Starting Your Dreams Later In Life and Embracing the Detour

Jenee Darden speaking at Creative Mornings I know it's been a while since I've posted anything but that's because of my job. I'm working as a reporter covering Oakland and I host an arts segment on the radio where I get to interview amazing artists from around the Bay Area. Plus I'm publicizing my book  and building my speaking career!  You know what's funny? I thought this would all happen by the time I was 27-30.  Nope. That wasn't God's plan for me. I'm finally beginning to do the things I've wanted to do and I'm almost 40 years old. Some people reading this who are 40 will say 40 is still young. But some younger people reading may think 40 is nearly ancient. But I'm writing this post for those who like me, thought their career and personal dreams would come true much early in life. I'm here to tell you not to give up.  You know, death inspires life. A number of my relatives and friends have passed away, ranging in

Unsexy is Sexy at Erotica LA

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The first time I went to Erotica LA I thought I had fallen into a man's brain. Rock music pumped hard through the speakers. Huge ads featuring nearly-naked women hung all over the ceiling of the LA Convention Center. Tricked out, shiny cars and trucks swallowed the middle floor. And giddy men with video cameras trailed behind models in lingerie like puppy dogs trying to follow a girl home. I had a headache within the first five minutes being there. Seriously, it was too much. What the hell was I doing there in the first place you ask? Well, I like black erotic art and literature. So much that I wrote my master's thesis on black erotic literature a few years prior. I figured why not see what this thing was all about. Back to my story, I'm standing on the red EROTICA carpet. I could either turn right to the boys' playground-- cars, porn stars and $2 XXXX video dealers. Or turn left to the lacy corsets, jewelry, whips and quiet. Hmmm I'm a woman and I like to shop. Stage left.

Ladies I had a good time. I'm not going to lie to you. Looking at all of the adult toys was fun. But the most stimulating part of the day for me was not what you call sexy. That day I met really interesting people. I spoke with reps tabling for an agency called Clitoraid. They raise awareness about female genital mutilation and provide restoration surgery to African women who have been circumcised. Sounds like it could be a good cause but I still don't understand why the women tabling wore bikinis. Moving on...Erotic writers and artists broke down the inspirations behind their work. And I ended up having a deep discussion with this Mexican dude in the dining area about how black and brown people in LA need to stop fighting and unite. His wife was a Passion Party consultant and selling products at the show. I'm for real. People were very respectful. You have to be comfortable in your skin and with your sexuality to go to something like Erotica LA. I think that's why people who go are pretty laid back and for the most part respectful. Oh I forgot to mention the men. A few hit on me that day. They were nice and surprisingly didn't bring up sex in our mini conversations. But I couldn't date a man I met at an erotic trade show. It's too weird. Mom this is Derrick. We met by the Penile Cosmetic Surgery booth at the Erotica LA trade show. See, too weird.

Fast forward a year later and I'm at Erotica LA 2009 looking for story ideas. Seriously, just for story ideas. I hit the bright red carpet on Sunday and turned left of course. A few tables down I saw a vibrator that looked like an electric toothbrush. Somebody better keep that far away from their Crest Spinster. Walked past a saleswoman who asked if I was interested in breast enhancements. No thanks, I'm happy being an A+. Then I met a person who was a minister and now writes erotica. Wow. Only I would meet a minister turned erotic writer on a Sunday. I wont reveal their name or sex. No one in his/her religious circle knows he/she writes erotica. He/she has a pen name. I asked him/her if they felt guilty because they went from preaching the Word to writing about sex. He/she told me, "I'm human." Wouldn't it be funny if someone from his/her church was reading his/her books not realizing who is the author?

Ya'll know I'm always on the lookout for my sistas. I met two fly sistas selling sexual enhancers. Staci Fletcher and Johari Johnson own Intimate Teas. They claim their "My Maple Cookie" tea will make you and your man's "juices" taste like maple. Their other tea is "Screaming O". No need to explain what that does. So often when we see black women working in the sex industry, they're in pornos. These ladies are selling a product. They were the only black female entrepreneurs I saw there. Staci and Johari told me they think they're one of the few black people in the sex enhancement business. Later I met a really cool artist. Her name is Fang Ling Lee and I'll be interviewing her for Cocoa Fly next week.

And that was my sophomore year at Erotica LA. Will I come back for a third round? Not sure. Depends on how I'm feeling. I'm only human.


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