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Edwing D’Angelo

CONTENTS winter 2010 06 seven Practices to access your extraordinary life

Modify your behavior and step into your “Extraordinary Life.” This amazing journey will capture and ignite your vitality, energy, creativity, and self discovery.

08 skincare 101

Your skin is your body’s largest organ yet most of us do not know how to properly care of it.

11 the right trainer for me

The advantages of working with a certified personal trainer

14 cover story: jason steed

Inside look at the extraordinary life of actor Jason Steed


In celebration of Nation Soup Month, Chef Andre shares a few tips on soups.

26 We can do (each other) better HIV For Dummies: Real talk about HIV Prevention

pictured: Jeans by Antik Denim, Polo by Coast, Sneakers by Clae ON COVER - Tuxedo by Blanc De Chine, dress shirt by Perry Ellis, vest by Edwing D’Angelo, satin skinny tie by Loris Diran


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Editor-in-Chief Rameses Frederick Online Editor-in-Chief DeShawn Moody Fashion Director Curtis Davis

Lloyd S. Bailey As a professional Life Coach I provide ongoing partnership designed to help you produce fulfilling results in your personal and professional life. Your Best Life Can’t Wait! - “Work With A Life Coach - Transform Your Life”

Photographer Don Brodie

Chef Andre Design Ambassador/ Chef Andre partnered with Kathy Ireland Worldwide to bring culinary solutions to families. Together they developed the ACafe Brand. ACafe by Chef Andre is about food, family and fun! ….and fun means culture and entertainment.

GRAPHIC DESIGNER Lorenzo Turner Publisher Mediaoptixs

Tim’m T. West is a poet, Hip Hop artist, activist, and scholar who works with Young Black Gay/SGL men at St. Hope Foundation’s FUSION Center in Houston. Among other distinctions, he is known for being a founding member of both Deep Dickollective and Brave Soul Collective. Tim’m is also an Adjunct Professor in Philosophy at Houston Community College.

Contributors Lloyd Bailey Chef Andre Tim’m T. West Aaron Meyers

André Leon Talley Editor-at-large for American Vogue magazine has been a front-row regular at fashion shows in New York, Paris, London and Milan for more than 25 years. He uses his influence to promote young fashion designers, such as John Saldivar and mentor young talents in other fields as well. His most famous pairings have been with designers Tracy Reese, Rachel Roy, and singer/ actress Jennifer Hudson. He is known as a very close friend of pop diva Mariah Carey, Kimora Lee Simmons, fashion designer and tennis star Venus Williams. In 2007, Talley was ranked 45th in Out Magazine’s “50 Most Powerful Gay Men and Women in America”. Talley has an honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Savannah College of Art and Design, where he serves as a member on the Board of Trustees. Andre Leon Talley is this month’s Ambassador of Style.

Letter from the editor

UrbanSocialites is the celebration of our culture and those who illustrate our influence. US connects with industry experts and novices to give their voice and views on today’s subject matter. We expose the misrepresented and give them a stadium in which to have an audience to speak to. Our goal is to change the media stereotypes shown on television [that we are all walking around with high heel and giving reality drama]. US represents a diverse group of men and women, who are comfortable with their sexuality and many who are not. We

are Lawyers, Politicians, Physicians, Teachers, Social Workers, Engineers, Designers, and everything in between. Our contribution is more than just hair, makeup and fashion and the occasional reality tv star. We are a buying power over 1 billion strong, but yet we have to struggle to get representation by brands and services that are primarily not targeted to us. We may also be employed by these companies and give input, direction and creativity, yet representation is considerably low. We are such a diverse and creative mindset, yet we often miss “THE BIG PICTURE,” that without a team and/or partnership most ventures will not succeed. Thus, our generation has become very independent in all aspects of our lives and the sense of family and community is becoming distant. US is another way of uniting the masses and communicating what we are doing and how we are changing.

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Practices to Access Your Extraordinary Life

-Your Behavior Defines Your Life!

True prosperity begins with a vibration of inner peace, joy and contentment in our very core. In contrast, the mere accumulation of material items is no guarantee that you or I will experience this essence of completeness. I am extremely humbled by this reality, not in a theoretical sense but in my authentic experience. The year 2009 was not without its drama; we were witnesses to how fragile and unstable material acquisitions can be when we focus on accumulation for the sake of accumulation. This message came to us on a personal and global scale through a ruptured economy that spiraled downward and negatively impacted lives across the globe. Unemployment and job loss is at unprecedented rates and home foreclosures are at record numbers, not to mention the unpredictable weather system around the world and its impact. Al06

though these experiences touch our daily lives, they can also be a distraction from savoring the deliciousness of life and the true flavor that’s within the “Extraordinary Life.” We are emotional beings and often get affected by the conditions around us; we gravitate to the general tenor, mood, or conversation and make them our own. When we allow this, we get attached to outer circumstances and see them as more real than the truth that lives within us. This is so far from our true make up. In our dynamic truth, we are resilient, buoyant and feisty beings; we have within us the divine intelligence and universal sophistication that hold the brilliance of all creation. From this understanding we can redefine, redesign and recreate conditions of our world and in doing so, the world around us will respond. We are enter-

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ing a new era and 2009 is behind us. Now is an opportune time to change our conversation to match the abundant life. Instead of being under the influence of the past, let's choose to consciously create the future! Every crisis is also an opportunity. These are the lessons that we can use to build our "Extraordinary Life.” There are lessons coded in every experience, and if we take the time to be with the events of life in a mood of inquiry as opposed to attachment, we will get the direction we seek to access the extraordinary. While the “Extraordinary Life” is available to us all, it takes some effort on our part to fully embody the evidence of its glow. Sometimes the effort is as simple or complex as letting go. Here are seven practices that can help guide you on the path to tapping

