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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya talk abolition, supporting formerly incarcerated folks, dating cops, celebrating at Red Lobster, the auntie-approved joys of Frankie Beverly and Maze and making a way out of no way.
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Kenrya: Come here. Get off.
Erica: Hey, y'all. Welcome to this week's episode of The Turn On. Today, we are reading “Free to Love You” by A.S. Wilson. It was published in 2021, so sit back, relax. Get your wine, your weed, and whatever you need, and enjoy.
Kenrya: “Free to Love You” by A.S. Wilson. I pulled my dress off over my head and tugged my boots off as he watched hungrily. I didn't know if it was the slight chill in the air or the heat in his glance that caused the shiver that raced down my spine, but I shook with the vibrations, causing his eyes to dip down to my breasts. I could practically feel his lips wrap around my nipples, tugging and nipping until I reached satisfaction, but he didn't move. "Lights on?" He asked. I nodded and he came to me, pulling me into his arms. His skin was hot and his fingers insistent as he caressed my sides and ran his tongue along my lips. My mouth was open and panting, but he didn't go inside. Instead, he licked and nipped at my lips, teasing me until I began to grind my hips against his erection.
Kenrya: As soon as I did that, he plunged inside my mouth, his tongue reaching deep inside to every crevice. My head fell back as he explored me mercilessly. The laps of his tongue against mine were about to bring the dam down. I felt it falling, but was helpless to stop it. My fingers burrowed into his biceps as I held on as best I could. He responded with a good old grunt that reverberated through me. Just when I thought I couldn't take anymore, he started to back me up against the bed. I didn't even look back as I fell. My eyes were focused solely on him as a teasing smile graced his lips. He reached down to pull his boxers off. When he stood and I saw everything the brother was bringing, I was filled with a mixture of nervousness and eagerness. Could I? Would I? Yes, bitch. You shall.
Kenrya: I lifted my hips up from the bed and began to pull my panties off when he said, "No, I got it." I removed my hands and lifted my legs as he tugged my dark pink panties off and tossed them to the side. I allowed my legs to part as he leaned down over me and he growled in my ear, "You smell amazing," before sinking his teeth into my neck. I nearly came off of the bed as pleasure shot through my body. With every nip of his teeth, I felt juices flowing out of me. I needed him in a bad way and I hoped he wasn't planning on taking his time anymore. I felt his hands circling my back as he unsnapped my bra. I leaned up to allow him to pull the bra off. His eyes glowed as he stared down at my breasts, but the moment only lasted for a short time because before I knew it, he was sucking my nipples hard.
Kenrya: I cradled the back of his head and held on as he pulled shudders out of me. Whenever his lips closed down on my nipples, sparks cascaded from my breasts all the way down to my center. I pulled him down on top of me with my legs and could feel his dick pulsing against me, but I need it more. A lot more. "I'm ready," I panted. He raised his head and smiled down at me. "I know," he said before he dipped back down to claim the other breast. I quivered underneath him as he sucked and nipped, my legs rising higher over his hips. "I want to taste you," he said as he rolls up above me and began to slide down my body. "I don't like that," I said, snapping my legs closed. My hands moved to cover my breasts as I looked down at him.
Kenrya: He cocked his head to the side. "For real?" He asked. "For real." "I ain't doing nothing you're not comfortable with, for real. But I would like to taste you. Can I?" The way he asked, I felt I could deny him nothing, but I didn't want to mess up this moment, this first night with him. My ex had always said he didn't do that. The one time he told me I was going to give me what I wanted, he had given it about two licks before he came up with a look of accomplishment on his face. I couldn't, I wouldn't experience that with Roc. As I pondered it, he began licking along the insides of my thighs. The tip of his hot, wet tongue digging into my flesh was driving me insane.
Kenrya: As he gripped my thighs with his hands, he licked higher and higher, coming closer to my pussy with every stroke. When he reached my folds, he stopped and looked up. "Can I?" He repeated patiently. "Yes," I said without hesitation. His tongue slipped between my folds and I gasped as he swirled his tongue around my clit. My fingers curled into the sheets as my entire body tensed. I need it more. When he began flicking his tongue over my clit, my hips rose and I cried out uncontrollably. I had never felt anything as intense as that. He pushed my hips down calmly and pulled my thighs farther apart. When he dipped back down and began to suck on my clit, pleasure surged through me. My thighs clenched around his head.
Kenrya: I came so hard, I could have sworn I saw stars and drifted back down from the sky to his bed when it was over. As I came back to, I realized his head was still buried between my legs. I felt the flat of his tongue massaging my folds, and then he started spreading inside of me again. "Stop, stop. I need you inside me now, please," I begged. My fingertips spread across his head as he lifted it up and crawled on top of me. When he settled at the apex of my legs, he gazed down at me and said, "You're everything to me. You know that, right?" "Yes," I said right before he entered me. A gasp escaped my lips as he pushed back my entrance. I could feel my walls stretching to accommodate him as he slid deeper inside of me.
Kenrya: Clenching my thighs, I clasped him tightly. He whispered, "It's okay." My legs relaxed around him as he began to roll his hips. The rhythm of his movement had me grasping at his back as he stroked me. The discomfort was gone, replaced with white hot shots of pleasure. With each stroke, I felt myself coming closer and closer to release. Then he thrusted deeper, deeper than I ever thought anyone could go. I exploded all over him. My legs shook and I cried out as I creamed all over his dick, but he didn't stop. He slowed just a bit and began to slide all the way out before plunging back inside me.
Kenrya: I was whimpering, gripping his shoulders, but he was merciless as he pulled another orgasm out of me and left me howling on the sheets. That was when he dropped his head down next to mine, dug his fingers into my hips, and growled as he sank his full length inside of me. "Shit," I huffed as he began to thrust harder and faster. My eyes widened as I felt coils of tension building at my core again. No fucking way. His breathing grew harsh as he pumped inside of me and then the dam broke. Both of us went over the edge at the same time with no bottom in sight. We just let it all go.
Erica: Okay y'all, so welcome back. Thank you so much, Kenrya, for that reading. A little rundown on the story. There's this guy, Roc. He was incarcerated for a crime he didn't commit. He gets out of jail. His sister and brother-in-law are pretty much his only family once he gets out of jail. They encourage him to go to this reentry program. He meets Leah and hijinks ensue dot dot dot, right?
Erica: Okay, cool. This one was a good one. I liked it because it dealt with an issue that a lot of people deal with, which is returning citizens, reentering citizens. I don't know what the correct language is. I think it's returning citizens. This guy did not do the crime that he was committed. The book opens, the prologue. Is that the prologue? The opening, the front, the beginning? Prologue is first. Epilogue is second, right?
Kenrya: I guess.
Erica: Last, right?
Kenrya: Uh-huh (affirmative).
Erica: The prologue is Roc getting pretty much railroaded. He was a kid and he ended up getting convicted for a crime he didn't commit, which was so triggering in the beginning because I... that's a story said and done a million times over.
Erica: It's also even if somebody didn't commit a crime, Black folks.
Kenrya: Exactly. Either way, we're over policed. We're over incarcerated. We're over sentenced, all of those things.
Erica: It was very triggering. For that reason, initially I was like, "I don't know." But as it went on, it got really... not that it wasn't good. But as it went on, it definitely made me feel a little bit better. But also, this is something that Black people have to deal with. Might as well tell the story.
Kenrya: Yeah, and it's important for us to tell everybody's stories, right? Lift up everybody's stories. I don't know too many Black folks who either have not... who have been in this situation in or have had someone really close to them who has been in that situation. I for damn sure do.
Erica: It's just so fucked up. Were you with... oh, you weren't with me. I was talking to a girlfriend about doing 23 and Me. She was like, "I ain't doing that shit because I have family. Niggas going to jail."
Kenrya: That's literally why I won't do it again because they can use that legally, that DNA data, in order to solve crimes. It's too many Rankins out there that could get caught the fuck up, so I'm good.
Erica: No, I totally agree.
Kenrya: No, I don't trust that shit.
Erica: No, we're good. I'll pass, thank you. It's going to be an issue.
Kenrya: Yeah. I would love to know where we came from, but...
Erica: Yes, and it's-
Kenrya: Not in any way that could put my family in danger.
Erica: Yes. Also, in addition to that, I am not trying to find any extra siblings.
Kenrya: I mean, I know I don't have any extra siblings. But I also know I've got a whole bunch of extra aunts and uncles and cousins, and my family is huge to begin with. We found another 15 or so even before DNA surveillance.
Erica: What's your last name?
Kenrya: There's a lot of us.
Erica: Also, I do not want to see a baby Erica walking down the street.
Kenrya: A clone. You don't want no clone?
Erica: No. I like to believe that God broke the mold, but if I'm giving out the mold, then that's a different story. I do want to do African Ancestry, where my peoples come from.
Kenrya: That's the thing, right? With African Ancestry, one, they say that they destroy a sample if anybody can say that. But also, you can do it anonymously.
Kenrya: They don't require you to put your actual factual biographical information in. So, you can find out where you came from without doing that. That's what I've been thinking about because I want to know.
Erica: Yeah. Also, I would much rather know if we could be traced back here as opposed to, "You're from Africa." Duh.
Kenrya: No shit, girl.
Erica: So yeah. Okay, Leah. She is the woman that Roc meets at the reentering center. This chick, she was born... she came from a pretty well to do family. Her dad was a judge. She has a really difficult relationship with her father, primarily because she's like, "Look, you are responsible for locking up Black and Brown folks. You are the man. You're a part of being the man." That causes a really rough relationship between the two of them. Also, was she still on her parents' dime? She wasn't still on her parents' time, right?
Kenrya: Mm-mm (negative) no. Uh-uh (negative).
Erica: It might be like-
Kenrya: She was making her own money.
Erica: Growing up, being raised by them before to her certain privileges.
Erica: That was clear not everybody had. Even down to her best friend, Shonda.
Kenrya: Her homegirl, yeah.
Erica: Yeah. Which brings me to ask you the question, Kenrya.
Kenrya: What was that?
Erica: That was a gnat. I have all these gnats in my house. It's so icky.
Kenrya: Oh no. Do you have a new plant or some potatoes somewhere that you forgot about?
Erica: It's probably the potatoes.
Kenrya: That happened to me once. It was disgusting. Nigga. Yeah, girl. I once left some potatoes in a cabinet when I was living in New York and came home one day. I guess they hit the fucking tipping point.
Erica: You are lucky.
Kenrya: Oh, I ain't never seen nothing so fucking gross.
Erica: You were lucky that it wasn't like... this is New York. You're lucky no dude didn't come out like, "Hey, I'm the potato fairy."
Kenrya: Exactly. Oh my God, it was disgusting.
Erica: Okay, so this brings me to ask. Do you have any family members or close friends? I mean, maybe not close friends because I know you would cut a motherfucker off, that you had to deal with. They held a position, job, did something that kind of had you like, "I can't rock with you."
Kenrya: I mean, yeah. I used to date a fucking cop. Yeah.
Erica: How did you divorce yourself?
Kenrya: The only reason... well, that's a very long story.
Erica: I mean, how did you separate? Not that you're...
Erica: Yeah, being the Kenrya that you are with what he did?
Kenrya: You know what it was? I think the only reason he got through my filter was because I had known him for, I don't know, 10 years before he became a cop.
Kenrya: I knew who he was outside of that. He also did a lot of talking about how he felt. We all don't have to agree, but he felt like he could change the system from the inside. That was his thing. He felt like, “Yes, I'm a cop, but there needs to be Black cops too. There need to be Black cops who are not fully bought into the system. I can be one of those people. I can help to change things.” That would not have been enough if he had been somebody I just met. I would have been like, "All right, whatever nigga." But because I also knew him ahead of time, that was what allowed me to be able to deal with it.
