the abstract construction of his pieces and his vivid imagination pulls you into his show scenes. He stated that his greatest influence is Bauhaus in Africa. From my research the Bauhaus style is described as "...a craft guild combining architecture, sculpture, and painting into a single creative expression." I tugged on my memory and I could see all of that intertwined in the House of Ra'oof designs. Taji described himself as a renaissance man, stating, "I may do 8 different things but I do them all well." He stressed the importance of collaborations and showing respect to both up and coming and established artists. I'm a huge fan of teamwork and collaborations can be monumental, especially when the right talents are involved. All in all I enjoyed his scenes in the show as well as our conversation. I was surprised to learn his true age and it was also inspiring to hear him speak about how he went after his dreams. Great conversation with an even greater artist. Can't wait until the next show!

---Nola Darling

(shared space with Studio Christensen at 333 S. 20th Street)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Event Recap: Charlie Mack's Talented Teens Competition

This weekend marks the 8th Annual Charlie Mack Party for Peace Celebrity Weekend! If you don't know who Charlie Mack is or you're unfamiliar with this weekend maybe you haven't looked close enough because its quite difficult to miss this 6'7" 280lb guy. A Philadelphia native and former self proclaimed "hustler", Mack started his party for peace events in 1990 as simply a basketball game. His childhood antics combined with the loss of his two brothers compelled him to assist in making a change to his hometown. He believed that celebrities had an effect on the youth so he invited his friends along to engage in this fun filled game. Mack has now transformed a simple game into a highly anticipated annual event promoting non violence and the importance of education. There was no basketball game this year, however, iSocialite was on hand at the first 'Talented Teens Competition' where five lucky teens were awarded with scholarship money.

It wouldn't be a 'celebrity weekend' without celebrities and without a doubt many came out in support. Terrance J of BET's 106 &Park was the special celebrity host. Judges included Tocarra, North Philadelphia's own Kaleena (Dirty Money), Rodney 'Dark Child' Jerkins, and Amber Noble.

The competition began in prayer and kicked off with a couple warm up performances from non-finalists. These performances include a young rapper by the name of 'ZDub' who performed his own remix to Will Smith's 'Parents Just Don't Understand' as Smith sat in the audience. Another great performance came from The Gampions, a band of 11 year olds from Girard Academy Music Program (GAMP) who performed James Brown 'I Feel Nice' complete with a well dressed dancer/singer who embodied the late great. Another great performance came from honor roll student Young Papa, who stepped on stage and stole the show. His stage presence was phenomenal and he received accolades from Terrance J, Will Smith, and the entire crowd.

The winners of the competition were, in Fifth place, Laurie Miller, who fused hip hop and modern dance and performed to a medley of popular hip hop songs. In fourth place was young model Sashay, who won the judges over when she strut her stuff to Beyonce. In third place was R&B singer, Sam Hey, who serenaded the judges and displayed great stage presence. In second place was a singer we all thought would take the competition. Dominique Branch's rendition of Beyonce's '1+1' left many speechless and Kenny Gamble commended her for staying on key with what he believed to be a difficult song. And in first place was co-ed group Philly Dance Movement who destroyed the stage with high energy to match their flashy outfits. That high energy was still on display when they were announced the winners &ran through the crowd to jump on stage.

Will Smith and Charlie Mack delegated over how much to increase each scholarship by and in the end nearly $15,000 worth of scholarship money was awarded. What a better incentive to convince children to advance their education!

A Special Guest performance came from Lil Mama and the Iconic Boys who earned their fame from America's Best Dance Crew. After performing Lil Mama took the mic &thanked Charlie Mack for inviting her to the first talented teens competition. This year's show was a huge success and I, just like Lil Mama, am excited to see what will happen next year!

---Nola Darling

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hold The Phone: Fiction or Fine?

Woke up this morning and of course the first thing I did was...yes, you guessed it: check my twitter timeline. Well, on my way to the bathroom of course. When my mom wakes up the first thing she does is turn on the news but, I'm 21, Twitter IS my CNN. Needless to say, I was appalled with what I read: Philly To Fine Pedestrians for Walking and Texting. Now ya'll know Twitter kills people (RIP Hugh Hefner?) and if you're from Philly (which I am) the 'slander' is at an all time high. So with fake deaths and no country for nothin' I can't take too many tweets seriously. So of course I did my own research.

Apparently unbeknownst to me, a resident of Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly love (ha!) launched a new program in May entitled, "Give Respect, Get Respect" which is aimed towards eliminating bad behavior on and off the road. I'd vaguely heard about this 'campaign' in the past, it also cracks down on bicyclists who ride on sidewalks. But of course, as ignorant as it may be to admit, 'if It don't apply, I let it fly'. I was far from concerned with a bicyclist fine, I don't even own a bicycle! BUT I do own a leg, two actually! And a cell phone! (#TeamBlackberry) And I've acquired a fine set of skills known as texting and walking. I can put this on a cover letter, I have actually, its called 'multitasking'. For example, walking to the car from the club in four inch heels simultaneously texting a friend asking about an after party, all the while dodging traffic consisting of cars and people. If I were watching me I'd be impressed with myself. And thanks to the invention of the QWERTY keyboard many of us can text without looking. So now you fine Philadelphia Officials are going to punish me for adapting to my environment? I'm appalled.

Well, I'm disregarding the whole 'girl in the fountain' youtube fiasco. And the fact that although I myself have never walked into a pole, its only because I'm lucky. Cell phones are a distraction and God forbid I, the pedestrian, have the right of way but I'm distracted by my phone &dont notice the car, whose driver is also distracted by his phone, but doesn't have the right of way. Its a vicious cycle and as an avid walking texter I'm somewhat appreciative that policy makers know what a heavy burden this skill is on my attention span!

Ok seriously, I'm on the fence about this fine. So while innocent bystanders are getting shot everyday and support staff for the school district are getting laid off in the midst of economic recovery, you're going to expand enforcement and pose a plea for more grant money in an effort to catch me walking and texting, harming noone but possibly myself? Well that's where the 'on the fence' comes in because as I stated before, talking and texting can be very dangerous. Then again so can riding a motorcycle without a helmet *coughs*.
According to Mayor Nutter's Twitter account, about 2000 pedestrians are hit by cars each year and motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians need to share the road, however, "it is NOT illegal to text and walk in Philly, u will NOT be fined, you will NOT be ticketed" and such reports stating so are "misleading." So has Twitter started up a false frenzy again? Well for those of us that can read between the lines its evident that while the grant money may not be available there HAS been talk of imposing pedestrian fines. Will u be fined today or tomorrow? No, but eventually there will be a yay or nay to said proposal. Needless to say I won't be texting and walking anytime soon. I don't have $120 to spare and some habits are hard to break. Any thoughts, comments? Please share!

By: Nola Darling

Bold, Brown, & Beautiful

"She's cute for a dark skinned girl."  "Stop acting light skinned." We've heard all these phrases. ...