into the rich experience of your “Extraordinary Life:” 1. Engage in a daily practice of being still. It is in the stillness where we hear that true voice within which holds the wisdom of the ages and is a portal to the unique gifts that we embody. 2. Live in a state of inquiry and discovery. The richness of life evolves for us when we live consistently in a state of inquiry. From that place of being curious about our own life and life in general, we ask ourselves those provocative questions that would have us answer our true calling (be it romantic, spiritual, professional and/ or financial.) The evolution of life is directly linked to the questions that we ask ourselves and the quality time we spend in discovering the answers. So, what would be possible if you surrendered to the higher calling of your life? What would you be creating that you are not now creating if you were willing to say yes to the Higher Power that dwells within? What current behaviors are you being nudged to surrender so that you may have your “Extraordinary Life?” 3. Be willing to surrender and let go, instead of forcing your way. The willingness to surrender to your calling is a critical first step toward inventing your “Extraordinary Life.” As you sit in the stillness and listen, you will be given answers to questions such as: Why am I here? What is my purpose? What am I pretending not to know about my life? What in my life is not working that I have been ignoring? Many of us are walking around knowing that all is not well. What is calling out for your attention? The “Extraordinary Life,” the fulfillment you seek, cannot be accessed unless you are willing to honestly confront yourself with provocative questions, listen for the answers you are given and then apply them to your life. 4. Identify and release behaviors that no longer serve the life you have declared for yourself. What old premises and assumptions are you living your life from that no longer fit for you today? What unexamined behavior drives your life that no longer serves you? As the process of life unfolds, are you taking the time to truly examine what’s working and what is not? What changes are you being called to make to have your life flow in deep support of your "Extraordinary Life”? 5. Choose to be the source, cause and generator of your life. When we pause long enough to understand what matters to us, we connect with life in ways that are meaningful. We become the author of our lives,

and move through the world more freely. We give ourselves permission to experience what we desire. So, what are you bringing to life each day? Are you happening to your life or is your life happening to you? Based on the results present in your life, are you truly getting what you want? Are you having the relationships, the career and financial freedom you desire? 6. Trust that you have the capacity to explore unknown territory and reap the bounty that lies therein. Exercising your freedom may seem uncomfortable at times as you venture outside the boundaries of what you have known and experienced up until now. What waits on the other side is amazing. It is where the books that haven’t been written exist, the songs that haven’t been sung wait to be discovered, where businesses lie that have yet to be born. It is where the relationships we long for await us, and so much more. 7. Forgive Yourself! Play! Have Fun! Laugh! Be Grateful! Suffering is indeed optional. Be joyful in your exploration and experimentation. Dwell not on perceived errors, but forgive yourself and renew your commitment to living the “Extraordinary Life.” Live a life of gratitude. There is a rich and expansive quality that comes from being grateful; if you desire positive increase in your life, consciously live a life of gratitude and witness how your life increase in abundant ways. Being willing to modify your behavior, your thinking and your attitude to step into your “Extraordinary Life” is an amazing journey that captures and ignites your vitality, energy, creativity, and self-discovery. As you move into 2010, be mindful that at the start of each defining moment is an opportunity to recreate your life no matter where you are, what your past experiences have been and what you have done. If you so choose, you can rewrite your life to have it serve the opulence of your divine nature. You were born in greatness; you came forth into this time/space reality to live a rich and dynamic life, one that is void of mediocrity. So here is your invitation to join me in creating a better life and a better world by accessing the extraordinary in your life. The radiance and beauty of life awaits you my beloved, now choose it. When you show up for life, life shows up for you! n Article by: Lloyd S. Bailey

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Skincare 101

Your skin is your body's largest organ yet most of us do not know how to properly care for our skin. The truth is no matter your age or skin type, the minute you start taking care of your skin by keeping it clean, nourished & pampered it will respond with gratitude and you will reap the benefits. Since African-American facial skin tends to contain more oil than other skin types, foaming or milk cleansers are best to remove dirt and oil while retaining moisture. For dryer skin, products containing soy proteins or natural moisturizers like Shea butter or aloe vera can provide the skin with more elasticity and even protect the face in colder weather. And, since AfricanAmerican skin tends to blemish easily, cocoa butter, and exfoliation products like glycolic or citrus acid will help to remove dead skin cells and keep bacteria off of the face. Men have thicker skin because they have higher levels of testosterone and as a result the skin tends to sag less and produces fewer wrinkles. The thicker skin is the more effective it’s barrier against adverse environmental impacts such as bacteria and other irritants. In addition, men's sebaceous glands produce slightly more oil, which acts as a natural moisturizer. The regular act of shaving exfoliates the skin removing the dead cells and reducing the onset of wrinkles. However, this process is very abrasive and can leave the skin rough and sometimes dry around the jaw and cheek area. Despite the advantages of men's skin, a daily natural skin care regiment can and will help to maintain youthful looking skin. Men's skin care regiments should be identical to that of women in that it should follow the same principles of cleansing, toning and moisturizing. However, there are a few other considerations we need to look at when using a natural skin care regiment. 1. Good nutrition: keep it simple, fresh and unprocessed. Simpler the food with less processing is better for you. Fresh fruit and vegetables contain many of the nutrients we need to maintain our health. 2. Maintain a balance. You may occasionally have processed foods that are somewhat high in fat when you’re


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enjoying a meal out or have to attend a luncheon or event, but make sure you follow up with more of the natural foods to help maintain that balance. 3. Variety in your diet is key. Don’t eat the “same old, same old.” Be adventurous, try a new veggie, one you haven’t tried before. You may actually like it. 4. Get adequate rest and relaxation. Don’t work yourself into an early grave; it’s not worth it. Make sure you are getting the sleep you need. A study in England showed that our IQ drops if we do not have 8 hours sleep per night. So why not invest some additional time into rest and relaxation to help you gain an increase your energy and concentration. You will find that you get more work done in less time if you’ve had sufficient rest. 5. Sufficient water intake is a biggie. Most people (irrespective of were they live) will drink approximately 3 liters of water per day. Our bodies need water to function. Without proper hydration, your body cannot function at full capacity, so it will pull hydration resources from where ever it can like your muscles. This can result in dehydration, dry lips, dry flaky skin, parched mouth, cracks in the tongue, premature wrinkles and the list goes on. So drink up or shrivel up, it’s up to you. 6. Fresh air and sunshine also helps. Ever take a deep breath of truly “fresh air?” Doesn’t it feel great? Take some time and just breathe. Oxygen is the stuff of life. n