Kenrya: But I would never go that route again.
Erica: I mean, I'm conflicted because I definitely believe that I'm all for defunding the police, right? I'm all for changing the way in which policing and... I mean, policing. The way we keep rules-
Kenrya: You want to fuck up the prison industrial complex? You can come with me. I'm trying to fuck that shit up.
Erica: Yeah, I am. However, and this is where I get a little Republican. Fix your face. I can't even see it right now, but fix your face.
Kenrya: I showed all my teeth.
Erica: Okay. I get a little Republican in the sense that I do think that this shit ain't changing overnight. There needs to be some of us on the inside until the change happens, you know?
Kenrya: Go ahead.
Erica: I mean, because yeah. I definitely am a fuck this, burn it down, start all over. In no way, shape, or form am I anyone different. However, I also recognize that it's some bullshit. Ain't shit changing anytime soon. We need some of us on the other side.
Kenrya: Here's the thing. Studies show that up until—I think the tipping point is like 50 something percent—an increase of Black officers on police forces does not actually decrease the chances of violent episodes. In some cases, it actually increases it. Basically, what the studies show is that unless you have a majority Black police force, the violence actually escalates. Yeah. It's fucked up.
Erica: Yeah, it's fucked up all the way around. Yeah, it's a really fucked up, funky ass system. I don't disagree with you there. I mean, I think about D.C., which is... I don't think the current chief is Black, but I don't even think the one before that was Black. I know under Tony Williams, the police chief was a Black guy. Okay.
Kenrya: Right, right.
Erica: Yeah, there's got to be a change. There's got to be a change. Okay, sorry. You know more about... you have researched, speak, written about the prison industrial complex. I'm kind of struggling through this and want you to kind of take the lead on a response.
Kenrya: I don't think you're struggling.
Erica: It's one of those situations where I see how fucked up it is. I know that it's fucked up, but I just cannot see any way out of it, you know?
Erica: I love when we talk about... I was about to say nation building, dreaming.
Kenrya: Freedom dreaming.
Erica: Freedom dreaming, yeah.
Erica: I think that's important because we...
Kenrya: It's the only way we get beyond this, right?
Erica: Exactly, we have to be creative. I hate saying thinking out of the box, but we've got to think out of the box.
Erica: We've got to fucking smash the box and think outside of the universe, exactly.
Kenrya: Burn that shit, piss on it, all of that. The box is fucked up and toxic and dangerous.
Erica: But I also just don't know how that's going to happen. How?
Kenrya: Yeah. I mean, it's just like fighting white supremacy, right? I wrote a whole ass book about that, which includes talking about the prison industrial complex. So much of it comes down to being able to put ourselves in a place where we are not reacting to what is happening, but instead working toward transformative justice. That means when you really break it down into pieces, not just reacting, which is what we do when we talk about reform. When we talk about body cameras, which studies have shown do not actually decrease instances of violence.
Kenrya: It means moving beyond incremental changes, which studies are showing us do not change anything, do not save any Black or Brown or Indigenous lives. They just don't because it gives people a false sense of security and makes you think that you're doing something. But what it does mean is looking toward justice that is not just restorative. Restorative is I think a term that people use which is putting things right. Restoring the situation back to the way it was before the crime happened. For example, having-
Kenrya: A killer caught. Exactly, pay restitution. But the reality is that doesn't do anything to change the circumstances that created this over policing, that created this death, that created all these things that lead up to someone being up in prison or leading up to someone being killed by police. When we talk about transformative justice, we're talking about literally transforming the systems and the things that put people in the crosshairs of the system. That's stuff like when we talk about defunding the police, we're not saying, "Hey, just take their money away." We're saying, "Take that fucking money away and put it into systems that actually keep people from running into the law or foul the law to begin with." Give people adequate... beyond adequate. We all deserve to actually be able to live in comfortable, safe places, right? Give people a place to live.
Erica: A living wage, yeah.
Kenrya: Give people a way that our money... exactly, that is actually allowing them to take care of themselves so they don't have to take advantage of illegitimate earning opportunities because they don't have any other way to feed themselves and their families, and fuck the system if it keeps you from being able to feed yourself, right? It means having a system of mental care health workers that can help folks when they are in crisis situations, as opposed to send out police officers who get in a lot of jurisdictions no more than eight fucking hours of training and de-escalation in those types of situations. [crosstalk 00:24:29] Why are we sending them when we have people who are trained?
Erica: Yeah, my eyebrow lady gets more training than that.
Erica: Okay, yeah.
Kenrya: Exactly. Fundamentally, not just moving the money, but shifting to think about the fact that we need to be able to prevent these situations before they happen and that we can, we can. I know it can feel overwhelming when we talk about dismantling the system, but if you break it down into the little parts and think of it as transforming the situation so that we can take care of people, take care of ourselves. We talk about we care for ourselves and we are the ones who we have been waiting for, as opposed to waiting on the system to do it for us. Those are the ways that we keep folks from being pushed into that lifeline, but it's fucked up and it's hard.
Erica: Yeah. I guess my pessimism isn't around coming up with systems, because I think that's the shit that's the easy part. Figuring out ways to get around, keeping people out of police interactions and changing. To me, that's the easy part because everybody got some good ideas. We can run through a million ideas that don't work and still have great ideas. I just feel like the system is so ingrained and tightly held by people with money that it's hard chipping away at the wall to even get to the point where we can then do our freedom dream.
Kenrya: Yeah. What I remember in those moments is that not that long ago, we couldn't vote. Not that long ago, those we were owned by... I mean, really.
Erica: Yeah, but...
Kenrya: There has been monumental change. It doesn't mean that it's easy. It doesn't mean that folks don't die along the way. It doesn't mean that it doesn't require a complete shift. It often requires some really awful things to happen.
Kenrya: Before those things happen. Yeah, before we get there. But when I am feeling hopeless, I think back about how far we've come. To me, freedom dreaming is the thing that gives me hope. It lets me think beyond the barriers of the shitty place that we are right now. And not be reactionary, and not be confined by the what ifs or the yes buts or the yes ands of it. And think of just a completely new future for us. I think that there are people that would have us think that Black people don't exist in the future, right?
Erica: Yeah, we're going to stay. We're going to be here.
Kenrya: Afro-futurism is a reaction. Well, not a reaction to that. We don't want to be reactionary, but it's a foil to that. It reminds us that we will still be here. We have always been here. We are resilient as fuck. We figure it out. I just have to hope. If I didn't hold on to the hope that we could figure it out, I'd be over there on the floor in the corner balled up...
Erica: Yeah. I mean, unfortunately, I feel like that's what keeps all of us going. Either that or just willfully not thinking about it, just blocking it out your brain.
Kenrya: Which a lot of folks do.
Erica: Yeah, and you can't judge them for that.
Erica: Because it's like you do what you got to do in order to-
Kenrya: It's fucking survival.
Erica: Yeah, in order to keep going. Because yeah, it's easy to break down thinking that things are this way and won't change.
Kenrya: I talk about all the time when I give talks about how sometimes waking up is our form of resistance on some days.
Erica: Yeah, Nap Ministry. Shout out to Nap Ministry. I love them. This also, when Roc got released, it also reminded me of how when people get released from jail, they are pretty much just out there with nothing. I remember I was at brunch one day. We were sitting outside having brunch with one of my girlfriends. This Black man, he's walking down the street and you could just tell he was just happy. Just sniffing the roses, tasting the free air. This is good. He walks past us like, "Hey, ladies." I'm like, "Hey. Whatever you on, I want some.” You could tell he was just happy. Then he stopped and he was like, "I'm trying to get to Dupont Circle," or something like that. He was trying to get some place where he could pick up a bus because he was like, "I live in Rockville." Or he was trying to get to Rockville.
Erica: He was like, "I just got out of jail. I just spent 11 years in jail. They just dropped me off. They put me on a Greyhound and I just got to Union Station. I've been walking from Union Station." I was just like, "Fuck." I never have cash on me. We emptied our pockets. We gave that man like $35, $40. He was like, "Oh, I can take a car home." Wherever he was driving. I say that not because I'm trying to be like, "I give to people."
Kenrya: It's giving [crosstalk 00:30:13]
Erica: But it's just one of those things like, damn. You all can't even make sure that person gets to where they need to go?
Kenrya: No, because they don't give a fuck.
Erica: Then you wonder why we show back up there. Come on.
Kenrya: Nothing in the system is set up for people to actually thrive or survive, let alone fucking thrive.
Erica: Yeah. Which is again, going back to your statement about sometimes just waking up is an act of resistance. Being here freely smelling, smiling, is an act of resistance.
Kenrya: Yeah, there are those who wish us dead.
Kenrya: We're still here.
Erica: I'm still here. Okay, Roc was really lucky to have his sister and brother-in-law both there to meet him. His first day out meal was a steak.
Kenrya: Yeah, he smashed.
Erica: What would be your first day out meal?
Kenrya: Oh. Okay, I'm not going to want to cook nothing because I'm like... I kind of want some salmon croquettes and some rice and stuff. I'm my daddy's child. Probably Red Lobster.
Erica: Red Lobster.
Kenrya: Some fucking Walt's Fried.
Erica: Our homegirl went to New York last weekend. She was like, "Do you know there was a huge Red Lobster in Times Square?"
Kenrya: Times Square, absolutely.
Erica: I was like, "Yeah, duh."
Kenrya: That's where we went after I got married.
Erica: It was a celebratory spot. That's also where we went after you got your master's degree.
Kenrya: After, yeah. After I got my master's.
Erica: We celebrate there.
Kenrya: Do you know that my kid, that's what she had for her birthday?
Erica: She is classy.
Kenrya: That was her first time asking for it. I felt so proud. I was like, "I'm raising her up right."
Erica: Train a child and ye shall not depart. Train up the child and ye shall not... anyway, you get it.
Kenrya: The way that she want to see him go or some shit.
Erica: Yeah. My first day out meal. I know this is simple. I feel like [crosstalk 00:32:52] simple.
Kenrya: Go ahead.
Kenrya: I knew it was chicken, but I thought you was going to get them wings that you always get when you come out of surgery.
Erica: America's Best, yes. I'm consistent. It would be Popeye's. It would be a surf and turf meal with some wings and some popcorn shrimp with hot sauce, Mardi gras mustard, a biscuit, red beans and rice, coleslaw, and a strawberry soda.
Kenrya: Damn, you really...
Erica: It's got to be...
Erica: I mean, I'd do a tour of other foods. But it would definitely be Popeye's.
Kenrya: That's the first one.
Kenrya: That's in the car on the way home.
Erica: Yeah, exactly. Because some things, I one of those people... when I eat, I have to eat. I don't like eating on the car on the way home because I don't even...
Kenrya: That's good. You're supposed to be more mindful about your meals, right?
Erica: Yeah. I need things perfect. I just started ordering fast food and bringing it home to eat because I like my french fries super hot. They still have to be crispy.
Kenrya: Do you usually eat at the restaurants pre-COVID?
Erica: I don't eat. If I'm driving, if it's like we're driving somewhere and I'm the one driving, and we stop somewhere to pick up some food. I don't get fries. I get something that I can eat quickly.
Kenrya: Oh, wow. So, you'd rather just not get them at all.
Erica: But now, a bitch got an air fryer and they're there.
Kenrya: Yo, fries warm up so well in the air fryer.
Erica: In the air fryer. I'm like, "Let's Uber Eats" something with some french fries because I know no matter how they're arriving, I can [crosstalk 00:34:55]
Kenrya: Damn good.
Erica: Yeah. Anyway, Popeye's I like because the french fries are good, but I'm not getting french fries when I go there. When I eat them when I get home, they're perfect.
