Stanley talks about being an openly gay black actor in Hollywood in the '60's and '70's, his career as a writer, director and publisher, and his work as a social activist. He also talks about working as the writer of 'Invisible Life' (the play), the E. Lynn Harris novel that is set for Broadway
DC: Now getting to your movie and acting career, here. I remember you from movies and T.V. shows during the nineteen seventies, shows like ‘Good Times’(1974 – 1979) - - I had a crush on John Amos, okay? I had a big ass crush on John Amos, and I also remember you on ‘Room 222’ (1969 - 1974).
DCS: Lloyd Hanes was hot. He was hot also. You can tell I was hot and horny back in the seventies (laughing). And also, I loved your performance in ‘Minstrel Man’ (1977).
SBC: Oh wow!
DCS: That was such a sensitive portrayal you gave.
SBC: Oh wow, thank you.
DCS: Because up until then I had seen you on T.V. and in movies but it wasn’t until ‘Minstrel Man’ that you really caught my eye and I was like ‘wow, look at that performance’.
SBC: Wow. Thank you.
DCS: Who was your inspiration to begin acting and when did you begin?
SBC: Sidney Poitier was my total and complete inspiration. He was the sexiest man on the screen and once I got past his body I said to myself, ‘this guy can act!’ So throughout high school I tried to encourage them to do plays that had roles that Sidney Poitier did. And since I had a little clout due to winning a major award at the Los Angeles Drama Teacher’s Festival.
DCS: Oh, okay.
SBC: I came in third place out of like two hundred schools who had sent delegates to the festival, and it was the first award Banning High School had won at that festival so I could write my own ticket... my drama teacher... agreed to do ‘Lilies of the Field’ during the next season and that I would play role of Homer… I also wrote an adaptation of ‘Patch of Blue’ and did the Sidney Poitier role for that. When I told my drama teacher I was going to go into acting professionally she said ‘you’ll never even get into the Screen Actors Guild’, but before the start of the next semester I had gotten into the Screen Actors Guild and had done my first role. I came back to school and showed her my union card.
DCS: What year was that?
DCS: You and I know many black gay and lesbian celebrities who are in the closet, and that’s fine, to some degree depending on the context of the conversation. What made you decide to live openly gay?
SBC: There wasn’t much of a conscious decision. I think my first kind of professional situation was at the Ebony Showcase Theatre and I was around a lot of openly gay people. When I did the original Bill Cosby Show, you know the one when he was a coach (1969 - 1971) - -
DCS: I remember that show. I was going to ask you about that.
SBC: Yeah, that was my very first job. I was a little arrogant and things. I can remember being on the set and the assistant director, who was the first black assistant director in the industry… saying, “if you’re nice to me I can make sure you’re on the show all the time” and I said, “I have talent. I don’t need you to be on this show all the time,” and I walked away. I was this cocky eighteen year old kid.
DCS: Bill Cosby seems so conservative- - and I might be wrong- - but did he know you were gay? SBC: That I don’t know. I knew that Lloyd Hanes (‘Room 222’ T.V. series) knew I was.
DCS: How was his response?
SBC: He would do these little snickering things on the side like a little kid.
DCS: About your being gay?
SBC: Yeah. So I was not feeling Lloyd Hanes.
DCS: So he had some feelings towards your being gay.
SBC: He never said anything, but that’s what I got, and I think it had to do with the fact that I was known to bring my boyfriend to the set.
DCS: Ah, okay.
SBC: Because I hid nothing.
DCS: And as much of a crush I had on Lloyd Hanes, I can see that arrogance. But if he had married me, he’d gotten over it. (Laughing).
SBC: (Laughing) Okay? Maybe he had that attitude because it’s what he was suffering through in his own closet.
DCS: Very good point.
SBC: You never know. On the other hand you have someone like Denise Nicholas. She’s an absolute sweetheart.
DCS: She seems like it. Is that how you first met her, and came to use her in your movie ‘Ritual’?