Model: David Agbodji Photo by: Steven Klein

Model Yusuf, Photo John Labe



The Right Trainer 4 Me Working With a Certified Personal Trainer Has Many Advantages Information based on the American Council of Exercise

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ADVANTAGES Customized programming No cookie cutting here. A knowledgeable personal trainer will create a customized exercise program for you, designed to help you reach your unique health and fitness goals. A trainer will also take into account special considerations (e.g. existing medical condition, pregnancy, postrehabilitation, medications taken, etc) when creating a program exclusively for you. Correct technique When exercising, safety is the number one priority. A personal trainer will teach you the proper mechanics of each exercise to ensure that you are performing each with correct form, thus maximizing the efficiency of your workouts. Enhance motivation Who wouldn’t like a little extra motivation? Having a scheduled session with a trainer promotes accountability on your part and can assist in developing adherence in the long run to making exercise a regular part of your routine. In addition to the outside motivation, a personal trainer can also help you develop a more positive outlook on exercise by exploring options for making exercise more enjoyable, reviewing short-term progress towards goals and assessing feeling and mood-state changes related to exercise thereby improving self-confidence and self-motivation. Alleviate boredom Believe it or not, exercising can be fun! A personal trainer can help you select activities that you enjoy and also choose exercises that will keep you challenged and on track towards reaching your fitness goals. Personal trainers have a vast knowledge of various exercises, tools and tech12

niques that can make your workouts both fun and effective. What can I expect during my initial training session? During your initial meeting with a trainer he or she will begin the process of getting to know you, in terms of your health and fitness goals, exercise history as well as your likes and dislikes. It is this information along with your trainer’s expertise and experience that will assist them in developing a customized program for you. Depending on your fitness goals your trainer may administer a variety of assessments during the initial session or may reserve some assessments until the point in your program when it is more appropriate. The assessments that are ultimately selected are done so in line with your fitness goals and are used to establish a baseline for progress comparison further down the road. Assessments are also used to gauge your current level of fitness, which can assist the trainer in developing your customized program (in terms of selecting proper exercise intensity, appropriate weight for strength training exercises, etc) and meeting your health and fitness needs. Examples of assessments that may be conducted include body composition assessments, movement screens and postural assessments. How many times a week should I meet with a trainer? Just like the program itself, how many times you meet with a trainer is a very individualized decision that depends on a variety of factors including your fitness goals and your motivation level. Keep in mind that the ultimate goal of a quality personal trainer is to promote self-efficacy within the client, enabling them to take ownership

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of their exercise experience. It is for this reason that a good trainer will seek to truly educate clients about things such as proper form, appropriate intensity, ways to stay motivated and ways to progress as opposed to just simply putting clients through a workout without having them understand the rationale as to why certain exercises were selected and how the developed program relates to your health and fitness goals. How do I know which trainer is right for me? It is important to know that not all trainers are created equal. When in comes to selecting the right personal trainer for you, do some research and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Remember that it is your body and also your time and money. Choosing the right personal trainer ensures that you will receive the most from your training sessions and that you will enjoy the experience. Keep in mind that an investment in the right personal trainer is an investment in your health and your success. Working Experience and Area of Specialization Inquire about the years of experience a trainer has working with clients. More importantly, ask about the trainer’s expertise in working with individuals with your needs or limitations. If you have a medical condition or a past injury, your personal trainer should design a session that accounts for this. If you are under a doctor’s care, your personal trainer should ask for your consent to discuss exercise concerns with your doctor for a medical clearance. n

Cover Story

ason steed

living the life

Inside the Extraordinary Life of actor Jason Steed Photography Karen Detrick Fashion Director & Words Curtis Davis

tuxedo by Blanc De Chine Dress shirt by Perry Ellis Vest by Edwing D’Angelo Couture Satin skinny tie by Loris Diran

Born to Guyanese and Jamaican parents Jason Steed is an attractive man with broad shoulders, pronounced features and buttery smooth caramel skin. Standing at 5.10” and weighing 175lbs, when Jason walked into the dank little Starbucks on 181st and Fort Washington in Harlem everyone took notice. It’s about 3:06pm on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and Jason is wearing a thick black sweater that hugged his chest and arms and went well with his jeans and sneakers. He was carrying a blue velvet blazer that he’d been trying to get altered to wear to a family gathering in Connecticut on Thanksgiving. We decided to go across the street to a Spanish restaurant where the waitress sat us in the back booth near the kitchen so we could have some privacy, for the interview of course. Jason ordered Buffalo wings and a coke then he looked at the back of the menu for a drink list but unfortunately they didn’t serve alcoholic beverages. Damn… miscalculation on my part, the interview could have been a little more salacious with drinks. But nevertheless we got right into it.


“Come up with the most dangerous things you can ask me.” That was the first thing he said to me at the table. I wasn’t sure what he meant so I asked him, and in his British accent; which is truly genuine; he said “man just ask me anything, you know, like things that will make me dig deep, ask me dangerous things.” Oh Boy, how the mind reels. But in an attempt to hide my embarrassment and apparent mischievous thoughts I stuck to the script and asked him who was young Jason Steed? “Do you know the movie Catch me if you can”? [Directed by Spielberg in 2002, a true story about a con man named Frank Abagnale, who by age 19 had conned millions of dollars pretending to be a Pan Am pilot, a doctor and legal prosecutor.] Well, apparently that is how the 28-year old actor describes his growing up. “I was a mischievous little kid. I was always scheming and weaving. I couldn’t stop weaseling. Teachers would put me in the office and I’d be rummaging through the desk, stealing test answers. I was always in character back then. At age 18 I got into trouble with friends for shoplifting. People would always say… oh you don’t want to go to jail, but I actually did. I wanted to see what it was like, so I shoplifted until I got caught. I was remanded to prison for 1 week. After that I’d had enough. On the bus ride back to the see the judge I was praying to God, “If you get me out of this I will never mess up again.” [Laughs] Usually kids who come from large families and are eldest feel a need to provide, and since Jason has 8 brothers and sisters, it all made sense. Aside from the fact that Jason’s dad spent a large part of his life incarcerated, ironically, his fantasy of wanting to have the prison experience didn’t quite fall into place because of the responsibility he had to his siblings. However, a number of people have a similar fantasy every night.