Kenrya: Those fries are good. I stopped getting them biscuits though. They just turn into hockey pucks. If you don't eat them the moment that you get them-
Erica: And drown them in honey or grape jelly.
Kenrya: I don't put either of those things on biscuits.
Erica: And did you know at Popeye's, I don't even think it's honey. I think it's honey sauce.
Kenrya: They can't.
Erica: I don't think technically call it-
Kenrya: Oh, that's probably sugar, water, and orange.
Erica: I don't even think they can call it that.
Kenrya: I've never had it.
Erica: Well, you're not missing anything. Your guts are probably thanking you. Leah works at... I don't want to call her a stereotypical little rich girl, but she's a stereotypical little rich girl. She works for this little... the reentry place, nonprofit. She's in charge of working with reentering citizens. I'm not sure. I mean, I think she does genuinely enjoy what she's doing, but I think also-
Kenrya: I don't think that makes her a stereotypical... I think a lot of people who have privilege are not interested in doing shit with other people, no?
Erica: Yeah, you're right. You're right because my Black ass ain't.
Kenrya: But she is the girl who...
Erica: My Black ass ain't privileged and I'm like, "Fuck that. I ain't doing that shit." My fight is in a different way, I'll say that.
Kenrya: And that's okay. We all have our ways that we fight.
Erica: Yeah, so she works at the reentry program. This wasn't even in my notes, and so I might fuck this all up. But if I'm not mistaken, her work situation is a little weird wherein she wants to do more but can't really or something. So, her boss gave her an extra something to do, hence-
Kenrya: I think she feels like she needs, she's trying to prove herself.
Kenrya: So, she created this. She's working on creating a new curriculum, which includes... which she's basically going to use Roc as not the guinea pig, but the pilot program basically. She's piloting the program.
Erica: I ain't one of them niggas at work. Was I ever the-
Kenrya: For starting new stuff?
Erica: Yeah, that feels like I need to prove myself, so I'll start something.
Kenrya: Yeah, I've started things. But not because I wanted to prove myself, but because I could and I wanted to.
Erica: But you've also worked in an environment where it was more altruist. You came from... did I use the right word?
Kenrya: At least ostensibly, but not always. Nonprofits ain't always what you think they are.
Erica: Oh gosh, no. Actually, I think I had it saved on my phone for like poop time reading. But there was this article about how nonprofits essentially uphold poverty and all that shit.
Kenrya: A lot of them do. White supremacy mores run rampant in ways that you can think of and ways that you can't think of.
Erica: I mean, to me the first thing that comes to mind is how nonprofits don't pay shit. They deal with these white kids that can't... they're well-intentioned.
Kenrya: They can afford to do it.
Erica: Because they do a lot of mission programs in Honduras on their summer vacations, so they feel like they need to do that as a nonprofit.
Kenrya: Because they didn't have to work two jobs in the summer in order to be able to support themselves.
Erica: What'd you say?
Kenrya: Because they didn't have to work two jobs.
Kenrya: In the summertime to be able to support themselves and get a head start on the school year.
Erica: They can afford to make $24,000 as a starting salary because they have additional help.
Kenrya: There's somebody paying their rent than. Yeah, listen. Man, that was my whole ass experience at NYU.
Erica: What do you mean?
Kenrya: I worked because I was working full-time supporting myself. Going to work all day, going to school at 9:00, doing 14 hour days. The majority of my classmates didn't have jobs. They had apartments that their families were paying for, for them to live in. Basically their job was to go to grad school. I'm like, "That must be really nice." I was tired all the time.
Erica: On one hand, we talked about this in the last episode. On one hand, you don't want your child to have to do that. I don't want you to have to work all these fucking jobs and all of that. But I also do want you to appreciate and value this expensive ass education that I'm paying for. I just read an article this week... I'm getting off topic. Anyway, I just read an article about how congressional staffers are so poorly paid that there is this whole movement to... y'all niggas out here paying congressional staffers damn near nothing.
Erica: This is Congress, which is another place where that shows up.
Erica: They ain't paying nobody.
Kenrya: Unfortunately, that's not surprising.
Erica: At all. I've always found it kind of stupid how... I understand how people are like, "I don't want 80 cents of every dollar that I give to this organization to go towards overhead." But you also want to be able to pay people really well so that they can do... you want to be able to attract the talent. I know a million people who want to teach who are like, "I can't do that shit out here." Or want to do whatever, but you pay them so little.
Kenrya: They can't afford it, yeah.
Erica: They're like, "I can't afford to do that bullshit." Especially with student loans, which I refuse to pay.
Kenrya: Do you still have student loans?
Erica: Fuck yeah. I'm going to die with them bitches. I've decided I'm going to die with them bitches. I'm going to defer the motherfuckers for as long as I can. When I can't any longer, I will pay absolutely nothing because y'all shouldn't have gave me the fucking money.
Erica: Yeah, there was this article. No, there was an Instagram post. Somebody was like, "Drop a heart if you paid your student loans." I was like, "Okay, I guess I stepped in the wrong room. Let me back on out." Yeah, I mean, I was going to say maybe if I won the lottery. But if I won the lottery, fuck that. You really ain't getting a loan out of me. God bless me for this. Y'all should have thought. I'm so trifling.
Kenrya: Well, hopefully somebody will get the fucking ovaries to get rid of them. But I don't see that happening. This administration ain't shit.
Erica: Yeah, that will come right after they re-transform the prison system. Okay. Speaking about school, shout out to Leah. She went to Howard.
Kenrya: She did.
Erica: Actually, I think there was something else we read. I read something else about somebody who went to Howard. I was just like, "Wow."
Kenrya: Just all up in there.
Erica: It has definitely become... I don't want to think about that. It had definitely become the...
Kenrya: Listeners, she is wearing a Howard hoodie.
Erica: It's definitely become the, oh, she's bougie. She went to Howard.
Kenrya: Yes, it's true.
Erica: Which is hilarious.
Kenrya: In some cases, it is true. There's a lot of bougie bitches that went to Howard.
Erica: Yeah, look at.
Kenrya: Yeah. We're friends with some of them.
Erica: Some of them are our friends. I be like, "Bitch, don't get too high on your hog."
Erica: "Because I've got pictures."
Erica: But Howard has somewhat become that. It's so interesting because I don't think I would have gotten into Howard if I was a student in 2021. Maybe.
Kenrya: Yeah, I don't... I would have gotten in, but I got in on a full scholarship. I don't think that they give those out anymore.
Erica: I wouldn't have gotten in and I had a full scholarship myself.
Kenrya: But yeah, so yours was external, so you would've been fine. But mine came from the school and I don't think that...
Erica: They would still have to give me a seat in class. That's the part that I'm talking about. These students are like freaking amazing. And they're students that are amazing, they're like, "I didn't get into Howard. I got into MIT." You're like, "Fuck, wow."
Erica: Which I shouldn't even say MIT, because why are we comparing our school to...
Kenrya: And why do we give a shit about, yeah, white institutions? Not at all, but yeah.
Erica: Exactly. Okay, so Leah's best friend Shonda. She married-
Kenrya: Shonda? Okay.
Erica: Yeah, Shonda. She was married. A few things. One, Shonda came from a very different background than Leah. She had to work and hustle. Leah went to this bougie prep school. Shonda was there in a scholarship. Leah went to Howard. Shonda went to a state school or whatever. Then Shonda was married to a man. I don't think this is a spoiler, right?
Kenrya: It depends on how much you're going to say.
Erica: Shonda, her best friend, is married. She's married to a man, but it's clear from the beginning that their marriage isn't a typical marriage. It's clear that it's an arrangement. They are together for whatever reasons. I'm not against that.
Kenrya: I figured you wouldn't be.
Erica: You know your bestie. Pew pew pew.
Erica: Yeah, I'm not against that. Again, a marriage is an agreement between...
Kenrya: To what you make it.
Erica: If we make it, then we are here to support each other for this, this, this. I am too.
Kenrya: Then who the fuck is to say that? Yeah.
Erica: Because guess what?
Kenrya: I'm not mad at their marriage at all.
Erica: Their marriage is probably healthier and more successful than all the folks that think they're together.
Kenrya: And don't have all their cards on the table. That's right, that's right.
Erica: Yeah, I definitely was like, "Oh, I'm down for it."
Kenrya: Yeah. There's a lot of honesty I think that has to come with marrying for whatever reasons, right?
Erica: Other than love, right? Because some people marry on this illusion of love when they damn know it's a business arrangement.
Kenrya: Hell yeah.
Erica: That's why I find that when swinging, I find that a lot of the couples that are in it, they seem super healthy. I'm not saying that they are, but just conversations.
Kenrya: You only know what you can observe, yeah.
Erica: Conversations and interactions, it's super healthy. Because kind of like with polyamorous relationships, we have to have communication. We have to have all our cards on the table if we're doing something so taboo, I'm using air quotes when I say taboo, as having sex with other people or having outside relationships. I think that again, sometimes these unconventional relationships I have observed tend to look like they are more normal than regular level relationships.
Kenrya: I don't know what normal is.
Kenrya: But I think that healthy and unhealthy relationships can come in a whole bunch of different packages. And people who assume that there is something unhealthy about a relationship that involves multiple people, or is open or whatever, it's nothing but them projecting their own shit on somebody else.
Erica: You know what I realized? We talk about concepts, and I feel like a lot of times we're on the same page about the concept. It's just my explanation is more the Great Value explanation and yours is the more Wegman’s explanation. [crosstalk 00:50:14] There may be metal shavings in mine, it's just a little problematic. But you're going to get the nutrients you need. You're gonna get a little metal shavings, whereas yours is like well thought out. I'm just saying.
Kenrya: Lord. It's literally only because I use words for a living.
Erica: Nonetheless, nonetheless.
Erica: I'm not mad. I don't feel a certain kind of way because...
Kenrya: Oh, thank you.
Erica: It takes all types, all right? It takes all types.
Kenrya: Yes, this is why we're so great on this show together.
Erica: Because I am a Great Value palate and you are a Wegmans palate. Okay, so Shonda had a very different upbringing than Leah.
Erica: That made me think about being the poor kid. I think about when I came to Howard, I definitely felt like a poor kid, right?
Kenrya: Same, bitch. Yeah, I wasn't even feeling like it. I was, let's be real.
Erica: Let's be clear. But I think that I was very blessed. I was hope that this is what you experienced, but I was very blessed. Once I formed those really tight relationships, once the dust settled and the real relationships came, my friends that were better off financially than me made no problems making me not feel like the poor kid. I'm not saying they was out buying me Gucci bags, but I definitely had friends who I don't know if it was them, or if their parents were like, "Take Erica along." It wasn't even a handout, it was just more... I mean, it was a handout. But it didn't make me feel like, "Oh, poor little Erica. We're going to give you a graduation trip too." But I got one. What was your experience in high school and in college?
Kenrya: Ain't nobody take me nowhere. For me, it was interesting. I grew up in the suburbs. Basically, my father worked himself into the ground for us to live there so that I could go to this school, but we didn't have shit. I would go to school and do whatever and I might come home. This happened. I remember I was bringing somebody... I don't know what the fuck I was thinking bringing somebody to my house.
Kenrya: I open the door. I never brought someone home. I don't know what was going on that day.
Erica: My sister and I had this similar conversation yesterday, but keep going. Sorry.
Kenrya: Yeah. I opened the screen door and was met with that orange notice that said our electricity was off. I had to turn around and put my back to the door and be like, "You can't come over today." I walked in, everybody in the house sitting in the dark.
Kenrya: Who cares? It was just whatever. The gas was on, so that meant we could cook because we had matches.
Erica: Yeah, girl.