SBC: Actually, I didn’t want to use her in ‘Ritual’. I wrote the role with Pam Grier in mind.
SBC: But Pam dropped out at the last moment and people kept suggesting various people and some suggested Denise Nicholas. I kept saying Denise isn’t right for the part because this is kind of one of those f*g hag Broadway boozing stars swinging and slouching all over the place and Denise has so much dignity and class that I couldn’t see her pulling that role off like that. Especially the way I wrote the role for the stage play. They all said, ‘well just meet with her’ and I said ‘okay’. And when she came in she suggested how she wanted to play the role. I felt it was an interesting way, a quiet drunk. I thought to myself, ‘that could work’ and sure enough her performance is my favorite in that role and I’ve seen many other actresses do it.
SBC: She was the first one to do that quiet drunk so when she exploded it really meant something.
DCS: I agree. Because when you said Pam Grier I thought she might take it over the top.
SBC: But on stage taking it over the top works… Denise’s quiet thing made me give her more close-ups because she would attract the camera. So the camera would have to pull in on her and catch those things. When she finally went off it shocked everybody.
DCS: Denise has such expressive eyes so the fact that when you were directing the film, you used those close-ups, that was powerful.
SBC: Actually I cast all the actors based on their eyes, particularly the son. He was able to say so much during the audition with his eyes.
DCS: He also looks good naked. Wow. (Laughing)
SBC: (Laughing) And he knew it. He would sit around the set naked and he would say, ‘Stanley you know my family’s known for being endowed’.
DCS: Um, yeah... Everyone has to see that movie. Now you mentioned Raymond St Jacques. Was he openly gay?
SBC: Oh yeah, Raymond was very openly gay.
DCS: Did he mention any difficulties in the business? With fans or anything?
SBC: Mmm… No. In fact, all the years I knew him I can’t think of any difficulties he had at all with anybody. He was a very good actor who worked all the time and everybody knew that he was gay. I think that’s because the industry’s gay. I think the only problem the industry has is the public doesn’t have to know. But everybody in the industry knows who’s gay, and to keep the money going you don’t have to let the public know.
DCS: I’m always saying I can understand artists wanting, for reasons of making money, and for their own personal right, to keep their lives private as long as they don’t come off hostile towards the community.
SBC: Well you see… mmm… personal rights… I don’t know… because you know, you being gay, I don’t know if that’s privacy. Now what you do in bed, that’s private. You know, it’s like what you and Greg (author’s note: my partner) do in your bed is your business. The fact that you guys are a committed couple, well, you know we live in a world where people have wedding ceremonies to declare their union, so to turn that around and say that it’s okay to keep that private when it’s part of our culture to celebrate the fact that ‘that is my girlfriend’, ‘that is my wife’, it should be equal with gay people.
DCS: It’s kinda like I always tell people. There’s a difference between being gay and homosexual. You know, homosexual is my sexual orientation, my gayness is my cultural and political affiliation, and it’s almost as if you’re speaking of it as a right to celebrate your culture.
SBC: Oh, absolutely. This is who I am. This is how I operate and on top of that, when we were going through that conversation where we felt 'gay' was a white term. I came up with the term, ‘I am an afrocentric homosexual’. It had a little rhythm to it. In my magazine, SBC I used it as the tagline: ‘For the Afrocentric, Homesexual You’.
DCS: When there was the big argument (in the black gay community) about ‘gay’ being a white term, my response was, ‘Call yourself whatever you want. But understand you need to identify yourself for who you are and be honest about it; because your detractors have already named you anyway, and there are people out there who want to destroy you.
SBC: It’s all so dividing. I tried the SGL thing for a while- - and I still use it, I use it interchangeably…And I don’t put anyone down for using one term over another. Whatever is comfortable with you that we all get, use it, as long as we speak the same language.
DCS: Just know the reality of who you are.