As Americans we never really pay too much attention to people who aren’t too American, or who at least are transplants living here in the States, so when Jason started giving me details about how he got to London and started acting it was intriguing. “When we migrated here from the Caribbean, some of my family moved to the US and the rest of us moved to UK. And that’s where I first got into acting. Initially I was meeting scammers. I was actually paying to go on auditions. [Laughs] One day I was in a group and the person in charge was going around telling everyone they either have it or they don’t and when he got to me he said you don’t have it. It hurt. I guess because I thought he knew what he was talking about.” I could tell this struck a chord with Jason because the face that was very bright had dimmed for the faintest second. And the lips that have a natural curl seemed to frown, but it was only for a millisecond and then he continued with his story of how he tried joining the R.A.F (British Air Force) and had to get a college degree in order to qualify. Because he was already 22, the cutoff age to register is 23 and he was faced with the dilemma of getting an Alevel degree (which is equivalent to an American Associates degree) in 1 year. Nevertheless, being the ambitious person he is, Jason went for it. “I tried to think of the easiest thing so I decided to get my degree in acting, and I loved it. One of my instructors suggested a serious career in acting. At that moment I decided if I’m gonna do this, I have to become the greatest actor of my generation. I have to go to Hollywood, I have to become fearless.” I guess it’s true when they say some people are destined for stardom, but the road to success is usually paved with a lot of hard work and dedication. This holds true for Jason who studied Shakespeare and won a scholarship to Continues on page 18...

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Once I got in school it was so difficult. They told me my accent was too Jamaican, my speech was too breathy, I spoke wrong, and my voice was too deep. It was crazy. I put on a lot of weight. I got big and fat. I was drinking beers and was very confused about who I was. Drama school will do that to you. 16

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sweater by Loris Diran Jeans by Antik Denim Polo by Coast Sneakers by Clae

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...Continued from page 15 The Academy of Live and Recorded Arts, one of the most prestigious schools in England for acting. “Once I got in school it was so difficult. They told me my accent was too Jamaican, my speech was too breathy, I spoke wrong, and my voice was too deep. It was crazy. I put on a lot of weight. I got big and fat. I was drinking beers and was very confused about who I was. Drama school will do that to you.” Being one of only four black actors in the school, Jason befriended his fellow brethren Ludwig Bonin, Nathan Clough and Sam Anderson. “They tried to separate us, but once I realized that, I said no man, we need to pull together.” Jason learned early on about being typecast among his white counterparts. “We always got the role of a waiter or a doorman in the school productions. Yeah, we would be on stage for about a minute, so I was used to it by the time we’d graduated.” Immediately after he graduated Jason got an agent and began appearing in productions around London. “I was all happy man, until one day I came home and found my agency had dropped me. I came in the building and saw my headshots all over the floor in the hallway. My neighbors had trampled all over them. There was a letter from my agent stating they’d dropped me because I was “too good.” (Laughing) So I left the letter in the middle of my living room floor as a reminder. And everyday I stepped over it and around it and I kept thinking this is for a reason. And a couple of days later I had a new agent.” Is the film industry in the UK different from what we are used to here in the States, I had asked Jason. Actors seem to do a lot more theatre stuff before making it onto the big screen in my observation. But for a 18

young black actor coming up, things are quite the same as they are here in the States, he note. Opportunities are few and far between, so when that big break comes, it is welcome with open arms regardless of what future consequences may hold. “The first movie I did was called, “Blood.” It’s a short, independent film by director Kolton Lee. I play a boxer named Danny who is struggling with his family and sexuality. Nobody wanted to play the role. The director interviewed a bunch of people, but everyone was afraid to take it. I met with Kolton over lunch and we sat down and he told me about the role, I said cool and it was done. One can’t help but to wonder why nobody else wanted the role. Was it a typecast? Poorly written? Or was it because the character was gay that other actors didn’t take the part? “The character could have been gay, it didn’t matter to me. It was just a good role and I was going to play it. I thought back to what my goal was and that is to be the ‘best actor of my generation.’ Besides, if everyone else was afraid of the role then it must have been made for me.”


What does one consider by the expression, “putting in work”? At some point you have to change your course or you are destined to head in the same direction. So that’s what Jason did. He changed his course, or his course changed and he was on the right track at the right time. “I was working a lot with a writer named Ricky Beadle Blair when his friend Patrick came to visit him from LA. I’d done a bunch of plays with Ricky who was also a writer on the Noah’s Arc project. He told me he had a script he wanted me to read. So me, Nathan and Ludwig read the script for Season 2 of Noah’s Arc. I read the

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part of Baby Gat and loved it. I didn’t know much about the actual show although I’d heard it described as a black Sex and The City, but I never watched it. So I really didn’t know much. I just read the part and loved it. Soon after I got a call from Patrick telling me I got the part and would be flying to Vancouver to shoot the show.”

I wanted people to hate the character at first then start to win them over and I guess that’s what happened.” Playing a character like Baby Gat wouldn’t be a stretch for the already ambiguously- seasoned actor. It was obvious from reading the script that the characters were gay, the only difference was this would be on TV and a film. It would also be showing in America. This is a huge leap for a heterosexual actor his first time out the gate. How does one make that transition from stage to screen and from Country to Country smoothly? “I figured it out. I was like my God, this is going to be my intro into America. So I didn’t read any of the previous scripts. I wanted my intro to be shocking, like a ball crashing through a window. I wanted people to hate the character at first then start to win them over and I guess that’s what happened.” Well no one can argue that Baby Gat made a huge impression on America. When his character burst onto the scene, we all sat up and took notice. He added a much needed twist to the story. The chemistry between Baby Gat and Noah seemed to electrify the audience. It was very different than that of Noah and Wade, it

