Karrine Steffans, Carmen Bryan, and even Alana Wyatt did it. Even some white chick by the name of Savannah Jahvall. When you sleep with a celebrity (or two or three or four), these women have proven that you can profit from the experience in more ways than one. But how does one take it a step further? How about by combining two popular themes? Sexual exploits with celebrities—and living on the down low. Steffans set the mold: tell the juicy details and omit the names (well, she did omit a few anyway). Now it’s Terrance Dean’s turn to dish the dirt on encounters with down-low celebrities in his recent book release Hiding in Hip Hop: On the Down Low in the Entertainment Industry — from Music to Hollywood. Check out the Time magazine Q&A excerpt:
Where do you keep your list of names and corresponding fake names?
[Laughs] Writing the book of course I had to keep my notes. I am a journalist, first and foremost. I used to write for the New York Sun and the Tennessean. I keep notes and I have those in a very safe place. [Laughs] To make sure I don’t forget who’s who because I knew I had to change everyone’s name. Yes.
Do you think at any point you would reveal any of those names? Why or why not?
No. I didn’t write this book as a way to demean or out anyone or to do damage to anyone’s careers. I think or I hope first and foremost that [people] can understand and recognize that this is my memoir. It is a memoir of my life as a down-low man in the entertainment industry. I wrote it with the intention of hoping to provide a voice for not only myself but a lot of people who are in the industry or are struggling with their sexuality but also those people who are down-low men or gay men who are looking to get into the business and they can’t. It’s been really empowering — the experience of writing this book and knowing that I didn’t have to out anyone to do that or to tell that type of story.
You’ve written books about empowering men of color, so how do you think this book empowers men?
The great thing is because in writing my book, I was able to find my voice, a true voice that I had hidden for so long. Because as I talk about in the book I was sexually assaulted at the age of 13 by a male next-door neighbor and that incident traumatized me. I came from a dysfunctional family where my mother was a prostitute, she was a heroin addict and then my mother became infected with the HIV virus and she passed it to my baby brother and they both died from the AIDS virus. I had another brother who was also sexually assaulted when he was in a group home and he was infected with the AIDS virus and he later died. All of these different types of things that occurred throughout my life, all these challenges and all these obstacles I felt was a universal story within the black community — the community of color. So hopefully this story will empower them.
How do you respond to people who question how true or accurate your accounts in this book are in light of recent news that several high-profile memoirs have been found to be mostly or partly untrue?
Two things. One, is that I have over 10-plus years working in the industry, which anyone can verify — both my name, and call any of the companies I’ve worked for. I’ve worked for major companies and corporations in the production field such as MTV, BET, Warner Brothers. I name all of the films and the projects in the book. Anyone who is resourceful can verify that information. There are some things you definitely can’t [fake] in the entertainment industry because there are production records. The great thing, as you said, in light of the memoirs that have been proven to be false or fabricated, Simon and Schuster, the legal team got involved and verified a lot of the information in my book, to protect themselves but also to protect myself.
Was it difficult for them to verify the information because of the down-low status of many of those mentioned in the book?
Well, again, a lot of the people I mention in the book, I don’t disclose their status. I don’t name any names, so people can come to a conclusion of who they think the person is that I may be describing in the book. The legal team at Simon and Schuster, I was forthright in letting them know certain names of people who I knew, so they were able to verify the information on their end.
So Simon and Schuster editors do know some of the names?
Yes. [Laughs] But we’re not naming names. (Read more . . . )
So, I’ve searched around for a few excerpts. Honestly, I believe Wendy Williams said it best, “I’m almost bored with the topic . . .” For those of you who need to see for yourself, here’s what I found on various websites.
Excerpt 1 (source Sister 2 Sister):
Once I visited the video set of “Mario,” one of the biggest rappers to hit the scene. His rough persona and lengthy criminal past caused many women and some men to lust after him. My boy worked for the label and they were in Los Angeles shooting Mario’s next single. While we waited for them to set up the scene for the next shot, Mario and his entourage were in his trailer drinking and smoking weed.
By the time the well-built rapper and his entourage emerged, he strolled past me with a smirk on his ashy face, letting me know he was running things. As I looked at the young women surrounding him, I observed that they were not real women, they were transvestites. They definitely could pass for real women, though.
I asked my friend, “Does Mario know those women are not women?” “Please. Yes, he knows. They’ve been with him since he got in town.”
Mario was the same man who was named by MTV as one of the greatest rappers of all time and lambasted gay men in his lyrics. He had one number one album after another. He often called out other rappers for being soft, feminine and gay and yet he found comfort in the arms of a transvestite.
Excerpt 2 (source SOHH.com):
According to Terrance Dean, his friend Sandy was working on a new movie that had major stars in it. The lead was “Lucas,” who is a black megastar. No matter what film project he was attached to it was bound to be a box office smash. In Hollywood, he is considered a golden boy and very bankable. However, there were already many rumors swirling about his sexuality and even though he is married, it was hard for him to shake those pesky gay rumors.”You’re not going to believe this,” Sandy said when I called her. “What’s going on?” “Well, the crew is taking bets on Lucas. “What type of bets?” “Since we’ve been filming, his boy ‘Kareem’ comes by every day and they go into the trailer.” “So what?” I said. “No, Kareem comes by and they are up in the trailer doing their thing.”
Kareem is a leading sitcom actor, married to an actress. They both have appeared in movies but Lucas in the breakout sensation. His boy Kareem, however, found success in television as a leading actor.
The crew’s bet was based on how often Lucas “boyfriend” would show up and how long he would stay. It was like clockwork; Kareem arrived each day at the same time and went straight to the trailer for hours on end. The bets grew larger and larger.
When I moved to Los Angeles and got into the DL world, our clique was talking about the downlow circle Lucas and Kareem were in-which I wanted to be a part of. But it was a hard nut to crack; they were superstars.
Happy reading, ya’ll.