Erica: I call myself Midwest MacGyver for those exact reasons. I can make things happen.
Kenrya: Yeah, you learn how to flush a toilet without having the... you learn how to take a bath without having hot... all of these things. I think maybe at least I thought I hid it well. But I also very much experienced this thing where my friends went on college tours. I didn't have any money. I couldn't do any of that kind of stuff. Just a lot of things that my friends did, high school, college, all of that, I just didn't go. Even as a grown up, if folks was going out for dinner and drinks and I ain't have it that week, then I just didn't go because I'm never asking anybody to cover me. So, I'm just not going.
Erica: I had a similar situation. But I think particularly once we got to Howard, we had one friend. Her parents gave her a cruise for her graduation or something. She was like, "This is cute, but can't none of my friends go on a cruise." So they was like, "Okay, we'll pay for one of your friends to go." I was the friend that got to go.
Erica: That was dope. Yeah, and I've had lots of situations where... and I think this is why I'm this way now, but let's go to dinner. I'm like, "Girl, I'm going to go home." They'll be like, "Bitch, bring your ass. We'll cover you." Because it was clear that my stomach was rumbling and I wanted to go to dinner. I feel like I was very blessed to have people around me. I definitely want my child to not necessarily be going to Rome every class trip, but when the class goes to Rome, I would like to at least have the...
Erica: Be able to pay for you to go.
Kenrya: And getting jobs to be able to pay for a portion of it is good.
Erica: Yes. You're like, "Okay."
Kenrya: That kind of thing. I'm thinking, I did, I went on an eighth grade trip to D.C. So, we must have saved up something for me to be able to go. Then I was working by the next year, so anything else that I did, I was paying for it out of my own pocket working at the fucking library like a nerd. Not like a nerd, like a boss. Nothing wrong with nerds. They're my people.
Erica: Oh my God. As you sit and stare at your little pop socket things that are made of... you know the little things that they may advise you...
Erica: Yes, your little nerd.
Kenrya: I've got Basquiat and Tyler Durden sitting right in front of me. It's fine.
Erica: Yeah, I think I was very... I think we were lucky. I want my kid to be able to do that, to be able to enjoy and not have to work. You know what I am struggling with now as a parent? As a formerly poor kid, well not formerly. As a poor kid parent, I've got to figure out... I read this book about how to work with my kid around money and stuff. But because I never really got an allowance, it's weird for me to even give him an allowance.
Erica: He gets whatever he wants. I mean, not whatever he wants. But if he's like, "Hey, I want to go to the store and have five dollars to do whatever." Okay, fine. Or, "Can you buy me this, X, Y, Z?" "All right." But the concept of allowance has been different for me. As you see, he be out there cutting grass and stuff. So I feel like I should... he's at the age where he needs allowance. But Lord baby Jesus, I'm going to be so horrible when I'm giving it because I'm going to forget, that kind of thing.
Kenrya: You should work with... well, see, you're tying yours to stuff. What we do, it's not an allowance. But I give... basically, my kid has to earn things based on behavior and participation. During the school year, turning on her camera. We didn't have a number goal, but it was every week to aim to have it on more than she did the week before.
Kenrya: If she was able to do that, then she would get a gift. It could be something that she asked for, which often would be like Roblox. Or it could be something that I bought her. I bought her a stash of books and just hid them. When she knocked it out of the park that week [crosstalk 00:59:15] then I would give her, yeah, one of the books in the series that she's reading. Or some art supplies, or something that I know the she wants, but she has to earn it. It used to be that it was tied directly to, she has a chart on her wall that's like she can earn a certain amount of money every time she did a certain thing.
Kenrya: We put that together with the therapist. Going to brush her teeth and brushing and flossing at night without me having to remind her. We give her, I don't know, 10 cents each time she did it. So then we would tally it at the end of the week. We would make a whole big thing of it and write down how much she earned that week. Then I would put that money in her account. She could then spend it on things herself. It's helping her to understand the value of a dollar and all of that kind of stuff. She just recently like last week had found some things on Five Below that she wanted to buy. So, she gathered all her loose money that she got from her birthday and just random adults giving... not random, but various adults giving her money.
Kenrya: She brought it to me and asked her to put it in her account. I was like, "Well, it's hard to get to an ATM because you're in a credit union. But I'll put it in my account. I'll PayPal you the money. Now you have it." So, that's what we did. She went online and found what she wanted, and made a purchase and that kind of thing. That's kind of how we're approaching earning money and spending money, in case that's helpful.
Erica: Speaking of gifts, did she like mine?
Kenrya: Very much so. She was running around and she got back on her call with her people and was sharing it with them.
Erica: Okay, it's a prep. I think they built it.
Kenrya: I think they drop ship.
Erica: Yeah, because it came from China.
Kenrya: Oh, that's absolutely what it is.
Erica: It came from there.
Kenrya: Yeah, so they don't have to hold it in the inventory.
Erica: Okay, let's talk about what? Sex.
Kenrya: The sex?
Erica: The sex.
Kenrya: Ridiculous. The sex.
Erica: Okay, so this scene that we read, I think this was the first time they did it, right?
Erica: So, this was his first time in years having a woman.
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Erica: Which that was a good scene. I definitely thought about you when he... sorry. When he was like, "Hey, let me licky licky." She was like, "No thanks. That's all right."
Kenrya: I get bored.
Erica: Who am I to deny you? I would be wrong keeping you from enjoying it. The things you do, right?
Kenrya: Yes. I never turn it down, I just typically cut it short because it don't go nowhere for me.
Erica: You finished? You fine? You good? All right, let's go. Let's turn up.
Erica: Do you like my hat? One of my breasties gave it to me.
Kenrya: You know what it's giving me?
Erica: Very auntie.
Kenrya: It's giving me auntie because it's leopard and it's giving me Frankie Beverly and Maze.
Erica: Okay, so one, yes. Leopard is very auntie. I actually just got to the point where I'm comfortable wearing hats.
Kenrya: That's really cute on you because you got that little head.
Erica: Whatever, okay.
Kenrya: No, that's a good thing.
Erica: There's two things that I love. Being an auntie and Frankie Beverly and Maze, okay bitch?
Kenrya: I mean, they go hand in hand.
Erica: I wore this with my all white outfit and I actually have on some slides that remind me... don't ask what I have on because I have on my wrestling shirt, I mean my wrestling one piece, and these shoes, which are very auntie slides.
Erica: Don't judge me, bitch.
Kenrya: I'm not. Listen, I'm sitting here in one of my Gorgeous Gowns yet again because this is the most eyes-
Erica: I love how you're referring to them as Gorgeous Gowns.
Erica: Not a mumu.
Erica: Not a caftan. It's a Gorgeous Gown.
Kenrya: It's a Gorgeous Gown, and that is the most that I am interested in putting on.
Erica: Okay, I love it. Okay, yeah. The sex was great, it was great. I just think she just didn't like it. It seemed like there was a problem, like an issue with it, right? It wasn't like I don't like it. It was a...
Kenrya: Maybe she was in her head, yeah.
Erica: Yeah, while getting head.
Kenrya: I mean, that's true. That is likely probably 99% of my problem.
Erica: He out. No, not at all. Okay, so Leah, she had a fucked up relationship in college. She had to get out. It was her homegirl that got her out, right? Didn't her homegirl get her out?
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Erica: It was also like, "All right, bitch. I'm outside. Let's roll."
Kenrya: You know what that reminds me of?
Erica: Yeah. It was a really quick part. There wasn't a whole just... I was just like, "Yes, besties for the motherfucking win."
Kenrya: We've been there.
Erica: They were like, "Hey, my truck is empty."
Kenrya: I'm here.
Erica: Put your cat in. Let's go.
Kenrya: Let's go.
Erica: You could tell that relationship really fucked with Leah because she never really did anything after. She didn't have any relationships after that.
Kenrya: Yeah, her trust was...
Kenrya: She had none, yeah.
Erica: I think it was not only her trust in men, but her trust in herself and picking the right person. Which we've all been there.
Kenrya: It's even more... yeah, for sure.
Erica: Because I think-
Erica: It took a lot. I know you struggled with this. I'm telling all your business, but ain't that what we do? It took a lot for me to trust myself again after my failed marriage. Again, the dude I married, he wasn't horrible. It was a bad pick for me. I remember I was talking to my therapist. I was fucking some dude. I was telling her about it. She was like, "Why are you telling me about this like you're asking permission?" I was like, "Shit." She was like, "I trust your decision making. You sound like you know what you're doing, so just do it." But I kept saying, I would always tell her, "I feel like I've done a really good job at building myself up. I'm afraid to find someone that's going to come in and crash it down." She was like, "That's life. That's a risk you're taking."
Erica: "But at least you know how to rebuild." I was like, "Oh."
Kenrya: She's also always quick. What she always tells me in one of those moments is, "Okay, but you ain't by yourself no more. You're not being a fucking secret squirrel. You got me to tell you that it's fucked up. You've got Erica to tell you that it's fucked up."
Kenrya: That's why you've got to speak up and talk about your stuff and not hide it. Because then the folks who are around you can't help if you don't say anything. Closed mouths don't get fed on this boulevard.
Erica: Boulevard. Oh, that was lit.
Kenrya: Those fucking gnats are terrorizing you.
Erica: Okay, so Roc. Roc had a kid. He had a kid right before he went in. She was pregnant. He ended up coming out and he had this whole grown ass child. Not grown, but this teenager that he just had no-
Kenrya: A teenager, yeah.
Erica: Which was one, a teenager. Which oh, them little motherfuckers.
Erica: Two, he was out of his life for this whole time. It just shows how fucked up. How prison not only fucks up just that person, but everyone in their wake.
Erica: Initially, I was ready to hate Roc's baby mamma. I was ready to hate her. I also was like, "This is just so stereotypical, like she keeping me from my baby." But thankfully, I was about to call her A.R., A.S. Wilson wasn't so on the nose about it. They did figure out their relationship. It wasn't like, "Dad."
Kenrya: It wasn't easy.
Erica: It wasn't perfect.
Erica: She showed that it takes a little bit of work on everybody's end to rebuild these relationships. Him having that son and running into... because he initially ran into him at the store.
Kenrya: In the grocery store, yeah. He hadn't gone to see him yet, so that was... yeah.
Erica: Yeah. It hurt my heart, it hurt my heart seeing all of that. I was happy that he did say something to him because-
Kenrya: Yeah. If it had been TV, he would have ducked down trying to hide and crawl out the store. Some bullshit, yeah.
Erica: That's exactly what I was expecting, but A.S., you did it again. I was definitely expecting him to run out. He was just like, "Yo, I'm papa." I respected that. I respected that. You could tell that Roc was just a solid dude. You could tell he was a solid dude that was just trying to make his way through. But I do like that, you know how sometimes when people write stories about people that are... when writers write about people that are supposed to be the hero in the story. They're completely faultless and perfect people. This wasn't that. Although Roc went to jail, he went to prison for something that he did not commit, it wasn't like he was some upstanding make no mistake angel when he came out. He was just human.
Kenrya: He was human.
Erica: Trying to figure that shit out. That's what I really, really like about how she wrote Roc. There were some other characters in this story that I kind of want to touch on, but I can't because I've already given the spoiler.
Erica: That Kenrya made me cut out. With that, I am going to wrap it up. Well first, is there anything else you'd like to address, Kenrya?
Kenrya: No, except for have you seen Tuca and Bertie yet?
Kenrya: Bitch, I need you to watch the first episode of the second season.
Erica: Okay, I'll do it. I will start watching it.
Kenrya: I mean, it's us without the therapy.
Erica: Oh shit. That my dear is scary.