My mom called me half-way through and had serious issues. She was asking why I would do something like that, but by the time she’d gotten to the gay bash scene with Noah, she had totally changed her mind. She said she completely understood why I played the role. was taboo, it was forbidden, and it was hot! Viewers were blogging about that first kiss between the two for days. So how does a straight guy prepare for his first big onscreen kiss, with another guy? “I don’t know I just had to do it. Because I hadn’t read much of the details of what the characters were actually doing I was kinda shocked so I asked Patrick why does Baby Gat have to keep kissing this Noah? Actually the first time Noah and Baby Gat kissed on camera Patrick said it was too soft. He said Baby Gat had to be more aggressive.” Jason didn’t elaborate on whether or not the kiss activated any sparks either voluntarily or involuntarily but with the main scenes out of the way, he could relax a bit. He did however mention that he, Darryl and Jensen all bonded and would hang out after the taping describing both actors as very supportive. “They kept telling me I was doing a great job and Darryl said he loved how I was playing the character.” After taping season 2 of Noah’s Arc and the follow up movie “Jumping The Broom,” Jason found himself back in London with no connection to the show or movie. So he had no idea about the phenomenon of Noah’s Arc. He was trying to catch bits and pieces on Youtube but by no means did he understand the impact that Baby Gat had on a whole generation of young, gay black men. Not thinking much about what would be the outcome he was happy with his decision to play the character. He says playing the role never made him question his sexuality, but he found himself being more concerned with what other people were going to think and that made him angry. “I remember Patrick telling me why he chose me for the role and he said it was because he thought that I was a fearless actor.” Is this deceiving the audience though? Having a heterosexual actor playing a gay character? The gay community has so few role models as it is and to be “psyched out” by a straight guy playing a sexy gay guy. Isn’t that an illusion? When we think of gay celebrities the list is long, Clay Aiken, Clive Barker, Andy Bell, Wilson Cruz, Ellen De Generes. But when it comes to black gay celebrities, the list is quite small; actually, a black gay male celebrity is

almost non-existent. So how do we process Jason Steed, a non-gay playing a gay role? According to the actor, most people don’t seem to have a problem with his sexuality. “Most of my fans don’t find that to be a problem. They usually say they really like what I did with the part and how I played the role of Baby Gat.” Being gay in America can be a traumatizing experience in itself especially when the proper support systems are not in place. Most people have a hard enough time telling their families and friends about their sexuality in a real situation, but what about when it’s just an act? Would a parent understand why their son is kissing a man on the big screen, if he’s not gay? “When it came time to tell my mom, I just took her the season 2 full set and left her to watch it. I also took one to my sister. My mom called me half-way through and had serious issues. She was asking why I would do something like that, but by the time she’d gotten to the gay bash scene with Noah, she had totally changed her mind. She said she completely understood why I played the role. My sister made no comment at all. Then when the movie came out I took my mother to see it. She loved it and kept saying how she loves her some Baby Gat and how adorable Baby Gat is. My family all loved the movie too.” So how much of Baby Gat is really Jason Steed? “None of it really. Baby Gat is loud and outspoken. As I said before, I’ve always been the quiet scheming type.” Interestingly enough, that just so happens to be a characteristic of some of the black men in our community. So if that’s a part of ones personality gay or straight, then they should be able to fit right in.


For actor Jason Steed, repercussions for playing a gay character could have been catastrophic, but apparently not. Aside from the usual crazy, stalking fan, life since the series has been pretty good, although there have been some interesting situations. “Well, I will tell you, since the movie I’ve been propositioned. When I was in LA, after the movie and I was going through a tough time. I was alone, and my family wasn’t around. A friend of mine propositioned me. He offered me money if I’d sleep with

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Suit by Duncan Quinn Shirt by Perry Ellis Tie by Sean John Sunglasses by Bottega Veneta Shoes by Geox


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Credits: Photography Karen Detrick Fashion Direction Curtis Davis Assistant Charlie Fernandez Styling Daniel Williams Grooming Tekoa Hash Model Debbie Brennan Location - 274 Clinton Avenue, Brooklyn

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him. I was like no. But then, I found myself considering it. I was actually thinking about it. I was thinking I could do this and nobody would know.” And while an offer of cash on the table would have intrigued a lot of people, sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture. Perhaps a real-life Baby Gat would have jumped at such an opportunity and Jason says he’s met quite a few when he was living in West Hollywood, the gay Capitol of California. “Oh my God, Yes. I have met a lot of baby Gat characters. Because of the type of character he is, Baby Gat hears everything about all the DL stuff. People forget they are actually talking to Jason. The fans that I meet always surprise me. I mean I would meet some of the most thug dudes from Compton and they would come up to me and say ‘Yo I really love you in Noah’s Arc.’ I’m just like wow.” And in reality is that such a bad thing? Being an icon in as small a community as the black gay community has to have its benefits. And it would be almost impossible not to make a few friends along the way. “Man most of my friends now are gay. I have to say since I’ve been in the states mostly everyone who’s looked out for me has been gay. You know something; before I started acting I actually hated gays. I had all the normal preconceived ideas about gay people. I remember I went to a party one time that was supposed to be gay. I moved around the party with my back to the wall for the whole time. I was afraid to move away from the wall. [Laughs] And once I played a role as a homophobic DJ in a play called “Bashment” in London. It was weird because everyone took me serious. After the play, people wanted to talk to everyone else in the cast but me. The press asked if I was really homophobic.” A lot of actors have gained notoriety playing gay roles. However, most times those actors were household names and the characters were no more than a mockery of some over the hill Drag Queen performing for sailors and Las Vegas vacationers. But is seems as though for Jason, there’s been a pattern of questionable roles. “I love the questionable roles. I had other offers on the table in London at the time the role of Baby Gat came up. I knew if I wanted to get to LA, I had to do this. And I would do it all over again. I love it man. I get a lot of emails from people with struggles, serious situations like young people coming out to their parents, or getting HIV or being on the DL. Baby Gat’s character reached a lot of people who can identify with him. “I get 40 or 50 emails a day on my Myspace page from all types of young people asking ad22

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vice and complimenting me on the role. I really try to answer each one personally and offer the best advice I can. I have this 10-year turn around theory. Every 10 years your life changes. So if you want to come out, 10 years later you will be fine with new friends, new life and new changes. 10 years ago I was in a cell. 10 years later I’m in an interview with you for UrbanSocialites. [Laughs]”