SBC: Mm hm. But Raymond was a great role model for anyone who was black and gay in Hollywood, because on the one hand, when Raymond got down and had a good time- - and Raymond just loved to ‘queen’, he just loved to be a big old queen with that big ol’ wonderful voice. (Stan imitating Raymond): ‘Oh darlin’ yes chile, mother got to go get some dick’
SBC: And he was hysterical. He was so funny, and I don’t think in all the years I knew Raymond I ever saw him angry or cross with somebody.
DCS: He always came across so macho, strong and stern on the screen.
SBC: Yeah, well he was that kind of actor.
DCS: Well now, do you think it’s realistic for a person who makes a living in the arts- - no- - let’s say… Do you think it’s realistic for a person in public life- - the arts, for the sake of this interview- - to be openly gay?
SBC: We’re dealing with perception here. In certain artistic forms- - if you’re a painter, a violinist- - it’s very easy to be openly gay. But I think for actors, sometimes when they have to create characters and illusions, I don’t think much of society is smart to enough to realize that those are actors up on that stage… So you know, that’s the conundrum gay actors deal with. I don’t think it has anything to do with their shame of being gay or proud, but it’s a matter of economics that goes back to the fact that actors used to not tell people they’re married so they could maintain their sex symbol illusion.
DCS: Hell, they even used to hide the fact that they were Jewish and Latino.
SBC: Yeah, right. Exactly.
DCS: I would like to see more black actors and actresses push the envelope on the matter of being gay or lesbian, whether that actor is gay or not. We’re on the cutting edge of it but I would like to see more. Let’s take Queen Latifah. She pushes the envelope.
SBC: She does.
DCS: It doesn’t matter whether or not you think she’s a lesbian. As an artist, she pushes the envelope. I applaud all the actors, the stars and the guest stars, who appeared on Noah’s Arc for pushing the envelope and it’s up to people like us to write material for them.
SBC: Exactly, and that’s been the problem because with any new civil rights movement, it becomes sort of ghettoized, but once we get out of the ghetto of it we can write good pieces. We’re so busy trying to get gay images out there that sometimes we’re not concerned about the quality. It’s just like in the beginning of the gay movement, some of the worse theater out there was gay theatre because it didn’t matter whether or not it was good, it was just ‘get it out there’, so we had a lot of crappy stuff.
DCS: Yeah, it was kind of like some of the stuff I saw in black theatre during the sixties. Some of it was good, but a lot of it was just- -
SBC: A way to get black faces out there.
DCS: Right. That’s why I told people who were so ready to attack Noah’s Arc to step back and give it a chance. It’s the first step. It’s opening doors.
SBC: That’s right. It’ll all settle in eventually. Patrick Ian Polk needs to be applauded greatly for breaking new grounds. He’s done a wonderful service for our community.
DCS: Like Maurice Jamal as well.
SBC: Right, right, Maurice Jamal. And there was also a sister, I can’t remember her name, who did ‘The Watermelon Woman’ (1996, Cheryl Dunye), that was way back then. It was a wonderful, wonderful, piece. We’re on the cutting edge. You know, one of the most visible of those people (note people behind the scene) is Paris Barclay who is openly gay. He’s been pushing the envelope for years as an openly gay black man.
DCS: Yeah, yeah. ‘NYPD Blue’, and all those shows.
SBC: I just hope the brother hangs in there and realize that it’s going to be okay.
DCS: I know the other night, Greg and I were watching a show, I can’t remember which one, but it was one of our favorite dramas, and that episode had been directed by him, and I went ‘there he is, he’s still doing it’.
SBC: Mm hm. He sat on a panel here for the LA Black Pride and gave information out for positions available for black gays here in Hollywood. I was very proud of that.
DCS: And we have to keep moving forward and not tear each other down.
SBC: Ooh, yeah… that becomes such a problem. We definitely can’t do this crab in the barrel kind of thing.
DCS: Okay, so now, recently I did a piece on fear. You’ve stood up in the face of opposition. Where do you get your strength and your courage from?
