Very sad news to start the morning and the Pride season. Popular actor/model Maurice Murrell apparently died overnight. There are few details on Maurice's death but tributes are pouring in across Facebook and YouTube.
Maurice was a friend at one point. He was funny, sweet and had an infectious laugh. Mo and his boyfriend dressed up as pharaohs for the Pride parade one year. They were mermaids another year.
Besides the CLIK cover, Maurice Murrell will be emembered by a generation of young gay men for his role in the film Finding Me and its new sequel Finding Me: Truth directed by Roger S. Omeus. Watch clips, a trailer and behind-the-scenes video, and Maurice with friend Jared Shuler AFTER THE JUMP ...
There is very unfortunate news to report. After ten years of publication as the nation's leading magazine for the black gay, lesbian and trans community, CLIK is calling it quits. Saying the magazine has "reached the end of the road", publisher and editor Dwight Powell posted a bittersweet farewell on the magazine's website.
Publishing this magazine has been a dream come true; to honor, recognize, uplift and highlight the Black Gay Experience in America. This magazine came out around a time when black gay men were ashamed, in hiding, and greatly underrepresented. After ten years, all of that has changed. Changed in part to the diligence, tenacity, and drive of our magazine, as we aspired to be the best, command respect, and garner appreciation from the audience we serves and beyond. Today our community is vibrant, out, and proud.
As with everything, all good things must eventually come to an end. Yes, Clik Magazine has reached the end of the road that it’s been traveling since May of 1998. I am elated to say that our job here is done. We’ve inspired, motivated, informed, educated, and entertained, which from day one, have been my objectives. To that end, I’ve succeeded. This is especially evident with the dawn of gay bloggers and e-zines that are taking our experience to another stratosphere, and mush faster. To fast for print magazines to keep-up with, as technology has elevated publishing to everyone simply with the touch of a mouse.
Powell promises the magazine will "return in digital format over the summer." In the meantime, there are no other national black LGBT magazines. Venus, which was targeted toward black lesbians, ended production last year (?) after publisher Charlene Cothran found religion and went "ex-gay."
Clik actually began as "Clikque" in Houston in 1998 as a local, digest-sized nightlife guide. Powell rebranded the publication in the fall 2005 with a larger size and national mission. That issue coincided with the debut of Noah's Arc, and, since then, Clik has been at the forefront of the emerging renaissance in black gay literature, culture, and media visibility. We worked on a number of features for the magazine, including a year in review, features on Karamo, Wilson Cruz, and, a cover profile of Jensen Atwood.
The tenth anniversary and final issue is a tour de force, including eight individual covers and a 16 page photo editorial by famed photographer Duane Cramer. The covers and editorial are part of the new multimedia "Power of Us" public awareness campaign by the National Black Justice Coalition, including Rod 2.0 faves Darryl Stephens and Stanley Bennett Clay, as well as Cramer, Powell, GMHC's Dr. Marjorie Hill, Unity Fellowship's Rev. Dyan McCrary, and, NBJC's H. Alexander Robinson. Several months ago, we were honored to be approached by the NBJC, CLIK and Duane Cramer to take part in this program, but could not make the shoot. That was unfortunate. We could have been part of this brilliant footnote to history.
Make sure you run and do not walk to grab your copy of the new CLIK that dropped last week. Super fabulous actor, model and "it boy" Jensen Atwood is subject and we wrote the in-depth interview and profile. Jensen is the newest addition to the third season of Dante's Cove, the gayish supernatural soap opera on here!, and, shares his thoughts on the series, the status of black gay men in Hollywood, and, life after Noah's Arc.
"My charcter is Griffen, the bisexual warlock," Jensen explains. “The producers saw me on Noah and wanted me in this part. I was the actor they had in mind for the role.” Jensen adds that his character "is very sexual. He spreads the love around. There is a lot that I like about this guy."
“It’s been interesting cast as both gay and straight romantic leads,” Jensen adds, admitting he finds himself more self conscious when acting in gay roles. If he were in a shirtless scene, “I’m thinking, ‘Is my stomach hard enough? Am I flexing hard enough?’” he laughs.
More previews tomorrow from the Jensen AtwoodCLIK interview, plus his totally on the record (and never heard before) comments on the cancellation of Noah's Arc, and, some screen captures from the first episode of Dante's Cove.
New Jersey-based Maurice Murrell—the ridiculously hot model who brought the now legendary "Gay or Rapper?" aesthetic to life in the cover shoot for Clik seen here—reveals a side of his personality that you may have never known. Despite having appeared in numerous magazines, calendars, two coffee table books and an independent film production, Maurice says he has always wrestled with the same body image and self-esteem issues that affect so many gay men.
On self-esteem: "I hated the way I looked. I mean truly hated. This year, that stopped through various reasons. Its been a beautiful transition mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I know I would get the question, 'But if you hate the way you look, how could you do all those things?' For me it was easy to separate the two, because modeling is based on a projected perception."
On gay "pride": "Being DL and "Straight-acting" makes you more desirable in our community. Gay pride is about so much more. It's about loving all and everyone in any aspect of being masculine, feminine, open, flamboyant, and reserved."