The future looks quite promising for Jason Steed, there’s interest from some big names like Warner Bros, Fox and a possible season 3 of Noah’s Arc to be filmed in New York. “I’m really trying to do some stand up comedy. That has always been a secret passion of mine. I’m also in a play called Getting Unstuck the story of woman arrested as a child who contracted AIDS from her lesbian lover. I’m playing the role of Allan, her therapist’s boyfriend” I guess for Jason, those questionable roles are just going to keep finding their way into his hands and he’s going to keep on doing them. And, I guess for us we should be proud of him because until we can actually get more of the real thing, (actual black gay actors) then we will have to settle for a hot straight actor like Jason to play those “questionable” roles. I mean it could be worst because when asked what he would be doing if he weren’t acting, Jason says if he would still be scheming, probably solving world problems and not telling a soul. “Or maybe I would be a priest.” I think we like him the way he is now! n


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Savory, Satisfying and Sensual Sensual? Mmmmm, mmmm need I say anything more? But you’ll have to keep…reading. There are few things that can make you feel as warm and cozy on a cold winter day as a bowl of hot savory soup. Served as a light seasoned broth, a hearty stew or a delicate balance of seasonal favorites, a well-flavored cup or bowl of soup can be a stimulating and enjoyable first course for either lunch or dinner. Soup has come a long way baby! More than just a starter, today’s soups are full of flavors from the four corners of the world. Spicy, roasted, robust, savory, delicate, subtle and with a hint of earthiness, soups are like a fine wine some might say.

Roasted Tomato & Basil Soup

2 lb tomatoes (Roma) cut in half 1 lb tomatoes vine ripened, cut in half 2 medium red bell peppers cut in quarters 1/4-cup olive oil 2 tbsp olive oil Kosher salt Fresh ground pepper 2 sweet onions, peeled and chopped

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. 

Toss together the tomatoes, red peppers, olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper to taste. Spread tomatoes and peppers on a baking sheet (in a single layer) and roast in the center of the oven for 45 minutes. In large stock pot over medium heat, place 2 tbsp of olive oil & butter; add onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, paprika and thyme, season with salt & pepper and sauté for 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown. 24

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6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped 2 tbsp butter 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
 ½ tsp paprika
 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped 4 cups fresh basil roughly chopped
 1 cup white wine 2 14oz cans low salt chicken broth

Add wine and simmer for about 3 minutes. Add chicken broth, oven-roasted vegetables, including the liquid on the baking sheet and basil. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Cool to where it can be handled easily and pulse in blender in small batches to desired consistency. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot or cold. 
Garnish with a few julienned basil leaves and / or freshly grate parmesan cheese. (Serves 6 - 8)

...Served hot on a brisk winter day or cold when the heat is on, soups can be nutritious, adventurous and most certainly delicious.

As with its sidekick the “Salad” a soup can be comprised of just about anything such as beans, rice, pasta, veggies, chicken, pork, fish, shellfish and beef or a combination of choices. Served hot on a brisk winter day or cold when the heat is on, soups can be nutritious, adventurous and most certainly delicious. Add your favorite sandwich, salad, crusty herb bread, crackers, cornbread or quesadilla and you’ve got a meal. From all walks of life everyone has his or her favorite soup. Whether it’s chicken soup, for what ails you or Black Bean, Matzo ball, Italian Wedding, Egg Drop, Clam Chowder, or Gazpacho, soup has a place at every table. Back to the beginning: soups can be savory, satisfying and sensual with flavors that will awaken your taste buds and warms your body & soul. Then there’s the slurping. Come on now, you know you slurp when you’re at home. Those sexy, audible sounds of enjoyment could be just what are needed to heat things up on a cold winter night. In celebration of Nation Soup Month throw a Soup Party! Invite a few friends over, have everyone bring a different soup (and bowls), serve-up some warm crusty bread, assorted crackers and soup garnishes like Croutons / Grated cheese (Parmesan) / chopped toasted nuts for cream soups / dollop of sour cream / snipped fresh chives / parsley sprigs or chopped parsley / chopped basil. Add hot apple cider, warm mulled wine or hot coco with a little brandy or Kahlua and its good to go.

Confused on the makings of soup? Here’s a little breakdown on how things stir-up; Stock: is made from beef, veal, fish, poultry and vegetables, separately or in combination. To the French a good stock is the foundation of all cuisine. With so many stocks available on the market now, it’s hard to choose the right one. It’s all a matter of taste. Best bet is to look for those that are low in sodium, and organic. Keep in mind that a homemade stock will always add that special dimension of flavor. Brown Stock: made from beef meat, bones and fat. White Stock: made from chicken or veal. Fish Stock: made from the water in which fish has been cooked or it may be made from fish bones and head. Vegetable Stock: the water in which the vegetables have been cooked. This is also great to use as a replacement in savory dishes that call for water. Bouillon: usually made of a delicately seasoned cleared brown stock with the exception clam bouillon. Consommé: made from two or more kinds of meats, usually beef, veal and chicken and is highly seasoned, cleared and strained. Broth: liquid resulting from simmering meat in water then strained.

Enjoy Responsibly!

Bisque: generally made of shellfish, milk and seasonings – exception tomato Bisque

-Chef Andre of ACafe “…where you always know what’s cooking”

Cream Soups: made with the addition or base of milk or cream.