Kenrya: Yes. Plus there's some stuff at the end where okay, that's not us. But my partner, he kept pausing it and was like, "Y’all are not getting checks?" Yeah, watch it and then call me please.
Erica: Okay, I'm going to. As soon as we finish this, I'm going to watch this because I have...
Erica: Yeah, okay.
Kenrya: You have a little bit of time, okay.
Erica: Now we are watching this shit. Our next segment is...
Kenrya: What's turning us on.
Erica: What pays the bills. We'll be back.
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Erica: Okay, welcome back.
Erica: What you got for us, Killa Ken?
Kenrya: Oh, what's turning us on.
Erica: Thank you. What you got?
Kenrya: Okay, so as I was saying a couple weeks ago, I've been trying to find things that are different from what I already have in my thing.
Erica: In your thing.
Kenrya: This is...
Erica: I'm excited. After the pussy pump, really? Come on.
Kenrya: This is a double penetration toy. For those who can't see, it is purple silicone. It's got little things in it so you can change the angle.
Erica: Like a Barney arm.
Kenrya: Yes, it clicks. Oh, it has a vibe that goes in here, but I don't know where it is. It's not in there. It's very soft. There's a lot of different... I didn't know this was a thing. I've used rings, cock rings before with vibes on them, just to add some extra stimulation. But I never got one that had something attached to it. For those who like to be able to have something anally while they're having vaginal sex, using a plug can be tough because oftentimes, they come out while you're in the middle.
Erica: What? It was a little tiny one. The thing shot clear across the room like, boom.
Kenrya: I have absolutely experienced that on one or two occasions.
Erica: Better that than in. Better out than in, but okay.
Kenrya: Exactly, yes. This one is never going in because it's got all this extra stuff, so this goes on either another dildo or your partner. Then whatever goes through here can go into a vaginal opening. Then this can go into your bum. Like I said, you can angle it and change it, whatever. I like it. It's got little ridges on it, whatever. I will say that we weren't able to do a whole lot with this. Yeah, so I got this particular one because it's got a lot of stretch to it. What I saw when I was researching is that a lot of them, if your partner has any kind of size, then it'll be too tight and they won't be very comfortable. Nobody is going to have fun. This one I got particularly because it was stretchy. But without training, because I'm not that talented, I can't just pop things on up in there. We only got so far with this, so we are going to revisit after a little bit of prep so that we can have some more fun with it.
Kenrya: But we still had enough fun with it that I wanted to share.
Erica: It's got promise, okay.
Kenrya: Yes, it's promising. I think that folks could probably have a lot of fun with this.
Kenrya: If you enjoy the feeling of fullness while you're working with a partner or by yourself.
Erica: That is a beautiful way to put it. The feeling of fullness.
Kenrya: Yeah. I mean, you could use this on your own along with a toy as well. It doesn't necessarily have to be for partnered play.
Erica: Okay, well good. Thank you. Thank you, Kenrya.
Kenrya: We'll throw the link up in the show notes.
Erica: We'll throw the link, pictures, all of it. I mean pictures of the toy, not of... anyway.
Erica: Okay, y'all. I've got to go. This is becoming too much. That has been this week's episode of The Turn On. Your two favorite hoe-hosts, Erica and Kenrya, making it clap.
Kenrya: This episode was produced by us, Kenrya and Erica, and edited by B'Lystic. The theme music is from Brazy. Hit subscribe right now on your favorite podcast app and at YouTube.com/TheTurnOnPodcast so you'll never miss an episode.
Erica: Then follow us on Twitter @TheTurnOnPod and Instagram @TheTurnOnPodcast. You can find links to books, transcripts, guest info, what's turning us on, and other fun stuff at TheTurnOnPodcast.com.
Kenrya: Don't forget to email us at TheTurnOnPodcast@gmail.com with your book recommendations and your pressing sex and related questions.
Erica: You can support the show by leaving us a five-star review, buying some merch, or becoming a patron of the show. Just head to TheTurnOnPodcast.com to make that happen.
Kenrya: Thanks for listening and we'll see you soon. Holla.
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In this episode of The Turn On, Erica and Kenrya talk to "Seven Days in June" author Tia Williams about manifesting love, "Romeo and Juliet" what ifs, living with disabilities, the myth of having it all, the underappreciated skill it takes to write about sex sexily and the inappropriate shit we had no business doing as kids.
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Kenrya: Come here, get off.
Kenrya: Hey good people. Before we get started, just a quick content warning, there may be some talk of trauma and self-harm so just be prepared and take care of y'all selves. Here we go.
Kenrya: So today we are talking to Tia Williams, pronouns she and her. Tia has a 15-year career as a beauty editor for magazines including Elle, Glamor, and Essence. In 2004, she pioneered the beauty blog industry with Shake Your Beauty, yes you did. She wrote the bestselling novel, “The Accidental Diva,” and penned two YA novels, “It Chicks” and “Sixteen Candles.” Her award-winning novel “The Perfect Find” will be adapted into a Netflix film starring Gabrielle Union. Tia is currently an editorial director at The Estée Lauder Companies and lives with her daughter and husband in Brooklyn. Hey Tia!
Tia: Hi. I'm so excited to be here.
Kenrya: Yay, we're happy to have you on.
Erica: Thank you for joining us.
Tia: Of course.
Erica: I finished the book last night and it was a lot in a good way.
Kenrya: In the very best way.
Tia: I love to hear that.
Erica: It took me through all of the feels. So thank you, yeah. We're going to talk about your book, but once we hang up I'm going to talk about it with the spoilers, because I've got some questions.
Tia: Oh yeah, right.
Kenrya: Yeah, we try not to spoil too much because we want folks to pick it up.
Erica: Yeah, but a beautiful book.
Tia: Right, right, right.
Erica: Okay, so, what did little Tia want to be when she was growing up?
Tia: A writer, there was no other option ever. Write, just a little reminder. Yeah, I always, I'm one of those sort of rare people who really, really always knew what I wanted to do. There was never any wavering, there was never any, “What should I major in, in college?” it was none of that. I was writing mini novels in my mom's Steno pads when I was seven. With an about the author section, I would write, “Tia Williams, comma, seven, comma, is probably the youngest writer you've ever heard of.” Yeah, I've always known I wanted to do that and when I was in college I went to UVA and I graduated in 1997 and I knew that I wanted to move to New York to do two things, because the other thing that I've been really interested in always is beauty and fashion.
Tia: So I wanted to move to New York to become a fashion magazine editor but at the same time I wanted to be a novelist. And so two weeks after I graduated from UVA I moved to Brooklyn, and this is three months after Biggie died and I'm living on St. James between Fulton and Greene.
Erica: You got stories.
Tia: Where he's from. Yeah, I have some stories and it is a very different neighborhood now, but then I was like, wow, you know coming from the suburbs of Virginia, I was like oh, this is what we're doing, okay. And I was very green. And I started working at YM magazine and then Elle, Glamor, all these fashion magazines and I wrote my first novel two years later. So my whole career I've been a beauty writer and then also a novelist.
Erica: All right [inaudible 00:03:46].
Tia: Per plan because I'm very type A.
Erica: Well that's good, I mean you're showing, you know you ask most young people what they want to be and they're like, I want a garden and also win an Oscar, and be an astronaut.
Erica: So you have like-
Kenrya: That's literally my kid.
Erica: ... combined and showed us that it can happen. What inspires you, who or what inspires you to write?
Tia: Well in terms of the plots and story lines and characters, I'm inspired by my life. Things that happen to me, things that happen to people I know, mostly things that happen to me. All of my protagonists I've taken a hefty percentage of their life from mine. But I think in terms of media and art that inspires me to write, this is very weird but Stephen King has always been a huge inspiration of mine just because of, I'm a huge horror buff and he's one of my favorite novelists and it's just because of the structure of his books. I mean he's like a great American storyteller, they're just no matter, it happens to be in a genre, but his books are like a masterclass on how to grab an audience quick and keep them there and have a little cliff hanger at the end of every chapter. So I learned how to write fiction from reading Stephen King, which is always a thing that people think is odd because-
Kenrya: But he wrote a literal book about writing, “On Writing,” so it makes sense.
Tia: And he wrote a literal book about writing. But you would think because I write in the sort of rom-com genre that I would look up to someone in that space, but it's always been Stephen King.
Kenrya: Good writing is good writing.
Tia: It's true.
Erica: Yeah, and it's, reading your book, I listened to it on audiobook, so I'm going to say listening a lot, but listening to your book you see how it all ties together. Yes, it is rom-com, it's romantic and erotica or whatever, but that ties in so easily with horror and your book, listening to how Eva really thought about how everything works together and lay that out in the book, really shows how it's actually not that far of a jump from romance to scary shit. But most of my romances were scary, to be completely honest.
Tia: Same, yeah. It actually, yeah, is the same genre for most of us.
Kenrya: That is true, Lord have mercy. So, as someone, it's so funny, so you and I never met but I think we have a lot of the same friends.
Kenrya: Yeah, because we've also worked in a lot of the same places.
Kenrya: We'll talk about that after the show.
Kenrya: Yeah, but so, but I also in reading the book and then reading about you, and we'll talk a bit about the parallels between you and your characters, but I feel like you and I have a lot of things in common and one of them, one of the big ones is starting in magazines and then also writing books because this is your sixth book, right?
Tia: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kenrya: Yeah, even though folks have been calling it your second book, and I'm like, where?
Tia: Where? How, why, when? Six, yes, six.
Kenrya: Yeah. I'm writing my sixth book right now but also worked for magazines and started in magazines, all of that stuff. And so the question I'm always interested in with folks who are, who have careers and are also writing books, is how do you balance your writing with your day job?
Tia: Not well, I have to be completely honest. I mean I feel like this is a circle of trust and I get so annoyed when I hear, you know it's like a model saying, I don't work out really either.
Kenrya: Right, I just drink water.
Tia: I just drink water and grill chicken. I just want to tell the absolute truth. The way I approach it is not the healthiest and I don't really know, I always say, you really can have it all but you'll be struggling through.
Kenrya: I was about to say, not well.
Tia: You know, you're not going to do it well. And until four months ago I was a single mother as well, I have lifelong debilitating migraines, and I have a full-time job and I'm a novelist. So finding time to write is really, it's not going to be in the morning because every morning I wake up in pain and it takes me a couple of hours of cocktailing painkillers to feel normal enough to get up and start my day. So it's not going to be in the morning. Can't be during the day because I'm working, and then I have a 12 year old, so it's after she goes to bed is when I usually will work. And then because my head is so unpredictable I might have a bad migraine day and can't work. So if I ever have a day where I feel sort of okay I feel like I have to write until three in the morning because I'm not sure when it's going to come back. You know, when I'm going to have a good day again.
Tia: So it's really like get in where you fit in and I wish I had something more functional to reveal, but I really don't. The most important thing is the discipline piece of it because there's always something more interesting to be doing than writing.
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative), say that.
Tia: There's always something, I mean napping, dusting, talking on the phone, brunching, drinking, smoking, doing whatever. Reading, “Real Housewives of Potomac.” There's always something, so you really have to be hard on yourself and make yourself do it. Whatever schedule you set up, no excuses, you have to do it.
Kenrya: Yeah, okay, that might be something I need to hear.
Erica: You have just like described everything that's going on with the both of us, down to the migraines, not for me but for my lovely co-host.
Kenrya: For me.
Tia: I'm so sorry.
Kenrya: Yeah, it's not great.
Erica: There's so much that we're going to jump into. But let's first talk about sex. So we use erotica here on the show, much like Eva is kind of a jumping off point for conversations about lots of things. But we like to start with the beginning, what were the lessons you learned in your household growing up about sexuality and gender?