SBC: Well, I don’t know if it’s really courage, it’s just the thing of me being me. I like me.
DCS: But that takes courage.
SBC: It’s not so much of me being courageous, it’s a matter of other people punking out.
DCS: Okay. Okay.
SBC: I like me too much to punk out. The fact is it doesn’t matter if people don’t like me because I’m black. I’m not going to acquiesce, you know, like, ‘you don’t like me because I’m black... I look at myself as a gay man the same way. You don’t like me because I’m gay? Fuck you.’
DCS: I feel the same way, but it does take courage to take that stand... I agree with you, mine did come from love of self, the fact that I love myself and I value myself--
SBC: When people aren’t sure how they feel about themselves then, they have to muster up what they need to get over the self loathing. Usually it’s people on the outside who call you courageous. Courageous people never recognize it as courage. I don’t know if Dr. Martin Luther King thought of himself as courageous, he just thought, ‘well something is wrong here and I need to do something about it’. (Author’s note: Martin Luther King even went so far as to appoint an openly gay black man, Bayard Rustin, to pull together and oversee the nineteen sixty-three March on Washington).
DCS: Yeah, yeah, it’s simply a matter of ‘what I need to do’ more than anything. So often we’ve been taught to put our sense of self-value beneath what others think about us. I know, personally I got my strength from my mother. She was this person who raised us to know that we were good people, we were worthy of a good life.
SBC: That’s the way it should be.
DCS: Okay, next question. How was your decision to be openly gay received by your audience? Did it have any type of negative effect?
SBC: Hmmm. If it I did I wasn’t aware of it, because when people didn’t know who I was, and I was acting, I was openly gay. So it was never a matter of ‘did they like me even though they knew I was gay?’ Then as I gained more attention as an actor, my handlers suggested I tone it down. I kind of went along with that for a beat, then I thought, ‘what am I doing? I’m not supposed to tell people I’m gay when I’m married to this man, and we got married in a church? So I never thought about the fan base. It’s like I don’t think about the fan base.
SBC: It’s like in my writing, I don’t write to placate a fan base. I write the best things I know how to write. I put it out there and hope people like it, but I can’t create my art to try to, uh, condescend - - for lack of a better word- - to a particular constituency. I think anyone who has read anything about me, they know I’m gay because I talk about my life, my relationships as easily as anyone who is heterosexual who is proud of their life. Being in love with a man is a part of my life, and I don’t know how to lie about that.
DCS: It’s called integrity.
SBC: I don’t even know if it’s integrity as much as a selfish need to hold onto my personal history.
DCS: I know what you mean, because I’ve always had a hard time with someone telling me my history, my life was not as valuable as someone else’s. All of our lives are valuable.
SBC: I can’t pretend that I’m not gay.
DCS: Let’s go to your career as a publisher and writer. What led you to start SBC Magazine? What year was that?
SBC: That was in 1991. Actually, there was a publication before that. I was in partnership with a publisher by the name of Devry Jackson and we created a magazine called ‘Alternative’, and the reason we created this magazine was because I was sick and tired of looking at all the white gay publications and there was nothing on people who looked like me… They were racist and they were all about saying being gay was about being white. There was one magazine out there that was countering that and that was BLK Magazine.
DCS: Uh, huh, I remember that. Alan Bell’s magazine.
SBC: But it couldn’t do everything, and we actually went to Alan Bell and asked to join and to expand the publication. And he said, ‘well why don’t you guys start your own magazine?’ And with his blessings we started ‘Alternative’magazine. Eventually, Devry and I had conflicts, primarily over the fact that I wanted to put a nude centerfold in each issue and he didn’t want that. I felt it was good marketing, because if you put a good looking man in the centerfold, totally nude, it’s going to make people pick up the magazine and eventually we can weed it out. So after about three issues we went our separate ways. He started his own magazine and I started SBC. I used that strategy- - we never had hard dicks in the centerfold, they were quality nude photos- - I knew we needed something to make people pick it up and they did. Eventually I started putting clothes on the models and eventually, I removed the centerfold altogether. So it was marketing. I come from the background of fan magazines. So I know how to hook an audience.