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we can do (each other)better Real Talk About HIV Prevention By Tim’m T. West And as we seek warm bodies for winter and reengage workout regiments to ensure bodies are right for Summer Black Prides, many organizations will offer the same ole same about HIV Prevention. There will be a litany of discussions about how to ensure that all the brothas “hooking up” have condoms. There will be other discussions encouraging testing so that brothas who become positive have access to care. And as someone who has been living openly with the virus for a decade now, I’m starting to get irritated with all the sugar coating. Condoms aren’t the only issue! I’m also not going to give much room to the “Down Low” behavior and low self-esteem discussions. While both offer clues to the rise in infections among Men Who Have Sex With Men (MSM), there seems to be a neglect of some real truth: HIV transmission happens because men fuck in the raw or without protection). If we reduce indiscriminate (unprotected) fucking, we also reduce the potential for HIV transmission. Here are a few suggestions I haven’t heard much of in my nearly 20 years of prevention work. 1. Each one, Do one: Those who know me understand that I am more liberal than most where the conversation of monogamy is concerned. I have personally engaged in relationships of various types (e.g., monogamous, open) but at 37, my values have shifted. And while I’m more an advocate of relationships of INTEGRITY over ones pretending “monogamy”, there is value in suggesting that honest, communicative relationships between two partners (whatever their status) prevents at best and reduces at worst the risk of infection. The idea that only white gay men settle down, that marriage isn’t a value brothas honor, that being with one partner is something brothas cannot do, supports the idea that we are incapable of creating community norms that can save our lives. Many of the young brothas I mentor at St. Hope Foundation’s FUSION Center believe that we are helpless and can no more avoid HIV infection than we can anonymous, detached sex. Get in all the hot sex while you can in your 20s because at 30 or 40 you’re old and undesirable...and then you settle down. I dare brothas to begin to believe we are worthy of healthy relationships of integrity. I haven’t infected anyone in my 10 years of being positive; and it’s namely because I reduced sexual contact, disclosed my status, and prefer the context of relationships when coming into contact with brothas. 2.OUTERCOURSE is HOT: Given that fucking and sucking (without condoms) are proven risks, why don’t we do more to encourage sensuality. Is proliferating the clubs with condoms not also sending a message that sex = intercourse? Among the ways I’ve most effectively protected my partners (and myself) has been to find more creative ways to pleasure one another. For me, there’s no feeling like a hot session where touch, kissing, and mutual masturbation leaves both parties fulfilled AND with full assurance that they’ve been safe. And I LOVE intercourse! But I also feel that given the risks involved, such acts should be reserved for people I know, have feeling for, and 26

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people with whom I can share accountability. To suggest that brothas can’t be more creative in this realm is yet another devaluation of our ability to practice self-discipline. If the epidemic is to shift, we have to do each other differently. Poke less, cuddle more. Works for me. 3.Yes, ABSTINENCE: Unfortunately, periodic or situational abstinence (no sex before “marriage”) has been unfairly associated with right wing anti-gay zealots who don’t believe men should be having sex at all. I know of more than a few brothas who, for a variety of reasons, have decided to be abstinent as a way of reducing the risk of contracting Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Imagine if an STD were a baby and men could get pregnant. Can you imagine the pregnancy rates after Black Prides!? The reality is that

some men, not unlike heterosexual baby daddies, think little about the consequences of their fucking. And while HIV is not a baby, both result in life changing and sometimes life-threatening situations. I see nothing wrong with promoting sexual responsibility among black MSM. I love encouraging young brothas to wait for sex, understanding that many of their hormones are working against my suggestion. The point is: What’s wrong with including it as an option? Even if a fraction of brothas consider abstinence as an option, we effectively reduce transmissions. 4.STOP STIGMA: At the end of the day, what does the gossip and snickering and rejection of HIV positive brothas do? It sends many of us running back into HIV closets, even if we came out of sexuality ones. Considering that, by some estimates, as many as 1 in 3 MSM (who have tested) in certain places are HIV positive, we need to take for granted that someone we know, or have slept with, is living with the disease. No need for panic; more of a need for conscious efforts to accept that we’ve failed. We need to do better to encourage a climate where POZ brothas can disclose without fear of rejection, and where more negative brothas operate assuming anyone could be positive. It’s not rocket science. But in a culture where the HIV boogeymonster is as intimidating as a biomedical dictionary, actions suggest that ignorance is bliss. Well, ignorance kills. HIV is still ravaging those bodies who are hiding from the truth about their infection. Many brothas can’t even tell their best friends or “judies” that they are positive. Consider also that positive brothas who adhere to treatments can achieve undetectable viral loads, which makes us LESS INFECTUOUS than those unaware of their status or not in care. Let’s wise up brothas. Finally, we need to create communities where both negative and positive men “come out” about their statuses. In this space, we can talk honestly about the joys of hot sex, but also what risks we are wiling to take and what is non-negotiable? I don’t wish to minimize the hard work that organizations, many of which I’ve worked for over the years, are doing to curtail HIV. I’m simply saying that some of the ideas I offer here are things the Center for Disease Control (CDC) isn’t gonna fund. There’ll be few funds offered to help men of color discuss healthy relationship building or sensuality. As Black men, we are clinically deemed men who are bound by our sexual urges, no differently than when we arrived as slaves. Condoms are a band-aid over a gash that suggests black men simply can’t practice sexual self-discipline. I dare to disagree, not only in my words, but through my actions. And I’m looking for my lifetime boo who’ll gladly explore the joys of hot safer sex in a context we can both feel good about, because we are worth it! n

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Ambassadors of Change

If we, the people, take on the responsibility as Ambassadors of Change, then and only then the government can fulfill its intended role “to protect our lives, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. The United States political atmosphere was quite different a year ago and the effect seemed to echo throughout other countries around the world. A year ago President Barack Obama waited in the wings to assume a position that many men with twice his experience gladly passed over. With the announcement of his candidacy many factions changed, and with this change, Americans (and global citizens) held on for dear life to the hope that his campaign waved as a banner of change for this country and around the world. The once silent majority began to echo a war cry similar to that of the men and women who lived in tent cities during the Great Depression. Tired and fed up with the status quo, they sought a leader with new ideals and a change that they could believe in. On that cold winter day, President Obama stood on the steps of the capitol, and with the icy wind blowing in his face, he took an oath to protect and defend this nation and its citizens. As he took this oath, he and his constituents were challenged to uphold the task asked of them by a man who took office some 49 years prior “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do 28