Tia: Well I had a very, my family is so funny. My mom was the mom that you went to, that my friends would go to, to talk about things that their own mommy wouldn't talk about. So she was very, very open, very vagina, penis, never baby talk. We knew all about sex very early. My parents had a very thriving sex life and so they would have this loud sex all the time, like we couldn't get away from it.
Kenrya: You was going to get that lesson whether you wanted it or not.
Erica: Good job mom and daddy, I like it.
Tia: Like they, I would have slumber parties and they would do it and my friends would be like, oh my God, what's that noise. And it was, oh, mommy's having a nightmare.
Kenrya: No, mommy's having an orgasm.
Tia: But I was so used to it, it was just, my mom would be topless, they were ’70s kids. They were ’60s, ’70s, hippy-ish kind of vibe. So nothing was really off limits. My father got a vasectomy when we were in elementary school and things were discussed so candidly at my house, my little sister went outside on the playground, my mom heard her through the window outside, our playground was right outside the house, and she was like, "My daddy got his dick cut off this morning."
Kenrya: Oh no.
Tia: And when she came back my mom busted her for saying dick. My dad was like, how about discussing my...
Kenrya: Right, that I was not cast...
Tia: Shit on the playground. Like dick isn't the problem. So, that's the house I grew up in. Sex was very normalized and because it was always so... It never felt like something that was taboo or weird. None of us did it until we were in college because it didn't seem, we weren't, we knew about it, it didn't seem like something, a rebellion or anything like that.
Kenrya: Yeah, like some preachers’ kids.
Erica: Yeah, it wasn't this mystery that we needed to figure out.
Tia: Yeah, no. Yeah, it was a really, really healthy introduction to sex, my family.
Kenrya: Do you think that that impacts the way that you write about sex now?
Tia: I think so, just because I'm really frank about it. I don't think, I mean everybody does it, everybody does it.
Kenrya: It's like pooping and eating.
Tia: It's the same thing. Well, not the same thing, but it just doesn't seem, like I said, it just never seemed taboo to me. And so also my mom was a big romance novel person and so my sisters and I would sneak her romance novels when we were growing up and they would always fall open to the sex scenes because obviously those were the ones that she was reading the most of.
Erica: That was most used.
Tia: Right. And so I just absorbed them and I knew how they were supposed to go. Yeah, so I couldn't wait to grow up and write my own.
Kenrya: That's what's up. Well speaking of writing your own, last week we read an excerpt from “Seven Days in June,” thanks again for that. And the book stars Eva and Shane, two writers who reconnect 15 years after they first fell in love. Where'd the idea for this book come from?
Tia: So I love a second chance romance and honestly I was watching “Romeo and Juliet” with Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes and I got to the end and as if this was my first time watching Romeo and Juliet or knowing anything about Romeo and Juliet. I was an English major, but for the first time ever I had this thought, “What if they hadn't died?” Like what if these lust-fueled wild-ass teenagers went their separate way, like had this moment together and then went their separate ways and then found each other again as adults. Do soul mates have an expiration date? So, that's kind of where I started with “Seven Days in June.” Does true love expire? And in Eva and Shane's case it did not.
Kenrya: Yeah, that's what's up. I always remember just thinking that they were stupid, Romeo and Juliet as a kid.
Tia: They were. They were. But our frontal lobes aren't developed when we're teenagers.
Kenrya: Right. So of course you do dumb shit.
Tia: They were 15.
Erica: Oh my gosh, I was-
Kenrya: With daggers and poison.
Erica: ... I was just on Instagram or something and there was some gossip page and they were talking about how this kid, the son of a famous person, is dating some young kid, and they're like 19, 20. And it's like, I'll love you forever, and I'm like, you won't even know her fucking middle name in three weeks. Like what are you talking about.
Kenrya: You probably don't know it now.
Tia: Sir, no, but less. Like have a good time.
Erica: Yeah, have fun. Y'all doing the rich kid shit, but don't, let's not quite say that.
Tia: Right. But don't you always think that at that age, and that's what was interesting to me is like, even Shane, they really felt like they had found each other's soulmate when they were teenagers. And so I wanted to see when they met each other as adults, I wanted them to find out whether or not it was real. Was it just like a teenage hallucination, was it just hormones and madness, or was it real? And in some cases I think it is.
Kenrya: Yeah, did you have a teenage soulmate?
Kenrya: Me neither.
Tia: No, no. I mean...
Kenrya: That was so quick.
Tia: Definitely not like any love situations. I certainly thought, I mean you know when you're a teenager you have a boyfriend for the duration of a party.
Tia: Like, I met this boy at this house party, we go together hard, like it was a whole thing, and then we never see each other again, but that was my man. I'm aging myself.
Erica: Not at all.
Tia: But no, I had like some lusty relationships that I thought was love, but I was an idiot.
Tia: I didn't know anything about myself or boys or men or anything that would lend itself to a true love situation I think.
Kenrya: So we learned fairly early in the book, I don't think this is giving anything away, that Eva and Shane are writing about each other in some really key ways. And it made us wonder about who you write about, what characters are based on folks, and I know in some ways that Eva is based on you and can we talk a bit about the folks who have crept in.
Tia: Yeah, I mean, yes, Eva, the skeleton of Eva is definitely me. I mean I got married in December, but before that I was a single mom for a long time, divorced, Creole mom with Louisiana roots, chronic migraines, Black writer in Brooklyn. So we had quite a lot, you know write sex scenes for a living. So yeah, we had a lot in common. Her sort of, her very traumatic past and her relationship with her mom and all of that is totally made up, but Shane was the first male character that truly came from my head. Because I usually with “The Accidental Diva” and “The Perfect Find,” which are my other two adult books, other than that I wrote YA, those were based on relationships I had just had that didn't work out. And so it was me as therapy rewriting it in fiction so that it did work out.
Tia: And you know, it takes its own life once you start writing it, but that, those came from the kernel of truth. The fact that I had a relationship that sort of mirrored that. But this one, Shane really came out of nowhere, he was like a composite of all of the sexy, grouchy, writer boys I've known. And then about halfway through I met my now husband, I swiped on him.
Kenrya: [inaudible 00:20:51].
Erica: So there is hope.
Kenrya: There is.
Tia: Girl. You know I don't want to say that because it sounds like, look, it took me four years. So it's like a happy ending but also, “God, why did it take so long?” It's hard. And it was like appointment dating. I was like, “Okay, I don't have my daughter on Thursday, I'll go on a date every Thursday.” It's a numbers game, keep going. I had to do that.
Kenrya: Oh my God, you and I have the same life.
Kenrya: And I met my partner online too.
Tia: See. Because if you're a single mom, like honestly, how else are you going to meet anybody. And I work in beauty and fashion, there are barely any men-
Erica: So you're not running into any men.
Tia: ... and the men that are... No, and they're gay. So it's, it's so hard. But anyway, what was I saying. Oh, so I met him and he's Danish, like he grew up an hour from Copenhagen and has lived all over the world and has like this restless spirit, speaks all these languages. Went on a surfing excursion in Vietnam and went on a motorcycle trek through Brazil. He just had, and you'll be talking to him and he'll drop these things and it's like, your life sounds made up. And I infused that into Shane a little bit. This whole idea that he's like not even from anywhere, he's a citizen of the world. He doesn't have a home, he just likes to be near water and you can't tie him down. So yeah, I put a lot of my husband into him.
Kenrya: So it tracks really well with Shane's upbringing in terms of him not really ever really feeling like he had a home from seven on, right. To then turn into this person who's like, “I don't need that, I'll make my home wherever I am” kind of a deal. It totally feels super realistic.
Tia: Yeah, I mean when you factor in what his childhood was like, yeah.
Erica: I mean the first chapter of this book I called Kenrya, I don't know if I called her laughing, but I definitely was like, “Kenrya, this is you. Tia has written you down to the snarky child that's giving therapy at school.” I was like, girl, and then she said the migraines, I was like this bitch know who, she was literally all up in Kenrya's business. So I mean it was...
Tia: Oh my God.
Kenrya: Yeah, uncanny.
Erica: It was very...
Erica: What'd you say?
Kenrya: It's uncanny.
Tia: How old is your daughter or son.
Kenrya: She just turned 10, son, I mean daughter. She just turned 10 and she's...
Erica: A lot of person.
Kenrya: Yep. Gemini, she has strong opinions.
Tia: Whoa. Best of luck to you.
Tia: Wow, okay.
Kenrya: Yeah, she's lovely. She's lovely. I didn't know, I didn't know that all of this would start so early.
Erica: So, kind of off topic and I don't want to get too much into it because we have to address it, we're going to address it, we'll have addressed it in the full show. But I like how you wrote Eva and Audre's relationship and how Eva really did see it as an opportunity to get it right and do right by her baby so that her daughter had a better chance at just kind of being a little less, having to deal with less trauma growing up. That was really beautiful, and like I said, it really struck true with... I have a son, he's 12, I have a son, but I'm trying to do that with him, but girl, again, you wrote Kenrya.
Tia: No, it's like a deliberate choice to raise your kids differently. I think you can go one of two ways, you either emulate what you saw growing up and hopefully that was a good thing, or you go all the way left and rebel against what your parents did to you so you can give your kid a fair shot.
Erica: So therapy is the thing we talk about constantly on this show, and so without having some insight into who you are and what makes you tick, it's just really easy to pass on the more negative or less positive parts of that.
Tia: And no shade but you see it so, I'm going to get slammed for this, but you see if so often with men, because they don't address their emotional lives the same way that we do and they're so much less likely to get themselves in therapy.
Kenrya: Yeah, do not tell me [crosstalk 00:25:46].
Tia: And so they repeat what they saw, what their dads did and what their dad's dad did, and then here we are.
Kenrya: You're not wrong. I think that that is-
Erica: And you won't get slammed by anyone listening to this podcast because-
Tia: Okay, good.
Erica: ... you're preaching what we preach.
Kenrya: Yeah, I mean I try never to say “all or always,” but I do think that in general that tends to be true. A lot of cishet men are not necessarily open to delving into their shit because it's hard, it's hard for all of us. And when you've been socialized to think that that is a negative thing, that to feel feelings is a weakness--
Tia: Soft, yep.
Kenrya: Especially as Black men, exactly, then it can be really easy to be swept up in that socialization and to not feel like you want to push up against it, because who wants to be different?
Tia: Yep, it's true.
Kenrya: So then we get repeated patterns and intergenerational trauma.
Erica: So, you talk about invisible disability, I don't know why I did air quotes, but you talk about invisible disabilities in this book and it was notable. It was definitely something different and it was good to see in the sense of like, this is something she's dealing with but it's a part of her, it's not all that she is and this is how she manages it. Why did you opt to tackle this?
Tia: Well, I've had this since I was nine. It's an intractable migraine diagnosis which means that it's incurable and things work for me for a couple of months, maybe a year, and then they stop working and no one can figure it out. I've been everywhere and it's been like the defining issue of my life and it gets in the middle of relationships, it fucks up work, it's a life ruiner if you let it be. I mean chronic pain is no, you have to, if it's bad enough you have to choose to even stay here, kind of a thing, because how worth it is life if your every breath is a nightmare, literally.
Tia: And so because of how serious and un-sexy and un-cute and unfunny it is, I never knew how to write about it within the genre that I write. And it wasn't until I was in my forties that I felt like I was brave enough to try to do that. And so I don't know, I just kind of wanted to see specifically myself reflected in a sexy love story. Like, can this women with this horrible pain and being a single mom and being busy and being too tired or too drugged or too anything to even participate in dating, can she find love and sex and happiness? And she did, and then I did too. It was almost like I wrote it, I manifested it, I certainly was not expecting to meet my husband as I was writing this because there was nothing on the horizon. So, that was a surprise too.