Maurice Murrell's January 2006 cover for Clikwas voted a reader favorite and will appear in another editorial. In addition, Maurice is in the process of becoming a single parent and is adopting a child.
Now, the best-selling author is suing her ex-husband for a whopping $40 million, claiming that he tried to "humiliate and embarrass" her during their highly publicized 2005 divorce.
McMillan filed the complaint yesterday in Contra Costa County Superior Court. The action claims Plummer, who is native to Jamaica, married McMillan in 1998 with the sole purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship. McMillan's allegations also include "emotional distress, invasion of privacy and placing her in a 'false light' to harm her professionally and personally." McMillan also claims Plummer violated a restraining order ... by calling her to speak with her son.
Plummer is 23 years McMillan's junior and their whirlwind, tropical romance inspired her best-selling 1996 novel, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, which was later adapted for the big-screen staring Angela Bassett and Taye Diggs. Plummer later came out of the closet, announced that he was gay, and, that began a roller-coaster tabloid divorce. The couple eventually settled for an undisclosed amount.
In November 2005, McMillan and Plummer appeared on Oprah as part of a heavily-promoted "reconciliation" that, more or less, reconciled nothing. At the time, some criticized Plummer for cheating on his wife during their marriage and accused him of being a fortune-hunter.
Others took issue with McMillan's language toward Jonathan—including calling him a "faggot"—and her alarmist charges regarding the "down-low" and HIV. In addition, it was disclosed at the end of the segment that Oprah Winfrey had purchased the film rights to McMillan's The Interruption of Everything, which debuted on the charts that week, leading some to speculate on a conflict of interest.
Regardless of whose side you take, Plummer's story—growing up in a homophobic culture, facing a hostile public when coming out, etc—illustrates why so many black gay men remain in the closet.
You'll recall, exactly one year ago we had several long conversations with Terry McMillan after her controversial cover profile at Clik, which followed Jonathan Plummer's own cover profile.. At the time, the author revealed that she was considering litigation because, in her words, Jonathan was attempting to "extort" money beyond their settlement. Terry also said she had been threatened, and, at the time, sounded genuinely concerned about her well-being and that of her son.
Jonathan Plummer is now a hair stylist in Northern California. Even if McMillan were to prevail in the litigation—and she certainly could drag out the process, given her resources—it's unlikely the millionaire author would ever collect a monetary judgment.
McMillan's hairstylist ex-husband, Jonathan Plummer, signed a book deal with Simon & Schuster for a fictionalized tell-all account based on his decadelong relationship with McMillan, whose own novel and movie about their early romance, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, was an international best-seller.
Plummer's roman a clef is branded with the not-so-original title Balancing Act and is sheduled for release this summer. He says the novelization of his coming out story will be cathartic for other closeted men. "A black woman scorned is the worst kind of scorn—and I've felt it from Terry,'' Plummer said. "That's why I'm doing this (book)—to help (black men who have come out of the closet) and to give my spin on things.''
Jonathan's "spin" may seem more than a little delayed, seeing that it's been more than 15 months since the couple divorced and made their much-hyped "reunion" appearance on Oprah. Or, maybe not. Given McMillan's own upcoming book, as well as a fresh round of charges, countercharges and restraining orders by both sides—McMillan has emailed reporters claiming to be afraid to leave her home, and says "I just do not want to end up dead because no one did anything to stop him"—the timing seems jperfect.
In a chic, retro-styled editorial, the current issue of Clik pays tribute to Dreamgirls of past and present. Models Barbie, Tima and Lacey and styled and glammed in wonderful sixties-inspired fashion, hair and make-up—including the obligatory blue eye shadow. Hotties LJ and Keyon are quite dapper in their period suits. More pictures of these dream boys and girls, an interview with Kevin Aviance and a seriously sexy fashion editorial in the magazine.
In other Dreamgirls-related news: So far, the producers of the heavily-promoted musical have not publicly spoken about their major snub by the Oscars. Although it led the pack with eight nominations, the film failed to earn nominations in any major categories, such as Best Picture, Director and Adapted Screenplay. However, as expected, it earned noms for Best Supporting Actor (Eddie Murphy) and Supporting Actress (Jennifer Hudson).
"If we learned nothing from Hurricane Katrina, we should have learned this: They are not going to send the boats or the buses for us in time. AIDS in America today is a Black disease. There is no getting around it. It's also painfully obvious that we can't wait for our political leaders to save us from that fact."
· A Rhode Island judge bars a woman from having any contact with her gay neighbor. State prosecutors say Theresa R. Deschenes of Warren routinely intimidated Kenneth Potts, the gay, HIV-positive man who moved in downstairs—calling him names, threatening violence, and, playing loud music and stomping on the floor. Deschenes' lawyer, Christopher Millea, has indicated that he will appeal and "said his client's comments were protected by the First Amendment and were merely part of a 'kindergarten name-calling contest.' "
· LGBT activists are too focused on marriage. Nearly 250 gay leaders and straight allies endorse a statement that says same-sex marriage is "diverting too many resources that could be used to fight for equality for others who have no plans to marry." Signatories include current and former leaders of national gay rights organizations such as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and GLAAD, novelist Armistead Maupin and straight allies such as scholar Cornel West, Ms. founder Gloria Steinem and essayist Barbara Ehrenreich.