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for your country.” And as the days and months passed, newspapers and talk shows alike have given their views and spins on how much they approve or disapprove of the Presidents progress thus far. However there are very few outlets discussing the level of political involvement or participation by the citizens of this country the “Ambassadors of Change” who in resounding numbers said to the rest of the world, “we are ready to go in a new direction.” The founders of this country were our first Ambassadors of Change. As they examined our governments and societies they looked to John Lock’s aspect of a social contract while developing the constitution. He adhered to a theory that individuals could agree to form a state that would provide a “neutral judge” and that would therefore protect the lives, liberty, and property of those who lived within it. It was also his thought that laws could only be legitimate if they sought to achieve the common good, arguing that within these laws, everyone was entitled to natural rights. Unfortunately when our constitution was written, some of the basic rights weren’t afforded African Americans until a short 50 years ago. This exclusion was in clear contrast with the constitutions original intention that the Government will not rule over any citizen nor infringe on their natural rights and hence the “Ambassadors of Change” appeared again. And when the guns fell silent and General Lee surrendered, thousands of slaves were set free and able begin their new lives as free citizens. Sojourner Truth spoke of this when remembering her own narrow escape, “I did not run off, for I thought that wicked, but I walked off, believing that to be all right.” Wars, marches, sit-ins, and even blood has paved the way for American citizens to enjoy their natural rights, but now more than ever, these rights are in jeopardy. Young professionals throughout this country are forced to file for bankruptcy before they even apply for their first position, African-American women lead the statistics of those newly infected with HIV, homosexual couples are still waiting to be afforded the same rights as heterosexual couples and our soldiers return home from a war which has left them mentally torn and emotionally broken only to be met by homelessness and poor support. Nightly news commentaries offer different theories with regards to our Presidents strategic approach. But while “Main street” is often referred to it is seldom addressed head on, leaving the public to rely on statistics and polls as the only reflection of the problems felt in many homes around the country. It is my observation that the American people especially


Change does not lie within one man alone but within the people, the “Ambassadors of Change” within every community. those residing within the urban communities posses a power far greater than any military force or weapon. Though a candidate may have the power to run for office, it is the people who possess the power to elect. And whereas a President can only sign legislation into law, the people have the power create and craft that legislation. The “Change” that we so believed in will not come from one individual. Change does not lie within one man alone but within the people, the “Ambassadors of Change” within every community. When the people of this country woke up for a few short months and took notice of the political system, we elected the first African American President who was clearly more qualified than all of his constituents and even some of his predecessors. If we, “The People,” take on the responsibility as Ambassadors of Change, we can demand those rights that our forefathers marched on Washington to secure. We can support our peers who recently marched for equality in marriage. We can hold our city Councilman responsible for potholes and zoning and convince our Governors and State Legislatures to give proper monetary appropriation for schools and housing. We can hold our congress responsible with regard to Healthcare and Equal Rights for all regardless of race, religion or sexual preference. Then and only then the government, with our help, can fulfill its intended role and responsibility “to protect our lives, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.” Something many of us are still waiting in anticipation to see. n Article by: Aaron Meyers

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Leather jacket with tux tails and hood by Das Komitee Wool slacks by Loris Diran

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stylish cities a flair of je ne sais quoi n North America: Chicago, Montreal, New York, Toronto, Vancouver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston n Western Europe: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Dublin, Edinburgh, Geneva, Helsinki, London, Madrid, Manchester, Milan, Paris, Rome, Stockholm n Central/Eastern Europe: Budapest, Istanbul, Moscow, Prague, Riga, Warsaw n Asia Pacific: Auckland, Beijing, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Shanghai, Mumbai, Bangkok n Latin America: Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, Buenos Aires n Middle East/Africa: Johannesburg, Cairo, Dubai The 2009 Anholt-GfK Roper City Brands Index, released on June 16, surveyed 10,000 people from 20 countries in April of this last year. Cities were judged on lifestyle, buzz, multiculturalism, cultural life and attractiveness. Respondents were asked to rank 50 cities on such varied subjects as climate, physical attractiveness, restaurants and nightlife. Formally known as the Anholt City Brands Index, the survey is the brainchild of city branding expert Simon Anholt. In 2009 he joined forces with New York-headquartered market research firm GfK Roper to create a new and improved report that included more respondents from non-European countries, as well as a mix of respondents from both developed and developing countries. The top 10 cities have each made notable contributions to the field of design, but fashion specifically, as the list reflects the idea that fashion plays a leading role in any city’s cultural evolution and identity. (Fashion is also firmly ingrained in modern, urban culture, as evidenced 34

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by reality television competition series Project Runway,on Lifetime Television, as well as big-box retailer. The four top cities on the list host the four most important fashion weeks in the world. The other six cities each host their own runway shows that showcase local talent not necessarily ready for a global presence. That’s not to say places like San Francisco, Barcelona and Los Angeles aren’t aesthetically driven. The Bay Area, for one, is home to dozens of important industrial design firms, including IDEO and Frog Design, not to mention Apple, makers of the technology game-changer, the iPod. The company’s senior vice president of industrial design, Jonathan Ive, has created many other products that millions use--and admire--every day. Barcelona, on the other hand, is better known for its architecture, particularly the work of Antoni Gaudí, whose wild-looking, intricate buildings and gardens remain a

fascination. Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia, which has been under construction for the last 127 years and won’t be completed for another 25, is the city’s most-visited tourist attraction.

Style-conscious cities, in general, benefit from the disruptive innovation a financial downturn often conjures. And while Los Angles may be thought of as a factory of bottled blonds and spray-tanned celebrities, the city also has rich architectural and fashion traditions alike. Cameron Silver, owner of high-end vintage boutique Decades-a style institution in its own right--particularly loves the mid-century homes of Schindler and Neutra, peppered throughout neighborhoods Los Feliz and Silver Lake. Critically acclaimed fashion labels have also emerged from Los Angeles over the last half-decade, including Rodarte--whose designers won this year’s Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Womenswear Designer

of the Year award--and Band Of Outsiders, designed by L.A.-based Scott Sternberg, who won this year’s CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year award. L.A. is much more than a one-tricky Hollywood pony. Why the rush of talent flowing out of Los Angeles? The same could be said of all the other cities on the list, actually. Style-conscious cities, in general, benefit from the disruptive innovation a financial downturn often conjures. While the recession has undoubtedly hurt all of these cities’ economies, it’s also allowed creative types to take chances and chase their dreams simply because there’s less to lose. What’s bad for the economy, it seems, is good for style. And every city on the list--whether it’s geared more toward architecture, fashion, or product design--has something the Parisians understand better than anyone: je ne sais quoi. n Contributor Lauren Sherman

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winter 2010


In An Absolut UrbanSocialites World Anything Is Possible

UrbanSocialites Issue #2  

UrbanSocialites The Ambassador Issue

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