Erica: That's beautiful.
Kenrya: Yes, your manifestation.
Erica: So next book we're writing is about a million-dollar lottery winner and her two million dollar podcast co-host friends that also won the lottery.
Tia: Right. Yeah. I mean who knew, that manifestation stuff works.
Kenrya: It does work.
Tia: I never really thought-
Kenrya: I really and truly believe that.
Tia: ... I mean I had never really believed it, despite the fact that I had a friend, I'm not a super spiritual person and I have a friend who super is and she was like, “Bitch just make this vision board, just do it for ‘The Perfect Find.’” Because I was having trouble finishing it, “I can't do this, fuck it, I'm not going to be a writer, I'll just go to...” I remember seeing commercials for, to learn how to operate x-ray machines and I was like, “I'll do that, I can do that. I'll just get certified and be a x-ray technician.”
Erica: That was literally you throwing some shit at a wall, being like “It'll stick.”
Tia: That's it. I can do that. So she was like, “Let's take a step back.”
Kenrya: I mean is that ripping yourself up to write so why not.
Tia: Right. She was like, okay, do this vision board, and before I'd even finished “The Perfect Find,” there was no cover, there was no nothing, I made the board, I did a physical board and I made it yellow, which is what the cover of “The Perfect Find” ended up being and for some reason I put Gabrielle Union on there. I thought maybe she looked like my character or I honestly don't even know why I put it there. And look at where we are.
Kenrya: Look at where you are.
Erica: Look at that. Look at God!
Tia: I hadn't even finished writing it.
Tia: And I'm not even a believer. So it's going to work for you whether you believe in it or not.
Kenrya: Mm-hmm (affirmative), I agree. I think manifestation is incredible powerful and I'm really excited for what you manifested. So dope. So, Eva has major anxiety around doing an event with other Black writers who produce more, quote unquote “serious work.” Have you ever been in a situation where you worry that folks wouldn't take your work seriously because it centers women and if so can you tell us about it and why that is bullshit?
Tia: Yeah, I'm in that situation all the time and I actually took that scene, so it came from real life. So Eva's freaking out about being on this panel and she's talking about, the panel is about the lives of Black authors in 2019, which is the year it takes place. And she writes a vampire erotica series and she's on a panel with like the equivalent of Ta-Nehisi Coates and really sort of, people who are thought to be the spokespeople for racial relations in American. They win awards for this, they have big fancy critically acclaimed books and then there she is. And especially when you're on a panel with a lot of men that are in these fields, because they want to mansplain, like they talk in all caps, it can be very male centered, Black male centered to the exclusion of Black women. The Black male struggle. But yeah, I definitely, I've never really been included in a conversation about, let me not say that, because I don't want to sound like I'm pouting or anything.
Kenrya: You don't sound like you're pouting. I think, well anyway, go ahead.
Tia: I just think that because romance and erotica and love stories are beloved by women, they aren't taken as seriously. I mean historically any sort of media that is woman centered is thought to be silly. It's like, the Beatles were a boy band that girls loved and were a joke until guys discovered them. It's like that kind of a thing. Men don't read it so it's not serious, men don't have migraines so we don't have a cure, you know. Men don't have babies so the question of whether or not abortion is a natural right is still a question. So it has never been taken seriously and it is total bullshit and it's because like everything else, the book industry is a patriarchal system. Like we're not going to, you know, a love story will not win the National Book Award.
Tia: And it's nuts because the implication that it's harder or better or more valuable to write literary fiction versus commercial fiction is ridiculous because it's the same conversation in music. Who is a real musician, a person who writes a pop song that appeals to the entire world or someone who writes a song appealing to a very small demo in Red Hook? I feel like Nathaniel Hawthorne said it best when he was like, “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” To write something that's so widely appealing, that so many people can grasp and feel good about is really, really difficult, I have to say. That's why comedies don't win Oscars, if it's not serious-
Kenrya: It feels effortless.
Tia: ... Yeah, exactly. Pretty much.
Kenrya: Yeah, which is, I always get caught up on this distinction between literary and commercial. It's all commercial, it's a literal fucking business. You won't get a book deal if they don't think that it's going to make money regardless of what it is that you're writing. So what are we even talking about. Also, those are the books that get the biggest deals, the Ta-Nehisi Coates of the world and what not.
Tia: Exactly. So what are we really talking about here. I know.
Kenrya: Yeah, wow.
Tia: And it's so easy to make, like in the wrong hands a love story is ridiculous.
Tia: In the wrong hands a sex scene is mortifying or comedy.
Erica: Ugh, yeah.
Tia: Or a cringe fest, like try it. It's tough to do correctly.
Erica: However when done correctly, it's so easy. What'd you say?
Tia: Right, right.
Kenrya: Nah, I was going to say, I mean we have a whole show that uses erotica and romance as a jumping off point for having conversations because it is so universal and also it's just so fucking good.
Erica: Yep. And, yeah, the amount of trash, I say the amount of shit we sort through to get good books, it ain't easy. It is not easy.
Tia: I can imagine.
Erica: So, in the scene that we read for the show, Eva and Shane have sex in a semi-public place. Why did you choose to have them have this, such an intimate moment in a public place, well in a semi public place? In a place that's not their personal sphere?
Kenrya: With them also being really public people too.
Tia: Right, why'd I do that? It's risky, right, what'd I do that for? I think, I love the tension of they felt safe being that flirtatious with each other because they were in public. It's like “What, we can't fuck in here?” So there was that, they started going there with each other and she's like, show me your scar, take your shirt off, get all flirty. And it felt like, okay, it can't go further than that, but then sort of their passion and their feeling and their energy took them past that, that boundary and to me that's always really sexy when all signs point to this is ridiculous but then you just can't help it. And that's what was happening there. It's also funny because if you think of it in real life, especially now that we're in COVID times, the idea of fucking in a public space, the idea of going there, touching anything.
Tia: Breathing, that whole situation, I'm just like, oh my God. It can't happen again.
Kenrya: I was going to say [crosstalk 00:39:06]. Yes.
Tia: It's truly fantasy.
Kenrya: We supposed to just trust that y'all really washed these blankets and these pillows? Y'all didn't just push and pull them back out and give them to somebody else? Spray some Febreze on that joint?
Tia: And where is your mask? Like it's just too much, but that was a real thing. I was working in, my last job I was the head of copy at Bumble and Bumble which is a haircare brand and the offices were in Meatpacking, and one of the Dream House popped, because it was a pop up that was, would happen all over the city. And so one of them was right near Meatpacking and so I'd go out and grab my lunch and see people in line for this sleepy house, and it's all purple and shit. Like these crazy lights, what is going on in there, what is really going on in there. And so that's where it came from. I bet people could really be raunchy in there, if you can close the door.
Kenrya: Listen, it is not a thing that I would not have done pre COVID, I ain't going to front, not [inaudible 00:40:13].
Kenrya: I can see myself getting caught up in that space.
Tia: Right. And all the lights and everything. If you google it and look it up, it's really trippy. I don't know, but yeah, so it was like the idea that they couldn't not do it. It didn't matter where they were.
Kenrya: So, as we were talking about a little bit earlier, “Perfect Find” is in development at Netflix which is dope and it's starting filming this month, right?
Tia: Yes, yeah. The director, Numa Perrier, was just in town doing location scouting. Of course this was all supposed to happen before, but it was held up because of the pandemic, so I'm so excited that it's all happening now. It's surreal.
Kenrya: And then, I would imagine, and then to have that on top of the fact that it was just announced that “Seven Days in June” is also being adapted, which is fucking dope. Congratulations!
Tia: Thank you.
Erica: Yes, congratulations.
Tia: It's crazy, thank you. I'm over the moon.
Kenrya: That's what's up. So reading that news of course made us think about the convo that Eva had with the director.
Kenrya: Yes. Why was it important for you to show that aspect of the business?
Tia: So what happened was, she finally, Eva finally got a director that wanted to adapt her movie, I mean her series for film and so Eva writes vampire erotica, and her two main characters, it's a vampire guy and a witch woman. And so the directors point was that they're already other, they're not like real people, it's a vampire and a witch, so why would we make them other, other, and have them be Black on top of that. And Eva's whole point is well because they are, why can't, who decides what race speculative fiction characters are? Like they're not even real, it's fantasy.
Tia: Exactly. And so the director says, "I mean that's like trying to sell a move about a Taiwanese unicorn and an African mermaid." And Eva's like, "I would watch that."
Tia: Let's make that movie. Yeah. And I wanted to kind of comment on that because as Black writers, filmmakers, whatever, we're always put in a very specific category of what we can be and what we can do. J.K. Rowling added a Black kid to Hogwarts because people were mad, but she had never thought of it. We can be magicians and unicorns and aliens and everything, why is white the default? And then she had to make a choice, how badly do I want to get this movie made, am I going to compromise everything I stand for because I feel like every Black writer is doing revolutionary work from their own chair. And Eva's brand of it was writing about a Black vampire and a Black witch, in love, in a total fantasy world. And you don't see that every day and putting us in places where we're not quote unquote allowed to be, is a revolutionary act. And so having to lose that, and whitewash that to make it a movie would've hurt her soul. So it's a big conundrum for her.
Erica: So, what does the process of developing your work for a streamer look like for you as like the author and executive producer? And, what's your dream cast?
Tia: So I don't really know what it's going to entail yet because I don't, I'm not executive producer for “The Perfect Find,” so this will be my first time in this role. For “The Perfect Find” it was very much, “I'm scared of Hollywood, I don't know how to write a script, I don't know, take it, be good to my baby.” So this is my first time doing any of this, so we shall see how it goes. I'm talking to some of my friends who have had their books developed into film or TV and they've been very involved, so I'm hoping to get some mentorship. But in terms of a cast for Shane I'm obsessed with Aldis Hodge, for years everything that I see him in, and he's always a supporting, he steals the scene for me. He just, he's so charismatic and he has that broody intensity and intelligence that I feel like Shane has, that you could also imagine him being a bad boy.
Kenrya: A tortured writer and a bad boy.
Tia: A tortured writer, like all of it. So, I love him. And for Eva I'm seeing like a quirky girl, sort of edgy that you feel might have some darkness in her. Like Zazie Beetz from Atlanta, I love her. What is the name, Teyonah Parris, did you guys watch “Wandavision”?
Tia: I think she's so good. And then for Eva's mom was that I keep coming back to Vanessa Williams because she was a pageant queen and she played evil really well.
Tia: The perfect fit.
Erica: I can see that. I totally can see that.
Tia: And she looks Creole, even though, and she looks Creole.
Kenrya: Yeah, she could pass as Creole for sure. Word, okay. What did you learn from writing this book?
Tia: I learned that I could write about what I didn't know, because it was the first time that I actually had to research something. I've never researched anything before, so both Eva and Shane have very traumatic pasts and I did not, and so I had to talk to a lot of people, I had to represent it correctly, I did not want to get into trauma porn because it's gross and ugly and disrespectful. I didn't know about alcoholism and what it's like to be in recovery and seeing the world, it's like being a newborn suddenly. Seeing the world with brand new eyes and having to adjust to things you never learned to adjust to. So I did a lot of research when it comes to that.
Tia: And then Ty which is the teenage boy that Shane mentors, it's like 10 years, a long time ago, I remember it was the first time I had ever heard the word, I mean the term “school to prison pipeline.” I think it was like a New Yorker article that I read and I was just horrified, and it's one of those things that as Black people we just know intuitively but it was the first time it was laid out for me, like how institutionalized it is and how systemic it is. And so I'd always wanted to touch on that in fiction, and so I did a lot of research on that as well.