DCS: You know, speaking of fan magazines, for some reason- - you know you might not remember, but you and I met years ago and… I don’t know if it was the late seventies or early eighties.
SBC: (Laughing) Uh oh.
DCS: I think I remember you having a little entertainment ‘zine and you would pass it out at Jewel’s lounge (Catch One, LA).
SBC: ‘SBC Hollywood’ That was a while ago, around 1983. At that time I hadn’t even joined ‘Black Beat’ magazine.
DCS: That must have been something, working for a magazine like Black Beat.
SBC: When I was hired it was called ‘Soul Teen Magazine’ and during my tenure the name was changed to ‘Black Beat’. That was a lot of fun. It was owned by Sepia Publishers... they offered me a job as editor of the magazine. I had two requirements to work for the magazine: one, that I to be editor-in-chief and two, that I would have complete and total editorial autonomy and they went along with it.
DCS: How long were you with them? What years?
SBC: I was there from nineteen eighty-two deep into nineteen eighty-three I think, like fifteen months. And that was when Prince was hitting it big and I was the first person to publish that picture of Prince when he was in the little black bikini and bare-chested. It was so racy that the staff down in Texas, where the magazine is published, well they complained to the owner... and the owner told me to go ahead and do it and sales shot through the roof. As a result the magazine became the number one magazine in the Sepia Publishing family. And then I did one thing that no one had done at that time, I started putting centerfolds in the magazine, because I figured, ‘who’s looking a these magazines? Little girls, and what do little girls like to see? Little boys. So I created this thing called ‘Hunk of the Month’, and I would put a boy in bikini trunks, you know, very tasteful, and the sales went berserk, because I used celebrities.
DCS: So you’re the reason my nieces had all those pinups on their walls back in the eighties.
SBC: Oh yeah.
DCS: Was your parting with them amicable?
SBC: Not at all. I had made the company so much money that they then sold the magazine to a conglomerate, Sterling, or something like that, this huge conglomerate. And they were a very conservative organization, and they demanded I calm it down. They even said I was writing over the heads of young black kids. Now this is a white man telling me that my editorials were too sophisticated for young black readers. Yet and still the young black readers were buying the magazine in huge numbers.
DCS: Yeah, well, that’s that patronage thing that comes along every once in a while.
SBC: I said, guess what? I’m not going to change so if you want change then fire me because I’m not writing down to my readers. And ultimately they did fire me.
DCS: That’s kind of crazy because the numbers proved you weren’t writing above their heads.
SBC: Of course. But when you have a very conservative right wing white owner there’s a status quo they were trying to maintain.
DCS: So it was their perception of what black kids were- -
SBC: What I was introducing to the magazine was not ‘what the stars are wearing when they go to bed’, I was introducing political articles and like my interview with Prince, he did a whole thing on Ronald Reagan and why Reagan was destroying the country. You didn’t see that in fan magazines. The owners were Reagan supporters.
DCS: That was the problem. That was beginning of your demise.
SBC: Or the beginning of my liberation.
SBC: I was the first person ever to ask Prince in print if he was gay.
DCS: Really! Okay…
SBC: And he said ‘No, but people think I am’ and with a wink he said ‘but it’s okay because it adds to the controversy’.
DCS: What made you jump on the bandwagon, for lack of a better word, of The Gay Movement? And the second part of the question is has black gay involvement changed since then?
