Sunday, November 25, 2007

Andre J. aka "Gaymonn"

"Most people are conditioned to think of a black man looking a certain way. They only think of the ethnic man in XXX jeans and Timberlands, and here Andre J. comes along with a pair of hot shorts and a caftan or maybe flip-flops or cowboy boots or a high, high heel.”

The New York Times shed some light recently on just how the mysterious Andre J. wound up on the cover of French Vogue alongside Carolyn Murphy. Apparently, a routine sandwich run lead to an impromtu meeting with celebrated stylist Joe McKenna who was so taken with Andre's "amazing" ensemble (a green caftan and golden gladiator sandals topped with a Nina Simonesque white turban) that Mr. McKenna told famed photographer Bruce Webber that he simply must shoot the diva. Webber agreed resulting in November 2007 cover which turned quite a few heads.

It's safe to say that readers of French Vogue aren't accustom to seeing non-white models on the cover of their fashion tome so the inclusion of a lanky black man in ankle boots and a cocktail ring probably caused many a frenzied clutching of pearls.

I was torn in my own personal reaction. One the one hand, I was a little peeved. It is a well documented fact that the fashion industry is extremely biased against models of color, preferring to feature the same white faces month after month over choosing models as diverse as the collections they celebrate every season. My gut told me that featuring Andre J. with Carolyn amounted to presenting him as a mascot or accessory to the blond supermodel. Nothing completes a look like a gay black BFF, right? Not only will he pull your outfit together but the fashion mammy won't challenge your reign as the top rung on the beauty standard ladder.

Now the angel on my right shoulder had a different take. You see, I have a confession to make. I not-so-secretly love Andre. Up until the NYT article, I didn't know much about him but over the past few year I've seen dozen of photos of him dressed to kill and enjoying the NY party scene.

With that megawatt smile, full beard and those dimples, I just can't hate on him. He makes me happy because I know that it is not always easy being a black person and being gay in our community adds to that stress. The fact that he's out there doing his own thing looking the way he does just impresses me. According to the article he doesn't consider himself a cross-dresser, he's just being himself and I respect that. He's like the gay blaxploitation version of Genevieve Jones and I can dig it.

After all Andre didn't land on French Vogue magazine, it landed on him...and he worked it.


Camille Remarkable said...

This is genius. Lord knows how much black gay men have contributed to the fashion world (not just as designers, stylists, and hair fluffers but alsso as inspiration!) and not a single one has been on the cover of any of the major tomes until now. Bravo to Bruce Weber for doing this and cheers to Andre for workin it!

Brigitte said...

That's an excellent point.

BTW, thanks for the links you sent me :)

Camille Remarkable said...

No problem.

BTW, my mother's name is Brigitte spelled the exact same way. I rarely meet anyone else with that name so I got a fond feeling as soon as I saw the name flash across my screen. :)

Brigitte said...

I've maybe met one other person that spells her name the same way I do :)