Tia: So, I've always been nervous to write about things that I don't comfortably know, because I'd never done it before. But I think I learned that I can step outside of my bubble of stuff and with the next book I'm writing it's all brand new, like it's all researched. So I feel like “Seven Days in June” was the bridge to this next one that I'm going to do.
Kenrya: And it all rang really true.
Erica: I was about to say, it felt very, you did a good job on that.
Tia: You know what, thank you. I was being interviewed the other day and the interviewer was like, as someone who obviously sort of grew up in an impoverished, disenfranchised school system. I'm like, “Wow, I'm from Fairfax.”
Erica: My momma's going to kick my ass if she thinks that, this is how I grew up.
Kenrya: That sounds like a white reporter making an assumption.
Tia: Because, come on, of course it was.
Kenrya: Of course it was.
Tia: None of us would be like, “Okay, I peg you as someone [crosstalk 00:50:03].”
Kenrya: “Tell me about your hood life. Tell me more.”
Erica: “What was it like growing up in the projects of Fairfax?”
Tia: So funny.
Erica: So, do you have a favorite line or passage in this book?
Tia: Yes, when Eva says, "Stop writing about me." And Shane says, "You first."
Kenrya: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I read that in the middle of the night, I couldn't sleep and I was like, “Fuck it, let's read,” and I was like, “Oh, okay, yep!”
Tia: I love that and it just shows that they're combative and that they've also secretly been one upping each other this whole time without ever actually communicating. I love it.
Kenrya: And then like, how you reveal the little bits of things. I don't want to say too much because I don't want folks, but like, yeah, you did that.
Erica: It was, yeah, snap, snap, snaps.
Tia: Aww, thanks guys.
Erica: Okay, so, one of the things that I noticed the most, one of the things that stand out about this book is that both Shane and Eva were in very adult situations as young people. So, we're going to lighten this up and we're going to play a little game called “I Ain't Have No Business Doing That.” It's a short game. So, I'm going to throw out a category and you're going to tell me what you had no business doing. For example, as a six year old I had no business singing Karen White “Superwoman,” like my husband said that the juice used to be so sweet but it's now sour.
Tia: Listen, I am not your super woman.
Kenrya: We used to sing that song with our whole souls. All of it.
Erica: So, Tia.
Kenrya: You put breakfast on the table.
Erica: What did you have no business watching?
Tia: I was so inappropriate. I had no business watching “Body and Soul,” which is a deep cut. It is a movie with Jane Kennedy and her husband, and he was a boxer in the movie or something and Jane Kennedy for the millennials in the house was a pageant queen and a model, and she was one of the first sportscasters on TV, Black woman, but there were all sorts of, there was all sorts of sex and nudity in that movie. And we were one of the first houses in the neighborhood to have HBO and so it would come on all the time and I would just be like, staring. And speaking of like early cable, this is like ’81, ’82, if you could get your, like your TV, what do you call this, a TV...
Kenrya: A dial.
Erica: Yeah, yeah, back when you had to turn that joint.
Tia: Yeah, when you had to turn it and you would get it in between two channels you could pick up porn. And it would be like super grainy.
Erica: Static and wavy. But you could see it.
Tia: Yeah, it'd be wavy, it'd be super weird, but you could see some titties. You could see something. You'd have to squint, this is why my eyes are bad today.
Kenrya: I love it. I too used to watch the TV when I wasn't supposed to.
Tia: Yes. And then there was Skinemax, Cinemax after midnight would show soft core porn.
Kenrya: After dark, yep.
Tia: They don't do that anymore.
Erica: Yeah, I was definitely a-
Kenrya: Sure did, then we got “Real Sex.”
Erica: Yeah, I was definitely watching it.
Tia: “Real Sex.” “Real Sex”. Important.
Kenrya: It was great. Groundbreaking cultural touchstone there.
Erica: I too was watching-
Erica: ... Soft porn as a child, okay. I had no business reading...
Tia: There was a book called “Slow Heat in Heaven.” Let me run that back to you, “Slow Heat in Heaven” by Sandra Brown. I have to say again, my mom was a major romance lady and this one was on top of her pile in the bathroom. It was about, I say was like it's past tense, it's right here on my bookshelf, I'm looking at it. It's about a white woman in Louisiana who lives in the big house and there's this po' Cajun family who lives on these, I say po' like with an apostrophe, po'. Because, that's how they're described in the book. Cajuns, and they live like on the property and the mom is the maid and stuff, and she has a son who works in the fields or something. So the girl and the son grow up together and they have all this friction when they're kids because she's rich and fancy and he's just like the po' Cajun that's working. But they grow up, fucks the shit out of her.
Erica: I literally, I googled “Slow Heat in Heaven,” it autocorrect, it auto completed.
Tia: [inaudible 00:56:06] in Heaven.
Tia: And this is why. If you both don't order this book the second this podcast is over.
Kenrya: Ok I'm going to get it.
Tia: Listen, it's some of the best sex scenes ever written. So good.
Erica: Don't worry, I got it up, I already got it up. Don't you, don't you worry. I'm going to get the Kindle, the Kindle edition so it's just right there.
Kenrya: It's like have that shit now.
Erica: Exactly. Okay, last one. I had no business singing...
Tia: “Nasty Girl,” Vanity 6. Seven years old.
Kenrya: Yeah, wholly inappropriate.
Tia: You couldn't tell me I wasn't nasty. I actually had purple lace fingerless gloves and I really did think I was [crosstalk 00:56:58].
Erica: You were a bad bitch, I love it. I was singing nasty girl like literally this weekend.
Tia: I was.
Erica: So, yeah, it's a song for the ages. Okay.
Tia: It truly is, it's a timeless banger. Yes.
Erica: Because we all a little nasty. Okay, so, in the story Eva has lots of tattoos and you showed us your “write” tattoo. How many tattoos do you have in total and what is your favorite one?
Tia: I have one, two, three, four, five, six. I have six tattoos. I don't have a favorite but I have a funniest. So when I got, so obviously I'm a massive Prince fan and when I first got my divorce I went out and I got drunk with my girlfriends and we were walking around [inaudible 00:58:00] and there was a 24-hour tattoo parlor.
Erica: That just sounds like bad decisions.
Tia: And I was like, you know what, I need to... Bad, bad, I regret this. So since 1984 I'd been carrying in every wallet I ever had this Rolling Stone illustration of a purple dove wearing Prince's purple rain jacket with his hair, because Prince, curly hair. It's a dove with hair and a jacket on, okay. I tore it out of a Rolling Stone when I was in third grade. And it was just like my good luck thing and I was like, you know what, I think I need to commit, this has to be on my body. New woman, new life, new tattoo. So I take it to the place, the guy's like, it's too small, you won't get any of the detail, we need to blow it up. I was like, great. So it's like this big, it's on my hip, it is indeed a dove with a hairstyle and a jacket. My sister looked at it and she was like, that looks like Thomas Jefferson but a chicken. She was like that looks like, so my sister called it my colonial chicken. So I have a colonial chicken on my hip. And that's why you shouldn't get a tattoo after you've been drinking.
Erica: That's a complete set up.
Kenrya: [inaudible 00:59:26] enjoy your shit.
Erica: Like who needs a tattoo at 3:00 a.m.? Why are y'all open 24/7?
Erica: That ain't right.
Tia: Exactly. It's a racket, it's a racket, it's a racket.
Kenrya: And then she picked like the worst founding father, she could at least, I don't know, [crosstalk 00:59:43] terrible but he's a shit.
Tia: I went to UVA, I know.
Erica: Ugh, yeah.
Kenrya: What are you reading right now?
Tia: Right now I am reading “The Other Black Girl.”
Kenrya: I am too! I always read three books at a time, but that's one of the ones I'm reading.
Tia: And it's funny because we had the same pub date on June 1st and we were on a panel recently and we're both like halfway through each other's books because your pub week is so insane you don't have time to, but I am just loving it. And the other thing is, bookstores are merchandising our books together because they're both blue, they look like they're dating. They look really good together.
Kenrya: That's what's up.
Tia: I'm really enjoying it, it is such a, it's so original.
Kenrya: It is, and it also, as someone who works in publishing...
Tia: On the nose.
Kenrya: Yep, little triggering.
Tia: Oh gosh, yeah.
Kenrya: Yeah, but really, really good.
Erica: So what's turning you on today?
Tia: Today, today? Like in this moment?
Erica: Or in these days? Yes, whatever comes to mind, what's turning you on?
Tia: Can it be a fragrance, a perfume?
Erica: It can be whatever's turning you, whatever. Put us onto some new shit.
Tia: Okay, because I've, I put on this perfume to go to bed, I'm obsessed with it. It's Tom Ford Soleil Neige, N-E-I-G-E, which means sun snow. So it's supposed to like emulate the way, like if you're on a snowy mountain and the sun reflects off of the snow, that incandescence. It smells so good. I have it on right now for you guys and you're not here. I mean, I wish there was a candle, and there's also a shimmering body oil, so I put that on sometimes and it's just, I don't really have enough time to do, that's a cop out, like to do self care.
Kenrya: It's hard.
Tia: I really haven't been able to find the time. It's hard to find the time. But just that one sort of indulgence does it for me. It's so good. So yeah, that is turning me on. And my husband over here as well.
Kenrya: He's probably like, “What about me?”
Tia: He's so cute, oh my God.
Kenrya: Oh, yay, I'm so happy you found someone.
Tia: Thank God, I was tired of looking.
Kenrya: It's exhausting.
Erica: Now you both can turn your attention to me and put some energy into...
Tia: Keep swiping, you have to just keep those appointments.
Kenrya: Yeah, it really does. Like you said, it's a numbers game and we talk a lot about being super intentional with it. Like I had a very specific things that I was looking for and I didn't waste time.
Kenrya: As soon as I saw a red flag I moved the fuck on.
Tia: Get off the app as soon as you can. Like some of these guys want you to be pen pals forever because they have 15 other girls they're talking to. They're weighing their options, whatever. If a guy doesn't want to get off the app and meet you ASAP, it’s not him.
Kenrya: Got to keep them moving. Yeah.
Tia: It's not him.
Kenrya: Good advice. Y'all pay attention. And if you want to follow Tia to find more advice, find out more about her books, what she's got going on, find out about the projects that are in development for TV and Netflix, girl, y'all can find her at TiaWilliams.net, and on Twitter you are @TiaW_Writes, and on Instagram you're @TiaWilliamsWrites. That it?
Kenrya: Awesome. Thank you so much for coming on today.
Tia: Thank you, it was my pleasure.
Erica: Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Tia: You girls are fantastic. I wish we all lived in the same place so we could have coffee.
Erica: Next time you're down here holla at us.
Tia: Yes, I would love that.
Kenrya: Well thank you for coming on and thank all of you for joining us this week and we'll see y'all next week, take care.
Kenrya: This episode was produced by us, Kenrya and Erica, and edited by B'Lystic. The theme music is from Brazy. Hit subscribe right now on your favorite podcast app and at YouTube.com/TheTurnOnPodcast so you'll never miss an episode.
Erica: Then follow us on Twitter @TheTurnOnPod and Instagram @TheTurnOnPodcast. And you can find links to books, transcripts, guest info, what's turning us on, and other fun stuff at the turn on podcast.com.
Kenrya: And don't forget to email us at TheTurnOnPodcast@gmail.com with your book recommendations and your pressing sex and related questions.
Erica: And you can support the show by leaving us a five-star review, buying some merch, or becoming a patron of the show. Just head to TheTurnOnPodcast.com to make that happen.
Kenrya: Thanks for listening and we'll see you soon. Holla.
The Turn On
The Turn On is a podcast for Black people who want to get off. To open their minds. To learn. To be part of a community. To show that we love and fuck too, and it doesn't have to be political or scandalous or dirty. Unless we want it to be.