SBC: I think what made me get involved was less a gay issue than a racial issue. When I first became an active participant in the gay community, and suddenly, because of my position I was given privileges that other black gays weren’t given. I was magazine editor and I was an actor whose face was well known and what I found was it was very easy for me to go into clubs in West Hollywood and be greeted with special favors, special tables in the clubs… and then I realized that other black gays were discriminated against: being asked for three pieces of I.D. and things and it began to anger me the way other black gays were being treated and I went on a protest about how the black gays were being treated by white gays. Especially since it was black gays who had helped them achieve the things they achieved. And because of that sense of militancy that started to grow in me, I allowed myself, along with those black gays who were disenfranchised, I became political. Seeing us being barred from the clubs, that my politics came into play.
DCS: Yeah. Well do you see black involvement in the gay movement happening more? Is there a growth in the black gay movement or are we simply individuals with ideas that we’re putting out there.
SBC: Oh I think there has been absolute growth. I’m so proud of it. I think that the perception is that there might not be because we don‘t have the outlets to publicize our growth. If we had the publications and the media- - the biggest show on Logo was Noah’s Arc, now why was it taken off? I don’t know, but I can speculate, because the thing is that if you’re a white gay station you don’t want your biggest show to be a positive affirmation of black gay homosexuals, and the thing is that show is now off the air, and we black gay people don’t have the outlet to put that show out there. It’s a lack of resources, but as black people have always been, in spite of our small resources, black people have always been able to do mighty things with little. If you look at all the incredible black prides across the country that have been going on for years and years and didn’t get any play in the white gay publications… We have to do for ourselves. When you deal with the white gay community they discriminate against us because we’re black, and when you deal with the black community, they discriminate against us because we’re gay, so we have to create our own black gay resources. That’s why I’ve always championed black gay publications. Even when I was publishing SBC, I never saw them as competition. The more black gay publications out there the better… Also, thank god for the internet. All the black gay bloggers out there. We need to keep connected...
DCS: We do have a lot going on and that’s why I try to keep connected to all of you guys, all of the people in the black LGBT community.
SBC: We always need to keep connected.
DCS: Wow, yeah. WE have to make it happen. And it’s nothing antithetical towards anyone else, but you have to feed yourself.
SBC: I don’t depend on the larger community to take care of my needs. I take care of myself.
DCS: We’re not supposed to, at least, not totally. As human beings we’re supposed to provide for ourselves. And then work with others.
DCS: What words would you use to sum up the sixties, seventies, the eighties and now?
SBC: Ooo… well the sixties was the new frontier, well actually not only the new frontier, but it truly was the age of Camelot… I was looking at the movie (Camelot, 1967) last night, and the statement the movie makes is that ‘might is not right, it’s might for right’, that just because you are powerful that doesn’t make you right. If you’re powerful, it’s your responsibility to do the right thing. I think in the sixties when we had Kennedy in office for that short time people started to realize that the civil rights movement had to happen, that women’s liberation had to happen, that the gay movement had to happen—all these things had to happen and they did in the sixties. They might have begun in the fifties but they were embraced in the sixties. We had this whole renaissance of thinking.
DCS: I know…
SBC: That was so wonderful.
SBC: And the seventies was a period of militancy. Since these movements happened we empowered ourselves and said that we’re not only going to take our country back, but we’re going to take our consciousness back. Then we had the eighties come along with that punk ass Reagan up in there (note: The White House, of course) and we became the ‘Me Generation’, me, me, me, me, me. It was ridiculous. And everybody was about getting their own and fuck everybody else. I think one of the greatest tragedies was the worldwide experimentation that created AIDS, that for some interesting reason only happened in the two communities that many people wanted to get rid of: the gay community and the black community. First Africa, then, coincidentally, gay men. The disposable communities.
DCS: That was going to be one of my next questions to you. I know you’ve done work in the HIV/AIDS front and, you know we were reflecting on how grand of a time it was in the sixties and seventies, everybody just kickin’ it and having fun.
DCS: But the AIDS epidemic plus our maturing, kind of forced us to grow up. Could you tell me some of your work on the AIDS front?
SBC: I worked a great deal with the Minority AIDS Project (MAP), here in Los Angeles because I had been friends with Carl Bean for years, who had been the founder of the Unity Church Movement and MAP; because Carl Bean, he and I knew each from our show business days, because he was the first openly gay recording artist to actually do a song about being gay. It was a song called, “I Was Born This Way” and it was released by Motown back in the seventies.
DCS: I recall that.
SBC: Yeah, and we always talk about our black community not supporting us, Motown was completely supportive of Carl Bean. So when I ran into him later on and saw what he had done in creating a church movement for us, and this was a man who was, back then getting on the bus and going to visit all our sick brothers and sisters, mostly brothers, back then, who were suffering through the AIDS thing and he would take his last dime and go around and minister to these people and give them support. And I thought what he was doing was the most incredible thing and I asked him what I could do to help. So I started volunteering and eventually I ended up on the board of directors and I became the vice president of the Minority AIDS Project. Because I saw what was happening in our community, the money that eventually came down and bypassed the black community. It was Carl Bean who turned that around and forced the government to reckon with the disparity.
DCS: Yeah, I served on a similar board here in Cincinnati and you know, what a lot of people don’t realize is that, unlike the regular gay prides, the black gay pride celebration grew out of the fact that the black community was being overlooked and being discriminated against when it came to handing out money for AIDS prevention.
SBC: Exactly. So something good did come out of that discrimination.
DCS: Oh yeah. A lot of pride. A lot of pride.
SBC: Mm hm! And what’s so funny is when you go to a lot of black gay prides I am humbled by what we black gay people have pulled together with little or no resource.
DCS: That’s why at my site I put up links and things because I want people to know what’s going in the black gay community. It’s this huge and growing world- -
SBC: And there’s so much happening and a lot of people don’t know that.
DCS: What’s in the future for you?
SBC: Right now, I’m working with Debbie Morgan.
SBC: Yeah, on her one woman show, co-writing and directing.
DCS: You mean Debbie Morgan who should’ve won the Oscar for ‘Eve’s Bayou’.
SBC: ‘Eve’s Bayou’. She and I are having so much fun. Her show is entitled ‘So What If My Ass Is Over Fifty?’
DCS: (Laughing) I love it! I love it! Now what about ‘Invisible Life’? Can we talk about that? (Author’s note: E. Lynn Harris’s novel is
being turned into a play. Hopefully to hit Broadway soon. Stanley was chosen to write the play).
SBC: Oh sure, yeah, yeah.
DCS: Where is it right now?
SBC: It’s still in what’s called the ‘workshopping’ stage. There’s supposed to be another workshop performance of it in the next month or so. The producer is going to fly me out to New York for that, but he doesn’t have a date for it yet. It’s going. They’re tinkering with it, but I’ve done my work.
DC: How was it working with Ashford and Simpson? (Author’s note: Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson were chosen to do the music).
SBC: Oh, that was a wonderful experience. I would write material and hand it over to them and they would put it to music and when they would finish with each part they would play it over the phone and they would say things like, “We hope you like it.” They’re so humble and I would think like, ‘child, y’all are Ashford and Simpson, and y’all are trying to get my approval?”
DCS: Wow! Wow!
SBC: And they would be so happy when I would tell them I like it. And they would be like, ‘oh god, that’s fabulous, because we were so afraid you weren’t going to like it.” I would say are you crazy?
DCS: Wow. Now see here’s that generation thing again and it’s why I want to do these interviews because the younger generation might not know who Ashford and Simpson are and the impact they had on the music scene.
SBC: Oh, just tell them Diana Ross’s ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’.
DCS: And hundreds more hit songs back in the day, thank you.
DCS: Any final words?
SBC: Live your life and love yourself.
DCS: That’s great. You know, I had mentioned to a mutual friend of ours, Rod McCullom (‘Rod 2.0’), that I wanted to connect with black gays and lesbians—50 and over who would like to tell their
stories and leave behind some history. I thank you for being my first interviewee.
SBC: It was fun. Thank you.